Collective Impact Forum

Collective Impact in Rural Communities with Deb Halliday

Episode Summary

In this episode, we’re diving into the topic of what does it mean to do collective impact work in more rural areas.

Episode Notes

We’re diving into the topic of what does it mean to do collective impact work in more rural areas. Collective Impact Forum executive director Jennifer Splansky Juster chats with Deb Halliday of Halliday and Associates about what can be helpful to consider when working in a cross-sector collaborative that supports rural communities.

Resources and Footnotes

Blog: 100 Cups of Coffee

Webinar: Lessons Learned from Rural Collective Impact Efforts in Montana

More on Collective Impact

Infographic: What is Collective Impact?

Resource List: Getting Started in Collective Impact

The Intro music, entitled “Running,” was composed by Rafael Krux, and can be found here and is licensed under CC: By 4.0.

The outro music, entitled “Deliberate Thought,” was composed by Kevin Macleod. Licensed under CC: By.

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Episode Transcription

Welcome to the Collective Impact Forum podcast, here to share resources to support social change makers working on cross-sector collaboration.

The Collective Impact Forum is a nonprofit field-building initiative and online community that is co-hosted in partnership by the nonprofit consulting firm FSG and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. 

In this episode, we’re diving into the topic of what does it mean to do collective impact work in more rural areas. Collective Impact Forum executive director Jennifer Splansky Juster chats with Deb Halliday of Halliday and Associates about what can be helpful to consider when working in a cross-sector collaborative that supports rural communities.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Hi Deb. Welcome. So glad to have you here with us today. I have long followed your work and been a real fan and appreciate a lot of the blogs and contributions you make to the field about what it really takes to do collaborative work in many different settings but one of the unique perspectives that you bring is what this work looks like and what it takes to do this kind of work in rural settings. 

I know you’ll draw on lots of different experiences in today’s conversation as we dive into that question. So our listeners get a little bit more of a sense of where you’re coming from, I’d love to hear from you. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how your path has crossed with supporting collective impact work?

Deb Halliday: Yeah, I sure will. Thanks Jen. I am as much a fan of yours so it’s a real honor to be a part of the collective impact community more broadly and then specifically just to have the opportunity to chat today. So thank you so much. 

I'm living in Montana, which is if you haven’t been fortunate enough to visit us, we are a beautiful state of mountains and big range ranchlands. We’re as large a land mass as from Washington, DC, to Chicago, with a population of Delaware sprinkled in there so just to get a sense of the vastiness of big long stretches of land and then communities. Our largest community is about 100,000 people and that’s Billings, Montana, and then I often will work with a community as small as 2,000 people and as you mentioned Jen, I do work around the Rocky Mountain West and increasingly other regions. So really love the rural. I can talk with you a little bit about where I come from in general. Would that be a good thing? Awesome. All right.

I actually grew up in upstate New York in the Finger Lakes so I kind of have that rural in me. My ancestors were all either preachers or teachers so really believing in the kind of transformational possibilities of people coming together. I grew up in a very politically active household with a single mom. A typical spring break would be to hop on a bus and go down to Washington, DC, to protest Coca-Cola investing in South Africa, you know. In all that just really grew up with a very deeply ingrained belief in how interconnected we are and then how important it is to be of use, to be part of putting your shoulder to the wheel to have communities be good and safe places for people to grow up and live in. 

Prior to hearing about collective impact, I had been in the political space so I helped to elect the first woman governor to Oregon, Barbara Roberts, and then I worked in Idaho. We defeated a state ballot initiative that was to take away basic human rights of gay people. Kind of came into this work from a community-based political space and then went to graduate school at Columbia University in social welfare policy and came out of that and came back out west with really, I think, a pretty good sense of how programs and policy and politics all are wheels that sort of move with each other or against one another to make change happen. 

Started working at the state level with a state education agency. Denise Juneau is the first American Indian woman elected to statewide office in the country’s history so I was hired on to her cabinet and built a couple of initiatives, Montana Schools of Promise, that works in Indian Country on reservations and bringing together different parts of the community with student voice in the center of that around strengthening public schools, and then Graduation Matters Montana, which I’ll talk about a little bit in this podcast that is a high school graduation initiative.

I’ll tell you a little funny story about how I first heard about collective impact.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: I would love that.

