Looking Forward to Serving You: NHMA's 2024 - 2027 Strategic Plan

Margaret Byrnes, Executive Director

One of NHMA’s major initiatives for 2024 is establishing a strategic plan to guide the organization’s direction over the next several years. According to the NH Center for Nonprofits, strategic planning is “big picture thinking” about the direction the organization is taking and the way it is fulfilling its mission. Often, specific goals, objectives, strategies, and resources are included in the strategic plan as a means to deliver on the mission, and the perspective of a broad range of stakeholders is often included.

Working with a consultant—who is also the town moderator in Bethlehem!—NHMA is gathering information to answer a seemingly simple question: Where do we go from here to best serve our members?

Strategic Planning Work Group Formation

The first step of the process was to establish a strategic planning work group (SPWG). Their charge? To recommend a strategic plan to our 25-member Board of Directors, who ultimately has the authority to amend and approve the plan.

The SPWG is compromised of the following board members, local officials, and NHMA staff:

  1. Dennis Shanahan, Co-Chair, Member of the Board of Directors and Dover Deputy City Mayor
  2. Margaret Byrnes, Co-Chair, Executive Director of NHMA
  3. Steve Fournier, Member of the Board of Directors and Newmarket Town Manager
  4. Laura Buono, Member of the Board of Directors and Hillsborough Town Administrator
  5. Dale Girard, Member of the Board of Directors and Claremont City Mayor
  6. Joanne Haight, Member of the Board of Directors and Sandwich Select Board Chair
  7. Michael Branley, Swanzey Town Administrator
  8. Lori Radke, Bedford Town Councilor and Hollis Town Administrator
  9. Jonathan Cowal, Municipal Services Counsel of NHMA

Information Gathering & Workshopping

As of the beginning of May, when this issue of Town & City goes to print, this is where we currently sit in the process—at the information gathering and workshopping stage.  

To assist the SPWG in this process, NHMA gathered information in three main ways: (1) a membership survey (sent to city/town mangers and town administrators); (2) one-on-one interviews with selected municipalities and a variety of stakeholders and partners; and (3) input from NHMA staff.

Although we are still only part way through the process, here are a few themes that stand out from our information gathering:

  • Our staff are knowledgeable and the services we provide are important for New Hampshire towns and cities. NHMA provides a lot of services for being a small, nine-person staff.
  • More training and support are needed, such as for specific roles, newer staff, and in other areas, such as grant writing, municipal operations, and human resources/recruitment of the municipal workforce.
  • Municipal challenges and issues do vary by region, and so regional approaches and regional collaboration could be improved.
  • NHMA is a critical voice at the legislature, and threats to silence NHMA and local officials are of significant concern.
  • Our most used services, according to the survey, are:
    • Attending trainings
    • Contacting legal services
    • Reading the Legislative Bulletin
    • Reading Town & City magazine and other educational publications

Again, this is only a snapshot of the information we have collected. NHMA members and partners have provided us with a wealth of knowledge, information, and perspective—and we are so grateful for your time!

Board of Directors Action

In May, the SPWG will present its proposed strategic plan to the board of directors. With the input of NHMA staff, the board will discuss, debate, and possibly amend the proposed plan. The final plan will go the board for adoption in June.

Publication of the Plan

NHMA will share the strategic plan with members in late summer 2024, with more information and details to be presented at our Annual Conference on October 30 and 31 in Manchester. (We hope to see you there!)

strategic plan

Implementation Begins

As mentioned above, the strategic plan goals will be high level with big picture goals. Once adopted, NHMA staff will be working to implement, review, and adjust—if changing circumstances justify it—the goals of the plan to best serve the membership. As a nine-person organization, this will challenge NHMA to determine what we need in order to give the members what they need.

Please stay tuned for more information on the strategic planning process and thank you for your support of NHMA!

Margaret Byrnes is Executive Director of the New Hampshire Municipal Association.  She can be reached at mbyrnes@nhmunicipal.org or via phone at 603.224.7447.