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Welcome to Tessendorf Consulting Group, which facilitates enduring outcomes in leaders, organizations, and communities by focusing on board governance, conflict management, and community economic development.

Professional Vision Statement

For over three decades, I have been called to join with others to build positive and enduring outcomes.  It started with applying conflict resolution techniques to build safety, human rights and new local structures in South Africa in the late 1980s through the mid-1990s.  This then took on an international flavor as I worked with a tapestry of non-profit, community-based and coalitional organizations in Haiti, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and the USA.  These initiatives addressed housing, health, education and the arts, as well as the organizations which made these possible.   

Building is an inherent part of my family story.  Those who have gone before me have built families, houses and businesses, serving as proverbial yeomen.  Building homes with Habitat for Humanity is not just a metaphor for building organizations and healthy community.  It has also equipped me with a deepening spiritual awareness and with leadership opportunities and insights to grow organizations, both as an Executive Director and as a consultant to others. 

The continent of Africa was where I was born, raised and educated.  It has helped to shape me and I realize with each passing day how its wisdom continues to inform my worldview and actions.  The wisdom about governance and leadership that emerged during South Africa’s struggle to overcome apartheid and institutionalize democratic values and practices is a gift to the world.  I see it as my duty to honor those who made that gift possible by sharing it with the organizations and leaders that I am called to work with.      

Today I believe that building strong, local organizations is key if we are to create meaning to overcome the growing sense of alienation and rage that surrounds us; improve our fellow citizens’ quality of life; shorten our supply chains; address historical inequalities and, model democracy in action.  I believe that institutions matter, but that they need to be nimble and responsive to changing conditions if they are to remain relevant and be viewed as being “too essential to fail”.   

Enduring institutions, be they families, businesses, non-profits, congregations, or government bodies, embrace conflict to grow and serve others.  All-too-often, leaders and organizations adopt a passive-aggressive approach towards conflict management.  Conflict management requires leaders who call conflict “… my old friend” whom “I’ve come to see … again.”  These leaders embrace conflict and model how it is managed in all of the settings that they participate in.   

Enduring peace means “Peace with justice” and that we move to peace building.  This requires us to address the lack of social and economic opportunities that plague many communities in the United States and around the world.  Addressing these opportunities requires not only innovative ideas, but durable, local businesses and organizations which strengthen the local economic and social fabric, create inclusive opportunities and which produce, and are led by, effective leaders.    

Over the past 25 years, I have aspired to, and been a part of, the executive team at several organizations.  But now it is time to pass the baton while continuing the race so that I can have even greater impact on organizations beyond those I am affiliated with.  I view my evolving role as that of one who passes the materials to the organizations’ builders.   

I know the joy and the loneliness that come with being an Executive Director and a Board President.  I have been fortunate to celebrate good times along with failure, professional disappointments and organizational challenges.  So now I want to share those experiences with leaders and support them as they grow personally, professionally and organizationally into all that their Creator intended for them.      

About

Harold Tessendorf has mediated and facilitated enduring outcomes since 1989. He is an experienced mediator and executive-level leader with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit sector in South Africa, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Haiti and the USA.   This includes two decades leading Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Georgia and well as serving on the boards of established and start-up nonprofits. 

Harold acquired extensive negotiation, mediation and facilitation experience during South Africa’s democratic transition from apartheid to democracy during the late-1980s through mid-1990s.  These experiences were augmented by ongoing conflict management work in Haiti, Sierra Leone and the USA. His three decades of working experience have equipped him with skills in Nonprofit Management, Housing Finance, Board Governance, Strategic Planning, Community Economic Development, Micro-finance, Volunteer Management, Team Building, and Fundraising. 

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Governance and Executive Coaching

As an Executive Leader or Board member, the Global Pandemic of 2020, natural disasters, growing inequality and resurgent discrimination, economic recessions and political polarization have created a challenging environment in which you are expected to effectively and efficiently operate your organization and deliver the services that your stakeholders depend on.    

If there is one thing that the events of 2020 and earlier years have taught you, whether they were global events or more mundane matters such as a scandal or loss of a key supporter, it is that your leadership begins with how you choose to respond to each crisis.  You know that your response is more effective when it emerges from being the executive team and board are forward looking, have clearly defined roles and when you have practiced for, and institutionalized the operating policies that make your response both effortless and authentic.  

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Conflict Management

Are you and your organization faced with one or more of the following situations?

  1. You are caught up in a conflict or dispute with another party – family member, peer, or organized group or institution?  Your relationship has soured to the point that dialogue is difficult at best, legal options are adversarial and costly, and you recognize the need to engage a third party to help you to resolve this conflict. 
  1. As a leader within your organization, you are discouraged by the presence of persistent conflict, or irritated by the fact that others are politely ignoring it.  Tensions within the wider community and nation are reflected in your organization and you struggle daily to keep everyone focused on your organization’s goals and purpose.  You spend a good part of each day attempting to meet the needs of your team members, customers, peers and other stakeholders.  This work is draining and it is keeping you from accomplishing your future-oriented plans.    
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Sustainable Operations

Harold Tessendorf, coaching

What does growing economic inequality, unemployment and blight that follow from decisions made by distant economic and political leaders and corporations, the interruption of business supply chains because of epidemics and pandemics and political instability across the globe, the migration of people to urban centers mean for local communities?  Are they a threat, an opportunity, or both?

You desire to marry your idealism and sense of realism together by creating a social enterprise that will addresses how one or more of these challenges uniquely impacts your community.   But you need access to the conceptual framework and skills needed to make this possible.  

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