Dorothy Firsching

A major passion of ours is advocacy for employment and other opportunities for people with disabilities. For example:

  • Disability employment research.  We have experience conducing research related to the employment of people with severe disabilities.   We have analyzed Social Security, census, and other employment data on incentives and barriers to work and have written policy papers for the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel.
  • Policy and program improvements. We understand disability employment programs and the barriers faced by people with disabilities who want to work, yet are afraid of losing their benefits, supports, and healthcare. We have  planned and facilitated meetings focused on legislative advocacy.
  • Facilitation-summit-318Enabling Voices for Change. We planned and facilitated the first ever Beneficiary Summit for Social Security disability beneficiaries from every state and territory of the U.S. We facilitated a series of in-person and teleconference planning meetings with a committee of Federal staff and beneficiaries, designing and developing background white papers and read-ahead materials, designing agendas, coordinating conference calls to prepare participants. In this three day summit, we facilitated six concurrent session tracks and out-briefs to the full group. We developed a report of summit results that was presented to the President, Congress, and the Commissioner of SSA. The final report, "Voices for Change: Beneficiaries Paving the Way to Work, A Roadmap to Program Improvement", is available here: Beneficiary Summit Report with Photos.
  • Nonprofit funding mechanisms. We are familiar with the challenges faced by nonprofit organizations in identifying, capturing, and applying funding streams to support their programs and implement practices that result in a quality work environment. We researched and compiled sources of funding including Federal, state / local, and private / foundation funding that could potentially be available to fund employment supports and services for people with disabilities.
  • Quality Work Environment (QWE). We supported development of a clearinghouse of good practices for a quality work environment for people with disabilities, and supported development of the QWE Implementation Plan and the QWE Guidebook for the AbilityOne Program.
  • Information systems. We have worked with nonprofit organizations across the country to develop requirements for and support development of the Employee Research System (ERS), to provide employee-level data on outcomes for employment of people with disabilities, and are now supporting system deployment. 
  • Collaborative websites. We developed the website for the Institute for Economic Empowerment, a research institute focused on employment of people with disabilities, and the website for the Alliance for Full Participation, a partnership of leading developmental disabilities organizations.

Contact us to learn more.

Project Management Professional logoOne of Ursa Major's strengths is project management, which is important in every domain.  In addition to a great many years of project management experience, our consultants are also certified by the Project Management Institute (PMI) as Project Management Professionals (PMPs).

Earning the PMP designation indicates that project managers understand the use of standardized methodologies for project management, including issues such as risk management, stakeholder analysis, resource management, and performance analysis.  Good project managers know how to deliver cost effective projects on time.

In theory, this means prioritizing and balancing cost, schedule, and scope. In practice, in addition to building a reasonably complete work breakdown structure, accurate estimate, and achievable schedule, it means listening and communicating as well as managing within a contract.  It also means tackling areas of perceived risk to reduce or eliminate them early in the process.

So rest assured, we'll keep you up to date on project progress and work with you to ensure success!

There comes a time to re-assess business processes and information technology in use. The catalyst may be recognition that processes are not effective, that the business is facing new challenges, that technology needs a refresh and people are stuck in their old ways. Frequently, there is pressure to do more with less.

Ursa Major helps clients align business processes with strategy.  We start with the big picture, and ask for the strategic plan and other guidance to understand where the organization is focused.  In some cases, we've conducted a gap analysis or facilitated strategic planning to update an organization's goals and objectives, prior to delving into the details of its business processes.

Our approach is to work closely with client personnel, to both model their existing processes and lead them though an innovation process to encourage creativity and explore new alternatives. In key areas, we help them conduct benchmarking with other organizations to identify best practices. Based upon the results, we model and facilitate concensus around new processes and develop an implementation plan.

This process is called Enterprise Architecture (EA):  alignment of business processes to achieve mission objectives, supported by appropriate technology, and measurable by appropriate performance measures.  The Federal government has realized that business-led architecture is more successful in meeting strategic goals and responding to changing mission needs than technology- or budget-driven architecture. The Federal EA Practice Guidance summarizes it in the image below:
Performance-Improvement-Lifecycle

The EA provides a shared view of the current and future state. Prioritizing investments by segment helps define the implementation and funding strategy, and executing implementation plans provide strategic results that are measured by improved mission outcomes.  The results also provide feedback into the architecture development processes for additional phases of improvements.

We have done EA for federal agencies, using federal standards, and for commercial and nonprofit organizations.  We  have conducted workshops and focus groups nationwide both in person and using virtual / social networking technologies, to develop integrated processes and systems spanning organizational boundaries.  The abilities and expertise are in your organizations -- you just need some help to get it all organized. The results are always impressive!

Most recently, in 2013, we conducted an EA analysis of Management Touchpoints for the U. S. Marine Corps' Enterprise Business Transformation Office.

 

Facilitator with flipchart and groupWe are masters of collaboration, working with groups, and bringing people to consensus. 

