The German Village Society will kick off its next strategic planning process this month, and has appointed a task force to serve as the hub.

The German Village Society will kick off its next strategic planning process this month, and has appointed a task force to serve as the hub.

I am so excited because I have asked Amanda Smolinec to be chairwoman of the task force, and she is just the person to do it.

Amanda spent her professional career putting together strategic and business plans while working in diverse industries such as satellite communications, sporting goods and the banking industry.

So, she's a pro at the process, but she brings a mix of passion for German Village and is very excited to put her talent to work for her neighborhood.

Amanda and I, along with Board President Jeanne Likins who appointed the task force, have laid a groundwork for the Society to follow best practices in nonprofit strategic planning.

That calls for a planning process to call together a representative group of individuals from the community; to focus first on examining the nonprofit's mission statement; to involve community leaders and participants along the way; to focus on three to five outcomes that can be executed over about five years; and to undertake strategic planning every 5-10 years.

The Society last undertook a process of creating its vision and role statements in 2007-08.

That project brought more than 40 stakeholders to the table to envision German Village in 2017.

It put forth a vision that called on GVS to provide:

* Civic advocacy and education.

* Community engagement.

* A neighborhood hub.

* Support for the historic preservation and architectural review process.

* Resources and leadership.

In the past six years, our community has achieved significant successes in each of these areas.

We have deepened and broadened our connections to city and state government and to other neighborhoods.

As we engage leaders throughout the region, we serve as both teachers and advocates, and we learn so much by listening to their perspectives, too.

I can't say enough about our community engagement.

By my count, we have about 350 regular volunteers, when you combine folks who show up every week for a Visitors Center shift, every month to serve on a committee, or who lend their talents every time one of our annual events rolls around.

This is the history of this organization, the present and it has to be our future. Our boats rise together as we engage each other.

There is no question our Meeting Haus and our organization serve as a strong neighborhood hub.

We provide a way to meet your neighbors, volunteer your time, make a difference and forge the future.

We also drink the occasional glass of wine as we sing together, celebrate together (consider that 50th anniversary year, or last year's Bicentennial event), enjoy art or lectures together, and more.

When the recession hit and Jody Graichen moved to Georgia, our preservation efforts took a blow.

But it was temporary, and the community rallied to fill the gap with passionate volunteerism and now with solid fundraising that has allowed us to rehire the preservation advocate on staff.

Consider, too, the growth in our group tours, entirely led by volunteer docents, which is one of the great ways we share our preservation story.

We continue to enjoy the attention of generous donors and people with the skills and vision to lead us forward.

Much of this success was in the midst of a period of big change in our organization, and a massive national recession.

Now, we are ready to investigate and implement the next set of strategies, and from them develop an action plan to march us down the road toward our goals.

The new strategic planning task force will integrate the '07-08 vision into its work, as well as a set of one-year action plans that have been in place for the past several years.

The task force will be made up of a cross-section of Villagers with various history, interest, expertise and point of view.

Amanda will serve as chairwoman and facilitator. I will be a member. Darci Congrove will serve as the Society Board of Trustees representative. The other key members are Chris Crader, Jay Godfrey, Connie Swain and Nancy Turner.

The board, committees and the community will all have opportunities to contribute.

When the task force has completed its work, its results will filter back through the board of trustees and committees to come up with the action plans, set the deadlines and assure adoption and implementation.

German Village Society Executive Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column.