2020 Demanded Smart Strategies From Every Organization – Here’s What We’ve Been Working On

Over the past months, we at Schaffer&Combs have been experiencing and managing through the effects of the virulent global pandemic, the rolling economic crisis, and the intensification of violence against black and brown people.


During this time, our clients have been a regular source of inspiration and insight. Here are some of the projects S&C has been engaged with this year:


Organizations building a non-toxic future: The environmental and human impact of the chemicals used in major consumer industries cannot be overstated. Building on our work of the last several years in the apparel and textile industry, S&C spent much of 2020 managing major strategic and organizational projects with global reach for the organizations who are driving the adoption of sustainable chemical practices. Among others, these include ZDHC Roadmap to Zero, bluesign Technologies, GC3, and ChemFORWARD. Collectively, their work is fundamentally changing chemical use in one of the world’s largest supply chains.



For over 45 years, Children’s Council of San Francisco has been at the heart of early childhood education in San Francisco, supporting families, providers, and caregivers with a myriad of services. S&C was delighted to continue our partnership with Children’s Council CEO Gina Fromer and their Board to align on a new Vision and Mission, develop their five-year strategic plan, and place their first Chief Strategy and Impact Officer, Yvette Renteria, who will be leading the implementation of the strategic plan.




The Kenneth Rainin Foundation is an Oakland, California based family foundation that is working towards systems change in Oakland’s troubled school district, life changing translational medical research designed to bring new treatments to patients as quickly as possible, and is one of the pillars of the art and film communities of the Greater Bay Area. Over the past three years, Schaffer&Combs has helped to redesign the organization in order to achieve its systems change goals, facilitated a new ten-year strategy, and three-year strategic plans for each function and department. In addition, our talent and search division has placed several executives to build out the new organizational design and achieve those longer term strategies.



The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute offers a globally recognized measure of safer, more sustainable products to drive innovation for the circular economy. S&C facilitated the development of a three-year strategic plan to increase the scale and impact of the Cradle to Cradle framework, activate a global community of stakeholders, and build organizational resilience and excellence. 




S&C has provided evaluation and strategic services for the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation’s Education and Civil Society programs since 2016. We have facilitated the creation and implementation of their comprehensive impact and evaluation framework, and are now working to measure the results of their investments over time. As the largest private funder of Afterschool time in the U.S., the results of Mott’s investments in a 50-State Afterschool Network have never been more pronounced than this year, as almost all school time has been replaced with out-of-school time. To learn more about how the Mott Foundation and the 50-State Afterschool Network have stepped up to support children, families, and communities during the pandemic, click here.



An Alliance for Accelerating Impact: The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, ZDHC Foundation, Textile Exchange, and the Apparel Impact Institute

S&C was honored to serve as design and facilitating partner for four leading sustainability organizations in the formation of a new alliance of partnerships to accelerate impact and drive efficiencies in the apparel and textile industry. S&C has supported this coalition in the creation of wide ranging proposed partnerships and integrations, collectively designed to substantially de-duplicate and defragment the industry’s efforts and initiatives, and will continue to support the endeavor, to the point of finalized agreements, throughout the months to come. 

As a firm, we’re embracing the challenge of this moment to examine and refresh our own core values and professional practices. After reading Deborah Chay’s Committing to Equity: an Employer’s Guide and Arthur Combs’s Call it What it is: Power, we’ve been asking ourselves what it would mean for S&C to ‘reframe, revalue, reveal, and reproduce’ for equity. We have undertaken an internal process, and welcome correspondence with others who may be considering or already involved in similar initiatives.


Finally, James Schaffer has hosted a series of collaborative webinars for a group of 25+ leaders in sustainability, on the theme of continuing to thrive as systems change leaders during times of crisis. The conversations have been intimate and powerful as we seek to create a safe space for leaders to learn from each other.


Like many, we have found ourselves seeking greater connection and guidance both within our communities, and without. If you’d like to learn more about what we’re up to, or chat about what’s going on with the organizations that matter to you, just let us know. 

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