“Together San Rafael” Innovation Training Program

Client Need

The City of San Rafael is located in Marin County, which sits in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. San Rafael is home to nearly 60,000 residents. The City has a total area of 22.4 square miles, 6 of which is water.  

The City of San Rafael seeks to modernize outdated processes and service delivery models through a digital-first, human-centered approach and has recognized the need to foster employee ownership in the effort. The City intends to build upon ongoing efforts to support creative problem solving by employees at all levels of the organization. The project project sits at the intersection of strategies to create an improved customer experience for residents while supporting an internal culture of continuous improvement through an engaged and empowered workforce.

Our Approach

The CivicMakers team partnered with the City of San Rafael’s City Manager’s Office to co-create a change management strategy and implementation plan for embedding a culture of innovation and continuous improvement that translates to more responsive delivery of services and resident satisfaction.

We began by helping to assemble an Advisory Committee made up of staff from various levels across the organization. We worked with the Committee to identify baseline success metrics and methods to encourage employee engagement in the process. We also worked closely with the Committee to co-create a training program designed to build capacity for creative problem solving.

The result so far has led to an initiative entitled “Together San Rafael” which enumerates guiding principles for the work as aligned with other City goals, and an employee training program that is being rolled out through a series of “Learning Labs” as part of the second phase of our contract.


  1. Communications plan, project messaging framework, and baseline success metrics
  2. Creation of and engagement with a staff Advisory Committee
  3. Curriculum design for staff trainings (“Learning Labs”) in human-centered design, project management, collaborative process, presentations, and facilitation skills
  4. Pilot “Learning Lab” training program


  • Client: City of San Rafael
  • Dates: January 2017 – ongoing
  • Services: Change management, program design, training, facilitation, evaluation
  • Team: Judi Brown, Cristelle Blackford, Lawrence Grodeska


“CivicMakers has been a true partner – we have worked together to co-create a custom program that is inspiring a culture of innovation and collaborative problem-solving across our entire workforce. Their team listens to ‘who we are as a City’ and provides sage guidance that is informed by vast experience. They have helped us evolve as a local government organization and have challenged us to ‘up our game’ by integrating user-centered design principles in how we deliver our services to the community.”

– Cristine Alilovich
Assistant City Manager, San Rafael, CA