Movement Strategy Center’s Advancement Team Further Developed Team Relationships and Organization-Aligned Strategic Goals During Their Recent Retreat

MSC’s Advancement team from left, Marcus Cunningham, Lidia Alvarez, Mohini Tadikonda, Simone Champagnie, David Malinowski, Anastasia David, Frank Gargione, Liyen Chong, Stephanie Imah, at the Alvin Ailey II dance performance.

Movement Strategy Center’s (MSC) Advancement team arrived on a beautiful spring day in Manhattan eager to build upon their connections with each other and their work; and for one team member, ready to begin their journey with MSC. The team stayed at Freehand New York and was greeted with thoughtfully crafted NYC-themed gift bags put together by local resident and MSC Communications Director, Frank Gargione.

The Advancement team consists of MSC’s Institutional Giving, Individual Giving, Donor Advised Funds, Foundation Regranting, Special Interest Funds, and Communications sub-departments. Headed by Mohini Tadikonda, MSC’s Chief Advancement Officer, the team’s work is interconnected but very different, yet collectively advances MSC towards the same goal of shifting philanthropy. Tadikonda’s goals for this retreat were to “create a space of honesty and trust that would allow everyone to relax and genuinely connect with one another while also gaining a deeper understanding of each other’s individual day to day work, big picture goals, and how they’re working towards shifting philanthropy.”

Members of MSC’s Advancement team from left, Stephanie Imah, Marcus Cunningham, David Malinowski, play a card strategy game.

The team kicked their first day off with team building activities including some friendly competition and camaraderie over board games. Marcus Cunningham, MSC’s Director of Individual Giving, felt in his board game element and helped the team select and learn the games. After smaller groups finished their individual games, everyone came together to strategize, bond, and work to solve all five levels of a food-themed trivia card game. Throughout this exciting morning, the team got to know Liyen Chong, MSC’s new Development Assistant, as she started her first day at MSC and met the team for the very first time.

Members of MSC’s Advancement team from left, Liyen Chong, Lidia Alvarez, Simone Champagnie, Marcus Cunningham, at the board game café.

After the morning’s activities and a delicious lunch, the team turned to the afternoon’s Inside Scoop sessions that offered an informal deep dive into the daily happenings of individual departments and roles while providing space for embracing successes, challenges, and transparency. The team left with a better sense of who their colleagues are as both collaborators and individuals.

MSC’s Communications team, Frank Gargione (top) and Lidia Alvarez, discuss their goals.

Re-energized from a team dinner and a night of sleep, the team gathered for the second day catered and facilitated by Kathy Moore. Moore previously worked on MSC’s Advancement team as the Senior Director of Advancement, but left at the start of 2024 to pursue a life-long passion in culinary school. Moore led the morning conversation that explored team norms setting and grounded the team in MSC’s values.

From left, Stephanie Imah, Simone Champagnie, Anastasia David strategize around goals for the Philanthropic Services team.

Following lunch, the afternoon unfolded into department-specific discussions centered around developing goals and key performance indicators. These activities, elegantly facilitated by Anastasia David, MSC’s Director of Grantmaking, invited everyone to be a part of the conversation and contribute to the development of new goals inspired by everyone on the team. Stephanie Imah, MSC’s Director of Community Fund Design, felt “the retreat was really helpful in not only feeling the synergy amongst our team but also in inspiring me to think both differently and boldly about how to move the work I own and manage all forward.” Day two ended with conversation over a Thai-themed dinner by Moore and a moving dance performance by Alvin Ailley II.



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On the final day of the retreat, the team explored photography exhibits on Afro-Diaspora and climate change and savored a final group lunch of Mediterranean cuisine. From there, folks began departing for their returning flights home with a renewed sense of purpose and optimism for their work and a stronger relationship with their colleagues.

Members of MSC’s Advancement team from left, Liyen Chong, Marcus Cunningham, Simone Champagnie, Frank Gargione, Anastasia David, Lidia Alvarez, Stephanie Imah, David Malinowski, discuss the Development team’s goals.