Editor’s note: Bob Hill is a consultant working with Health Forward to facilitate the upcoming series of community forums we are conducting through the summer and fall. We hope you enjoy this introduction to Bob before you meet him in person at a community forum.
In essence I’m a city guy, having always lived in larger cities — never in a place with a population fewer than 100,000 people — including the Houston area, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Nashville, and now Kansas City.
Work originally brought me to Kansas City. I had the great privilege of serving Community Christian Church for more than 30 years. In June 2015 I received the humbling honor of being named Minister Emeritus as I moved into semi-retirement.
Semi-retirement is not to be confused with inactivity! I stay plenty busy serving my community. In addition to my efforts with Health Forward as an organizer of the upcoming community forums, I also work as a community consultant with the Kauffman Foundation, focusing on community engagement with public education, and the newly established What U Can Do nonprofit organization, which focuses on voter registration and citizen engagement.
And so, though I have traveled extensively (and still have the wanderlust), Kansas City is my home by choice, over all other cities. It is the perfect blend of big city opportunities with small community atmosphere. I enjoy baseball, barbecue, bebop jazz, books (particularly poetry). I have been joyfully married to Priscilla Reckling for nearly 28 years, and we make our home in the Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City.
I love the Greater Kansas City area, which offers us so much. First and foremost, we enjoy four distinct and beautiful seasons. Our values show through the prioritization of education for students of all ages; the celebration of the arts by so many museums, galleries, and performance spaces; the availability of so much jazz (but yet not nearly enough!); the climate of philanthropy and the wellspring of compassion and commitment to equity that drives it.
Let’s also not forget the thrilling fact that we have access to professional sports in the Royals, the Chiefs, Sporting KC, and more; the devoted leadership of so many nonprofit organizations and religious leaders.
I could go on and on about the benefits of living in the area, but the true way to measure a city is by looking at the people. And we have some of the very best; they are the real treasure this vibrant community offers.
I can’t think of any area that has more visionary, innovative, and productive folks than those found in Jackson, Lafayette, Cass, Wyandotte, Johnson and Allen counties. Other areas in the country may be our equals but none are superior.
In preparing and planning for the Health Forward community forums, it has been sheer inspiration to meet so many dedicated and creative care providers and agency leaders in Health Forward’s six-county service area. The potential for meaningful conversations in the community forums is immense, as we hear the stories and understand the perspectives of so many caring and dedicated health care leaders and citizens.
I hope that the substantive conversations stimulated by the community forums will elicit new ideas and new partnerships for the creation of healthier communities. I also hope that new bonds of creative connection will be forged among participants in the forums.
One can never have enough friends or allies in the shared work of community betterment and improving the life we share together.