Our Community: YWCA and ESD

Erika Larimer, Koné Consulting and  Alicia Crank,  YWCA Corporate Relations Officer and  candidate for Edmonds City Council  meet at YWCA’s temporary housing site to exchange donated bags. The site features 28 apartments, a small playground and garden and gives women and their children a safe haven while awaiting permanent housing.

Erika Larimer, Koné Consulting and Alicia Crank, YWCA Corporate Relations Officer and candidate for Edmonds City Council meet at YWCA’s temporary housing site to exchange donated bags. The site features 28 apartments, a small playground and garden and gives women and their children a safe haven while awaiting permanent housing.

We had the pleasure last month of hosting a networking event designed to kick-off summer and bring together women in our community, including those running for our local city council. What a great opportunity to get to know those who are working hard to help shape a future which recognizes everyone’s right to live healthy, safe and equitable lives in our town.

Thanks to our guests generous donations, we were able to donate food and hygiene items to our local food bank as well as over two dozen handbags to our local YWCA for their upcoming Women Rise Career Workshop. Attendees will learn how to take their careers to the next level through resume and interview skills workshops. To learn how to support your local food bank, visit Feeding America. If you are interested in volunteering for YWCA Women Rise Career Workshop, contact Alicia Crank, corporate relations officer, at 206-490-4372 or acrank@ywcaworks.org.

In other news, Koné Consulting was recognized at a luncheon for businesses which partner with the Edmonds School District’s job training program for students with disabilities – our annual holiday calendar and card mailing are prepared by students in the Work Experience program. Although the event was designed to thank businesses, we know WE are the ones who benefit from this partnership as the students do an exceptional job!


Our View this Week

Shout out to our Senior Lean Consultant, Brian Kerr, who’s representing Koné Consulting in Colorado this week with his pals from Public Consulting Group and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. They’re visiting locations across Colorado to help counties and medical assistance sites improve the services they provide to people across the state (read here for more information).

Brian says, “It’s a pleasure to spend time with folks who do such important work every day, and to take a Lean perspective where every problem is an opportunity to try some improvement.” 

And when he’s not on the job? Brian’s hotel is directly across the street from the Eagles Nest Wilderness area where he was enjoying a walk to take in the beautiful scenery. Take a look!


 What’s your view this week?

Celebrating Sekou’s citizenship: The Koné immigration story

Independence Day has special meaning for the Koné family as it marks the anniversary of Sekou Koné, Alicia’s husband, becoming a U.S. citizen. This July 4th marks Sekou’s 16th year as a U.S. Citizen – we hope you enjoy reading their reflections.


L-R: Sekou poses after neighbors dress him up in Lady Liberty garb; surrounded by family, L-R: Alicia’s dad John, Sekou’s cousin, Aunt Char, Devin holding Isaac, Sekou, Alicia holding Zoumi, 2003.


Sekou: I am the second to youngest of seven siblings spanning 20 years – born to Mamadou and Yadio Koné. My father, Mamadou, was born in Sirana de Odienne, a small inland village in northwest Côte d’Ivoire, bordering Guinea. This is the “Koné village” – nearly everyone with the name Koné comes from this area. My father left home as a young man and travelled south  to   the  sea   where   he   found  his  livelihood  as a merchant marine and his wife, my mother Yadio. She was 16 when they married, and had never been out of Tabou, one of the small fishing villages dotting the 600 miles of beautiful beach along the Cote d’Ivoire coast. After their wedding, my father sent his new bride to Abidjan by boat, where they raised our family and lived out their lives.

Sekou and his siblings, back row L-R, Ibrahim, Adam, Amidou, Sekou, Zoumana; Front row, L-R, (a cousin), Tata, Mariam.

Sekou and his siblings, back row L-R, Ibrahim, Adam, Amidou, Sekou, Zoumana; Front row, L-R, (a cousin), Tata, Mariam.

Like my father, I, too, have an adventurous spirit, and as a young man decided to head to the United States – New York City – and claim my own adventure. This was in 1994. Although I wasn’t initially planning to emigrate, I sensed there was a better life with more opportunities for me out in the world. My brother, Adam, had already made the move, and welcomed me to stay with him.

