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Prevention First
Karel Homrig, CEO

“I knew from attending their nonprofit conference that Wipfli understands what we do and how important our mission is. But it was great to see the energy and levity they brought to the retreat. We needed to lay the strategic foundation for our organization, and Wipfli kept us not just focused but also motivated and confident in our future.”


After attending Wipfli’s National Training Conference for nonprofits and sitting in on strategic planning sessions, Prevention First’s CEO, Karel Homrig, felt confident that her organization needed strategic planning support.

One of her challenges was developing a strategic plan that was more than just operational. She wanted one that inspired the Prevention First team to make a greater impact in the communities it serves.

She also felt Prevention First’s mission had changed. It was initially focused on substance abuse prevention. Now the organization was being called to do a lot more, such as provide training to stakeholders in other prevention areas and to conduct broader public awareness campaigns. Also, with the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state of Illinois, the role Prevention First plays in education on substance misuse has become even more needed.


The core of Wipfli’s strategic planning process is about data-informed and stakeholder-driven decision making. After conducting surveys and interviews with Prevention First’s external community stakeholders, the Wipfli team was prepared to facilitate a two-day retreat with Prevention First’s board of directors and executive leadership. The goal was to put together a full picture of what the organization did and where it wanted to go, redefine its mission and vision, and create long-range strategic goals.

A growing number of nonprofits are choosing to create an internal agency vision and an external community vision. The Wipfli team pitched this two-vision concept during the retreat, and the Prevention First board and leadership team composed two strong vision statements. 

Once the new mission and vision statements were created, the Wipfli team led them in developing long-range strategic goals based off these statements. This enabled Prevention First to move forward after the retreat and begin designing their strategic action plan for each long-range goal, engaging all staff in the process.

Each long-range strategic goal had a leader responsible for building a team to achieve that goal. After the retreat, the Wipfli team met with these leaders and their respective teams and walked them through how to use a focused implementation process, which included setting first-year accomplishments, creating a calendar of first-year assignments, and developing a 90-day implementation plan to get started.


Prevention First now has a mission that more accurately reflects its purpose and how it addresses the needs of its stakeholders. The mission serves as a driver in determining what it wants to accomplish and where it wants to grow in the future. The organization has its sense of self back.

Plus, Prevention First has a process that allows it to continuously monitor progress on its goals. Staff meet quarterly to evaluate progress and set an action plan for the next quarter, keeping them on track to achieve their strategic plan. The plan doesn’t sit on a shelf, collecting dust. Instead, it’s a living, breathing plan that evolves quarterly and keeps the organization nimble and successful. 

Client profile

Founded in 1980, Prevention First is Illinois’ only nonprofit resource center specializing in preventing alcohol and other drug use and related issues. Its mission is to advance efforts to promote healthy behaviors and prevent substance misuse through training, support and public awareness.

Relationship Executive(s)

Brian R. Gaumont, Principal

Deron J. Kling, Senior Manager