Case Studies

Staff and board activate to ensure a safer future at California charter schools

As a membership-driven not-for-profit, CharterSAFE serves as a steward-guardian to meet the safety needs of California public charter schools through insurance and risk management services.

The Need

Approaching a decade of operations and amid a rapidly changing insurance market, CharterSAFE sought out partners for its first formal strategic planning process. CharterSAFE desired to prepare for its next era of growth by:

  • Creating organizational clarity around a vision for impact
  • Assessing changing market conditions
  • Defining future direction and growth strategy to best meet the needs of charter schools
  • Developing a formal strategic business plan to include clear priorities, multi-year financial implications, and tools for successful implementation

The Support

The Blue Garnet team are all deep thinkers with remarkable persistence and follow through, enabling us to arrive at an effective strategy for board engagement.

Robert Coontz

Former President & CEO, CharterSAFE

Blue Garnet designed a strategic business planning process to empower CharterSAFE to engage key staff and board leaders, as well as members. In this holistic approach, we addressed:

  • Member needs: A member intercept survey and a member wellness check helped to define CharterSAFE’s unique value proposition and develop a better understanding of member segments and segment-specific needs
  • Leadership and team culture: Support included CEO coaching, culture-building team engagements, annual goal-setting, and project planning aligned to multi-year goals
  • Strategy and planning: Developed and refreshed the plan to adapt to change thereby developing “strategy” and “planning” as a regular discipline

CharterSAFE’s board responded enthusiastically to the planning work. To further support board development, Blue Garnet helped CharterSAFE to build, activate, and strengthen the board’s:

  • “Governance mindset,”  assessing board performance and clarifying board roles and responsibilities
  •  Composition and structure through defining desired qualifications and requirements of new board members as well as the board committee structure
  •  Practices and tools such as a refined CEO performance evaluation process, annual board goals dashboard, and board succession plan
  •  Culture through elevating best practices, continuous learning and improvement, regular board engagement, and board support to effectively leverage the skills and expertise of volunteer board members

The Impact

I grow and the members of the board grow—it is amazing to reflect back on what we have accomplished due to Blue Garnet.

Irene Sumida

Former Board Vice-Chair, CharterSAFE

In the short-term, CharterSAFE’s investment in planning resulted in organizational clarity and confidence in its future direction. Over time, CharterSAFE has built the discipline of strategic thinking into its operational DNA, core values, and culture.

With a clear, shared vision for impact, the board aligned its own priorities to the organization’s annual goals. Partnering with the CEO, the board was able to engage strategically and leverage the strengths and expertise of individual board members. The board contributed in significant ways to strengthen and communicate CharterSAFE’s unique position as the “steward-guardian” of California’s public charter schools, which differs from other insurance and risk management providers in the marketplace.


Blue Garnet has been a true partner and trusted advisor to me and the board. Their work has elevated us to become stronger, more agile, and genuinely resilient—all so we can meet the changing needs of our public charter school members.

Thuy Wong

President and CEO, CharterSAFE

By early 2020, CharterSAFE had built resilience and a growth mindset into its operations and culture.

Thuy Wong, President and CEO, credits Blue Garnet for laying the groundwork for the organization to be able to quickly adapt and meet members’ needs when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “I had board members—who are charter school leaders—tell me what they are hearing about what schools need, and connecting these needs to how CharterSAFE could help.” Within days, the CharterSAFE team took action, researching and then educating members on risk management best practices and coverage surrounding COVID-19.

“We became a go-to resource for our members so they could focus on reopening the virtual classroom,” Thuy continues. “All that work to create organizational clarity around our vision for impact, a board governance mindset, and a team with growth mindset allowed CharterSAFE to stay true to our promise to be a partner to our members.”

Jennifer Shen, Blue Garnet team lead, shares, “It has been a source of joy to see CharterSAFE develop its strategic, organizational capacity at all levels—from staff to board—all while navigating a founding CEO transition, changing market dynamics, an evolving political landscape for public charter schools, and a global pandemic. We get to work with many leaders and their teams, but the way CharterSAFE’s board and staff seek to learn—and continually grow stronger and their ability to get to action that proceeds from the heart—stands out.”


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