Executive Highlight

Robyn Cenizal

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Director, Manhattan Strategy Group
Business Founded: 2001
Phone: 904-304-3089

4340 East West Highway, Suite 1100
Bethesda, MD 20814

How long have you been in your industry?25+ years
Why did you choose your industry?I started working for the City of Jacksonville, Florida, not long after high school. I worked in various departments over the years including Public Works, Community Services and the Mayor's Office. I found in almost every facet of my work that families - coworkers and/or those in the community - were struggling. And while the government offered programs, many of those programs were struggling as well. I co-created the Jacksonville Network for Strengthening Families to provide skill-building and access to resources to families. It was successful and got some national attention. As a result, I was invited to work in the federal space providing technical assiatance to other organizations around the country recieving federal funding for programming focused on family self-sufficiency.
Who are your typical clients?Federal Agencies such as the Office of Family Assistance, Housing & Urban Development, Department of Labor, Children's Bureau, Department of Justice
What do you like best about being in this industry?Knowing that I'm making a difference. By building capacity of practitioners and agencies serving families, I am - through them - changing the lives of families and the trajectory for children across the country.
What are common problems you see?There's often a disconnect between the scope of work outlined in the federal funding opportunity and existing programmatic design. Lack of infrastructure and fiscal capacity in some grass-roots programs cause them to struggle especially as it relates to program metrics and federal reporting requirements. Universities and other large organizations often design programs that look good on paper, but may not have the community relationships needed to execute the plan.
What advice/tips do you have for clients?Designing funding opportunities that are less prescriptive and focus more on innovation in past performance might yeild a better outcome.Consider evaluation strategies that are qualitative and descriptive to better determine what improves participant outcomes versus quantitative analysis that counts program participants.Engage program individuals with lived experience and other stakeholders who understand the complexities of the families being served.
When is your busy season?February through October seems to be the busiest
What keeps you up at night?The idea that in the greatest country in the world we still have children going to bed hungry and living in unsafe environments.
How do you market yourself to grow/expand your business?Always seeking new information and ideas related to the populations we serve, the programs that support them and the policies that impact them. I network in my community, on LinkedIn and in the DC Beltway with federal agencies and other consultants.
How involved are you in the community?Very. I'm a Leadership Jacksonville Alumni. I still support the Network for Stengthening Families. I am a volunteer with North Florida American Red Cross and also volunteer for other agencies. Having retired from the City of Jacksonville, I still keep tabs on local politics. I'm also a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) and serve on the CFLE Advisory Board.
What is your favorite not for profit or charity?My top three are the Jacksonville Zoo, American Red Cross and the Network for Strengthening Families
What advice would you give to someone thinking of getting into this business?Government consulting can be very challenging and rewarding. Choose a field you are passionate about and focus on learning everything you can about the client, their purpose, their pain points and the audience they serve. Learn to be solution oriented. Anyone can spot the problems. A good consultant offers solutions that engage and value all stakeholders.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?I'm a true Florida girl! I love anything outdoors! Gardening, kayaking, hiking, going to the beach are some of my favorites.

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