DCS Strategies, LLC provides management solutions for non-profit organizations, law firms, and businesses by: helping to define objectives and plans for long-term success; ensuring all necessary governing documents and organizational systems are in place; and providing professional development and leadership training for individuals.
Dana has more than 40 years' experience in the non-profit/association world. She has successfully built a statewide leadership training program, served as President of the National Association of Bar Executives, and is a former Commissioner on the Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice's Commission on Professional Development and its Leadership Working Group. Dana is now Executive Director for the Faculty of Federal Advocates. Below is an overview of Dana's Leadership Journey.
We’ve all been in a meeting, strategic planning session or board retreat where, after hours of talking, participants are frustrated because nothing has been accomplished. An outside facilitator provides an objective voice to the process and keeps the discussion on point, thereby allowing goals and plans to be developed. Having a facilitator allows all parties to participate equally, eliminates the appearance of bias by the group leader, and results in more being accomplished.
Once the session has concluded, DCS Strategies prepares a written session summary, which includes the determined tasks, deadlines, and who is taking the lead on each item. DCS may serve in an accountability capacity, periodically checking in with the group to make sure the action items are being accomplished.
Examples of when to bring in an outside facilitator:
- board/firm retreats
- planning sessions
- partner/associate retreats
- transition of firm/organization
- staff retreats
- conflict resolution sessions
- special meetings
Whether you have a non-profit organization, law firm, or another type of business, having governing documents and organizational systems in place is critical to the success of the entity.
DCS Strategies has expertise in drafting implementing:
- Articles of Incorporation
- Policies, Rules
- Job Descriptions
- Training Systems
DCS also has extensive experience in negotiating meeting/event venue contracts. We can:
- Negotiate a meeting/event contract with the venue.
- Review contracts and make suggested changes prior to the contract being signed.
- Provide training on how to negotiate a meeting/event venue contract.
Investing in the professional development of the people in your organization or law firm is essential. Their success becomes the organization's success. Individuals must also take responsibility for developing their own professional skills and enhancing their leadership abilities.
Leadership is a skill that resides in us all, but we need to cultivate it. Most of us don't recognize that we are indeed leaders in our professional and personal lives. In today's society, leadership is becoming a lost art, so it is incumbent upon all of us to nurture and develop the skills that will carry us forward.
DCS Strategies is available to:
- Provide personalized coaching to help you succeed as a leader and enhance your professional skills.
- Develop internal leadership programs in your firm.
- Provide personalized coaching for staff who are taking on new responsibilities, including as supervisors.
- Mentor individuals for success within the legal profession.
- Leadership Tips from the Staff's Perspective
Staff have a ringside seat to observe a leader’s successes and failures. These can involve major issues but, quite often, it’s the little things that define a leader. Learn from a seasoned non-profit executive what works and doesn’t work for leaders.
- How to Run an Effective & Efficient Meeting
It takes more than knowing Robert’s Rules of Order to run a successful meeting. How do you manage someone who wants to control the meeting, or engage someone who hasn’t uttered a word? When is cancelling a meeting the best decision you can make? Learn from a seasoned non-profit executive how to run a meeting worthy of everyone’s time.
- Negotiating an Event Contract
When booking a meeting or event, the venue almost always has the upper hand. Learn what language should and shouldn't be in a contract in order to level the playing field of event planning.
- Introverts Can Be and Are Successful Leaders
Not convinced? Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Ghandi were introverts! They didn’t let being an introvert stop them from achieving their goals and being incredible leaders. Learn from a seasoned introverted leader how to embrace and capitalize on your introversion.
- How to Get Young Lawyers Involved in the Organized Bar
Everyone knows that young lawyers are the future of the organized bar, but how do you engage those lawyers? What steps need to be taken to get them involved and vested in their professional organization? Learn from a seasoned bar association executive how to entice young lawyers to become involved.
- Tips and Tricks for Succeeding in the Organized Bar
No matter where you are in your legal career, being involved in the organized bar is an important component to your success. Learn from a seasoned bar association executive how to maximize the benefits of being involved with the organized bar.
Here is an overview of the leadership path I have taken over the years.
Early in my career, I was quite content being in the background of any project or activity: I was a follower. That is typical of an introvert, of which I am most certainly one. Luckily, as I matured and gained more experience, there were people who recognized my leadership potential even when I couldn’t see it in myself. At the encouragement of my then boss, I joined the National Association of Bar Executives (NABE) and started attending the national conferences. A few years later, the NABE Board approved my proposal to create a forum for meeting planners and I was appointed chair. Feeling more confident in my leadership skills, I again approached the NABE Board for authority to create a forum for Assistant/Associate/Deputy Executive Directors (AEDs). Unfortunately, this time the NABE Board did not accept my proposal. Nevertheless, I was determined to move forward so I contacted AEDs around the country and proposed we get together at a NABE conference to see if this concept was worth a try. To my delight, 15-20 AEDs attended that meeting. To this day, the AEDs group is a thriving forum.