Deb Halliday: I was immersed in building the framework of Graduation Matters Montana and I was back in Boston. I had spent some time in Boston in my thirties. I was chatting with a friend and I was drawing on the back of a piece of paper, like this is how I'm doing this, and I had this team and this data and this framework and this communications. He goes, “Oh man, that’s collective impact. You should check out with the FSG cats.” And I was like, “There are people who do this in other parts?” So I went to one of your early gatherings in California. It was standing room only and Liz Weaver was there and it was just this really cool group and like so many people whenever they kind of stumble into or seek out the collective impact family, feel like they found their family. That was really affirming to me that this framework is one that works because so many of us were kind of in that space but then collective impact came along to give us sort of common language around it. So that was really fun. It was like, “You have people, Deb. You just don’t know it.” So I went and found you guys.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Thanks, Deb. That’s a really fun story to hear and I think we are forever indebted to folks who have been doing this work for well before the article and the term collective impact were coined and continue on the learning journey with us about how this work takes place in community. So thanks for sharing that. 

Could you say a little bit more about how you’ve supported collective impact work specifically in rural settings?

Deb Halliday: Yeah. You bet. A lot of my work I think of as like being a facilitative leader. What that means is that I'm trying to create space and gather the right people together to have the conversations they need to have to make the work possible. 

In rural areas, there’s a lot of incredible strengths of working in a rural area. One thing that’s done is the people tend to be living in rural areas because they love their community. They are sometimes multigenerational or they’ve moved there because of love which is why I'm in Montana, and they are invested in it with raising their children. They’re not necessarily in a rural area to become rich and famous and so that means that a lot of people are really in it for the reasons around wanting to strengthen their community, wanting to strengthen connections, and make more opportunities possible. 

My role in that is of course I’ll be invited to do some basic training about collective impact. But once that conversation has sort of landed and there’s common language about what the framework is, it’s often doing a lot of coaching, one-on-one coaching with leaders within initiatives that are really trying to figure out how to do this work differently. And then it’s helping to sequence the work. I think that that’s one of the things that is most challenging is what’s that dance of how do you—once you get the right people in the room, what do you do with them or alongside them? 

In our rural areas much like I think in other communities it’s really about making sure that we’re asking the right questions and that we’re resourcing people with good examples from other communities to do that work. And then just modeling what it means to be a facilitative leader. 

I think that one of the things that is hard I think if you’re particularly trying to build a collective impact initiative is a lot of baggage we have about what it means to be a leader and so we often think that we have to know everything and be the context and content experts. We need to know the details of the policies as well as all of the people. But a lot of times I think actually what is more useful is for us to be the folks who bring people together, hold them together, make sure it’s moving forward, and find those through lines in the work.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: I'm curious. What are some of the assets of rural communities in particular that you think or you’ve seen have really contributed to collective impact work in more rural settings?

Deb Halliday: One thing I would say is that more so than in cities there’s a relational aspect to rural areas where people have many hats they wear and so they might be your cousin as well as married to your high school teacher as well as somebody who works in a place, an agency or an organization that has some power over program and dollars to do the work. There’s a relational aspect and while there is mobility in rural areas, people moving in and out and particularly Montana has seen a lot of people moving in since the pandemic started because we’re more remote. In general, you have a lot of people who have been there for a long time. They know their community, they know the neighborhoods, the scale of where people live and how people live is smaller. 

So like with Graduation Matters Montana, which was this high school graduation initiative that I helped to build and lead when I was at our state education agency, we would establish these teams of teachers and school administrators and nonprofit organization folks and families and students, and within a meeting, you could kind of do the power analysis of who needs to be in what parts of the conversation and then within the next meeting, most of those people are in the room because in a rural area it’s relatively nonhierarchical, which means that you tend to more have relationships with people in power even in Montana like our congress folks, our senators and our House of Representatives, we all kind of know them in a first-name basis and we get a little offended when they don’t remember our name and when we see them at a gathering and we know our governor and we expect that we can get access to our governor if we need to. That nonhierarchical system alignment work can be a little easier. 

The other thing I think that I’d say that makes this work really interesting in rural areas is that the classes of people, wealthier, less wealthy, our different races, we mix more in rural areas. We don’t have very many private schools so the kids all go to the same schools. The kids all play on the same sports and so the parents are all hanging out together. We have maybe two grocery stores in our community. People are together more so the ability to leverage multiple perspectives and hold those multiple perspectives in the work as it moves forward is more accessible, I think in a rural area because the relationships you have are less stratified.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Often that’s one of I think the most important parts of collective impact to invest in is building those relationships and what an advantage to have a lot of those already in place and less siloing or fragmentation or segregation. 

