Maritime Academy: Participant Reflections, Part Two

Since 2012, the Michigan College Access Network has hosted Maritime Academy, a three-day, intensive dive into the Collective Impact framework as applied to Local College Access Networks. This invite-only, intimate gathering of LCAN Coordinators and Leadership Team members from across the state and country are selected to join the staff for a comprehensive training. Last month marked the fifth year of Maritime Academy. This blog is the second of a two-part series that includes testimonials from several Maritime Academy graduates.  


Danielle Funderburg 
Board Trustee, Romulus Community Schools
Leadership Team Member, Wayne County College Access Network

"I’ve been a champion of college access for over six years and I thought I had a grasp of what collective impact was until Maritime Academy schooled me, now I have my ‘constituent-sea’ legs (I’ll tell you about that in a minute) and needless to say, I experienced several Ah-ha moments, or in this case “Ahoy”!

Once I got past the ambiance of Hotel Indigo’s eco-friendly hotel theme connecting me to mother earth, the whimsical nautical charm of Traverse City and its gorgeous lake view, and humming Christopher Cross’ 1980 song “Sailing”, I got right down to business, digging for the hidden treasures in Collective Impact. I was in great company with other LCANs locally and as far as Iowa, Colorado and Florida.

My first Ah-ha was; collective impact feels unnatural at first, but when executed with fidelity it can and should produce an LCAN that is not only productive, but also laser focused on its common agenda using shared measurements.  That got me thinking; it has always been exactly that—awkward! Having several high level leaders in a room hashing out the specifics, on HOW to solve a problem is cumbersome. It’s easy to have a small group of individuals come up with a plan for change, but in all actuality, that wouldn’t be enough to put a dent in a massive goal, especially the one MCAN’s got. Collective impact takes many constituents (organizations) in a sea of opportunity mobilizing, making college accessible and degree/certification attainable.

My next Ah-ha was—collective impact is triune and most authentic when you have a Leadership Team with high level thinking making decisions that bring about policy and system changes. An LCAN Coordinator as captain of the ship making sure that all the organizations and resources are aligned and available so the proposed destination can be reached and a strong anchor that can help support the direction of the LCAN without interfering with the “process”. Personally, this trinity is the framework my LCAN should review to move us off the sandbar. 

I had other revelatory moments but my major take away from this training, (besides my head exploding from all of the valuable information pumped in it over the three day period), was—this is HARD, continuous work! The leadership team can’t get complacent on decision-making. The LCAN coordinator must establish continuous communication for the network, align resources and facilitate the collective impact process and the anchor has to be comfortable with being the silent partner. Lastly, everything [common agenda, shared measurement systems, alignment, action steps, communication, and backbone support] is (and should be) connected to everything else when charting a course.

This training is a must-have in acquiring a deeper understanding of collective impact as it pertains to college access. 

So, was Cross singing about college access?  It’s Possible!

Sailing takes me away, to where I've always heard it could be
Just a dream and the wind to carry me, And soon I will be free

Bon Voyage!"


Margie Haas 
Coordinator, Barry Career Access Network

"Thank you to MCAN for allowing me to return to Maritime Academy this year with two of our Leadership Team board members. My expectations were greatly exceeded. By attending the academy as a team we strengthen our commitment to the vision of Goal 2025. Learning the elements of Collective Impact and how to facilitate implementation was vital as a team. We had great conversations about the steps in the Collective Impact process that we’ve already accomplished and where we want to go. Personally, I now have two additional people that can speak to our initiative. It won’t be just me talking! Going forward we will review, revisit for revisions, recommit to Goal 2025 as a team."




Author: Sarah Anthony, Deputy Director for Partnerships and Advocacy
Posted: Sept. 12, 2017


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