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  • Writer's pictureRachel Holly

Celebrating 12 Years of the AG-USDA Partnership



This month marks AvantGarde’s 12th anniversary in business! AvantGarde (AG) has grown leaps and bounds since 2011 when founders Rebecca Contreras and Greg Portnoy first opened the doors and began taking on clients seeking Human Resources (HR) and Human Capital (HC) expertise. What started as a handful of consultants has grown to more than 110, and we currently serve nearly 20 clients in both the government and private sectors.


One of the first organizations to contract AG was the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which was the start of a long-lasting partnership between USDA and AG spanning the past 12 years and a wide range of HR/HC services and solutions. Although AG was a very small firm when it first opened, Rebecca’s background in both the federal government as a CHCO at the Department of Treasury and later in HR consulting gave her remarkable insight into the needs of federal agencies like USDA, allowing AG to present forward-thinking, results-driven approaches. But perhaps more importantly, Rebecca and her team firmly believed in building a close partnership with the client, every step of the way. Unlike larger organizations who tend to push their processes and tools on their clients, AG consultants worked closely alongside the USDA team, tailoring solutions to fit the client’s needs and organizational structure.


By establishing a reputation as a consulting firm with top tier consultants and high-quality deliverables who truly cared about their clients, Rebecca and her team were soon seen as trusted advisors at USDA, leading to multiple new contracts and follow-on work. Today, USDA remains one of our longest-served clients and demonstrates how clients who contract with AG tend to come back to us, time and again, building a partnership. Within USDA we have worked with several different agencies including the Farm Service Agency, the Farm Production and Conservation Business Center, the Foreign Agricultural Service, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Risk Management Agency, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.


Our work with USDA illustrates the full breadth of AG’s integrated human capital excellence, and has included all of the following:

  • Large Scale Organizational Transformation and Change Management

  • Communication Strategy and Planning

  • Workforce Analysis and Workload Assessment

  • Reorganization and Restructuring

  • Executive Leadership Development and Coaching

  • Strategic Planning Facilitation

  • Strategic Human Capital Planning

  • Talent Acquisition Assessment

  • Recruitment Strategy

  • Executive Search

  • Federal Human Resource Operational Support and Staff Augmentation

  • Instructional Design and Learning Advisory

  • IT Strategy and Planning

  • IT Portfolio Management

  • IT Strategy, Planning, and Technology Benchmarking

  • Database Management and IT Help Desk Support

  • Business Process Re-engineering and Standardized Operating Procedures

  • Customer Support and Outreach Program Evaluation

  • Current State/Future State Business Process Re-engineering

  • Competency Assessment

  • Communications and SharePoint Redesign Support

  • Grant Oversight

  • Grant Proposal Backlog Support

  • Indirect Cost Process Review and Cost Rate Agreement Advisory Support

  • Business Operations Support

Looking back at our first contracts demonstrates how far we’ve come as a company. But it also shows how much we’ve stayed the same. Though we now have a much higher employee count and have worked with many of the largest departments in the federal government, AG has stayed firmly committed to the values that earned us the trust from USDA and our other first clients back in 2011. Furthermore, Rebecca has remained personally involved across all of our projects, ensuring that AG is meeting our clients’ needs and keeping the lines of communication open all the way to the top.


We proudly support USDA in attaining its human capital goals and we look forward to the partnership remaining strong for many years to come!

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