By Susan Dreyfus

Alliance for Strong Families and Communities member Auberle was recently recognized by the Pittsburgh Business Times with one of its first ever Innovation Awards. Under the leadership of CEO John Lydon, Auberle was the only human services organization in a group of primarily tech companies and university tech centers to receive this award. Auberle was recognized for building highly effective innovative networks of 74 partners including volunteering businesses and community groups at its 412 Youth Zone, a one-stop center for young people aging out of foster care, and Auberle’s Employment Institute, which through 57 employment and 57 business partners, offers programs, trainings, and services for individuals facing barriers to employment.

Lydon spoke at the awards event about innovation as an Auberle core value and how Auberle welcomes mistakes as part of building a culture of innovation and captures ideas from all its staff, which leads to disruptive change. Employees appreciate this atmosphere of innovation and shared leadership that has led to Auberle being named a Top Work Place for the past five consecutive years and recognized as the Alliance Agency of the Year in 2012. In his remarks, John spoke about their strong and positive relationship with their public sector partners. He pointed out that these true partnerships are an example of “good government that works” and that it promotes innovation among its partners. Auberle’s acceptance of this award was well received by the audience of business leaders, as it helped them to see our sector as a partner in creating a strong and vital community and economy by building the human capital of the region through initiatives and programs like those being recognized with the Innovation Award.   

This award is an excellent recognition of how Auberle strives to build capacities to model the Alliance’s strategic framework for impact called the Commitments of High-Impact Nonprofit Organizations. Four of the Commitments are being modeled beautifully through this awesome award recognition: Innovating with Enterprise, Partnering with Purpose, Leading with Vision, and Co-Creating with Community. We are leading through a time of significant change, uncertainty, challenge, and opportunity, and the need for agility, the capacity to innovate and partner, and the paramount responsibility of our sector to advocate have never been more important. 

When John contacted us about their receipt of this prestigious award, he thanked the Alliance for our part in helping them to be the quality organization they are. He said, “The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities has been instrumental in Auberle’s transformation to place innovation and creativity as one of our core values. We look to the Alliance’s Commitments self-assessment instrument and national benchmarking with our peers for continuous improvement and learning from other network colleagues. We have utilized all the varied education forums through the Alliance to develop our leaders and perfect our strategy. This includes, for example, active attendance at the Senior Leadership Conference (SLC) for our emerging leaders. In 2018, we will be sending six of our leaders to SLC. We have sent four execs to the Alliance’s Executive Leadership Institute at the University of Michigan’s Schools of Business and Social Work, and we have already selected our fifth person to send in 2018. We have a saying at Auberle that until you have queried the appropriate Alliance list serve (Alliance Peer Exchange Groups in myAlliance) and the Alliance Library, you don’t have a problem yet.”

We are proud to have a national strategic action network of organizations, like Auberle, who see themselves and are seen as more than great providers of programs and services under contract with government, but are recognized for helping to solve the challenges faced by their communities and wanting to help all people reach their full potential.