  • We have facilitated and supported ongoing working groups of people in management and operational roles across the country, using in person meetings and via conferencing, supported by online document sharing, website action registers, e-mail discussion lists, and other mechanisms.
  • We have assembled panels of industy experts to identify best practices, develop positions, and formulate approaches, including development of a major transformational policy proposal for a National Employment Investment Policy. We shared documents online.
  • We have assembled groups of facilitators with domain specialties such as acquisition / procurement and healthcare, for diverse groups of participants.
  • We have planned and facilitated a Beneficiary Summit representing diversity of age, race, gender, and disability from every state and territory, and brought them to consensus on their recommendations to Congress, the Social Security Administration. We used online action planning tools as well as conferencing.
  • We planned the first JoomlaDay in the Washington, DC area, working with a group of Joomla! experts who for the most part had not planned such a conference before. We used collaboration tools such as Google Docs and Project Fork to share planning documents and milestones in real time and virtual space. We used Google Forms to virtually instantaneously develop and share a survey of participants, collecting their responses into a Google Docs spreadsheet we shared.

Busy woman in office with messy filesContent management systems empower ordinary people to update websites and add content. This means that changes and updates can be made and reviewed immediately by those people who understand their own domain -- without needing extensive knowledge of html and web coding.  However,  the sticking point that delays websites is often getting the content together.

It's all about content, isn't it? The message, the meaning, communicating with the appropriate audience, and accomplishing the mission, without delay or aggravation?  There's still sometimes a catch. The content isn't sitting there on a shelf ready to go.

Ursa Major Consulting straddles the line between technology and business savvy. We work with you to set up not just a pretty shell of your website, but to support you in making it a tool to meet your objectives. That means we get inside your head and learn your domain and help you get that content and communication flowing.

We interview your people, read your documents, help get your content structured and recast the material for your approval, accelerating the process you would otherwise have to go through. We not only get your content to your website, we get out your electronic newsletters and other communications as appropriate to your audiences, we plan and facilitate your working groups and your off-site meetings.

We are expert in the Joomla! open source content management system and are also fluent in WordPress. In addition, with our significant Government contracting background, we are expert in writing proposals and a broad range of analytical reports and deliverables.  Let us help you with your content!

Joomla button: It's all about content

BRoberts110Becky Roberts is the President and CEO of Catoctin Consulting, LLC. She uses facilitation and creative participatory processes to help customers achieve business results through strategic planning, performance measurement, process reengineering, change management and enterprise architectures. She strives to make a lasting impact for her customers, and have great fun while doing it!

Becky has over 25 years of experience in facilitation, organizational management, strategic planning, performance management, business process reengineering, team building, information resources management, software engineering, and systems integration for government and commercial organizations. Prior to founding Catoctin, Becky served as Director of Business Process Reengineering with DynCorp. She has also held management positions with Oracle and PRC. She has spoken at and chaired conferences on strategic planning, IT capital planning, business process reengineering, performance management, facilitation and creativity.

Becky is a Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF) and a Project Management Professional (PMP). She has a BA in Architecture from Yale University and an Executive MBA from George Washington University.

Coffee with napkinUrsa Major frequently works as a subcontractor or part of a team of consultants assembled for a particular project.  A few of the excellent people we've worked with on projects include:

  • Dorothy Firsching, Project Management Professional (PMP), http://www.linkedin.com/in/dfirsching
    President of Ursa Major Consulting, LLC
  • Becky Roberts, Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF). PMP, Certified Management Consultant (CMC), and Balanced Scorecard expert. http://www.linkedin.com/in/beckylroberts
    President of Catoctin Consulting, LLC and International Leadership Consulting, LLC. ILC holds a GSA MOBIS schedule and several statewide task ordered contracts with the Commonwealth of Virginia. Dorothy and Becky have worked together for many years.
  • Dawn Rhine, Certified Professional Facilitator and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) certified consultant, owner of Synergy Forces.
  • Dorothy Banzon, Graphic Designer and Creative Director of Katalyst Creative Group
    D Banzon Design
  • Don Cranford, Joomla!, WordPress, and PHP developer
    Katalyst Creative Group
  • Marsha Lindquist, Contracting Strategist
    Granite Leadership Strategies
  • Alex Bocast, DoD Architecture Framework (DoDAF 2.0) expert, Principal Engineer, Silver Bullet Solutions.
  • Charles D. Markert, PE and CPF, and certified practitioner of Bottom Line Innovation (TM)
    President, Dynamic Leadership Consulting Group
  • And others!
“I"ve worked with Dorothy on a variety of projects in which her ability to conduct in-depth, detailed analysis allowed us to place strong confidence in the reliability of work results. She quickly gained in-depth knowledge of complex business processes, IT systems, and strategic objectives to provide analysis and recommendations. Excellent work results, on-time with quality products were always a given with Dorothy on-board.” -- Sheryl Kennerly, CIO, Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled (now the AbilityOne Program)
“Dorothy and I have both been members of several e-mail message exchange lists for many years. Her knowledge of Information Technology and how it can be applied to the solution of business problems is exceptionally comprehensive. Her contributions to these e-mail lists have always been authoritative and well thought out. She's an expert in her field, and you can rely on her knowledge and recommendations.” Robert Simanski, Owner, Business Pro Services

“Dorothy is an extremely highly motivated and dedicated worker; she has strong customer relationship skills and achieves a high level of customer satisfaction with the work that she performs. Dorothy was an excellent manager to work with and for, allowing others to grow in their positions. I've continued to work with Dorothy on various assignments over the years beyond our original work during the years at PRC.” -- Chris Neitzey, Project Manager, DynCorp I&ET

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