Alicia: Sekou has incredible self-confidence. Whereas in western culture most people need their surroundings or a home to feel grounded, Sekou has a sense of self and is grounded no matter where he is.

Sekou: Yes, my reason for coming to the United States was to see for myself – not out of any sense of desperation – I knew I could make my way at home or abroad. Not everyone comes here as a refugee – and I always knew I was going back home eventually.

After three years in New York, I was tired of working seven days a week to scrape by. I knew there was more to the U.S. and I wanted to see it. I was considering Los Angeles, Portland, or Seattle. I pretty much threw a dart at the map and chose Seattle. I had enough money saved up for a Greyhound bus ticket and two weeks of lodging and food.

Within my first week in the city, I’d met a fellow West African who helped me get a job as an insurance courier in downtown Seattle and a place to stay. Within a few months, I bought my first car - a little economy sedan - and rented my own studio apartment. I felt accomplished because for the first time in my life - I was really living on my own.

Alicia: And then Sekou and I met in 1998 and were married the same year; Sekou became Dad to my son Devin who was six at the time, and two years later, in 2000, we had Isaac, followed by Zoumi in 2001.

Sekou: 2000 was a big year; in addition to Isaac’s birth, I visited home – Abidjan – for the first time since leaving in 1994. It was a joyous and emotional reunion. I was pretty much a stranger in my own country. Things had changed. My friends had grown older. Their children who were babies when I left were young men and women. I barely recognized even my own nieces and nephews. I could no longer even drink the water - I had to buy bottled water like the Europeans. I didn’t realize how much I had changed.

I learned it is possible to have your heart live in two places.

2003 was another big year, because after a long process that started in 1999, I finally took my oath of citizenship on July 4th surrounded by family and friends, at the base of the Space Needle at Seattle Center. I had been a permanent legal resident since Alicia and I were married, but citizenship was important to me because I wanted to able to vote so I had influence over how the taxes I paid were spent, and who was making the laws governing our country. I also wanted the freedom to travel the world that comes with the privilege of a U.S. passport. Today I feel I belong here as much as I belong in Côte d’Ivoire. I take pride in how I help people here in the U.S. as a registered nurse, as well as being able to help the people in Côte d’Ivoire by contributing my own resources and encouraging cultural exchange with  Americans.

Alicia and the boys’ first visit to Cote d’Ivoire and the Koné Compound, 2011

Alicia and the boys’ first visit to Cote d’Ivoire and the Koné Compound, 2011

Alicia: I have had the pleasure of visiting Sekou’s family and childhood home in Abidjan a few times over the past 20 years– I always feel welcome, and so fortunate to have such a wonderful extended family. Which is why we are so excited to share our Abidjan with you through our upcoming Travel With Purpose project. It will be an honor to introduce fellow travelers to Côte d’Ivoire.

Sekou: This has been a long-time dream for both of us. I am looking forward to sharing my Côte d’Ivoire with Americans, just as I am excited to share my American culture with the Ivoirians. Together we can bridge understanding and make a better world for all!

Happy Independence Day from our family to yours!

The Koné Family on a recent trip to Côte d’Ivoire, 2016. L-R, Isaac, Sekou, Alicia,  Zoumi, Devin.

The Koné Family on a recent trip to Côte d’Ivoire, 2016. L-R, Isaac, Sekou, Alicia,
Zoumi, Devin.

Countdown to Côte d’Ivoire
We are over 75% booked!

The countdown has begun and space is filling fast for our New Years’ Service Trip to Côte d’Ivoire, just 6 months away!

Save $500* when you register with a $1,500 deposit by July 5th!

  • What to expect when you register to Travel With Us –

  • Excitement and an urgent desire to start packing

  • Eagerness for more information about planning

  • A compulsion to read the itinerary several times a day

  • A desire to tell all your friends and strangers about the Katiola Orphanage – stay tuned for our blogpost on the children and their needs

This intimate tour is limited to 20 travelers to ensure your best small group travel experience.  Come spend 14 amazing days packed with cultural sights and experiences, including two service, learning & leadership workshops collaborating with community members on a special project.

