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The world changed just two months into LSC’s 2020 annual program. Just as class members got a taste for our engaging monthly sessions, gained some momentum with team projects, and began to connect and gel, COVID-19 forced LSC (and all community leadership programs) to pause, take a step back and re-think program delivery.

LSC Class of 2020
The Class of 2020 during their opening retreat in January.

With support from the Association of Leadership Programs, a nation-wide network of community leadership programs (CLPs), LSC made the pivot to virtual programming quickly. In a matter of days, and with help and encouragement from our friends at Leadership Rhode Island and other CLPs, we learned how to deliver virtual programming, best practices for online learning, and the in’s and out’s of the Zoom platform. What grounded us in our pursuit to keep our heads up and carry on was our deep commitment to our cohorts, our passion for supporting local leadership, and our confidence in what we (the CLP movement) do best: creating shared experiences that connect, inspire, and develop people’s capacity to serve as positive change agents in the community.

So, on March 18, LSC’s Class of 2020 met virtually for a full-day program session on public health. The agenda included three engaging blocks of content with plenty of break time in between for participants. We used real-time polls, break-out rooms, different media, and explored a number of topics including local social determinants of health, implications of socioeconomic status on health, and effective advocacy. Was the day perfect? No. But, we showed up with authenticity and a whole lot of heart. Our class members showed up too, with nearly perfect attendance. They all deserve a major shout out for remaining committed to LSC while trying to balance their new remote job, home schooling, caring for sick family members, grieving the loss of loved ones, and dealing with intense uncertainty.

It’s hard to know how long we’ll be gathering online as a result of the pandemic. We fully acknowledge that our participants didn’t sign up for a virtual program. Facilitating a virtual program was not what we signed up for either. We began our session on the 18th by sharing a set of values that will guide our work as we move forward. These virtual convening principles were shared with us at the beginning of the crisis by Leadership Rhode Island and have since been embraced and adapted across the CLP community:

We will remain human-centric, prioritizing support for our class members, sharing resources, and communicating clearly and often.

We can, and will, continue our mission virtually, doing our best to create an engaging and meaningful learning experience.

We will remain flexible and adjust to the situation, providing support and understanding to our participants during this unpredictable and unprecedented time.

We wish to express our gratitude to our CLP colleagues near and far for their support and camaraderie. The CLP movement truly is #InThisTogether. And, thank you to the speakers and contributors to our recent public health session. During an incredibly busy time, these individuals generously carved out time for LSC to share their experience and expertise with the class:

  • Cheryl Bartlett of the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center
  • Alison Bettencourt and Rachel Davis of SouthCoast Health
  • Zoe Hansen-DiBello (LSC ’13) of Northstar Learning Centers
  • Rev. Dave Lima (LSC ’05) of the Interchurch Council of Greater New Bedford
  • Mike McCarthy (LSC ’16) of the UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Center

#EngageEducateEmpower #LSC2020 #InThisTogether #LeadershipDevelopment

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