National Democratic
Institute (NDI)

6 Months

Organizational development
Content strategy
Social media strategy
Branding strategy

Reimagining communications for a premiere democracy organization.

As the largest U.S. democracy assistance organization, NDI can and should play a leadership role in promoting fundamental democratic values. With the advent of a new Administration, which is very supportive of democracy assistance, NDI had the opportunity to take a more aggressive and offensive posture in its communications outreach. To accomplish the goal of being a preeminent thought leader, NDI sought an audit of the Institute’s communications structure, staffing and resources, and recommendations for a path forward.


How a K-8 school empowers kids to choose their next path.

Founded in the 1950s, Sheridan is an independent, K-8 school in Washington. Sheridan’s philosophy is that the building blocks of lifelong learning are established in the elementary and middle school years. The school’s K-8 environment allows students to engage in age-appropriate activities, without being exposed to the very different social and academic pressures of high school students. In this model, Sheridan believes that children are free to stay “younger” a bit longer.

But too many prospective parents are unfamiliar with the research-proven benefits of the K-8 model. It’s also true that many parents are reluctant to undergo the private school application process a second time, in the search for an appropriate high school.

Sheridan wanted to address these concerns head on with a compelling video. We reviewed existing research about the impact of the K-8 model and conducted a competitive analysis of DC-area independent schools to understand how Sheridan’s “competitors” talk about the middle school years. Finally, we interviewed Sheridan’s leadership team and 8th grade teachers to understand the preparation Sheridan 8th graders undergo to ready themselves for choosing a good fit high school.

As a result of this extensive research, we were able to produce an emotionally driven, but evidence-based film. We demonstrated that by eighth grade, a child’s strengths, learning styles and interests are clearly understood, making it easier to determine the best “match” for high school.

“Erin and Kody built trust, asked probing questions and became real partners in an audit of our team's work and staffing. The results…led to a dramatic expansion and strengthening of our communications outreach, which was a total win.”

– Jerry Hartz,
Vice President of Government Relations & Communications,
National Democratic Institute

We conducted an evaluation of the communications team’s day-to-day operations and its external communications outreach, including the success of current efforts, what could be improved and what could be expanded given adequate resources.

We proposed recommendations for the structure of NDI’s communications operations, identified resource gaps related to video production and graphic design, and provided an analytic comparison of how NDI’s current communications staffing, structure and resources compares with at least three peer organizations.

The final report was presented to NDI’s President, board members, senior staff and the communications team, resulting in an increase in budget and staff for storytelling efforts going forward.


Washington, DC

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