Lessons Learned in Project Management: Comprise a Staff That is Meaningful and Relatable to the Community

Over the course of the program, Louisiana Spirit worked diligently to match its staffing structure to the volume and needs of survivors, keeping the importance of cultural competence as a top priority. The program was kicked off by 18 personnel during the Immediate Services Program and grew to 33 staff positions at the onset of the Regular Services Program. Functional areas that were expanded included quality assurance analysts, fiscal clerks, stress managers, evaluation/monitoring staff, and administrative assistance. New positions were also introduced into the structure with the inclusion of a media/public information officer, a document specialist, a call center director, an addictive disorders lead, and Specialized Crisis Counseling Services (SCCS) coordinators.

Louisiana Spirit developed a process that allowed rapid interviewing of many candidates for positions with the program. Interview days consisted of multiple interview teams conducting brief interviews with candidates using the Screening Interview Form (see link below). Interview teams consisted of three Louisiana Spirit staff who were diverse regarding experience and culture. Following interviews, the team obtained an average rating score for the interviewee and made a collective decision about whether or not to recommend that the individual be offered a position. The following day, a conference call was held with all members of all interview teams to discuss the candidates and recommendations for each. Orientations were held following the interview process. Quick decisions had to be made regarding the best fit for each individual within the program. Louisana Spirit Interview Package

Louisiana Spirit developed an Employee Contact Form to gather contact information for employees in the event of a future disaster necessitating a CCP program.Louisiana Spirit Employee Information Form

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On a functional level, the program implemented a staffing structure comprised of a management team, administrative staff, resource linkage coordinators, and team leaders who oversaw and coordinated outreach efforts in the field. Teams were dedicated to service various specific populations, including:

View the Program's Organization Chart (pdf, 312kb)

The most important factor of Louisiana Spirit's success in reaching out to the numbers of survivors that it did was primarily due to its commitment to cultural competence. The program hired local populations to conduct its outreach and crisis counseling efforts. These individuals included community leaders, members of the clergy, firemen, bus drivers, teachers, and many other trusted and familiar individuals who were instrumental in facilitating a sense of connectedness.

These dedicated individuals knew their neighborhoods, the people that comprised those communities, and the environmental factors of those communities; therefore, they knew which outreach approaches would be successful and which ones would not. Crisis counseling teams also featured an appropriate mix of professionals and paraprofessionals, ensuring the proper balance of skills and experience.