The ThirdWay Approach – The Ways We Can Help

The ThirdWay Solutions team is laser-focused on having a catalytic impact in pursuit of our mission. We offer three service areas:

  1. Targeted systems support: TWS helps systems envision concrete solutions to inequities related to the 20%, discipline and culture, and/or curricula and content.
  2. Collective action: TWS supports leaders, across systems and sectors, to make bold progress for the 20% and/or discipline and public safety.
  3. Projects and advising: TWS supports organizations of all types to steer into and make progress on its toughest challenges related to diversity, equity and inclusion — internally and externally.
Service Area #1 — Targeted Systems Support
  • Who: The superintendent of a school district, charter school CEO, commissioner, or board member engages TWS to solve a particular problem related to equity.
  • Why: Schools and school systems often perpetuate the same inequities we see in society, specifically:
    • Schools — and the systems in which they operate — are consistently failing 20% of their most vulnerable students. These “Students who Systems Fail the Most” (SSFMs) have special needs, are court-involved, live well below the poverty level and/or face unthinkable barriers to success. Statistically, they are likely to be students of color. Too often they are labeled “special populations” and further marginalized out of classrooms and into separate and unequal programs.
    • Black and brown students as well as students with disabilities are between 3 and 4 times more likely to be suspended than their white peers, often for the same infractions. These students report they feel less seen and heard, and less connected to adults. Over 50% of school-based arrests are of Black students though they make up only 17% of the student population nationwide. Punitive discipline is correlated to poor student outcomes and a life-long connection to a biased justice system.
  • How: The TWS team helps the leader and their team deeply and accurately diagnose the root cause of the presenting challenge and step out a concrete plan to solve it. Sample clients include:
    • The Los Angeles Unified School District recognized students with disabilities were being segregated from their peers and suffering from poor academic outcomes. Further, the district had been embroiled in a 30-year consent decree related to special education. The TWS team envisioned an entirely new approach to special education and a multi-year plan to get there.
    • The Louisiana Department of Education tapped TWS’ Discipline Revolution Project to pilot a radically different approach to the Alternative Education Pilot Program. The TWS team worked with the state to shift policies and incentives, and with two parishes to put in place on-the-ground pilots.
    • The Discipline Revolution Project: Tangipahoa Parish has partnered with the TWS team over multiple years to completely rethink their approach to equity from top to bottom. The work began as a frank assessment of biased discipline practices and led to a co-constructed blueprint for a pathway to becoming a district that exemplified critical consciousness, equity, and inclusion.
 Service Area #2 — Collective Action
  • Who: A funder, mayor, systems leader, advocacy group or some other convener engages the TWS team to address a need within one geographic area (district, city or state) to work across agencies or districts to build momentum towards bold solutions.
  • Why: Toppling systems that have produced inequitable outcomes for decades is an inherently cross-functional, cross-agency, grassroots task. When it comes to how we better serve young people and families who are marginalized, addressing issues of public safety, discipline, and/or building ABAR practices, we must break through silos and past patterns.
  • How: The TWS team convenes multiple systems leaders and creates a community of practice with the relationships, space, and content to make tangible progress on community-based goals. Sample clients include:
    • The Houston Health Department and My Brother’s Keeper invited 7 districts in Houston to address the social health determinants associated with school discipline through TWS’ “Rethink Discipline Community of Practice.”
    • Stand for Children Memphis brought together district and charter school leadership, student services staff, local funders, advocates and youth sector stakeholders to identify key levers in reforming supports for young people.
    • In Phoenix, TWS worked with charter leaders and district leaders, advocates, students, funders, and law enforcement to engage deeply on the EQUITY framework and create tailored action plans.
    • Raise DC, in the District of Columbia, sought TWS support in designing a framework for how to better serve overaged, undercredited, disconnected youth. The TWS team worked with the district, funders, and the nonprofit sector to create a single, comprehensive plan.
Service Area #3 — Projects and Advising
  • Who: A CEO, board member, or senior advisor of a for-profit, nonprofit, government or philanthropic organization engages TWS to help make progress on projects and coaching that requires the expertise of individuals who have run ABAR organizations and navigated tough ABAR waters.
  • Why: ThirdWay was founded with clear ABAR vision and values — and is staffed with a team who has been doing ABAR work throughout their careers across sectors. Companies are under tremendous pressure, rightfully so, to ensure their organization is embracing ABAR values internally and throughout their organization, giving way to tremendous opportunity and emotional challenges.
  • How: TWS supports organizations to define their ABAR vision and operating principles, and pull them through all core elements of their work. Sample clients include:
    • Over the course of 2 years, ThirdWay Solutions has worked with the executive team and other stakeholders of several organizations to (a) identify ABAR core values as operating principles, and (b) coach executive teams to strategize and manage against their core values.
    • TWS is working with a national developer and provider of curriculum to cultivate content that provides educators with high quality (HQ), developmentally appropriate (DA), culturally competent (CC), equity-minded (EM) and educator-supportive (ES) products.
Our Tools

