Last Friday our foundation hosted 29 future health leaders of this community as selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and trained by the Center for Creative Leadership. Health Forward is proud to partner with these two nationally known and respected organizations and to be selected as the local sponsor of this 16 month leadership training process. To kick off this event, I invited Mayor Joe Reardon of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/ KCK and Mayor Elect Sly James of KCMO to speak. These two leaders were remarkable.
The message these two political leaders shared with our audience was very simple… for the KC region to reach its full potential, we must listen to each other, collaborate and focus on looking for solutions (rather than considering problems unsolvable). Their positive attitude and clear message of inclusion and cooperation are a breath of fresh air for this community…a community who often focuses on what separates us rather than what unites us.
A year ago Wyandotte County was rated with the lowest health outcomes in the State of Kansas. The Mayor took this as an opportunity to personally rally support around efforts to convene task forces and he challenge the community to figure out “how are we going to make things better”? He didn’t waste time looking who to blame …he only focused on finding solutions. In a year’s time, the largest national health foundation in the nation is now recognizing Mayor Reardon’s for his outstanding efforts in Wyandotte County to improve health outcomes.
Last month Kansas City voters elected a new Mayor of KCMO. I was so impressed that the campaign was mostly void of controversy and attacks. Both Mayor Elect Sly James and his opponent Mike Burke ran an issues oriented, positive campaign. It was so refreshing to see our political leaders act like leaders. The new Mayor is trying to restore civility and respect to city hall. Last week KCMO voters approved the City Earnings Tax by 78% — I think this is a clear reflection that voters approve of this new attitude and culture in city government. Mayor Elect Sly James has already shown us his strong leader skills.
Both of these political leaders are showing us how government officials should behave and act, while at the same time get positive results that benefit the folks they represent. Our region is so lucky to have these two public servants leading our two major urban cities.