Jessica Kadish-Hernandez, MFA (she/her/hers)

Jessica joined Morten Group in 2011 as the firm’s Project Coordinator and later as Project Manager for a wide array of client projects, including strategic planning, executive searches, organizational assessments, and board development. As a Consulting Associate, she works as a facilitator with Morten Group’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) team. She has been a teaching artist for over ten years, leading sessions with participants ranging from kindergarteners to corporate professionals. She holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago and an MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she worked with the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts to develop and facilitate professional development curricula for elementary school teachers in the Urbana Public Schools. She is fluent in Spanish.

We asked Jessica, “If you could share a meal with any two individuals, living or dead, who would you choose and why?” She said, “Lorraine Hansberry and James Baldwin. For their transformation of the American literature and theatre. For their incisive insights (here). And for their wicked senses of humor. They were friends in life, and I bet their back-and-forth banter across the table would be hilarious.”

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The Morten Group has been a trusted advisor through developing and integrating Pride Foundation’s racial equity work, visioning our strategic plan, and leading our executive search. They have also been critical to organizing and driving these processes, while adding critical capacity and expertise to help our organization expand and deepen our work. Their comprehensive and holistic approach across all organizational functions—from racial equity integration to succession planning and strategic visioning to resource development—has been a tremendous asset at a time of important evolution for the foundation.

• Kris Hermanns, CEO

Pride Foundation

Morten Group’s work with the Pride Foundation began in 2016, when we performed a racial equity assessment and subsequent action plan, implementation of which began in 2018. Morten Group continues to work on the racial equity action plan with Pride Foundation and in 2018 also conducted their strategic visioning process and executive search.

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Mary Morten is a Faculty member for the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management at North Park University’s Executive Director BootCamp. Lauren Sivak, the managing director of 2nd Story, a performing arts nonprofit focused on first-person true narrative storytelling, has addressed challenge after challenge head-on since taking a leadership role at the organization in 2014. With a desire to lead her organization to greater success, Lauren participated in the Axelson Center’s BootCamp for New Nonprofit CEOs. At BootCamp, she learned strategies she could immediately put into place at 2nd Story.

“We are in an exciting place right now. There are so many things I’ve taken from the Axelson Center BootCamp that I’ve implemented into my work with 2nd Story.” For example, at the end of the three-day BootCamp, participants make a 90-day plan and look for ways to accomplish early wins. Lauren and 2nd Story artistic director Amanda Delheimer found that incorporating the early wins and the 90-day plan into board and staff committee meetings helped move from big-picture thinking to incremental steps that can be achieved by staff. “This has changed the way we put things into action. Many times, there are a lot of great ideas, but nobody thinks about the execution and who is going to implement those great ideas.”

To read more about Lauren and 2nd Story’s success following BootCamp, read the entire Fall 2017 Spotlight here. 

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Following Morten Group’s work on the LGBT Needs Assessment with the Chicago Community Trust, and on the “Your Voice! Your Health!” research study with the University of Chicago, we are continuing our commitment to exploring the needs of marginalized communities in Chicago by partnering with Howard Brown Health to conduct an assessment of the health needs of all women in the Chicagoland area.

As part of the assessment process, Morten Group will be conducting interviews, town halls – and an online survey.

We are hoping to reach between 750-1000 people all across Chicago! To participate in the online survey, click here: Women’s Needs Assessment Survey

If you are interested in participating in a town hall, check back here for dates and times, or you can also find the information on Howard Brown’s website, at www.howardbrown.org.

Other questions or concerns? Interested in participating in an interview? Email Morten Group Project Coordinator, Sarah Menke at sarah@mortengroup.com

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ECHO Joint Agreement has been working in collaboration with the Morten Group to provide personalized organizational trainings to our staff. The Morten Group provides a level of expertise that allows our staff to have healthy and meaningful discussions in building cultural competency.

• Lea Anne Frost, Executive Director

ECHO Joint Agreement

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“In working with Morten Group on our recent executive search, I found a true partner. Their approach, their expertise, and their outcomes make Morten Group uniquely qualified to support any nonprofit pursue a culture of excellence. Because of our partnership with Morten Group, we are a stronger, more strategic organization.” 

• Joe Hollendoner, CEO

San Francisco AIDS Foundation

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In 2016, Morten Group concluded a two-year community engagement role in recruitment, data collection, and event management for an NIH-funded study at the University of Chicago College of Medicine called “Your Voice! Your Health!,” a study focused around LGBTQ people of color and their relationship to health care providers. The study explored shared decision making, or SDM, a collaborative process that enables healthcare providers and patients to make informed health care decisions together.

The study contained three phases:

  1. Review: a systematic review of key issues in SDM among LGBTQ people of color.
  2. Research: The team conducted research, seeking input and feedback on desired shared decision making goals from diverse stakeholders (including patients, clinicians, organizations, community groups, and health care delivery systems) representing LGBTQ people of color.
  3. Tool Development: The project developed tools to help stakeholders implement and evaluate SDM interventions in LGBTQ POC populations.
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In April 2016, leadership at The National LGBTQ Task Force retained Morten Group to conduct an assessment of its annual Creating Change, “the nation’s preeminent political, leadership, and skills-building conference for the LGBT movement.”

The purpose of the assessment was to: 1) formulate a purpose statement for the Creating Change Conference that reflects the strategic vision of The Task Force and takes into account where the organization is in the LGBTQ movement; 2) determine how the operations, systems, decision making, and infrastructure needs of the conference are presently being met and what opportunities exist for the organization to strengthen the Task Force’s ability to produce the conference; and 3) explore how The Task Force can learn and adapt annually to LGBTQ movement trends and priorities, while maintaining programming and a constructive healthy conference culture that reflects the work of the organization. Morten Group collected data from more than 400 individuals from a number of different stakeholder groups by the way of three different data collection vehicles (online survey, interviews, and focus groups), and reported back on the strengths and assets of Creating Change, as well as its needs and challenges.

Please click the link below to download the full report. Thank you for your interest in Creating Change and the National LGBTQ Task Force.

Report to National LGBTQ Task Force

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“The services we received from the Morten Group were far broader than simply an Executive Director search. They have helped us manage the entire transition process and are still working with us as we move through the first 90 days under new leadership. While giving us complete control over the outcome, Mary was uncannily on target in her predictions of what we would find, how long it would take, and how we would respond to those people we interviewed. The Morten Group did a very thorough and efficient search for a new Executive Director for us.”

• Victoria Woolner-Samuels, Board President

Changing Worlds

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“We had a great experience working with Mary and the Morten Group team throughout our re-branding and strategic planning process. Critical to our organizing model is having a deep base of community members engaged at all steps. The process that Morten Group laid out with us was engaging, flexible, and led us to a 3-year plan and vision that our board, staff, and membership are deeply invested in.”

• Jenny Arwade, Co-Executive Director

Communities United

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