March 2024 | Issue #26

Office background featuring a white circle on a blue wall with a "C" for CONSTANT, two white chairs, and a plant. Golden retriever dog wearing four leaf clover headpiece on left side.

Woman and man standing in front of castle in Ireland.“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity” is a well-known quote attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca. And during this month of St. Patrick’s Day, luck is on my mind. CONSTANT has been lucky. Our luck has resulted in some terrific recent awards – groundbreaking work in Maui, expansion and innovation with FEMA FQS, and AFN work in California, to name a few. Our luck has resulted in high CPARS scores, a world class Board of Advisors, and partners eager to collaborate with us.

 

How did we get so lucky? We’ve prepared by staying focused on our mission of making the world a safer place, working hard to maintain a standard of excellence second to none, and by empowering our people to lead. Those preparations, intersected with the opportunity to serve our clients, has resulted in our luck. So, it is hard earned “luck” that we will continue to build on as a company. Kudos to each and every team member for generating this luck for us, and cheers to all that’s in store for us in our journey!

 

Photo: This from one of my travel adventures to Ireland, where we literally just stumbled upon a castle (because that happens in Ireland!).

 

In Service,

 

-Michelle Constant 

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Lusine Boyajian, Intern

Lusine Boyajian HeadshotLusine Boyajian is excited to join the CONSTANT team. She resides in sunny Los Angeles, California. She has a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from California State University, Northridge, and is currently a Master of Public Health (MPH) candidate at the University of Southern California. She aspires to become a Consultant, Associate, or Project/Program Manager after graduation.

 

Her topics of interest include health policy, disease prevention, mental health, environmental health, and emergency preparedness and response. She has extensive experience working with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SPSS, Tableau, Canva, Google Documents, and Google Slides.

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CONSTANT's March Birthdays

Let’s cheers to our magical March birthday babies:

  • Oliver Martin (March 13)
  • Jennifer Love (March 21)

Happy Birthday to Oliver and Jennifer!

CONSTANT's March Anniversaries

Join us as we celebrate these team member work anniversaries this month: 

 

  • Tobias Watson – 3 years (March 22)
  • Morgan Forrest – 2 years (March 7)
  • Derek Morrison – 2 years (March 21)
  • Alyssa Antczak – 1 year (March 1)
  • Nathan Carpenter – 1 year (March 6)
  • Aleks Baran – 1 year (March 16)
  • Ali Leis – 1 year (March 28)

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our mission!

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March Momentum: Riding the Wave of Early 2024 Wins

Business Development by Jeff Philippart, Business Development Director

The Business Development Team is thrilled to have opened 2024 on a winning streak with many new projects! These projects will allow CONSTANT and our team members to expand capabilities, work with diverse clients, and ultimately live out our mission of making the world a safer place. We are proud to be supporting the following new projects and anticipate more to come:

 

  • Maui County, HI Community Planning/Public Outreach (2023) Wildfires
  • Sonoma County, CA Disaster Recovery Plan
  • Ventura County, CA Community Emergency Access Assessment
  • San Mateo County, CA Health Emergency Preparedness Exercises
  • San Mateo County, CA Disaster Service Worker Training
  • Tulare County, CA Surge Plan
  • Santa Barbara County Infectious Disease Emergency Response Plan
  • Imperial County, CA COVID-19 AAR
  • Cal OES AFN Library

We want to maintain the momentum of this success as we move into the Spring. Here are just a few ways that the BD Team, with involvement and support from the wider CONSTANT Team, has been working to grow our business:

 