*Register by July 5th

$500 registration saves your spot, or $1,500 guarantees our introductory price of $3,495; trip price increases to $3,995 after July 5th, 2019. Tour price includes airfare from the US, hotel, meals (all breakfasts, 13 lunches, 7 group dinners), scheduled tours, tips, and local English-speaking guides.

If you can’t join us in December 2019 please stay tuned as we will be sending updates for future trips!

Spend New Year’s with us in Côte d’Ivoire, Africa – Early-Bird Pricing ends July 5th!

With just one week left to take advantage of early-bird pricing for our New Year’s service trip to Côte d’Ivoire, we’re excited to see who’ll be joining us, December 27, 2019 – January 12, 2020!

This intimate tour is limited to 20 travelers to ensure your best small group travel experience. We’re already over 75% booked, so act fast! 

Take advantage of our early-bird pricing – a $500 savings off your tour:

  • Fourteen amazing days packed with cultural sights and experiences!

  • Round-trip airfare, US to Côte d’Ivoire

  • Lodging (double occupancy)

  • All breakfasts, 13 lunches, and 7 group dinners

  • Expert local English-speaking guides

  • All ground transportation (in air-conditioned busses)

  • Tips/gratuities

  • Welcome to CI travel kit

Early-bird price of $3,495 available when you register with a $1,500 deposit by July 5th, 2019.

Regular tour price is $3,995, effective July 6th, 2019. 

Visit our website for more details


Sekou Koné, our Vice President of International Affairs, is currently in Côte d’Ivoire finalizing itinerary details and service work logistics. Next week we will share about Sekou’s visit to the Sainte Geneviéve de Katiola Orphelina (Katiola Orphanage) where there is great work being accomplished, and great need.

Travel With Us!

Partner Spotlight: Introducing Francisco Salinas - Independent Inclusive Excellence consultant

We have invited our partner and fellow collaborator, Francisco Salinas to introduce himself in this week’s blog. We at Koné Consulting look forward to our ongoing projects with Francisco, and the Inclusive Excellence he brings to our team and clients.

Hello fam!  


My name is Francisco Salinas, from Boise State University where I am currently working full-time as the first Director for Student Diversity and Inclusion. When my schedule allows, I am excited to share the insights and expertise from my professional experiences through my recent partnership with Koné Consulting. I am committed to Inclusive Excellence through systemic and structural change, and have created a tool called the “Inclusive Excellence Inventory” to help undertake this work.

A first generation college-graduate, my professional life in higher education has been spent advocating for the growth and success of under-represented minority populations on campus, with a number of administrative posts in both Washington State and Idaho, including the University of Idaho, Washington State University, Spokane Community College, Skagit Valley College and Yakima Valley Community College. As an instructor, I’ve taught a variety of classes ranging from Chicano Studies to Civic and Ethical Foundations, and hold the proud distinction as the founding advisor for both the first Latina founded sorority and the first Latino founded fraternity in Idaho. I was also recently honored by Boise State University’s Black Alumni chapter as the first recipient of the award they have named the “Francisco Salinas Commitment to Inclusion Award.”

I live in Boise, Idaho with my partner Nichole, who is a mental health counselor specializing in the treatment of sexual abuse recovery and trauma. I have three adult children and am a grandfather to a beautiful grandson who I travel to see every chance I get. I am a garage sale treasure hunter and a consumer of all things musical. I love live music and love road trips to any body of water. My indoor pursuits include playing foosball and scrabble and cheering on Nichole for her amazing Karaoke prowess. 

What I most love about working with the Koné Consulting team is the opportunity to face new challenges and settings with a group of folks whose creative energies are unbound by the constructs of a traditional single setting environment. The value of diverse experiences and perspectives is nourished and allowed to blossom in an organic way that only the sunlight, the weather and a complete absence of walls can afford. The world needs advance along the axis of equity and it will take the best of us to step up and meet this challenge! I am pleased to be working with some of the best to advance this work.

I look forward to the possibility we may spend some time together.  - Francisco

For more on Francisco’s work at Boise State University, visit:

Keeping The Dream Real

BUILD Program Trains Boise State Staff in Diversity and Inclusivity

Navigating Race Strategizing Space 

Find Francisco on LinkedIn.


