LEAD Derby and the Derby Chamber of Commerce are teaming with the Kansas Leadership Center through December as part of the “Kansas Beats the Virus” statewide initiative to combat the spread of COVID-19 at a local level.
KLC’s efforts are spurred out of a partnership with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, as the “Beat the Virus” campaign is aimed at keeping Kansans healthy, schools and businesses open and protecting the state economy.
In line with KLC’s goal of hosting 1,000 virtual meetings before the end of December, LEAD Derby and the Chamber of Commerce are seeking to facilitate 20 such sessions by Dec. 31. The meetings are intended to generate local support and stimulate concrete action to slow the spread of the virus, according to a release from the KLC.
“For every organization, that’s going to look different. Part of the hope is that these actionable items A) help stop COVID and B) maybe give somebody else some ideas throughout the state of, ‘hey, that’s a good idea,’” said Chamber President and CEO Mark Staats.
While looking to tap into both KLC and LEAD Derby alumni base, it was noted that both organizers and participants could come from anywhere in the community.
Hosts have a simple role, too, as the KLC – created specifically to address civic leadership challenges, such as a pandemic – is providing personnel to help guide the discussion in the virtual sessions. Facilitators will help participants diagnose the situation, brainstorm possible action projects and commit to action.
“All the host or convener has to do is find eight to 15 people to do a one-hour Zoom meeting,” Staats said.
Once a meeting is scheduled, participants will work together to develop an actionable item to help address slowing the spread of COVID-19. Examples could include signage in stores to keep people moving in a certain direction, local PTOs committing to virtual meetings, etc.
Grants up to $3,000 are available for projects that may need funding to enact their solution in the community.
Ideas generated in the sessions are intended to be shared with local and state officials.
LEAD Derby’s Rhonda Cott said several hosts are currently working on scheduling virtual meetings, which will last one hour and could be held between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. any day of the week.
Different perspectives mean numerous potential solutions, with LEAD Derby and the Chamber being a stepping stone to that, not just in Derby. Staats noted partners from Haysville, Mulvane and other communities are welcome to participate as well.
“I think that those conversations are the important part of it – hearing from different people, their thoughts and these people developing an actionable plan to help stop the spread of COVID,” Staats said. “As a Chamber, we are organizing these conversations, so we’re like the first step. If we can do more than 20 conversations, I think that’s awesome.”
Throughout Sedgwick County, there are nearly 20 different partner organizations involved and 110-plus individuals having agreed to host virtual meetings. Working toward bigger picture solutions, KLC Communications Manager Sam Smith reported there are 79 Kansas counties with meetings currently scheduled.
“Local organizations and leadership developers know their community members and neighborhoods better than anyone – it is sensible and efficient and effective to lean on local mobilizers to help drive local solutions,” Smith said.
“As we work on this campaign over the next month, our hope is to not only energize and support our network of KLC alums who are committed to our purpose, but to inspire all Kansans to come up with their own version of what they can do to be architects for the common good,” said KLC President and CEO Ed O’Malley.