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Systems Tools for Assessment and Response (STAR) Program


The STAR Program offers training and coaching opportunities for development professionals seeking to address complex organizational problems

The STAR approach empowers teams and individuals to resolve barriers to organizational goals. Using the STAR framework, local government officials and non-profit teams have tackled data collection challenges and uncovered new engagement strategies for key stakeholders.

STAR tools combine elements of Lean thinking - an approach often applied in corporate contexts that can help reevaluate resource constraints - with stakeholder analysis and participatory research methodologies.. The approach embeds communication within the analysis and solution-finding process to map stakeholders and seek diverse perspectives. It allows participants to explore and re-imagine individual and institutional stories.

STAR walks participants through a set of steps to resolve development sector challenges

  • What is the simplest definition of the problem?

  • How do you trace this problem to its source, or root cause? 

  • What are the factors that keep this problem in place?

  • What are your immediate next steps toward a solution? 

  • How do you get the right stakeholders on board to achieve this solution? 

Learn how consultants who participated in the intensive STAR Training Program 2021 began using these tools:

STAR Offerings

STAR Coaching
Coaches works with a team of 1-4 colleagues to identify and explore a problem. The team members can be from one or more organizations, but they must have a shared problem to address.
Format: Virtual, Live, or Hybrid
Duration: Weekly 1-2 hour meetings over a 5-7 week period

STAR Problem-Solving Workshop
A team of Stanford STAR Facilitators and STAR Coaches works with a group of 15-20 participants from one organization or related organizations to dig into problems specific to them. 
Format: Virtual, Live, or Hybrid
Duration: Weekly 1-2 hour meetings over a 4-6 week period

Case Study Simulation Workshop 
The Case of Kila Simulation allows participants to explore a fictional situation, based on real-world scenarios in the development sector. Participants learn problem-solving skills by interacting in their designated roles in the Case of Kila. This Simulation can be offered as a free-standing workshop or as an additional component combined with the STAR Problem Solving Workshop. 
Participants: From 6 to 24
Format: Virtual or Live
Duration: Flexible, ideally 5-6 hours over 2-3 sessions, adaptable to suit client needs

STAR Coach Training 
Are you a development consultant interested in learning new skills? Become a STAR Coach through the intensive STAR Training Program. This training develops skills and provides materials that can be used when working with public, private, and non-profit clients. Participants are selected through a rigorous application process once a year. Dates for 2022 to be determined. 
Format: Virtual
Duration: 12-week program with a time commitment of 5-6 hours per week

STAR Facilitation Team


Rachel Cardone

Rachel Cardone is the Deputy Director of the Program on Water, Health & Development and lead course designer and author of the STAR Program materials. She has over twenty years of experience working at the intersection of policy and practice with public, private, and non-profit organizations on strategy, program design, management, and evaluation. Previously, Rachel was a co-creator of the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She has a BA  from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor and a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

Jay Bakst

Jay Bakst is a co-creator of the STAR Program and brings specific expertise on Lean thinking to the overall course design. He is a practitioner of continuous improvement, project management, and applying technology to solve real world problems. An expert in manufacturing processes and process improvements and a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Jay is a PMP and certified in Critical Chain Project Management. He works with diverse private, government, and non-profit organizations to improve their operations to become more effective at serving their customers.

Heather McRae-Woolf

Heather McRae-Woolf coordinates the STAR Program and provides expertise in communications and human-centered design. Heather has served as a facilitator and manager in non-profit, for-profit, and government settings. For more than a decade, she worked as an administrator and consultant for school districts across the United States. Heather holds a BA from Yale University and an MA in International Affairs from The New School. She is also an instructor of mindfulness and self-compassion practices for teens and families. 

Carrie Heron

Carrie Heron supports the STAR Program through specialized training on how to work with clients in a coaching relationship, with a particular emphasis on addressing power dynamics inherent in problem solving. She is an inclusion and organization effectiveness facilitator, coach, and consultant with over 20 years of experience designing and implementing equity and inclusion interventions. Carrie has a BA from Tufts University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Washington.


Applications are not being accepted at this time, but if you would like to be notified of future opportunities, please contact us.