Travel With Purpose

Service, Learning and Leadership Webinar

Saturday, June 22 at 9 am PST

Join us to learn more about our New Year’s trip to Côte d’Ivoire and how you can partner with us.

Register for the webinar here 

Empowering women, making gender equality a reality

Today we are spotlighting one of our Travel With Purpose hosts and service partner, Women Entrepreneurs & Leaders (WEL), a non-profit (NGO) organization based in Côte d’Ivoire dedicated to creating a world where women can live free from poverty, violence and inequality. Through grassroots efforts, WEL builds the skills of hundreds of women and girls so together the story and the stereotypes surrounding women's abilities are changed for the good.

2018 visit, Alicia and Sekou observed WEL in action during a workshop as part of WEL’s Impact My Community campaign held at the American Corner in Bouaké.

2018 visit, Alicia and Sekou observed WEL in action during a workshop as part of WEL’s Impact My Community campaign held at the American Corner in Bouaké.

 Madame (Mme) Kouadio, Co-founder and President of WEL explains how the idea for her organization was born. “During my adolescence, I noticed that women are fragilized (easily broken or destroyed) in their family home because of lack of means,” she continued, “my own auntie - a mother of 10 children - suffered in her marriage, frequently beaten by her husband and when he did not give her money to cook for the family, she and her children would stay hungry.” Mme Kouadio’s own mother helped the family as she could, however, this was not enough to ensure the children could attend school, which in Côte d’Ivoire can mean the difference between jobs and housing, or homelessness.

In addition to this formative memory, Mme Kouadio began her professional journey working with a non-profit fighting against HIV AIDS. “In poor communities and rural areas, women are incredibly vulnerable – the most affected and impacted by HIV AIDS. And most of the time they have no support for the education of their children,” explained Mdm. Kouadio.  

“Why? Why women?” Mme Kouadio would ask herself, “Why are women so far behind? Are women aware of their potential?”

Studying women’s issues a few years ago, Mme Kouadio discovered some grim statistics:

  •        Women and girls make up 70% of the 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty

  •        Some young girls still can’t access education in Africa

  •        16% of the world’s population is illiterate, of which two-thirds are women and girls

  •        During armed conflict, out of 40 million refugees, 75% are women and children

  •        In sub-Saharan Africa, 61% of people living with HIV are women

  •        Each year, approximately 22 million unsafe abortions occur when women are sexually abused

  •        Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth

 Active since 2016, WEL strives to empower the next generation of women leaders by focusing on Leadership, Excellence and Innovation – teaching economic independence and leadership, as well as programs related to agriculture, green environments, health (HIV and pregnancy), technology, and digital solutions.

“My vision for the future is a new generation of young female leaders, aware of their potential, who contribute to a world where women are free from poverty, and one Africa where we have no gender inequalities – where women are equals in making decisions,” said Mme Kouadio. 

Mme Kouadio’s experience and vision provided her the opportunity to become part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, a U.S. – African merit-based program for young African leaders. In 2017, she was selected among 18,000 applicants from all over sub-Saharan Africa to take part. Held at Appalachian State University, N.C., the six-week Leadership Institute offered a host of academic sessions, professional networking, leadership training, community service and cultural activities.  

mme kouadio.png

Mme Kouadio has a Master’s Degree in Organizations Management and is driven by her passion to assist vulnerable populations and create awareness among women about their potential to positively impact their community. Inspired by black American women including Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, Mme Kouadio has over 10 years’ experience in development projects and United States Government (USG) Funds grants management. In addition to her work with WEL NGO, she is the Grants Manager of international NGO Health Alliance International (HAI). She resides in Cote d’Ivoire with her husband and infant son.

 “Go girls! Aim FAR, raise your standards. Make your dreams come true!” Mme Kouadio and WEL say, “Be the next generation of leaders!

Come work with Mme Kouadio and WEL!  

Join Us in Cote d’Ivoire

Dec 2019-Jan 2020

Travel With Purpose

New Year’s Tour

Sign up for our webinar or register now!

Reminder that space is limited!

