Local Conversations Impacting Southeast Kansas

Hello and welcome to the new and first ever Community Engagement Blog. I will use this blog once each month to clarify what a community engagement director does on a daily basis to search for opportunities to help those need. If you choose to follow my blog, I will talk about the communities where I am working, the partners with whom I am involved, and the actions we are taking. I am hopeful that you will enjoy learning more about our SEK-CAP engagement efforts and more about all the partners that we work with to leverage one another’s resources for the purpose of helping more people. I am excited about this opportunity and encourage you to follow me and to comment as you so desire.

Each county in Southeast Kansas hosts a monthly meeting of social service providers. Those meetings are called County Coalition Meetings. A few of the counties also attach a unique name to differentiate its meeting from all the others. For example, Cherokee names its meeting PACCC, Neosho names its meeting NCART.

Depending on the size and location of the county, attendance/participation varies. Because of their location and size, Elk/Chautauqua have combined for many years to host one meeting rather than one for each county individually. As a participant at their meeting, I am excited their relatively recent use of technology has made an impact on both attendance and participation. They have begun using Zoom which is an internet webinar tool that can be accessed at your own desk on your own computer, or, it can also be used on any device such as your smart phone. The Zoom service is free and is easy to set up a meeting by going to their website.

My mention of Zoom or any other internet webinar tool such as Skype is not intended to suggest that this use of technology is better than person to person conversations at the meetings – they are not! Conversations that are face to face capitalize on vocal variety and body language to communicate far better than over the internet.

If your group determines that the use of technology is a good idea, please consider the following pointers to improve your communication:

  • Ask attendees to use the mute button when they are not talking to the group as background noise can quickly ruin the conversation

  • It is best, I think, for each participant to use the video option so that their image shows up during the meeting. More difficult, I think, to communicate with one another when it is voice only

  • The meeting host must be very well prepared for the meeting and keenly aware of the rhythm and effectiveness of the conversation. One comment about meeting preparation for the host is that he/she must have total command of their visual aids by knowing where each page or PowerPoint slide is located so as to avoid lengthy pauses and otherwise lack of organization that distracts from the quality of the meeting

I would encourage each county to consider the use of technology to increase participation and effectiveness as we continuously strive to increase awareness about our services that are so desperately needed.  


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Post It Notes


Have you ever left an important meeting and felt that the meeting went okay? If so, what if you were wrong? What if those in attendance were just being polite and unwilling to tell you how they truly felt? If these questions describe your management style, perhaps you should consider another alternative. Here is my suggestion:

  1. Begin with the commitment to always know exactly how your meeting attendees feel on important matters
  2. Invest in a pack of post-it notes
  3. Circulate a post-it (s) on all important matters to be discussed
  4. Ask attendees to rate each important matter from 0 to 10 with 0 being the lowest possible score and 10 being the highest possible score
  5. On each matter, add the total number of points given for each topic and divide that number by the number of attendees
  6. By doing so, you will have an average score on each important matter
  7. Circling back to my initial question about leaving an important meeting feeling that it was okay - by using post-its, what if the average score on a post-it was (5), how would you feel? Would you feel that 5 was okay? Would you not begin to dig deeper to learn more about why the average score was not higher?

Follow this community engagement tip and you will have greater results as you manage with more quantifiable data for your group’s preferences.


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Proclamation Govenor November 2019


I am making the assumption that no one would know that SEK-CAP is associated with economic development in a seventeen-county area in Southeast Kansas with a group named Project 17, right? Well, we are, and we also serve as a leader of that group as I am the Chairman of the Board.

The primary reason that SEK-CAP is involved makes sense as the clients we serve all have one thing in common and that is to improve their opportunities to a better future. A better future is always linked to the economy, thus the value in participating with Project 17 where actions can be taken to make a difference.

A bit more about Project 17:

The Project 17 service area encompasses seventeen counties (Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Crawford, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Labette, Linn, Miami, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson Counties) and home to 268,138 people.

More than 300 people came together in a summit in 2013 to talk about greater opportunities and challenges facing the region.

The outcome of this 300-person summit resulted in the formation of Project 17 to focus on economic development, workforce development and education, leadership and health.

It was determined that success for the region would be improved if it would think locally but act regionally.

It was determined in the summit that the preferred approach to acting regionally would be to create a volunteer board and to hire an executive director.

Three Guiding Principles (below) were created to ensure that the executive director and volunteer board would keep steadfast to the intentions of the original summit:

  1. Alignment of all activities with an economic development initiative to improve regional economic prosperity
  2. To establish a network-based approach to insure the voices of everyday citizens from within the region are heard
  3. To create an organizational structure to ensure the network's work is coordinated


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As a community engagement person, my search for an opportunity to make a difference led me to Yates Center located in Woodson County in the spring of 2018. I learned of a small group of citizens who shared a common interest of revitalizing the community to promote growth while still maintaining the distinctive small-town character. For any community, this type of ambition is overwhelming, especially without the resources of staff, budget and other elements of a prosperous community such as population growth, thriving economy, and community amenities that are important for people as they choose the location where they want to live, work and play.

In a short span of eighteen months, this remarkable group has organized itself to support destination events and to encourage community volunteers in a variety of functions.


Regarding destination events, four are on the schedule:

  • Historic Town Square Clean Up Day
  • Fall Festival Chili and Soup Feed
  • 40th Annual Yates Center Days
  • Toronto Days


Regarding the encouragement of community volunteers, a number of functions are available: 

  • Community Projects
  • Administrative
  • Communications
  • Fundraising and events
  • Finance
  • Research
  • Technology


SEK-CAP is delighted to be involved as a member of the Board of Directors for RevitalizeYC. The progress made and the excitement of interacting with a dedicated group of volunteers who are united to improve their community is priceless.


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