PMA Consulting, LLC

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Connecting to Community through a Partnership with the Raleigh Chamber

By: Katie McDowell

Leila Thomas PMA Consultant

PMA Consultant Leila Thomas has fond memories, great experiences, and deep roots in the Raleigh area. She spent her childhood in that close-knit North Carolina community and returned after college and five years in the San Francisco banking world. Leila reconnected with her hometown as part of the fundraising team for Marbles Kids Museum – the interactive Children’s Museum that serves as a vital resource for the Triangle community.

Marriage and new life goals bought Leila to Charlotte, and a position on the PMA Consulting Team anchored her nonprofit career passion. Imagine her delight to once again be involved in an opportunity in downtown Raleigh, this time as a PMA Consultant working with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, located right around the corner from Marbles! For Leila, the developing partnership between the Raleigh Chamber and PMA Consulting presented the interaction between two wonderful worlds.

The Raleigh Chamber engaged PMA Consulting in late 2015 to conduct an organizational assessment that would guide three-year growth and direction. A comprehensive, strategic review of operations followed, supported by a wide array of community stakeholder conversations and targeted focus groups. Results of the partnership included an updated mission statement, a new vision statement, multi-year goals and priorities, and an articulated value proposition.

The PMA team, led by Leila and PMA President, Patton McDowell, found the project with the Raleigh Chamber highly successful and enjoyable, in large part due to the visible and energetic commitment of staff and volunteers. As Leila stated: “Our work with the Raleigh Chamber felt like a true partnership, with all parties – consultants, staff, community members, and volunteers – each bringing their own perspective, expertise, and ideas to the table. A collaborative process leads to a higher-quality final product, and makes the work itself more fun.”

PMA’s initial connection to the Raleigh Chamber grew out of a partnership and working relations with the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. The Charlotte Chamber retained PMA to design and implement a comprehensive feasibility study exploring private philanthropy as a potential revenue stream for the Chamber. Over several months, PMA conducted research and interviews with leading chambers across the country, and identified the opportunities and challenges associated with philanthropic fundraising for chambers. The Firm’s comprehensive analysis and recommendations provided the Chamber with a thoughtful and creative funding strategy. The PMA team is proud to have contributed to both enlightening and challenging Chamber projects that leveraged new business partnerships and resulted in strong outcomes.

For Leila and for the rest of the PMA team, discovering the multitude of ways the Raleigh and Charlotte Chambers support and advocate for the economies, workforce, businesses, and overall quality of life in their communities was both personally and professionally rewarding. The team looks forward to their Chamber partners’ continued impact and community leadership.

Hearing From The Client

Jim Hansen Raleigh Chamber Task Force Chair Regional President, PNC Bank

“When the CEO of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce retired in 2015 after 21 years, and a new CEO joined the organization, the Executive Committee and the new CEO decided it was the right time to embark on an Organizational Assessment to guide the Chamber’s strategic plan.Through an RFP process, the Task Force that led the Organizational Assessment quickly realized the value that PMA Consulting would add to the project. The PMA team completed a number of community interviews, board listening sessions, and online data gathering to guide its recommendations back to the Task Force.

The Chamber team of staff and volunteers found PMA to be timely, professional, highly qualified, and the result was concise, clear feedback on where the organization stood today and where its opportunities lie for the future. This process and information has guided the strategic plan for the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, and made the organization stronger as it focuses on its mission to build a thriving regional economy, enhance the community’s quality of life, and strengthen member businesses.”

Jim Hansen, Regional President, PNC Bank – Organizational Assessment Task Force Chair

Click here to access the Horizon Initiative report released by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) on eight influences shaping the next decade for Chambers of Commerce.