Chris Daley was searching for a program to support leaders in child and family welfare agencies around Indiana.
“The people who run child and family welfare agencies get into the work because they want to do good in the world,” he says. “But they don’t always have the leadership training necessary to take themselves or their organizations to the next level in serving their clients.”
Daley is the executive director for the Indiana Association of Resources and Child Advocacy, representing 100 agencies from across the state. He wanted a leadership training program for IARCA’s Institute for Excellence that would provide core information needed to help leaders keep their organizations functioning well.
“It’s incredibly difficult to keep your doors open when you’re doing child and family welfare services,” Daley explains. “We want these organizations to be around a long time until children and families no longer need them. At the same time, they can only help their clients if they have a durable and sustainable business.”
He also wanted to ensure the training was beneficial on an individual level as well. IARCA opted to create small cohorts designed to develop and strengthen relationships and serve as a career-long support network.
“Many of the people in this field have a make-do mentality because that’s what they’ve experienced,” he explains. “Plus, when you have adult learners with different levels of experience, it can be really difficult to have a program that’s successful for everybody.”
As he began looking for leadership programs, he met with Sara Johnson, the director at IU Executive Education.
“Sara talked to us about the prepackaged sessions they offer but also offered to create something to meet our specific needs,” he says. “That was a really good indication to us that working with Executive Education would be a good partnership.”
And Daley says it has been. Since 2021, IARCA has sent five cohorts through its Executive Learning Circles program, delivered by the IU Executive Education team at O’Neill IUPUI. Each cohort attends eight two-hour sessions over the course of eight months. He says those sessions have been flexible, as has the content for each cohort.
“What was most appealing about working with Executive Education and O’Neill was their reputation first and foremost, but also their flexibility to make these learning experiences applicable to each cohort,” he explains. “They identified four required courses and offered a dozen other options from which our cohort could choose what mattered to them as a group.”
Each cohort’s demographic connection varied. Two cohorts were leaders of color. One was based on the type of organization, another was for those in small organizations, and another was for those who were mid-career. Daley says, with each group, the Executive Education team was willing to tweak their content based on participant feedback to ensure everyone was getting what they needed from the experience.
For Daley, that type of targeted approach means they’ll continue working with Executive Education in the future. He says he would recommend other organizations do the same.
“You never go wrong investing in leadership, no matter your field,” he says. “The folks at O’Neill and Executive Education are going to work with you to make sure the programs are responsive to the needs of the participants.”