Leaders of Leaders: Meta-Leadership Summits Build Relationships that Get Results
Published: July 15, 2008
Over 130 leaders from business, government and non-profit sectors participated in the Denver Meta-Leadership Summit for Preparedness held May 12-13 at the JW Marriot in Denver.
CDC's Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response (COTPER) is working with the CDC Foundation, the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative – Harvard School of Public Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to pilot and then institutionalize a series of learning and networking experiences for leaders called the Meta-Leadership Summits for Preparedness. The objective of the program is to develop a cadre of business, government and nonprofit leaders who are capable and committed to leading across organizations and sectors during a crisis. The program will provide current and future leaders with the skills needed to act more cohesively and effectively in planning for and reacting to urgent public health threats.
Says CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding, "We need to learn how to build connectivity that includes people who are not like us – people in business, people in the faith-based sector, people in the health care delivery system, people in the nonprofit community – and there is one absolutely essential requirement to our capacity to do this kind of collaboration. It is the concept of meta-leadership."
During the day-long summits, attendees practice skills necessary for effective action during emergencies; learn how to reach decisions in the face of uncertainty and stress; and identify partnerships that can be leveraged before, during and after a crisis. They also participate in a problem-solving workshop to begin to explore real emergency preparedness problems for their communities and to work through potential resolutions.
The Governor of Colorado Bill Ritter, Jr., spoke on the State of Preparedness and Response in Colorado during the Denver Meta-Leadership Networking Reception.
Currently, the CDC Foundation is planning for the final pilot summit to be held in New Jersey in August. Four other pilot summits have been held in Columbus, GA; Wichita, KS; Denver, CO; and Louisville, KY. Following the pilot phase, the program will be rolled out across the country to reach leaders in all 50 states.
"At each Meta-Leadership Summit, we are bringing together leaders from organizations and sectors that don't typically work together to prepare for unforeseen challenges in their city or state," says Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. "As the program rolls out across the country, the summits will help build a cadre of 'meta-leaders' who are committed to working collaboratively during local or national emergencies."
A meta-leader is a leader of leaders, who mobilizes people and organizations to collaborate in times of crisis. A meta-leader must build strong alliances with a diverse array of leaders before an event occurs. The benefits of the summits in building alliances among leaders have been documented during follow-up evaluations. For example, in Columbus, GA, a university established a relationship with the Department of Homeland Security that resulted in their support in developing table top exercises for fire, tornado, and bomb threats. Meta-Leadership was put to the test in Columbus following a recent hospital shooting. Because officials from the hospital, law enforcement, the Mayor's Office and the Department of Homeland Security had attended and networked at the Summit they were able to work collectively to quickly secure the area, treat the wounded and set up a staging area for media, while maintaining hospital operations.
Message from Mayor Hickenlooper
June 3, 2008
To Denver Residents, Employees and Businesses:
Hosting the Democratic National Convention represents a tremendous economic and marketing opportunity for Metro Denver and Colorado, as well as a chance for local residents to witness and participate in a historical event.
On a more practical side, we know that downtown residents and businesses have questions about possible Convention-related impacts. Because security and transportation planning is ongoing and details continue to evolve, more specifics will be available in the coming weeks. Ongoing updates will be disseminated widely and available through a variety of sources including www.DenverGov.org, www.DowntownDenver.com, www.DenverConvention2008.com, 3-1-1 and more.
In the meantime, we want to provide you with the following information:
- Number of Visitors: While as many as 50,000 visitors are anticipated between Saturday, August 23 and Thursday, August 28 – including delegates, assorted guests and 15,000 members of the media – it is important to remember that this is less than the number of people that come downtown for Rockies' Opening Day or for a Broncos game. Denver has hosted games in all three downtown stadiums at the same time, involving close to 150,000 people. The Convention visitors – who won't all be downtown at the same time – will spend significant amounts of time inside the Colorado Convention Center, Pepsi Center and other event venues. Downtown restaurants will be open for business – and should be able to easily accommodate local diners as activity on the Convention floor takes place between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- Street, Residential and Commercial Access: We are working very hard to ensure that downtown residents and workers can get around and access their buildings with ease during the Democratic National Convention. Because of the Pepsi Center's location in the Platte Valley, transportation- and security-related impacts on downtown will be minimized.
- While there will be some additional screening procedures and security measures in some locations, all downtown residents will be able to access their homes and parking garages. Downtown businesses will be able to remain open with access to employees and customers.
- When people talk about a "security perimeter," what they are really talking about are areas around the Pepsi Center that may require additional screening or security measures. Those areas will be finalized and announced closer to the Convention, but please know that our intention is to minimize any impacts on roadways, businesses and residences. More updates will be provided to businesses and residents near the Pepsi Center – and the general public – over the coming weeks.
- While there will be some modest traffic impacts in the downtown area during the Convention, it will not tie up the downtown. Downtown workers should not have difficulties getting to or leaving work, particularly since the main hours of Pepsi Center activity (4 p.m. to 9 p.m.) do not correspond with standard morning or evening commute times. The bottom line is: Downtown will be accessible.
