Late one evening in January 2015, LIFT Founder and CEO Kirsten Lodal had just delivered a speech arguing that the organization was falling short of its mission of lifting people out of poverty permanently. From Lodal’s perspective, LIFT was largely serving as a safety net for people in crisis, helping to make poverty more bearable for the majority of those who walked through its doors. What LIFT needed to be instead was a sustainable springboard out of poverty. Lodal, and LIFT’s new CEO Michelle Rhone-Collins, believed LIFT needed to employ a two-generation approach and narrow its target population specifically to parents with young children to help people exit poverty for good. This would position them to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty at the transmission point.
This critical pivot marked the beginning of a multiyear transformation during which LIFT dramatically revamped its focus on racial equity, two-generation solutions, and building an ecosystem to achieve their vision. Along the way, Lodal, Rhone-Collins, and the leadership team grappled with challenging questions related to redesigning the organizational structures and culture, refining their outcome measures, and realizing a major transformation in value.