  • Conference and Industry Event Attendance: Conferences and industry events provide opportunities for key networking with customers, partners, and stakeholders as well as informative educational sessions. In February, CONSTANT team members attended the National Small Business Conference, the Professional Services Council Conference, and the inaugural CDC Small Business Summit. We have several other conferences on the horizon as our team members will be attending the Joint Civil and DOD CBRN Symposium, the NEMA Mid-Year Forum, and the NACCHO Preparedness Summit. As we form our outreach strategies for these events, please reach out to the BD Team if you have any key contacts or agencies that we should interface with.
  • Strategic Partnerships: CONSTANT continues to work with our mentors LMI and Eagle Hill Consulting through the SBA Mentor-Protégé program. These key partnerships provide us with assistance on internal business development strategies, identification of partnership opportunities, assistance navigating the federal procurement process, and more.
  • Expansion into Target Geographical Locations/Agencies: CONSTANT is targeting strategic expansion across markets in alignment with market and funding trends, firm and individual team member experience and contacts. In February, we started monthly pipeline review calls with our Portfolio Managers. We are also expanding involvement of Portfolio Managers in federal/SLTT pipeline review and capture and attending conferences/industry events in target states like Texas and Michigan. We also continuously monitor project opportunities across SLTT and Federal agencies for aligned capabilities and past performance.
  • Enhanced Digital/Marketing Presence: As discussed during the CONSTANT Summit, we will be expanding our digital presence this year with videos, resources, blogging, webinars, and more. We look forward to engaging with you to help market CONSTANT to our clients, partners, and colleagues.
  • Building on Past and Current Performance: As we prepare for more SLTT and federal bids in 2024, we will continue building on the incredible past and current performance of the CONSTANT team. From using our COVID-19 AAR portfolio to strengthen infectious disease emergency response planning, to building from special event emergency management coordination work performed for Los Angeles County to support some of the nation’s largest upcoming events, our past and current performance is invaluable to our credibility and reputation. As we discussed during the Winter Summit, quality performance and delivery is the best way to help grow our business.
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Starting Strong: Strategies for building trust and teamwork with clients on a new project

Operations by Jayson Kratoville

“March is the month of expectation, the things we do not know, the persons of prognostication are coming now.” -Emily Dickinson

 

This year, March is bringing a slew of new SLTT projects along with some anticipated expansions to our federal work. This is a good time for us to take a fresh look at our approach to building trust with clients. When we talked about Being CONSTANT at summit, we highlighted the importance of being that reliable partner to agencies that are undergoing generational change. Here are some strategies for establishing that trust early on:

 

  • Be curious. Ask questions, listen to their needs, learn the dynamics and barriers they’re facing. In the early meetings, clients should be talking way more than we do unless they make it totally clear they’re leaning on us for the approach.
  • Be confident. In our field right now, there are a lot of unknowns. We want clients coming out of our initial meetings saying “great, this is one less thing I have to worry about.” Be careful not to come across as over-confident, this can derail the first objective above.
  • Be consistent. Lay out a routine way of doing things that aligns with the client’s expectations. Stick to it religiously so the client and team always know what’s coming.

Check out the recent Client Relationship Management training on iSolved for some more in-depth strategies. On FFP projects, it’s okay to review that training on project time as long as the PM and Sponsor are on board.

 

Good luck and enjoy the first rays of spring!  

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People and Culture by Maggie Peters, Director of People and Culture

March-ing with People & Culture

Our quarterly pulse check asked you how CONSTANT’s mangers are doing. This quick and anonymous survey will help us to better understand where we need to lend a hand and what they’re doing great. Your voices will continue to help us shape how we support our leaders. We’ll share the overall trends and potential action items during our monthly meeting later this month. Thank you for your participation.

Important March Dates:

 

  • March 5: CONSTANT University Governance Commiteee Meeting 9am PT/12pm ET
  • March 5: Payday (Managers – Please ensure your team has submitted their timesheet by Thursday 2/29 and you have approved it by Friday 3/1 at 9am PT/12pm ET
  • March 16: Timesheets Due
  • March 20: Payday
  • March 25: Monthly Staff Meeting (9am PT/12pm ET)
  • March 27: Quarterly Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Meeting at 9am PT/12pm ET

Benefits Highlight: P&C has created a new Benefits Guide (using CANVA). Here is the link for your convenience: Benefit Guide. If you are a Hiring Manager, feel free to provide a candidate with this important information. Candidates really pay attention to what benefits an employer provides. We are always enhancing our benefits to be very competitive with the larger firms, which we do now compete with! Please provide Maggie’s contact information if they would like to discuss our benefits package in more detail.

