Downtown stakeholders discuss goals, unity

“When we talk about collaborating, it’s a lot like talking about marriage,” began Dawn Golik. “Getting married and staying married are two different things. We need to maintain and grow our relationships. Keeping them alive – that’s harder.”

“Collaboration Networking” was the theme of the Downtown Stakeholder Summit held by Merced DNA (Downtown Neighborhood Association) last Friday, April 12, at Five Ten Bistro in Bob Hart Square. The keynote speaker was Dawn Golik, the Fresno district director of the Central California Small Business Administration. Merced County is part of her territory.

“Collaboration is a great topic. Not many people talk about it,” Golik said. “If you’re here today, that makes you a leader. Learning how to connect with other partners is both an art and a science.”

Golik gave the group several “Cs” to consider when partnering with other organizations.


Does your organization (and the one you are partnering with) have the ability to hold up your end of the bargain? Golik warned to only partner when it will compliment what you are doing.

Over time the challenge of constant fundraising is exhausting. If a new grant or a new funding group comes along – and maybe it’s not focused on your main purpose, but you think ‘we could probably do that’ – it can lead to mission drift. Seek opportunities that stay true to your organization’s mission and capabilities,” Golik said.

She told a story about a friend who had been an air traffic controller, known as the most stressful occupation. My friend recognized that running a non-profit was much more stressful than air traffic control.


“Communication is the biggest reason for the breakup of marriages. It’s also key in partnerships,” Golik said. “Learn to communicate often and accurately.”

In a world where a lot of business is done by email, Golik encouraged having some face-to-face meetings with your partners. She suggested scheduling monthly meetings or at least an annual retreat.

“Good communications includes the difficult conversations – the ones that give you a sinking feeling,” Golik said. “As leaders we have to be willing to have those conversations. It can be a valuable turning point to resolve a difficult issue.”

She reminded to include communicating appreciation. “Look for ways to show a person that their contribution is important.”


“When I thank my husband for doing something nice for me he often says, ‘don’t get used to it,’ ” Golik smiled.

She continued with recognizing how easy it is to get comfortable with continual funders. Some organizations are funded largely from the same sources year-after-year. However, there are many good causes to fund and often not enough resources to support them all. Golik advised to avoid repeating the same proposals year-to-year.

“Keep things fresh and find ways to enhance your opportunities. Encourage those around you to grow and stretch,” Golik advised. “And be sure to communicate to your funders to reinforce the importance of what they do for you.”


“Compromise is when neither party gets exactly what they want,” Golik said.

Her advice? Find things you can say “Yes” to. “Be willing to give up on small things so you can get the bigger things you really need,” Golik said.

She advised that negotiating a compromise takes effort. The goal would be to convince the other party that there are strong reasons for what you’re asking for.

Chart a Course

“When your romance is new and you’re falling in love, couples spend a lot of time talking about what their future together might be like. It’s similar to partnerships. In the beginning you will spend a lot of time charting a course including strategic plans, budgets, defining roles, etc.” Golik said.

But five to 10 years into the partnership, things begin to drift or get routine. There’s not a plan any longer. People get busy and often don’t make time to check the course and update plans, Golik warned.

“You need to be always talking with your partners about the direction and dealing with any problems that have developed,” Golik said. “It’s easier to deal with issue when you are slightly off course than when it has been unaddressed for years.”

Golik wrapped up her talk with recalling her first work in the Merced area. She was with HUD in 2008 and came to help people find ways to keep their homes during the real estate crash.

“Merced was ground zero for foreclosures. Those were dire times,” Golik shared. “I was impressed with how well Merced comes together when work needs done. This community wants to do good, contribute, help their neighbors, and lift Merced up. I still see that today.”

She offered that the SBA wants to collaborate and do what they can to assist in building up Merced’s downtown and helping businesses here. “I love Merced and look forward to supporting you,” Golik said.

For more information about what SBA can help with, contact the Fresno District Office at (559) 487-5791 or the Central CA SBA Network Lead Center at (209) 386-1008. They are located in the UC Merced Venture Lab at 1735 M Street in Downtown Merced.

Leaders of local organizations were introduced and each gave an overview of their missions to the audience. They included Wayne Eisenhart of Merced DNA, Robert Matsuo of Merced Main Street Association, Kurt Clark and Jennifer Butler of the Central CA SBA Network Lead Center, Bruce Metcalf of Merced Rescue Mission, Matt St. Oerre of Restore Merced, Ron Cook of Merced Garden Club, Colton Dennis of the Merced Multicultural Art Center (the MAC), Kevin Hammon of Art Hop, Andre Santos of Legal Resources, Lesanne Jacobsen of Merced Certified Farmer’s Market, Manuel Alvarado of the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce, Karen Baker of the California Welcome Center, Barbara Piagari of Joie de Vivre Hotels, Necola Adams a.k.a. The Cookie Lady, and former Mayoral candidate Monica K. Villa.

For more information about Merced DNA email:

Dawn GolikDiana Odom GunnDowntown MercedDowntown Neighborhood Association
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