Lean Lessons Learned + a Little Football

The 2019 NFL draft is complete and off-season programs are underway. Rookie mini-camps wrapped up last month, organized team activities (OTAs) are going on now, and mandatory mini-camps are right around the corner. As of today, there are 92 days until regular season begins (but who’s counting?). For football fans, this is one of the most exciting times of the year because every team is looking ahead to a new season and the possibility of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy on February 2, 2020. General Managers and coaching staffs have had the off-season to reflect on the successes and challenges of last year and are now focusing on how to improve – or for the New England Patriots, how to reach the pinnacle yet again.

This makes me think of what we try to accomplish at Koné Consulting on a daily basis. “Lean” thinking. Continuous improvement. We talk about these things a lot as part of a consulting firm that teaches – and practices - this philosophy[1].


We help organizations consider ways of being more Lean oriented and we apply those principles to our work as well. That’s kind of the easy part. But the more I learn about and practice Lean professionally, the more I want to apply it to my personal life.

I give this a lot of thought, and as a recovering perfectionist, it isn’t easy. It means being willing to look deeply and honestly at yourself and accept your shortcomings, your errors, your failures. It may not be easy for you. But the point is to find the value in your failure because it is a means to learn, grow and improve. 

I’ve had a few foibles in my professional career. Here’s an example. When I first began at Koné Consulting, we were working on a multi-year, high value, grant funded project that involved several states. I was tasked with sending a weekly “digest” of activities to everyone involved – about 200 high ranking government agency staff, national experts in their field, and funders. We were using a platform for these messages that I was unfamiliar with and it was a bit complicated. To make a long story short, my first attempt to send the digest did not go as I intended – if I recall correctly, it went out to everyone as a blank message. Minutes later I received a call from our client – the VP of a think tank in Washington, D.C. – and someone I was intimidated by at the time. I was already feeling my failure deeply and was trying to correct it. She let me know the importance of this project and who was involved. Things I already knew, but she also didn’t know me very well. I apologized, reassured her that I would fix it and it wouldn’t happen again and she reassured me that it wasn’t the end of the world. I spent some time thinking about the problem and how to avoid it in the future. From that day forward I created the digest and sent it to myself as a test before sending it out to the entire group and I didn’t have the problem again.

I learned a few lessons from that experience:

1.     Be honest and patient – with yourself and others. I knew from this point on that this client was going to be open and honest with me when I made a mistake, but she understood that there would be a few growing pains as I became familiar with the project and my role in it and she would be patient with me through them.

2.     Forgiving yourself is a critical step. As bad as I felt that day, I was able to forgive myself and look at it as a learning experience and opportunity for improvement. From that, I created my own process to avoid the same mistake in the future.

3.     Mistakes can be a stepping stone for trust. We are human and fallible. The way you handle a problem – approaching it with integrity, accepting responsibility, and endeavoring not to make the same mistake again - is one way to build trust. While part of me wishes I hadn’t erred to begin with, in looking back I realize that that day was the beginning of a deeper relationship with our client and now we have a mutual respect for one another without my feeling intimidated. We both have a good idea of how the other will respond in both good and challenging times. 

As I grow older, I find that continuous improvement is something that I (and you, too) can apply to everything in life. Imagine what your marriage or significant other partnership might look like if you approach every day as an opportunity to continuously improve, applying the lessons above – honesty, patience, forgiveness and trust. Consider your relationship with your children, your parents, any significant person in your life. Heck, even strangers. How you approach your work, school, life, everything. I try to take a little time each evening to consider my day and ways I can be better the next. None of us are perfect and I guarantee there will be hurdles, failure, maybe some days when you want to give up. Turning these tough times into something positive is, for me, a valuable part of Lean thinking. 

Consider the kind of positive change that could be generated if we all consider and act upon how we can be better, to continually improve. This is how I plan to focus my attention for the remainder of 2019 and beyond. For my fellow football fans out there, I know you’re hoping your team is doing the same.

If you’re interested in learning more about continuous improvement, please check out our webpage: Implementing Lean.

[1] "Lean" is considered a philosophy of continuous improvement. A lean organization focuses on increasing customer value, the elimination of waste and optimizing operations. The key components of Lean can be applied to all types of businesses and processes.