401(k): Are you eligible but not contributing to your 401(k) account? Why?! We highly recommend that you sign up ASAP. You are missing out on a generous employer match that will accelerate building your retirement fund.

Payroll Deductions: Please check your paystub in isolved to ensure your payroll deductions are what you expected them to be. If you have any questions on benefit deductions, reach out to Maggie.

Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

EDI by Co-Leads Maggie Peters and TBD

Next Meeting: Our next EDI Committee meeting will be March 27 at 9am PT / 12pm ET. This meeting is on the Staff Calendar for any team member to join. Here’s the link to join: EDI Meeting 

 

Learn more about EDI!: Thanks goes out to Christy Carry who has written another amazing article for this month: World Down Syndrome Day. Find all EDI articles on the P&C Sharepoint site.

 

Looking to fill the EDI Co-Lead: Help CONSTANT continue your EDI journey. Reach out to Maggie if you are interested in serving as an EDI Co-Lead!

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March Finance Madness

Finance By Loretta Pascuzzo, Sr. Accounting Manager

Current Projects:

  • Annual SBA Financial Review Audit
  • Close out of older projects
  • Unanet Project Audit
    • Ensure accuracy of funding, hours, and period of performance.
    • Make sure attachments such as contract and mods are attached in the project.

Need to check your PTO usage? Login to Unanet and go to Reports. 

On the drop-down menu, select dashboard. Scroll to the bottom of your report’s dashboard page. Look under the user reports and find the Time Summary report.

To search for the PTO project, type %paid% in the project code box and it the blue arrow to filter. Add your date range that you are looking for and click the Run Report button. This will return the total number of PTO hours you have used within the period. This report will only return your own PTO usage and not for any other team member.

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IT has its own March Madness!

Information Technology By Morgan Forrest, IT Manager

Team, I am happy to announce the release of NordLayer VPN. If you have not installed the software, please do so. 

 

This month we will be highlighting Ransomware! Ransomware acts as an encryption virus. It will select all your files, lock them down, and demand a ransom to get your data back. 

 

Here are some quick statistics about Ransomware. 

  • Ransomware attacks happen once every 11 seconds.
  • Businesses lost $1.3 billion to ransomware payouts and $159.4 billion to the resulting downtime in 2021.
  • Ransomware attacks have increased 80% year-over-year between 2021-2022.
  • The average ransomware attack costs $4.62 million.
  • Recovering from a ransomware attack will cost businesses $1.85 million on average in 2021.
  • Out of all ransomware victims, 32 percent pay the ransom, but they only get 65 percent of their data back.
  • The average downtime a company experiences after a ransomware attack is 22 days.

This is why we must make sure we keep our equipment and applications updated. Modern virus protection such as Windows Defender actively searches for Ransomware and other viruses. Be on the lookout for the monthly meeting for more information. 

 

Please also be on the lookout for an update on the helpdesk process! Have an awesome and lucky March! 

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Doodle Time! The first person to email Brea their colored in sheet will win a pot of gold … gift card.

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Our mission is to make the world a safer place.

It’s that simple, and that’s why we are here. We have a strategic plan for the next three years, called CONSTANT Strategy, which outlines what our biggest priorities are:

 

  • Take care of our people
  • Forward our mission
  • Respond to our clients’ most pressing needs
  • Expand strategically across markets
  • Build infrastructure for the future

To help us execute on our mission, we have developed the CONSTANT Credo and our aligned core values (see the graphic below). We live by these.

CONSTANT Credo

Constant Credo 20th Anniversary Version

We appreciate all of your hard work as we continue to grow. We hope you enjoyed reading this issue of CONSTANT Connections! We are open to any ideas, suggestions, or feedback on CONSTANT Connections. Please submit your ideas to Brea Dees.