Our approach is anchored by two frameworks:

  1. EQUITY Framework and Self-Assessment Tools— We have integrated the research on anti-biased, anti-racist organizations, behavior modification, achievement motivation, risk and resilience, school culture and climate, and social and emotional learning — along with promising practices from restorative justice, PBIS, MTSS, RTI, and culturally responsive teaching — into one set of actionable, non-jargony tools. The EQUITY Framework has 6 competencies, and each competency has 3 to 5 indicators of success. We’ve broken this down into a set of “look fors” in the form of a school-based self-assessment and a system-based self-assessment. Our self-assessment helps teams understand where they are against the fourth leg of the stool and what it will take to make progress.
  2. P-Framework – The P-Framework is a comprehensive approach to conducting an organizational assessment. Once teams are normed on the EQUITY Frameworks, our team guides leaders and their teams through an inventory of their principles, practices, people and performance management, policies, partners, and power dynamics — and how they need to change in the short, medium, and long term.
The Four Phases of Our Work — Typically our work has four phases:
  • Stage One — Diagnostic and Self-Assessment
    • During this phase we focus on doing a thorough analysis of what currently exists while also starting to unearth what needs to be true for key stakeholders to be invested in the work
    • We use our “6-Ps” Framework — Performance, People, Policy, Practice, Partners, and Power — and our EQUITY Framework
    • We conduct interviews, look at data, read key documents
    • Where possible, we visit sites and connect with those closest to the work by walking a mile in their shoes
  • Stage Two – The Playback and Emerging Action Plan
    • Using the 6-Ps Framework, we summarize what we have learned — on each of the six categories, what we hope to preserve and strengthen, what needs to change, and where change is imperative
    • At this point, we can also do a “presentation” format of the Playback to gain feedback from stakeholders — what we got right and what we missed
    • Out of the Playback, a series of priorities emerge; we begin to flesh out what needs to happen immediately and what needs to happen over time
    • The Emerging Action Plan lays this out to ensure (a) the team has picked the right levers for change, and (b) work can start while a full implementation plan is built
  • Stage Three — Implementation Planning and Collective Action
    • Once the team and key stakeholders believe the PlayBack and Emerging Action Plan reflect the pathway forward, we begin to build out a full Implementation Plan
    • The full plan includes outputs and quarterly milestones — while we have templates and samples, we also prioritize using whatever tools are most familiar to those charged with leading the plan
  • Stage Four — Capacity-Building and Coaching
    • Depending on the scope and needs of clients, we also provide group sessions and facilitation on topics defined as areas of common need identified in the self-assessment process (through the engagement)
    • We also provide executive coaching to senior team members with goals revealed in the self-assessment process
What Makes Us Different

ThirdWay Solutions’ team members, projects, and goals are laser-focused on equity, and have been since our founding nearly six years ago. Our core team and the large network of independent contractors we mobilize have a proven track record of personal commitment to anti-biased, anti-racist work and to getting results in diverse fields — from school reform to child welfare to marketing to organizational culture. According to client surveys, 100% say they would recommend us to peer organizations. They say we are different because we embrace tensions inherent in realizing deep change:

  • We have battle-tested tools and research-based resources — and we believe context matters. Our work is anchored in frameworks and tools that have been honed by working with nearly 50 clients and decades of leadership experience across sectors. Our tools are detailed and help our partners quickly diagnose areas of strength and things that need to change. AND, we support the work of naming, sequencing, and making plans that are carefully aligned to local and/or sector context. We do not believe in checklists, stock presentations, or one-size-fits-all.
  • We believe in technical changes — and we do the deeper work for the long-term. We know that sometimes change requires things like rewriting job descriptions, changing core business processes, and rewriting policies. We are detail-oriented and sweat the small stuff. AND, we believe deep work related to equity requires shifting values, mindsets, and beliefs. This only happens through experiential learning and deep culture work over time.
  • We provide capacity and leadership — and we are explicit about teaching leadership teams “how to fish.” We always enter engagements at the level of the CEO, superintendent, commissioner, and/or founder, as well as their team. AND, we concurrently do work with members throughout organizations, to sew change and build capacity top-down and bottom-up.
  • We get things done — and we know when to go off-script. Our engagements always include clear phases with deliverables for each, based on goals co-constructed with our clients. AND, our clients trust us as elbow partners and coaches and use us as key advisors when ABAR values come into tension with current events and company decisions.

