Team projects

At the start of each class, veterans are assigned to work together in small teams of 4 to 5 people. One of the Black Diamond Charities instructors serves as their dedicated Project Sponsor. Together, teams identify a project for which to develop a project management plan. They collaborate during class time, and normally have a team call during the week to finish assignments on the topics they learn each Saturday. Each team developed, presented and submitted the following project deliverables: Charter, Stakeholder Register, RACI chart, Requirements document, Scope Statement, Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), project schedule, risk analysis, project budget and final presentation of their respective projects.

Fall 2018 Class


TEAMS that continue to impress

Our Fall 2018 class excelled at their projects and really impressed us. Many thanks to our volunteer Executives who judged and provided feedback on the final presentations:


Team A.N.C.H.O.R.

Team Members (from left to right): Kevin Larsen, Keith Galloway, Raymond Fleming, Sean Baker, Anthony Kiefer with project sponsor Bill Baxter (not shown)

Team A.N.C.H.O.R (All Navy Crew Helping Others Rise) developed a project plan to create a training program to help deserving unemployed and underemployed gain specialized construction skills training to enable them to earn a livable wage.  Features of the plan included:

  • A Focus on Finish Carpentry — with an expected wage of ~$25/hr (a specialized skill with strong demand and tight supply)

  • Enlisting Power Construction as primary sponsor, to provide funding and post-training employment opportunities to the graduating students

  • Enlisting Chicago Public Schools as venue sponsor and using an abandoned elementary school as venue for the training program

  • Enlisting Lowes and Home Depot as sponsors to contribute tools, lumber and other materials

  • Project scope includes conducting first class of 25 students and six months of follow-on results tracking

  • Recruitment of students includes a preference for Veterans, with a target of at least 25% Veterans

  • Total project duration: 18 months

  • Total project budget: $330,000


Team F.A.C.E.

Team Members (from left to right):  Sharee Rangel, David Silbaugh, Jeff Chan, Michelle Witcher, Chris Laurent. Executive Sponsor TJ MIller (not shown)

The Front and Center Enterprise (F.A.C.E) Project focuses on the business need for automating new employment forms commonly collected by our internal Human Resource (HR) Department.  The current paper intensive environment contains documents that are easily lost, contain sensitive information, are difficult to manage, have limited availability, and increase overhead cost.

The internet portal constructed during the F.A.C.E project will support collection of extensive personal information about the newly employed individual, as well as populate federal and state tax forms.  Compliance input, benefit enrollment forms, and direct deposit payment screens will also be included.  The software will be constructed to allow for future functionality (and future projects) as additional needs are identified by our organization. 

Our project schedule includes the activities normally found in software development:  Project selection and buy in, application development and testing, procurement, deployment and training, required support, delivery, approval, and launch.  The initial phase of this deliverable is expected to be completed in 90 days.

The team will present a mitigation plan for risks such as malware, login Issues, technical failures, and personal data errors.  Our current information technology department includes full infrastructure, network, and testing capabilities available at no direct cost. The total project budget for software labor costs is $150,000.


Team L.I.F.E.

Team Members (From left to right): Dallas Ketchum, Greg Babiarz, LaTanya Gamblin, Michael Cessaro, Ronnell Showell, Andrew Williams-White with Project Sponsor Ira Hendon (not shown).

The Project L.I.F.E. team developed a program plan to connect homeless individuals in the downtown Chicago area with life resources (housing, healthcare and job training).  The objective: Identify the root cause on why the individual is homeless and develop a specific plan to resolve and help them become self sufficient and no longer require L.I.F.E. program services.  

The team's program plan was for an initial pilot starting with 10 - 15 homeless veterans.  Upon completion of successful pilot, the program would expand to a larger homeless audience (veterans and non-veterans).  The core components of the program consisted of:

  • Fundraising - Identify and secure funding sources to fund each of the program components.

  • Leverage Strategic Partnerships - Develop numerous strategic partnerships including: Chicago Housing Authority (Housing); Chicago Police Department (Security Support), Veterans Administration (Mental and Physical Health Services), numerous Job Training centers and Telecom Service providers (communications equipment and services).

  • Housing and Transportation - Partner with the Chicago Housing Authority to provide residential housing units for homeless individuals and a separate facility for homeless families.

  • Services - Provide mental and physical health services. Partner with job training providers to help the homeless residents develop job sustaining skills and improve their self esteem.

  • Mobile Outreach Team- Identify and transport homeless candidates to the program triage center for a physical and medical health assessment before they are accepted into the program.

  • Security - Leverage the City of Chicago Police Department professionals to provide security for the mobile outreach teams and the residential housing facilities.

  • Infrastructure - Work with the telecom strategic partners to provide telecommunications infrastructure and services to support the L.I.F.E program.

