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Lipscomb’s strategic planning expertise in demand by Middle Tennessee organizations

Williamson County Schools, housing authority among those who have turned to professors for guidance on strategic planning.

Keely Hagan | 

Hope Nordstrom (left) and Laura Encalade (right)

The tagline for the College of Leadership and Public Service, “Where Tennessee Turns for Leadership,” is certainly ringing true when it comes to the School of Public Policy’s Executive Director Laura Encalade and Special Counsel to the President for Strategy Hope Nordstrom.

Bringing a wealth of expertise in leadership development, strategy and strategic planning at the university, state and national levels, the pair have worked with various local organizations including school districts like Williamson County and government agencies such as the Metropolitan Development and Housing Authority. 

“One of the most critical responsibilities of a leader is to have a strong vision and a strong plan for where their organization or their team is going. We bring important perspectives and are able to assist leaders with the critical set of competencies and skills needed to develop, implement and monitor the process of putting their vision into an effective strategic plan,” said Encalade. 

Laura Encalade

Laura Encalade

“Having done the work before, we can share practices that have worked well in similar organizations,” she said.

Encalade earned her leadership stripes in various roles in the Tennessee Department of Education and at the national level at the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), a national nonprofit that increases educator capacity across K-12 and higher education partners in over 21 states. Nordstrom has coordinated program development and strategy in areas throughout Lipscomb: the Center for Teaching & Learning, the College of Professional Studies and the College of Education. 

One of the pair’s standout ventures is Lipscomb’s collaboration with Williamson County Schools. When the district began the planning process to create a new five-year strategic plan, they turned to Lipscomb leaders Nordstrom and Encalade who led the district through the process from the initial kickoff of the project in December 2022 to the school board’s adoption of the strategic plan in June 2023.

“It was a really robust process,” Encalade said. From the start of the comprehensive strategic planning journey, she and Nordstrom recommended the creation of a steering committee comprised of representatives from different walks of life, including school board representation, teacher groups, parents and other community members. 

“The stakeholder engagement was expansive,” Encalade said. “There were several community input sessions and a steering committee that reviewed all of the input gathered from the community to determine priorities and ultimately craft the strategic plan. It was important to the district to include diverse stakeholders to craft a visionary roadmap for its future.”

Encalade (left) and (Nordstrom) at Williamson County

Lipscomb leaders Nordstrom and Encalade leading the Williamson County school district in 2023 through the process to develop a five-year strategic plan.

Nordstrom’s and Encalade’s next project is with the Tennessee Department of Human Resources, where they will help to redefine leadership frameworks and spearhead continuous improvement efforts in the state’s leadership program. 

“Bringing in outside trainers or facilitators for leadership development, strategy and strategic planning provides an advantage,” Encalade said. “As both instructors and practitioners, faculty bring a wealth of knowledge honed through research and real-world application. 

Hope Nordstrom

Hope Nordstrom

“It also allows the leader to be a participant in the process instead of having to organize and facilitate the whole process,” she said. “They get the time and the space to be able to sit back and reflect with their team, to participate with their team and to listen in a deeper way than what is possible when they are the ones facilitating the process.”

In addition to Lipscomb’s increasing partnerships with organizations to facilitate leadership support and development outside of the classroom, Encalade also provides leadership training for young leaders (Master of Public Administration), rural leaders (Regional Scholars Program), nonprofits, local government leaders (Master of Leadership and Public Service), military leaders (Lipscomb-TN National Guard partnership), and more through the School of Public Policy.

By empowering their partners to navigate the complexities of today’s world with confidence and clarity, Nordstrom and Encalade are  strengthening leadership throughout the state and reconfirming that Lipscomb is a resource where communities, organizations, and individuals converge to chart a course for strategic planning and leadership development.