Make An Appointment — Bold Women Leading Solutions to Public Problems

We must recruit, appoint, and retain bold, inclusive, and values-driven women to lead public sector agencies so that we are 50% by 2026.  

Summary

We face unprecedented challenges in healthcare, environment, education, economy, and democracy. These problems require investing trillions of public dollars which makes public sector leadership more important than ever.  Experience shows us diverse female leaders are more likely to be bold and bring people together – yet 70% of our appointed public leaders are men.

To overcome the patterns that got us here, we need new solutions and broad public engagement, which means we need more diverse female leaders in senior government leadership. To break through the male dominated appointment process we need support for ready-to-lead women, public accountability to hire them, more urgency to represent women and eliminate bias, and to give women the air cover they need to sustain and succeed. Make an Appointment — is a new organization dedicated to recruiting, appointing, and retaining women to lead public sector agencies

We must harness the power of women to envision new solutions and engage the energy of our diverse communities. Make An Appointment isn’t just about giving more women power for power’s sake. And it is not about just having more women at tables. It is about getting a different kind of leader — leaders focused on inclusion, bold results, and leading with values — driving direly-needed new solutions to critical public problems.

More About Why

State governments spend 1.6 trillion dollars a year, city governments 1.4 trillion, and the feds just earmarked over 4 trillion dollars of spending. The public sector employs over 20 million people and is nearly 15% of all of national jobs. The next president will appoint 4000 people. At the state and local level, power brokers will appoint scores of game changing bosses like Superintendents of Schools, Police Chiefs, Commissioners of Public Health, Heads of Economic Development, Transportation Chiefs, Chief Financial Officers, Deputy Mayors, Chiefs of Staff and more.

Women are 57% of the public sector workforce and comprise only 30% of senior leadership roles. Getting appointed to the front office is a biased, mysterious process and often hinges on a “who you know” boys club. When women do get the job, they are vilified for disrupting the status quo to deliver audacious goals — the characteristic most necessary to succeeding and lauded in their male counterparts.

While several organizations are dedicated to increasing gender and racial equity at power tables in STEM, corporate America, and elected office — all important — none are focused on making sure women are empowered to solve our biggest public problems.

More About How

Make An Appointment will:

  • Recruit: identify bold, inclusive, values-based women who are ready-to-lead and help them build the network and skills to manage their public brand, topple barriers, and get the job (research shows women take big roles when people ask them to),
  • Appoint: with a sense of urgency we’ll launch campaigns at selected city, state, and federal agencies to get more women to the top (currently, there are no coordinated efforts to influence the hiring market and hold power-brokers accountable for progress), and
  • Retain: we’ll provide a sisterhood of support and well-coordinated “we have your back” media campaigns to give women the air cover and breathing room to stay and realize big goals (when women lead in public-facing roles they are scrutinized by the media and the public based on double standards and gender stereotypes that make it incredibly difficult to lead).

More About Who

Our founding team — the core staff, the partners, and the planning team — represents the diversity and therefore strength of our country. Everyone involved in Make An Appointment has been dedicated to actively practicing, learning about, and exemplifying the characteristics of an anti-based, anti-racist (ABAR) leader throughout their career. ThirdWay Solutions (lead partner) is nationally known for helping clients — leaders at the highest levels of corporate America, government, non-profits, school systems, and philanthropists — build, sustain, and measure the extent to which they are creating ABAR cultures, enabling ABAR leaders, and building ABAR programming.

  • ThirdWay Solutions is co-lead by Cami Anderson and April Dinwoodie. Cami has decades of experience as a Chief in the public sector and coaches scores of senior leaders pushing equity and change in government; she also has a track record of results helping organizations scale to become household names. April Dinwoodie has decades of experience in marketing, media, public relations, and out-of-the box social media campaigns; she led a prominent Child Welfare Research Institute, one of a few women of color who is also an adopted person to do so. Not only do they have the experience and skill to build Make An Appointment — but also the passion. They both feel they’d have gotten more done and stayed longer in their public roles if they belonged to Make An Appointment.
  • The How Institute for Society builds best-in-class tools and nurtures a culture of moral leadership, principled decision-making, and values-based behavior that enable individuals and institutions to meet the profound social, economic and technological changes of the 21st Century to elevate humanity. How’s Amy Rosen (planning team members) is a results-driven leader who has extensive experience managing organizations through transformational change. Amy spent nearly two decades in the transportation sector, serving on the board of New Jersey Transit and Board Chair of Amtrak. She served as a presidential appointee for three U.S. Presidents and served as an adviser to several global business leaders. Amy is a pioneer in values-based leadership and coaching: making core values explicit and managing actions and decisions in tight alignment with those values.
  • SO’B Productions is a multi-platform media production and distribution company dedicated to uncovering stories on race, class, wealth, poverty, and opportunity through personal narratives. Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor, and producer. Soledad has spent her career championing the stories of marginalized communities, and has been the recipient of three Emmy awards, the George Foster Peabody Award, and the Alfred I. DuPont Award for her reporting work.