In addition to reducing wastes and improving a specific process, Lean is also about building a culture, one that respects all employees and enables them to pursue opportunities to improve their work and share ideas for continuous improvement.

Libraries, Housing & Homelessness

Housing and homelessness continue to be top newsmakers around the country – and in particular in the Pacific Northwest, where rapid population growth is putting pressure on the housing market, increasing housing costs, and putting people at increased risk of displacement and homelessness.

Koné Consulting recently conducted a homelessness assessment for Edmonds, WA, a town just north of Seattle, as part of a Homelessness Response Project. This Monday, June 3, consultant Karin Ellis will be a panelist at the Edmonds library in a community forum called “Issues That Matter” to discuss the outcome of the assessment. The Sno-Isle Libraries forums are meant to encourage community conversations on high-profile topics and are free and open to the public. This year the topics focus on four broad themes related to regional growth, which are environment, transportation, employment, and housing. Monday’s forum is called “Looking forward: Housing – Where Will We All Live?”  

Blokable project at Edmonds Lutheran Church featured in the  Everett Herald .  Photo credit: Lizz Giordano/The Herald

Blokable project at Edmonds Lutheran Church featured in the Everett Herald.

Photo credit: Lizz Giordano/The Herald

The relationship between libraries, housing and homelessness makes sense to Karin, who has been a long time lover of the library, taking after her mother who is a retired elementary school librarian. When Karin provided outreach services to people who are homeless she developed an informal connection to the library due to it being a public space that provides free access to the internet to search for resources like housing and jobs. Not only is the library a refuge from cold and rain, it is an mechanism for equity – providing programs, services and opportunities to people who could not otherwise access. Seattle Public Library has formalized the connection to services providers through a partnership with DESC (where Karin used to work) and now has a Community Resource Specialist position at three branches. This allows patrons of the library to also meet with outreach workers and case managers, complete housing assessments and get resources for food and shelter.  

With over 15 years’ experience working in health and human services, specializing in mental health, substance use and homelessness, including managing the supportive housing program at a community mental health agency, we are fortunate to have Ms. Ellis in our ranks. For her thoughts on mental health, see our May 15th blog, highlighting Mental Health Awareness Month.

The Issues That Matter forum will be moderated by Teresa Wippel, Founder and Publisher of My Edmonds News and in addition to Ms. Ellis, will feature Aaron Holm, Co-CEO at Blokable, and Mindy Woods, Formerly Homeless Advocate.

Looking Forward: Housing – Where Will We All Live?

Monday, June 3rd • 6:30 pm – 8 pm

Edmonds Library

650 Main Street - Edmonds, WA


 Follow these links to see our report on Homelessness in Edmonds, WA, or for more information on the Issues That Matter series.

Celebrating tomatoes

This week I am marveling at the abundance of Mother Nature coupled with human ingenuity and hard work, as we celebrate our first tomato harvest at the Koné Farm near a small village called Tiebissou in Côte d’Ivoire.

Some months ago, our Vice President of International Affairs (and my husband) Sekou was approached by a young man from his childhood neighborhood of Yopougon near Abidjan, CI with a proposal to invest in a micro enterprise: a vegetable farm. The young man offered his knowledge of farming and the sweat equity of he and a few friends in return for seed money (literally) to start a garden.  Sekou is an expatriate of CI who is always looking for ways to invest in the future of the country and its predominantly young citizens, so he jumped in with both boots, so to speak.

Win Greg Bell’s Book!   Let us know what you are watering in your life by commenting on this blog post below for a chance to win your own copy of  Water The Bamboo , by Greg Bell

Win Greg Bell’s Book!

Let us know what you are watering in your life by commenting on this blog post below for a chance to win your own copy of Water The Bamboo, by Greg Bell

As you will see in the slideshow below, the young men took on the arduous task of tilling the first two acres of land by hand with rudimentary tools, each seed carefully ensconced in the earth and tended first with watering cans, then (lean process improvement!) with drip irrigation fed by the nearby lake. In addition to tomatoes, the team also planted peppers and cabbages. Before long, the tender starts were ready to move to the field, which quickly became lush and green.  Once these two acres are fully productive, Sekou and his team hope to expand the garden, which is providing a needed source of vegetables for the markets in Abidjan, livelihood for these young men, and a source of revenue for the village tribe that is leasing the land.

