Kansas Leadership Center Aims to Mobilize and Inspire Kansans
to ‘Beat the Virus’ with Public Health Intervention
Partnership with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Launches this Week
Wichita, Kan. – The Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) has launched “Kansas Beats the Virus” (#KSBeatsTheVirus), a statewide, bi-partisan public health intervention to activate and connect local leadership to combat COVID-19. A partnership with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the effort was announced on November 18 at Governor Laura Kelly’s press conference as part of her administration’s “all-of-the-above” strategy to keep Kansans healthy, keep schools and businesses open and protect Kansas’ economy.
“We’re honored that KDHE and Governor Kelly, with the support of the Kansas Legislature, have called on KLC to help mobilize Kansans for the purpose and challenge of a century. We’re charging our statewide network of partners and 12,000 leadership program graduates to lead virtual, non-partisan meetings that generate local support and stimulate concrete action to slow the spread of the virus. In less than a week since the Governor announced this initiative, partners and alums have stepped up and agreed to host more than 650 meetings in local communities. There will be hundreds more over the weeks to come,” said Ed O’Malley, president and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center.
“This new partnership with the Kansas Leadership Center is going to make a huge difference,” said Governor Kelly. “We are going to have thousands of community leaders organizing local discussions, working with us to move the conversation away from divisive politics and towards public health.”
“We welcome this collaboration between the State of Kansas and the Kansas Leadership Center,” said Kansas Speaker of the House, Ron Ryckman (Republican-Olathe). “By mobilizing local leadership networks around the state, KLC is empowering everyday Kansans to combat the virus for themselves. Our communities have differing strengths, challenges and needs, and those closest to the problem will find the right solutions to keep their families safe and communities healthy.”
Between now and the campaign conclusion in late December, leaders across Kansas – pastors, coaches, neighborhood leaders, business owners, community officials, PTO members, volunteers and everyday Kansans – will host more than 1,000 virtual meetings with neighbors and community members. Those gathered will identify, discuss and agree on specific collective action to combat COVID-19 in their local community. Led by facilitators trained by and using guidelines from the Kansas Leadership Center, meetings are designed to commit each gathering to implement at least one #KSBeatsTheVirus action plan to slow the spread of the virus in their locality.
In addition to its powerful alumni base of more than 12,000 Kansans, KLC is leveraging relationships with organizations and communities nurtured since 2007, when it was established by the Kansas Health Foundation to foster civic leadership for healthier Kansas communities. KLC has tapped nearly 40 community leadership programs connected to counties and chambers of commerce around the state to convene and facilitate multiple meetings. In addition, nearly 150 organizations from the faith, business, education, nonprofit and local government sectors – all recipients of current or recent Leadership Transformation Grants from KLC – have been asked to organize meetings. “If there was ever a time to mobilize our network for the sake of the greater good of Kansas, we believe that moment is now,” said O’Malley.
“The reality is that we all have competing values when it comes to wearing a mask, keeping our distance and washing our hands as often as we need to limit the spread of the virus. There is no single solution that will stop the virus. But if these action plan experiments get more people to follow these basic steps, we’ll have fewer cases, our schools and businesses can stay open and we will help alleviate the strain on our health care system,” said O’Malley.
Some ideas that communities are trying include creating heated outdoor spaces for teens to safely socialize in the winter. Another idea is for local PTOs to commit to virtual meetings only. And whether it’s for the holidays or weekly groceries, creating a network of people at church to handle shopping for at-risk individuals in the community.
The Beat the Virus campaign is a multi-faceted approach that includes recruiting leaders and facilitators, providing facilitation materials for the community meetings, tracking and sharing the local experiments, providing financial support for local activities, and sharing best practices and outcomes with the public.
“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 O’Malley.
Check back next week for a new webpage where you can follow the progress of the Kansas Beats the Virus campaign.
About the Kansas Leadership Center
The Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) is a singular educational organization founded to foster civic leadership for healthier Kansas communities. Its programs and teachings present leadership as an activity available to anyone at any time. KLC offers training for organizations, teams and individuals as well as advanced programs for leadership development practitioners. It provides development grants for civically oriented organizations in Kansas, partners with community leadership programs and offers customized trainings for businesses and non-profits alike. KLC hosts civic leadership forums and encourages Kansans to take active part in public life for the common good. KLC Press publishes books on leadership and The Journal, a nationally recognized, award-winning civic issues magazine. Based in Wichita, KLC receives core funding from the Kansas Health Foundation.