Following elections, the need for civic engagement remains strong

Civic Health is a key program area for KHF and supported through our funding of the Kansas Leadership Center for nearly 10 years.   Through KLC, we work to ensure citizens have the opportunities and training to step up and lead in their communities. Through their active civic participation and leadership, they create healthier and stronger Kansas communities. Below, in this month’s Health Happenings, read a message from Ed O’Malley, President & CEO about civic engagement and leadership for healthy communities.

 

The elections are behind us. Some of the candidates and issues we each supported emerged victorious, some did not. During this post-election period, it makes some sense to sit back, breathe deeply and reflect.

As an American who supports democracy, I tend to think of elections as one thread within a larger tapestry. The act of voting, itself, is not the beginning or the end of the process, but part of the larger, ongoing structure of civic engagement for all of us.

If we seek to make our communities and state healthier, we as individuals within a democracy have an ongoing challenge and responsibility to help our elected officials make informed decisions by engaging with them.  Our relationship with them should not end when we leave the polling place.  If we engage with our ideas and concerns, we work collectively for a better future.

At the Kansas Leadership Center, this notion that individuals can also lead wherever they sit or stand without permission or authority is at the center of our ideas. We also believe strongly that this concept of civic engagement correlates directly with civic leadership. From the outset, civic engagement has been viewed as an essential component of the Kansas Leadership Center’s work.

In our KLC programs, we pose questions about health in Kansas society, and thus about Kansas society itself, through the lens of civic leadership. What are the effects of civic leadership on the health of Kansas communities? And how, specifically, can intentional, widespread civic leadership be cultivated to make Kansas communities healthier places for current and future generations of Kansans? Ultimately, we need healthy communities for healthy people, and you can’t have healthy communities unless people are civically engaged.

We strive to learn where we can make a unique difference in civic leadership – by partnering with others, without duplicating existing or planned efforts. The nearly 6000 individuals who have experienced the Kansas Leadership Center are a testament. They have redefined the concept of leadership and are making a positive difference within their system, be it a non-profit, a business, a school, a church, their own family – or their communities.

Regardless of whether you voted, irrespective of your stance on the candidates and issues, I encourage you to view the election as a guidepost, a mile marker on your ongoing civic leadership journey. Understand the challenges and opportunities in your communities.  Talk with your local and state elected officials — often.  Consider how you can step up to make a positive difference.  At KLC, we can provide the leadership framework for stronger, healthier and more prosperous Kansas communities.

To learn more about the Kansas Leadership Center, or to sign up for one of KLC’s program, please visit their website at www.kansasleadershipcenter.org.

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Every month, our electronic newsletter, Health Happenings, features a story about a focus area, grant, partnership or program involving the Foundation.