I was becoming more and more recognized within NABE as a leader and was strongly encouraged by my peers to run for the Board. My reaction was to run--as fast as I could in the other direction! Thankfully, my colleagues persisted, and I decided to declare my candidacy for State Delegate. I ran unopposed and was elected to my first two-year term on the NABE Board. Nearing the end of that term, I felt I was just hitting my stride, so I ran for a second term. This time I had a very worthy opponent but was fortunate to win the election. When that term was coming to an end, I was encouraged to take on a higher leadership position, that of Vice President, which ascends to the President-elect and President positions. Once again, my first reaction was “thanks, but no thanks.” After further consideration, however, I realized that I wanted to continue serving on the Board and contributing to the organization. I launched my campaign with postcards, personalized emails and phone calls. It was exhausting and completely out of my introvert comfort zone. My opponent and I conducted a friendly yet vigorous campaign and, thankfully, I came out as the victor. That launched my three-year service in officer positions, ultimately serving as NABE president in 2011-12. Ultimately, I overcame my doubts about whether I could be an effective leader and ended up having an incredible experience. I am proud of what we accomplished during my tenure on the NABE Board, including launching a webinar series, rebranding the organization with a new logo, and conducting planning for NABE’s future.
Until mid-2016, my entire career was spent at the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations. When I left the CBA/DBA, I was proud to hold the position of Assistant Executive Director. One of my greatest accomplishments while at the CBA was as co-founder of COBALT, the CBA’s leadership training program. In the 10 years that I had the privilege of shepherding the program, I saw firsthand how participants benefited from the leadership training they received. The experience led some of these lawyers to make major career changes, including becoming judges and opening their own law firms. Watching these people realize their leadership potential was extremely rewarding.
When I left the bar associations, I knew I wanted to start my own business, but I struggled with what the nature of the business should be. In talking with friends and colleagues, it became clear that my passion is leadership, so DCS Strategies LLC was established. My goal is to assist individuals, organizations and law firms in identifying, fostering and furthering leadership skills and structure. That includes developing formal leadership programs, facilitating sessions in which an organization’s or firm’s leadership is working to develop goals and plans, ensuring governing documents and organizational systems are in place, and providing coaching to individuals who are looking to further their leadership skills.
And so, my leadership journey continues.
As our law firm evolved from a small group of lawyers to a medium sized boutique law firm, Dana was integral to structuring our systems and empowering our personnel. With her guidance, the merging of firms and acquisition of staff was seamless - something we could not have done without her. From creating organizational documents to mentoring office leadership, Dana was, and is, amazing. – David Beller, Recht Kornfeld, PC
Much like conducting an orchestra, running a planning or visioning session takes some special skills. One has to make sure all the players are first committed to the enterprise; then one has to make sure that one instrument (voice) doesn't overpower the others; then one has to make sure that everyone stays on the beat (the agenda) and finally; one has to inspire the confidence of the players. I've seen Dana run such a performance and I can say that she is a very talented, prepared and effective leader. Never overpowering by injecting her own inherent biases (which we all have) into the mix, but drawing each and every person in so that there is a shared vision at the end. She's simply very, very good. -- Chuck Turner, former Executive Director, Colorado and Denver Bar Associations
Authentic and inspirational leadership is not only Dana’s passion; it’s her calling. Her vision, dedication, and sharp skills for developing a leadership program for lawyers in Colorado resulted in the Colorado Bar Association Leadership Training program (COBALT), an outstanding leadership program which has nurtured and enhanced the leadership skills of hundreds of lawyers. My own participation in the 2009 class was one of the best experiences and investments of my personal, professional, and leadership journeys. Under Dana’s leadership, I was able to identify my strengths and weaknesses, ways to more effectively communicate and collaborate with others, tools to cultivate my leadership skills, develop my own goals for authentic and inspiring leadership, and put those plans into action. Over eight years in working with her in the program, I’ve observed Dana put her own skills to work to help professionals better understand their individual and organizational strengths, develop and build solid skills for successful leadership practices, and inspire leaders of all levels. She consistently did so with great integrity, grace, impeccable organization, and passion. Dana has the experience to develop a leadership strategy to leverage and unleash your leadership potential. -- Mariana Vielma, 2009 COBALT graduate
Dana Collier Smith is truly a pioneer in leadership training. Especially, when it comes to leadership training for lawyers. She assisted in the recognition of how important leadership training was for the Colorado Bar and then built the current leadership program (COBALT) in coordination with the Colorado Bar President at the time from scratch. Dana has consistently improved COBALT and has a passion that is contagious. I graduated from the 10th COBALT class, and I was caught off guard at the significant impact it had on my personal and professional perspective and behavior. Openness to leadership is a powerful, necessary, and humbling attribute that every community desperately needs. Dana knows how to open your eyes to this dynamic and if you work with Dana, you will be incredibly glad you made the time and commitment. -- James Hopkins, 2016 COBALT graduate
Dana's leadership and direction for COBALT made the program what it is today. She has the special skills required to identify and respond to the issues facing leaders in the law---whether in the organized bar or in the law firm setting. -- Bill Walters, Former CBA President
Dana is a master of making everything run smoothly. She knows what is needed before you do and it is taken care of in such seamless fashion that even the most experienced magician would be hard pressed to see how her magic works. -- Connie Eyster, 2007 COBALT Graduate
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