Our new farm venture in CI reminded me of leadership development consultant and author Greg Bell’s book Water the Bamboo in which he tells the story of his grandfather- a bamboo farmer- as a metaphor for leadership success through optimism.  Giant timber bamboo grows fast- up to 90 feet in 60 days- but it takes three years to break through the ground once it’s planted.  Bamboo farmers must tend to their crops for years before they see any evidence of their hard work- they are true optimists motivated by a vision.  Greg asks each of us to imagine what we are working on today- or dreaming about- that might not yield results for years, and he recommends a set of action steps to help us all keep watering our bamboo. I read Greg’s book several years ago and his wisdom has helped me keep focused on my vision and goals for Koné Consulting for the past nine years, even though growing a consulting business can sometimes feel like watering a barren field waiting for something to sprout. For inspiration, check out this video clip from Greg.

We will continue to update you on our little vegetable garden in Tiebissou – and those who join us for our Travel with Purpose tour to Côte d’Ivoire this January 2020 will visit the farm and participate in a Lean waste walk with these hard-working young men, as we will be using Lean principles to improve the value we are growing for our customers while eliminating waste with respect for people. The farm as a metaphor abounds. For more information about Lean and farming, check out The Lean Farm – How to Minimize Waste, Increase Efficiency, and Maximize Value and Profits with Less Work by Ben Hartman.

Take care,


P.S. For more information on our December 27-January 12 New Year’s tour to Cote d’Ivoire, register for one of our Service Leadership webinars:

Wednesday, June 5 @ 9 – 10 am PDT

Thursday, June 13 @ noon – 1 pm PDT

Saturday, June 22 @ 9 am – 10 am PDT


Visit our Travel with Purpose info page here.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month


Did you know May is mental health awareness month? This year marks 70 years since Mental Health America started mental health month to raise awareness. We’ve learned a lot in 70 years about mental health, the people experiencing mental health conditions, and which treatments are more effective. For example, we know that one in five adults in the U.S. experience a mental health condition in a given year and factors such as poverty, housing, race, education, gender and even zip code - the social determinants of health - play a role in the development of both mental and physical health conditions.  

Most importantly, we know we have more work to do to help people experiencing mental health conditions. Suicide is preventable with effective care and yet it is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Suicide rates are rapidly rising, especially among teens, young adults and veterans. Most people can experience relief from mental health symptoms through support, recovery and treatment, and yet less than half of the adults in the U.S. get the help they need and deserve. Prevention, early identification, intervention and integrated services work, so what stops people from getting help? Common barriers include the cost of mental health care and insurance, structural barriers like transportation, and prejudice and discrimination. 

Click to enlarge or download from NAMI.

Though I believe we should be working to address all barriers to treatment, prejudice and discrimination is the one that you and I can do something about because they are related to stigma. Navigating life with a mental health condition can be tough in itself, and the isolation, blame and secrecy that is exacerbated by stigma stops people from reaching out and getting support. Stigma is one reason it typically takes ten years from the time early symptoms of mental health present until someone gets an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. Stigma is one reason why as a society we see mental illness and substance use disorders differently than physical illness and show less compassion instead of more. Stigma is what we are fighting by dedicating a month to mental health awareness. It is important that we talk openly about mental health, educate ourselves and others, show compassion and break down the portrayed barriers between mental and physical health. 

This is something that I am (obviously) passionate about and I have dedicated most of my career to helping people who are experiencing homelessness, mental illness and substance use disorders. I continue to work towards improving services for people with mental health conditions and through Koné Consulting I have worked on a statewide behavioral health assessment and on Washington State’s efforts towards Fully Integrated Managed Care. It is also why I am excited about starting a new strategic planning project with the University of Washington AIMS (Advancing Integrated Mental Health Solutions) Center - known for their nationally recognized Collaborative Care model of integrating mental health and substance use disorder services into primary care. 

 To learn more about mental health, find support or get involved in advocacy issues, please check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  

Take good care,