Professional Resource

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Exploring the Organizational Culture of ZERO TO THREE

The guiding vision for the ZERO TO THREE culture is built on the ideal, “We believe that how we do our work is as important as what we do.”

Amy Pirretti Project Director, NCECDTL

ZERO TO THREE has 190 employees across 32 states. Typically around half work remotely but currently the organization is fully remote due to COVID-19. Staff stretch across operational functions, Policy division and a Programs division. Many staff work solely on a specifically funded initiative while others work across multiple projects. There is a diversity in the place, space, and goals of how we work across the organization that are impactful on the culture.

In 2019, ZERO TO THREE conducted a staff survey. One of the goals of the survey was to explore employees’ perception of the culture of the organization. Staff positively reported that they felt a part of something meaningful and that their supervisor both cares about them and is also invested in their growth and learning. The survey also uncovered areas for improvement, including the need for increased inter-department cooperation, employees feeling that senior management could be more connected to employee needs, and a desire to improve workplace efficiencies. The word “siloed” was a frequently used word across responses.

To explore and champion the survey results, the senior management team put into place the inaugural ZERO TO THREE Culture Committee. The committee is a volunteer-driven team, representing a diverse group of individuals from different aspects of our work across the organization at varying levels, roles and responsibilities. I was selected to be the Chair.

“The committee is a volunteer-driven team, representing a diverse group of individuals from different aspects of our work across the organization…”

What drew me to this work is both intellectual and practical, and grounded in a sense of hopefulness. Intellectually, I enjoy exploring culture broadly—I am always fascinated and want to explore the customs, arts, rules and achievements that define groups, whether it’s through education, travel, music, food, or the workplace. I am an avid traveler, and as soon as I get somewhere (whether a different state or country), I love to hit the local market/grocery store and see what is new to our family. Practically, I have completed graduate work in human resource management, project management and organizational communications, so thinking about organizational culture is workplace fun for me! I love when teams feel empowered and achieve. I like knowing, whatever little piece I brought to a team, it helped them to innovate, achieve and push beyond! I also LOVE a good celebration of achievements in meaningful ways to the team or individual. The hopefulness that interested me was around authenticity, transparency, and fun. These are a few of my personal workplace values, that I hope I can bring to the Committee and help shape our team as we tackle our work.

In May, the Culture Committee kicked off its first meeting focused on developing an understanding of the employee survey results and generating ideas to operationalize three priorities for the Committee to start with for 2020-21:

  • Priority #1: Strengthening Our Interpersonal Relationships
  • Priority #2: Developing Connected Leadership Teams
  • Priority #3: Working Smarter

What we could not have known at that first meeting in early May was how quickly this committee would need to work in partnership with the Senior Management Team to support the ongoing stressors employees are facing during the continued COVID-19 pandemic as well as identifying immediate actions that the organization can take to promote a deeper understanding of racial equity issues as Senior Management works on a longer term plan to address racial injustices. To date the Culture Committee has:

  1. Conducted a survey on equity needs at ZERO TO THREE:

    • Committee members presented the results across individual team meetings throughout the organization;
    • Made recommendations for speakers to create a shared understanding on equity; and
    • Created a Self-Study set of resources for staff to explore racial equity including upcoming sessions at the ZERO TO THREE annual conference.
  2. Worked with Human Resources to:

    • Launched a Self-Care Webinar series for staff;
    • exploring the idea of “meeting-free time” across the organization, with HR taking the lead; and
    • Starting to operationalize the “Ask a Parenting Expert” vlog series where staff can send in anonymous “at home” parenting concerns, as many staff are serving the dual role of at home educators; one of our ZERO TO THREE parenting experts will record and share advice.

Our next steps include getting back to those initial three priorities and creating our Culture Committee roadmap with goals and timelines. We will break into sub-groups to develop a quarterly goal, strategy, and timeline across each priority.

Culture Committee Members:

Culture Committee Senior Management Champions:

  • Tracy Crudup, Overall Culture Committee Champion
  • Priority #1 Champion—Janice Im
  • Priority #2 Champion—Ernestine Benedict (Interim)
  • Priority #3 Champion—Myra Jones-Taylor

Committee Members

  • Amy Pirretti, Chair, National Center, Early Childhood Dev., Teaching, & Learning (NC ECDTL)
  • Maria Gehl, Vice-Chair, Mindfulness
  • Maria Spriggs, Secretary, Product & Innovation
  • Jim Bialick, Priority Lead #1, Policy
  • Crystal Kee Asst. Priority Lead #1 Programmatic Assistance for Tribal Home Visiting (PATH)
  • Christina Nigrelli, Priority Lead #2, California Office
  • Katrina Macasaet, Asst. Priority Lead #2, Product & Innovation
  • Trenna Valado, Priority Lead #3, Research & Evaluation
  • Danielle Robbio, Asst. Priority Lead #3, Communications
  • Stacie Patton, Member, Human Resources

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