  • Estimated Pilot Duration:  6 months

  • Estimated Pilot Budget: $360,000

Spring 2018 Class



Team Members (from left): Sponsor Ira M. Hendon, MBA, PMP, CSM, CSSC; Site Plan Lead Brian McGehee; Quality and Risk Plan Lead Ezinwa Nwankpa; Budget and Schedule Lead Mike Willis; Facility Plan Lead William “Tripp” Butusov; Team PM Dan Perez, Services. 

The Veterans Village team proposed a Center that provides life support services to proactively re-integrate homeless and re-patriated Veterans into society as productive citizens. The Village would provide the Veterans meals and housing; transportation to Job Training facilities; transportation to the local VA facility for health and mental care; assist with enrolling the Veterans for eligible social services care.

The Veterans Village team defined the program with the following five sub-projects:
•    Solicit Pilot funding and Create the Site Plan
•    Planning and Setup of Facilities and Equipment
•    Creating the Veteran’s Integrated Services Plan
•    Creating the Staffing Plan and Hiring for the Pilot’s launch and first six-months of operations
•    Creating the Project Management Plan for the above Deliverables and Work Streams; Assess feasibility for expanding the Pilot

The Veteran’s Village team identified value for the following groups of stakeholders: Resident Veterans, Politicians, Veteran’s Village Manager, VA Medical Personnel, Village Caseworker and Veteran Social Services Providers, Job Training Centers and Job Providers, and the community where the Village is located. The team prepared a budget for the Pilot launch of $5,000,000 and an initial estimate for the first six months of operations.  The estimated schedule was 120 days to launch the Pilot.  The Pilot would initially accommodate 10 Veterans.

This project team also presented their final presentation at the March 2018 PMI Chicagoland Chapter Dinner meeting.


TEAM Coastal Cantonment

Team Members (from left to right): Diana Morgan, Rodney Williams, Heather Smith, Sponsor Antuanete Sanchez, PMP, LSSGB, CSM, and Marlena Ragland (not photographed).

Project Stand Up provides life essential services to Chicago area homeless and at-risk Veterans while attending local area Stand Down events.  This organization intends to fulfill an existing need within this target demographic.  

Stand Up provides access to life services to at risk veterans: such as bathrooms, showers, clean clothes and personal grooming while attending VA Stand Down event.  


Team Mandate

Team members (from left): Sponsor Elizabeth Gain, MBA, PMP, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Terri Gianotti, Jessica Wallace, Gerald Bolden and Kenny Henry.

As a National Leader in education, the Illinois State Board of Education mandated a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum for grades K-12.  Implementation of the K-12 SEL curriculum places Illinois among an elite 6 states with SEL development expanded standards to include both elementary and high school students.  The five competencies of SEL are: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.  A market analysis determined the majority of Illinois high schools have not met the SEL mandate.  The Illinois State Board of Education wants to rollout the curriculum for grades 9-12 and implement a tracking tool to monitor implementation of SEL for the over 1,300 Illinois high schools.

To prepare for the pilot, the team identified an evidenced based Social and Emotional Learning  (SEL) curriculum that complied with the state mandate.  The team collaborated with a Research Institute to select the 4 pilot high schools and to conduct the pilot.  The pilot high schools represent urban, suburban, rural, mid-state, and downstate communities.  

The pilot schedule for the 2018-2019 school year addresses the curriculum manager integrating the curriculum into the existing Health & Wellness Modules, training teachers, teaching students as part of 10-50 minute modules, assessing the curriculum, and presenting the assessment to the Illinois State Board of Education.  The curriculum costs and training are covered under Title 2 Federal Funds.  The pilot will provide best practices for curriculum rollout across the state and develop the implementation tracking system.  The $700,000 project budget includes a 20% contingency for risks associated with different types of schools, as well as developing the tracking tool to monitor compliance with the mandate.


team tropic thunder

Team members (from left): Sponsor Gayle Silverman, PMP, Jeremy Mackey, Maurice Coleman, Khariell Pinkney, Jon Gabrielson, Priscilla Compton, Sponsor Nora Ten Broeck, PMP. 

Team Tropic Thunder proposed the use of Hydro Turbines to generate energy for the grid. Turbine projects would provide a low environmental impact, sustainable source of supplemental power generation associated with geographies meeting the water flow requirements. 

  • A typical hydro turbine project would have the following phases:

  • Initiation process: Contracting, location selection, permitting, product ordering

  • Construction process: Construction and installation

The team identified the following categories of stakeholders: Technical, Regulatory and Public. Within the technical category are: Turbine manufacturers, material providers, engineering design and contractors. Within the regulatory category are: Army Corps of Engineers and the City/State. Within the public category are: Neighboring businesses, environmentalists and energy producers.
The anticipated budget for a standard turbine project is $295,000.00 with the opportunity to lease a turbine for a $120,000.00 annual return on investment. The budget includes the turbine cost, warranty, construction, associated permitting and the infrastructure to bring the water to the turbine and the connection to the grid. 


