By Scott Sherrill, UNC MPA Student
The Town of Chapel Hill has engaged with a number of local partners for its 2020 Comprehensive Planning Process. Among those partners is the Public Intersection Project staff at the University of North Carolina’s School of Government. This post is the first of a few that will examine some of the behind the scenes work involved in the process.
John Stephens joined the School of Government in 1996. Previously, he was research director of the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management. His publications include Guidebook to Public Dispute Resolution in North Carolina and Public Management Bulletin: Using a Mediator in Public Disputes. He is co-author of Reaching for Higher Ground: Tools for Powerful Groups and Communities and School Funding Disputes: Mediate, Don’t Litigate. Stephens also teaches in the Natural Resources Leadership Institute at North Carolina State University. He is chair of the steering committee of the University Network for Collaborative Governance. Stephens earned a BA from Earlham College, a Master of Philosophy from The City University, London, and a PhD from George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. John is interested in inter-agency and public policy dispute resolution; citizen participation; group collaboration and facilitation.
Lydian Altman joined the School of Government in 1999. Her prior work with public sector organizations included several years as a director or board member of nonprofit rape crisis and domestic violence agencies, community college administrator, and local government administrator. In her current work with the Strategic Public Leadership Initiative, she consults with elected and appointed leaders to create strategic plans, works with boards and employee groups, and with governmental and nonprofit organizations to promote and foster better cross-sector working relationships for more effective public problem-solving. Many of her project-generated articles have been published in Popular Government, ICMA’s IQ Report and PM Magazine, the American Review of Public Administration and PA Times. Altman holds a BS in industrial relations and an MPA from UNC-Chapel Hill. Lydian is interested in strategic planning, community visioning, team building and board development, collaborative relationships, and regional cooperation.
Margaret Henderson joined the School of Government in 1999. She
researches and communicates strategies that strengthen cross-sector working
relationships for more effective public problem-solving. In facilitation work,
she specializes in the practical implications of managing cross-organizational
collaborations, community programs, and nonprofit organizations. Henderson’s 20 years of experience in human services includes work in state and local
governments as well as nonprofits. Previously she was executive director of the
Orange County Rape Crisis Center. Her current responsibilities include teaching
in the School’s MPA Program, and she has co-authored articles that were
published in Popular Government, ICMA’s IQ Report and PM Magazine, American Review of Public Administration, PA Times, and the FBI
Law Enforcement Journal. Henderson holds a BBA in business
administration from Angelo State University and an MPA from UNC-Chapel Hill. Margaret is interested in cross-sector working relationships.
Rick Morse joined the School of Government in 2006. He previously was assistant professor in the Public Policy and Administration Program at Iowa State University. He teaches and advises state and local public officials in the areas of collaborative governance, visioning, and leadership. His publications include several articles and book chapters on collaboration and citizen participation. He is lead editor of two books on public leadership, Transforming
Public Leadership for the 21st Century (M.E. Sharpe, 2007), and Innovations
in Public Leadership Development (M.E. Sharpe, 2008). Morse holds a BA and MA in public policy from Brigham Young University and a PhD in public
administration/public affairs from Virginia Tech. Rick is interested in public
administration; community and regional collaboration; citizen participation; and
2. What has been your role in the Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan process so far? and what sort of guidance do you provide to the leadership team?
Under the cooperative relationship and resources of Town of Chapel Hill and UNC, we have been asked to advise, facilitate and support some parts of the public engagement work of Chapel Hill 2020. To date, that means helping the town staff and the co-chairs plan the public engagement strategy, consider different forms of involvement by Chapel Hill residents and workers, provide facilitation (as needed) for particular meetings/events; support the facilitation work of Theme Group co-chairs.
3. What will your role be as the process progresses, particularly as the theme groups start meeting?
At the request of the co-chairs, and key town staff, we will:
a) Facilitate at reporting out sessions of the theme groups to assist in effective communication, consideration of options, and interim decisions;
b) Listen and coach/advise/support the theme group co-chairs in how they manage their respective groups’ work; and
c) Coach and advise on the interface between the Theme Groups and other outreach and engagement that brings in opinions, ideas and requests from many people who are not involved with the theme groups.
4. What prior experience do you have with the type of work you are conducting now?
The SOG team members have worked both independently and collectively on a variety of group facilitations, community visioning/problem-solving efforts, multi-stakeholder collaborations, and municipal policy/planning work. The topics have ranged widely and involved many different aspects of local and state government in NC, including engaging
nonprofit, business, civic and religious sectors, and working on challenging issues where the goal is to reach as much agreement as possible.
Some samples –
- Creating Their Own Futures: Community Visioning and North Carolina
Local Governments Popular Government: Vol. 73, No. 2, Winter
Government leaders often want to shape the long-term direction
of their communities. How can they do that effectively? A report on visioning
processes conducted in Roxboro, Wilkes County, and Wilson County provides
lessons on visioning and strategic planning.
- Building Community Capacity to Meet Public Needs
Lydian Altman-Sauer, Margaret Henderson, and Gordon P. Whitaker
Popular Government, Vol. 70, No. 2, Winter 2005
- The Public Intersection Project team is uniquely
positioned to help communities work across organizational boundaries to address shared problems. Following are resources related to community response to sexual assault and domestic violence. See: http://www.sog.unc.edu/node/504
- Citizen Task Force on Beach Nourishment Issues – 2010 –
Town of Topsail Beach, John Stephens, facilitator.
5. What have you found particularly innovative about the Chapel Hill 2020 project?
a) A variety of avenues for people to provide input at many different phases of the project;
b) The scope of community (i.e., not city council or city staff) leadership for the whole process, and for the facilitative leadership of the theme groups; and
c) A strong commitment to seek out new voices and views – to go beyond “the usual suspects” – very hard to do!