- Security: Our top priorities are to keep Denver open for business and to ensure the Convention is a historic, memorable and safe celebration. We plan to provide the most effective and comprehensive security possible, while maintaining an event that is inclusive and enjoyable. We are not looking to impact public access any more than necessary during the Convention and will disseminate updated information as soon as it is available.
- City is Open for Business: City offices and facilities will of course be open and operational during the Convention week, and we do not anticipate any interruptions to City services. By engaging law enforcement officers from neighboring jurisdictions to assist during the Convention, we will have the staffing to cover Convention-related security needs as well as the City of Denver's standard operational and safety needs.
- Free Speech: We support the rights of people to express their views safely and in a manner that respects the rights of others along with local, state and federal laws. The 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston attracted 10,000 demonstrators. Some peaceful demonstrations are anticipated in Civic Center, Skyline Park and other downtown parks during the week of the Convention.
- As a point of reference, approximately 75,000 to 100,000 people gathered in Civic Center Park for a May 2006 rally, and it did not inconvenience downtown businesses, residents or City services. The annual set-up for the Downtown Denver Partnership's Taste of Colorado will also begin in Civic Center on the Wednesday of the Convention week.
- A designated parade route – the details of which will be announced by June 12 – will provide organizations that want to march toward the Pepsi Center a safe means to do so in a manner and timeframe that minimizes mobility impacts on downtown businesses, residents and visitors.
- Community Involvement: Working together, the City of Denver and the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee have created innovative and inclusive vehicles for public expression, participation and civic engagement around the Convention. We hope you will encourage your family, friends, classmates, neighbors and colleagues to be a part of the excitement and help shape the dialogue about issues that are important to us, our community and our country. Information on Cinemocracy (public short-film competition about democracy), America: Live and In Person (public multi-media competition about America), and Dialog:City (site-specific public art exhibits designed to encourage civic engagement) – and how to participate – is available at www.denverconvention2008.com.
More public events - hosted by a variety of organizations - will be announced in the coming weeks, providing opportunities for all of us – no matter what political party or candidate we support – to participate in interactive community activities and witness an historical event in our backyard.
Thank you for your efforts to ensure that Denver shines as a host city and capitalizes on this opportunity to showcase our community's successes to the world. We appreciate your patience during the planning process and look forward to providing you more details about security, mobility and access as soon as they are available.
Mayor John W. Hickenlooper
The mayor's office in Columbus has coordinated several follow-up meetings that brought key member of the community back together in "a safe forum where resources and assets can be discussed." A government sector participant noted, "Each time we meet and bring players back to the table, we learn about resources and assets. We wondered where we would get a resource or asset before. Now, people are offering them in the event of an emergency."
A business-sector participant in Kansas noted, "We wanted to find out the skills of our people before versus after a disaster." The business asked all its managers to participate in a survey that assessed their skills. The business knew it had plenty of engineers, but wanted to find out who among the employees would be available in a disaster and with what skills. A university official commented on how she was able to organize an intruder shooting simulation exercise with the help of local police, fire, emergency management and the hospital. The official attributed the success of the simulation to the participation of individuals whom she met at the Summit.
More recently, in Denver, several post-Summit, multi-sector preparedness meetings have taken place to make ready for and ensure the public's health and safety during the August Democratic National Convention. One of the tangible products that emerged from these meetings was a guidance letter from the Mayor outlining activities to date in the city that concerned businesses, non-profit organizations and other elements of local, state, and regional government could use as a guide to decision-making (See letter at right from Denver Mayor John W. Hickenlooper to concerned stakeholders).
Soon after the Denver Meta-Leadership Summit, Ellis Stanley, Director of Democratic National Convention Planning for Denver's Office of Emergency Management noted, "We looked at Meta-Leadership and understood that means starting at the 'horses head' with the mayor and governor to show the importance of partnering with all levels of government, non-government organizations and the private sector." In the Denver Summit we had to suspend disbelief about our ability to all work together to prepare and work on important emergency issues. A clear message that came out of the summit is the need to communicate both internally and externally to help prepare for a major event in our city. Everyone, employees, leaders, and citizens need to know where they fit in during an event. The letter prepared and distributed by the mayor following the summit will help us prepare to be ambassadors for our city. This is an example of the benefits of thinking in terms of meta-leadership."
"By connecting leaders across sectors, the meta-leadership summits prepare our communities to develop the critical networks that will protect and serve citizens should a disaster strike. We know that during a disaster, a connected community is a resilient community," commented the CDC's Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response Director, Dr. Richard Besser.
The Meta-Leadership Summits are designed for leaders of business, government, and non-profit organizations who are directly involved in preparing for and responding to emergencies. The next summit is scheduled in August for New Jersey. To learn more, visit http://www.metaleadershipsummit.org.