Organizational Navigation Client Spotlight: CARECEN Central American Refugee Center

CARECEN was introduced to Support Center in 2020 when their Executive Director, Elise de Castillo, Esq. was searching for a “toolkit to get started on revolutionary capacity building work and shaping CARECEN’s internal and external capacity.”

Through Support Center’s Organizational Navigator program CARECEN’s staff and board took the iCAT assessment, underwent priority setting and goal check-ins with Support Center Navigator, Joan Malin, and developed processes that have been “instrumental in CARECEN’s expanded capacity and preparedness for our next forty years.”

One primary focus for their internal capacity building was to provide staff leadership and skill building opportunities. Through the Organizational Navigator program, CARECEN staff had access to trainings and workshops for free that “have been invaluable in helping staff develop skills and be effective in their roles. Sometimes staff are not only new to the field, but new managers, and these trainings helped them get up to speed quickly.” Thisincluded participation in trainings led by Support Center Affiliate Consultant, Rodney Fuller. Rodney’s material “connected” with CARECEN staff, and “left them excited to attend subsequent sessions because they felt like they would continue to learn.”

CARECEN had also set board development as a high priority during their goal setting.Following the recruitment of new board members and plan to further expand their board, CARECEN enlisted Support Center to provide board development and training, along with their access to free Support Center office hours, trainings, and workshops. The introduction of Marie Zieger, Support Center Affiliate Consultant, allowed for a more cohesive and effective board that was able to have challenging conversations. Marie acted as a “bridge” between Executive Director and board, and “ in two short sessions, helped the board to understand their roles effectively, build relationships, and lay the groundwork for a strong board moving forward.”

Despite the pandemic and lingering effects, CARCEN was able to build and utilize their internal capacity. To such an extent, recently, they secured a funding partner for a multi-year commitment and a promise to introduce the organization to additional funders. This funding commitment will allow them to further their mission of providing high quality legal assistance to immigrant communities in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Speaking to Support Center’s partnership with CARECEN over the past twelve months, Elise spoke to the importance of being acknowledged as a distinct organization with unique growth opportunities. “Every nonprofit leader needs to know about Support Center. There are so many resources, but we don’t know where to find them. Support Center provides a plethora of information, understands our needs, and has services tailor made to fit them.”