Fall 2017 Class



TEAM Storm Ducks

Team Members (from left): Don Kramer, Natasha Ashford, Quentin Smith, sponsor Ira Hendon MBA, PMP®, CSM®, Nekohl Mace, Dave Ullrich.

The Storm Ducks team proposed a service to stage and use Amphibious vehicles (DUCKS) equipped to transport evacuees to safety in conjunction with other government agencies during flood conditions. This service would work within the framework of State Emergency Relief Plans, the Federal Response Plan and Stafford Act (Public Law 93-288, as amended). The Storm Ducks team defined a program with four sub projects. The four sub-projects were:

  • Build the business case
  • Solicit funding
  • Pilot
  • National Rollout

The business case sub-project was the focus of the five-week class project. The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and components of the business case project consisted of:

  • Secure a suitable location to store, maintain and coordinate the staging of the equipment (a location was identified)
  • Prepare a resource staffing plan to support the planning and execution of the pilot sub-project
  • Identify, order and prepare the required equipment to fully execute the pilot sub-project
  • Define transportation and logistics requirements (including pilot launch Agreements)
  • Develop a budget for the Pilot and National Rollout

The Storm Ducks team identified value for the following groups of stakeholders: Railroads, Private Investors, Emergency Response Agencies, Evacuees, Federal, State and Local government agencies, Vehicle Operators, Educators and Media.

The team prepared two budgets (Pilot and National Rollout). The Pilot budget (Year 0) estimate was $5.0 Million USD. The National Rollout budget (Years 1 – 3) estimate was $9.0 Million USD. The combined total budget estimate was $14.0 Million USD.

The program had two rollout plans (Pilot and National Rollout). The pilot would consist of six DUCKS located in the continental U.S. SE geography and would support the Atlantic coastal areas. Upon a successful pilot, expansion to a National Rollout that would support the Gulf states and other regions of the country.

This project team also presented their final presentation at the November 2017 PMI Chicagoland Chapter Dinner meeting.

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Team business: mobile mess hall

Team Members (from left): Rasheed Muhammad, Alexandra Baran, Edward Armijo, Phil Willis, Jonathan Ulrich (with sponsor Judith Sol-Dyess)

Team Business' project would create a one-month pilot program to serve nutritious, hot meals to residents of Chicagoland's food desert communities. The pilot, which would take place during four Mondays, would gather feedback from community residents. Once proven successful the project team would seek to form a permanent program through funding from various community sponsors. Each Monday, during established operating hours, the Mobile Mess Hall would:

  • Serve well balanced, free meals free to residents
  • Take place in a food desert community in Chicago
  • Be open to the community from noon to 3:00PM
  • Serve cafeteria-style meals with protein, vegetables, grains, milk and water
  • Meals could be eaten there or taken in carry out containers (to have for dinner)
  • Meals for up to 250 people were planned, on a first-come, first-serve basis
  • Residents would complete surveys in order to help us gauge the success of the program

Each location would be ADA accessible and compliant with local food handling regulations, and the necessary permits would be secured from council members in advance. As part of the risk management plan, security would be provided through the use of police officers. After-hours cleanup and trash disposal was also provided as part of the project considerations. 

As part of this pilot, Team Business developed a risk assessment plan, a budget that included both volunteer and paid positions, the minimum need for food donations, as well as alternative meal options that would vary depending on the amount and types of donations. 



Team members (from left): Quentien Brewington, Kellye Jackson, Ariel Shivers-McGrew, Rob Zalabak, Tamara Jordan (with sponsor Terry LaCandia)

QR CODES (QRC) consulting firm was engaged by a dual-mission community outreach program located in Chicago, IL to create a marketing campaign and operations plan for implementing their rehabilitation residential housing program to provide displaced homeless veterans the tools they'll need to establish long-term housing and job placement after completing outreach program. This engagement was to be completed within 9 months for a budget of $650,000.

The firm would:

  • Establish an ongoing resident referral program through five (5) existing Veterans outreach programs (Ex: Wounded Warriors, Volunteers of America, Safe Haven, VA Medical). Screen, approve residents for participation.
  • Identifying and Selecting small business options which will best serve for community residents job skill training needs and future job placement potential while also adding to community service needs and economic development. Lease executed and moved in.
  • Create commercial occupancy incentive package (residential) Select six (6) Veteran owned small business to occupy the community’s six empty commercial real estate rental spaces and training requirements.
  • Determine financial needs towards staff support resources, secure funding and Small Business incentive programs.
  • Create a master training template to ensure each business can provide the residents on site a defined structure and scheduled On-the- job training opportunities.
  • Provide residents fully trained in job functions and job placement skills.