Government & School Systems

Government agencies and non-profits focused on child welfare, mental health, substance abuse juvenile justice, homelessness, and education often exist in silos and don’t have structured ways of learning from each other or working together.  We help organizations better meet their goals by helping them improve their approach to planning, people, practices and/or policies.  We are particularly focused on systems integration and helping clients execute bold, high-impact ideas to promote equity and undertake previously unthinkable tasks.

The ThirdWay Solutions Team has a wealth of experience in K-12 education. Our Managing Partner served as a Superintendent of Schools for over a decade and lead two nationally recognized education reform organizations. Our team includes former principals and district personnel as well as coaches who have provided professional development and technical assistance for schools over multiple decades.  We help school systems improve their approach to performance, planning, practices, policies, partner management, and power dynamics.  We are particularly focused on equity — and improving outcomes for students who are too often pushed to the side.

Below is a list of school systems with whom we have worked (in alphabetical order):

  • DC Public Education Fund and Raise DC
  • East Baton Rouge School System
  • KIPP SoCal
  • LaFourche Schools System
  • Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Louisiana State Department of Education
  • Phoenix Union High School District
  • Summit Public Schools
  • Tangipahoa Parish School System

What our clients say —

“Cami and the ThirdWay team have done amazing work all over the country, including in the most unlikely corners of Louisiana. What’s different about their approach is that they are committed to the long-term work of changing hearts, minds, and practices about issues of identity, school culture, and equity. Her team’s wisdom, if not their services, would be of great use and influence for many chiefs, especially now.” — John White, Former Louisiana State Superintendent

“ThirdWay Solutions, led by Cami Anderson, is fiercely focused on making sure all students thrive, including and especially those who are often left behind. I am continually impressed by their deep knowledge of everything from very technical and specific solutions for students with disabilities to big, disruptive ideas about fundamentally changing the way we think about special education and other equity issues.” — Kristin Wright, former California State Director of Special Education and Executive Director of Equity, Diversity, Intervention at the Sacramento County Office of Education

“Cami has been focused on delivering excellence to students who struggle and broader issues of equity for as long as I have known her. Systems will benefit from her passion, know-how, and real-life experience in creating change at scale. She’s good at both the details and systems needed to move the work as well as the deeper coaching of leaders that leads to lasting change.” — Kaya Henderson, CEO of Reconstruction, and former Chancellor of DC Public Schools

Corporations & Philanthropy

Corporations and philanthropists often wonder where they should invest time and resources to better realize their vision and mission. ThirdWay helps leadership teams tackle everything from lack of diversity in executive teams to incrementalism in organizational culture.  We are particularly interested in projects and organizations dedicated to realizing equity, specifically those focused on increasing the organization’s capacity to be anti-biased and anti-racist.

  • The EQUITY Framework — Our research and evidence-based framework is a tool that organizations can use to examine their culture and climate. We’ve taken what we know from research about anti-biased and anti-racist work, achievement motivation, and the optimal conditions for productivity and put it into one comprehensive and practical tool. We find the EQUITY Framework helpful in focusing our work with clients.
  • The Organizational Audit and Action Planning Process
    • First we work to get the right people at the table to understand the tenants of the framework — and get to know the context of the organization by conducting interviews, looking at data, and steeping ourselves in the context
    • Next we help stakeholders engage in an audit using the EQUITY Framework
    • A summary is prepared and socialized among stakeholders identified by the client that focuses on the organizations strengths and areas in need of improvement
    • Then we use our Six-P Framework to create an initial plan for change — and eventually build that into a full blow implementation plan
    • Often, we stay on to build capacity of the team to work the implementation plan, provide executive coaching, and help teams overcome real obstacles to progress
  • The Six-P Framework — Every organization has a finite number of levers for change. We have identified the levers in our Six-P Framework.
    • Performance — how you measure progress and what key metrics tell you about how you are doing.
    • People — who you recruit, hire, retain, and promote and how aligned that is to your vision and values.
    • Practices — your norms and rituals, what your celebrate, how you develop folks from within, people’s day-to-day experience in your organization.
    • Policy — what guardrails you set, what if enabled by policy, what is forbidden, and what implicit messages your policies send
    • Partners — who you work with outside of your immediate organization and how aligned they are to your mission and values.
    • Power-dynamics — who is at power tables, who will experience change as loss, how current power dynamics might be holding back collective progress.