BETTER together

February 15, 2019

Chad harris, chief development officer, cornerstones of care

Having spent over two decades serving various higher education and nonprofit organizations, Chad has been at the helm of many significant initiatives, including capital campaigns, and complete re-branding initiatives. Currently, Chad leads the fundraising efforts at Cornerstones of Care. He also actively engaged with AFPKC and KCSAE and serves on the board of both organizations. Chad was recently elected to the University of Missouri Extension Council of Jackson County.

Stephanie Sheldon, Senior Marketing Manager, Cornerstones of Care, also joined Chad on this podcast. Stephanie has been with Cornerstones of Care for four years. Prior to joining the team, she held various marketing and development roles at Children’s TLC, now Ability KC.

Safe children and strong families create healthy communities. When it comes to achieving this goal, the organizations formerly known as Gillis, Healthy Families, Marillac, Ozanam, and Spofford, agreed they were stronger together. The merged into one organization on January 1, 2017—Cornerstones of Care.

Blending five organizations was no small feat. Significant brand equities, legacies, and more posed many challenges. Yet, they agreed they were more alike than different and could be more effective together. This notion became the foundation of an amazing transformation.

Chad and Stephanie share the guiding principles and plan that made it all possible.


  • Your brand is more than a logo and tagline. A brand comprises the experience people have with your organization. To really have an effective brand evolution, you have to look internally.

  • A hard deadline can do wonders. Organizations facing major change can get stuck, especially on brand and messaging. A hard deadline and goals to accomplish forces you to embrace difficult decisions, make them, and move ahead.

  • Prioritize internal communications. They formed a task force comprised of marketing leaders from each organization to guide messaging and branding efforts.

  • Process the loss. Experiencing an identity crisis after a merger is expected. The team leaned into it and used the very principle that guides the work they do in our community to respond appropriately. Utilizing trauma-informed care, they honored and listened to staff. They acknowledged each organization had decades of history. They sat with the loss, briefly, and then moved ahead.

  • Involvement of stakeholders is critical. Internal stakeholders are equally as important as external ones. The team worked tirelessly to communicate the change in a variety of ways, yet continued to emphasize the mission of each organization continues, though in new ways that are stronger together.