Here to help you with more than 25 years of professional experience in strategic planning, fundraising, and organizational transformation & change.
I have walked alongside organizational leaders to help them articulate their vision, build consensus, obtain funding, and engage true and lasting change to realize that vision.
I earned my B.A. in Business from Goshen College and earned an MBA from George Mason University.
As an executive leadership coach credentialed by the International Coach Federation, Executive Process Consultant credentialed by the Society for Process Consulting, and an Accredited Practitioner with iEQ9 Integrative Enneagram, I am here to support you in a variety of ways.
Walking alongside leaders to help them articulate their vision, build consensus, obtain funding, and engage true and lasting change to realize that vision.
Coaching is walking alongside a leader by partnering with them in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
Executive leadership coaching is not about providing answers to questions. Coaching is about asking questions and providing a framework for a client to understand what help might look like and create a clear path forward.
Design Group International utilizes a co-active coaching process that develops a collaborative coaching relationship, an alliance, between two equals for the purpose of meeting the client's leadership goals.
Being a board member is perhaps the most difficult and challenging work in organizational leadership. Being the chief executive in that room has its own set of unique challenges. It is no small task to occupy either of these two roles.
The field of board governance and the writing that surrounds it is as complex as brain surgery and as opaque as a starless night. We need a different approach.
Understanding the relational nuances of governance takes a keen listening ear, a willingness to be vulnerable, and a deep commitment to the core underlying purpose of the organization you shepherd.
By taking a step back to take a look at the purpose of this governing relationship is an excellent place to start developing your organization's governance model and the relationships necessary to implement it.
"Sometimes, as a nonprofit leader, one needs to make space to question things. How am I leading? What is the true potential of our organization? What is it about my personal experience that drives me to be passionate about this work?
These are the things typically questioned with other nonprofit leaders during happy hour, but those quickly turn into complaint sessions. Engaging Lon Swartzentruber to facilitate that sort of inquiry for both our leadership team and our board was a much more effective use of our time! After working with Lon, we all came away with a better understanding of how our personal strengths added to our mission, and more importantly, gave the board and senior staff permission to think beyond "the way we have always done things."
Under Lon's guidance, our leadership team grew closer and our board started thinking more courageously about our impact as an organization. If you are looking for someone to challenge your assumptions, push you to dig deeper, and help you envision a better and brighter future, Design Group International will help you find your way there."
- Jason Meyer, President/CEO @ Blandford Nature Center
There is a lot packed into the words leadership transition and succession planning.
Some people may not even want to talk about it, others wish to push it off for a while, and still others believe that it should have started long ago.
An important place to begin is by asking why. Why do we want to be about a leadership transition and succession plan in the first place? Asking questions like this takes leadership, foresight, and sincere desire to live into the mission of the organization for years to come.
Developing a leadership transition and succession planning process that works for your organization requires listening, understanding, and helping you articulate a way forward that captures people's imagination, passion, and engagement.
By walking alongside you, together we co-create a plan that crafts the future of the organization as it emerges.
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"Lon took the time to explore what ‘transition’ meant to me, even when I didn’t know what it all meant at first. By using a process approach, Lon created space to pose questions, to help me get at what I really wanted to accomplish through my founder transition and succession plan.
Instead of bringing a canned approach, Lon walked alongside me to discovery my pathway forward as it was being revealed. In doing so, Lon helped me use my skills and gifts in analysis that I’m most comfortable with to develop the plan that I needed. At the end of the day, this was my transition, and this approach made it much more personal and tailored to me.
Lon also helped me think through and develop a timeframe for transition that I could tackle. Rather than being overwhelmed by it, Lon helped me realize that I was already part of the way through my transition and that it was a process and not a single event or point in time.
Our next step was to break down my ‘job description’ into components. We went from an unwritten role to defining several roles, including Founder, CEO, as well as President, all of which was extremely helpful. In addition, I’ve appreciated Design Group International’s faith-based approach to everything they do. Lon is very comfortable to work with and someone that I had no problem sharing confidential information with."
- Thomas Nobel, Founder @ Baruch Senior Ministries
Begin with the end in mind.
Understanding why your organization exists and rediscovering its true purpose is a critical first step in casting a bold vision for the future.
Crafting a comprehensive and transformative plan can take place when there is alignment to the shared vision, mission, and values for your organization.
Developing a planning process that works for your organization requires listening, understanding, and articulating a way forward that captures people's imagination, passion, and engagement.
Grandville Calvin Christian School partnered with Design Group International to clarify our mission and core values and then to develop a new strategic plan. Lon and Rose worked with us to engage our staff, Board, and parents in a months-long process of developing both broad strategic goals for the future and specific tactics and action items to achieve those goals.
We appreciated how the process facilitated by Design Group International began with them not only listening to us but also involved an intentional process of listening to our community.
Following the adoption of the strategic plan, Lon and Rose also worked with us to frame a fundraising campaign to support the goals of the plan. They helped us to establish a framework for the campaign and to begin to re-engage our community in a culture of philanthropy that has led to positive donor engagement. In all of our work with Design Group International, they listened first and asked good questions to help guide us to a clear direction for the future of our schools.
- Eric Burgess, Head of School, Grandville Calvin Christian Schools
Bellevue Christian School is a 70+-year-old institution with a deep reverence for the vision of its founders. It is at the same time in one of the most competitive independent school markets in the country. Developing a strategic plan that would address our future needs while honoring the past seemed a difficult needle to thread.
Thankfully, we were blessed to work with the good people at Design Group International. The process consulting methodology led us to ask the questions we needed to answer about our school and produced an exciting plan for our future. The encouragement and support provided by Lon Swartzentruber and Matt Visser helped us craft a clear vision for our school, and importantly, kept us on track to deliver the plan on time and budget.
Design Group International cares about the institutions that they engage with. Beyond the scope of their work, we benefitted from executive coaching, assistance with the transition of a brand-new chief advancement offer, and even a gift at our auction. I am pleased to give Design Group International my highest recommendation.
- Kevin Dunning, Head of School @ Bellevue Christian School
Implementing a comprehensive capital campaign is an essential component to transforming and equipping your organization for the future.
High-quality transformative advancement efforts are essential in order to achieve the mission of any non-profit organization.
One of the most significant leadership challenges of our day is to manage complexity. When we propose to do something new, or unfamiliar, or even something that we have done before, it is often helpful to make sure we have a solid process to help us get to where we need to go.