The center and its Networking Alliance members welcomed the fall weather on October 21 at a biannual meeting on NC State’s campus. As attendees settled in and shook off the morning chill, Gail Cormier, Executive Director of North Carolina Families United, and Joanne Scaturro, Co-chair of the State Collaborative for Children, Youth and Families, presented center director Dr. Joan Pennell with the Gary Ander Award for Making a Difference for Family Driven Care. This annual award is granted to someone who exemplifies listening to and understanding family voice and choice at all levels, including policy, committees, and direct service. Dr. Pennell expressed her warm appreciation for the award and for sharing the moment with so many individuals committed to healthy, safe families and communities in North Carolina.
Following the award presentation, alliance members gathered in small groups around the room and were introduced to the World Café model of supporting large group dialogue. Using this model, center staff had created a festive atmosphere by setting up the meeting space to look like a real café, complete with food and beverages provided by the college’s research office. Center staff then hosted discussion with alliance members around three areas of center strength: involving youth, families, and communities in curricular development; offering technical assistance on-site and online; and engaging families in preventing intimate partner violence. For an hour and a half, groups developed ideas and goals for how the center can build on these strengths going forward. Near the end of the morning, the groups’ ideas were shared with everyone and “harvested” by being placed on a large map of North Carolina. Afterward, alliance members were invited to join staff for continued networking over lunch.
Building on the creative energy of the morning, center staff reconvened in the afternoon to review the ideas generated during the café and turn them into actionable plans for center staff and their faculty and community partners. The center’s team will be moving these action steps forward in the coming months and reporting their progress to Networking Alliance members at the spring meeting.