Characteristics of an LCAN Coordinator

LCAN Spotlight

LCAN coordinators hold a unique position in our communities - they coordinate the community-wide college access strategy developed with the leadership team. Coordinators should have a clear vision of where the LCAN needs to focus and the ability to drive that focus forward. Rather than providing direct services to students and families, they work as trainers, conveners and liaisons.

As MCAN coaches and guides LCANs through the planning process, we often turn to a list of ideal skill-sets that make an effective network coordinator:

  • Visionary/mission-driven
  • Results-oriented
  • Collaborative, relationship builder
  • Focused, but adaptive
  • Charismatic and influential communicator
  • Politically savvy
  • Humble

We encourage our LCAN coordinators to empower the direct-service providers in their network and hold them accountable for shared outcomes. A coordinator can’t shy away from constantly pushing the community to action. But, that is easier said than done. We decided to approach the following four LCAN coordinators from around the state to ask them how they bring the list of skill sets to life:

 MaryAnnBehm

Mary Ann Behm
Program Coordinator
Launch Manistee 

 MHowell

Meghan Howell
Coordinator
Wexford-Missaukee College Access Network 

 AKryscynski

Ashley Kryscynski
Coordinator
Washtenaw Futures 

 AJohnson

Ashley Johnson
Executive Director
Detroit College Access Network 

 
How do you ensure your work stays at the network level rather than direct service?

Meghan: It’s important to establish yourself as a resource at the onset of any initiative and clearly define the expectations for the group you are working with. I provide a clear path to complete the activity and all the resources needed to do so upfront. This leaves room for newcomers to participate in an entry level way and veterans to elaborate independently.

Ashley K: I stay conscious of how I can best support and leverage resources for our direct service workers to make their jobs easier. As much as I’d love to be the one directly helping with college applications and FAFSA completion, I know that I have a greater impact in supporting those who are already doing this work.

What are you able to do by coordinating the community-wide college access strategy that you wouldn’t be able to do if you provided direct service?

Mary Ann: I’m able to work with community resources and the media to facilitate and promote our initiative. For example, during College Application Week, I provided the structure, information, and resources to the counseling staff for them to organize events.

Ashley J: We’re able to work at a systems level to ensure that our campaigns reach more students and have a greater impact on students city-wide…We also have an opportunity to improve the systems that students navigate every day, which will have positive long-term effects on the outcomes of students.

Ashley K: Leveraging multiple community resources to help fill in resource or knowledge gaps! The biggest success we had this year in Washtenaw County was creating the College Coaching Corps program with Eastern Michigan University and MCAN. Developing and implementing this program just isn't possible as a direct service worker. Our Leadership Team identified a need in our community and was able to identify multiple funding sources and create brand new positions to fill the need for specialized college advisors.

What has the community been able to accomplish with someone facilitating the collective impact process that wasn’t occurring prior to the LCAN’s existence?

Meghan: The LCAN has really moved the magnifying glass onto college access and who in our community is doing what.  Before our LCAN the community had a lot of really great things happening, but the communication to bridge those activities was lacking.  No single organization wanted to step into that coordinator role or be seen as telling other organizations what to do.  Consequently each organization went about its business respectful of the others doing the same.  Our LCAN gave a common denominator to all those efforts, and an independent voice to assess what was happening, and to make suggestions for coordination/improvement/change.  As a coordinator you can meet with all the organizations independently and bring concerns to light in the name of improving college access, not in the name of pushing agendas.  The LCAN provides that independent voice that is trying to improve college access. Not many can disagree with that, and the politics melt away.   

Ashley J: We’ve been able to create a formal structure that includes all the city’s school partners. Due to this formal structure, we have more buy-in citywide from schools and other partners. Our leadership team meetings have become more productive, and we have selected priority areas to focus on for the next one- to two-years.

What is the Leadership Team most excited about regarding having a staff member waking up every day thinking about college access?

Mary Ann: The Launch Manistee leadership team is most excited that we’ve seen accomplishments so quickly. There is collaboration going on that was not occurring before, and having a program coordinator means there is a dedicated staff member who makes sure the initiatives happen in a systematic and sustainable manner.

Ashley K: What excites them most is knowing this work cannot be done within their own respective sector alone, and that by having a dedicated coordinator, there is someone who acts as the point of contact to bring all their knowledge and resources together.  College has always been valued in our community and each sector knows how college attainment directly impacts their sector, which is why everyone does something in regards to college access. However, the team is excited to know that there’s now a dedicated staff person to bring all of these to the table to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

 

Sarah Anthony headshot 2013Author: Sarah Anthony, director of finance and strategic partnerships, Michigan College Access Network

Posted: March 18, 2015

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