On the flipside, when you think about doing this kind of work in rural areas, what are some of the challenges that you think are perhaps unique to doing the rural collective impact type work?

Deb Halliday: There are, of course, and a lot of it is around capacity. We both have a very fragile infrastructure in rural areas in that we don’t have a lot of organizations and the capacity but even in the organizations. I was having a conversation the other day with some folks around leadership development and how do we grow new leaders in our rural areas. One of the big challenges is we don’t have middle management in rural areas. While in a larger economy you have larger infrastructure, larger organizations, you have more people sort of moving up in their work and so you can kind of snag some of the cool younger people and grab them into the work and that they might actually have as part of their job description is to be part of networking and building the connections and relationships on behalf of their organization with other organizations. We just don’t have that infrastructure. 

If you want to get all the kind of usual suspects at your table, those usual suspects it’s usually one, maybe two people, the director, maybe they have a program person that they can give some time over to, but then you’re one of 18 different coalitions or efforts by knocking on their door. That can be really challenging so part of what we’ll end up talking about is how does participating in a robust collaborative effort like a collective impact effort fold into and leverage several things you’re trying to accomplish in your organization’s mission, which ultimately gets you into sort of that social determinants of health conversation of how do these things relate and how can we really place our work in a space that has people confident that should our work move forward and succeed, it would lighten loads for them in the work that they do. That can be harder to argue really when folks kind of get it that they don’t have the capacity to vote with their feet, meaning showing up to the right conversations and doing that work. 

What that puts pressure on us is I think in a good way is to show value quickly. With Graduation Matters Montana, we would pull the folks into the room and rather than just kind of allow the same conversation to happen month to month to month, we would keep it real. When we talked about data, we would talk about data in that quantitative and qualitative space so that the qualitative was like having really significant experiences, mindset-shifting experiences for the people who are participating in that initiative in that community. Like hosting a fishbowl conversation with students and not just students who are like, “Golly Ned, up with people. I never even thought about dropping out of high school,” but the people who are really struggling to succeed. So you bring people who have that real, we would call that lived experience, talking about what it is to live in their space. That starts shifting and making people who are listening to that more curious about what it is that we’re actually doing. Then data itself, hard number data, can do that. 

Just kind of being very thoughtful about how do we use people’s time to both advance connection because people crave that connection with other people, advance our understanding of what’s possible as well as what’s happening in the community. Those kinds of things help but it is challenging. I've got a couple of others, Jen.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: I came off mute because I wanted to follow up on this, and I want to make sure I understand what you’re saying because I was thinking about how if you’re in a smaller community, fewer people, fewer organizations, you would likely have coalitions or collaboratives that were focused on—or you might see it helpful to focus on broader issues because you couldn’t have the education collaborative separate from the health collaborative separate from the economic development collaborative because there aren’t enough people to go around and that wouldn’t make sense. 

So is what you’re saying that you saw folks kind of setting their agenda more broadly? Or, are you saying—or am I—help me understand that a little bit more.

Deb Halliday: That’s a great question. I think I would say yes. I think the vision is more broad like around sort of community wellbeing, all kids thrive, that kind of stuff but then we do get into these different areas that are pretty focused around like—I do a lot of work in early childhood so like kindergarten readiness is a really good one to grab because there’s data. It’s really hard to find good data in early childhood but there’s good data around kindergarten readiness, and so while you have this overarching—I think that’s right, Jen, because what will happen is that you’ll start focusing on like, OK, kindergarten readiness, and then people in that conversation will inevitably say, well, that’s really about supporting parents. What are we doing to support parents? Or they’ll say that’s really about, you know, so it does move around but I think that one of the really awesome things that collective impact does is it elevates the intentionality that goes into really effective coalition work so that you can hold space for how everything interacts with one another, and support good information sharing and kind of collaborative creative thinking in lots of different areas, at the same time advancing that particular through line that you guys have agreed to do. 

It’s often two or three different sort of—in our language it would be like those work groups or in the amoeba diagram of how we do this work. So I think, yeah, you don’t get away with just sort of saying we’re only focused on this one particular measure. You have to allow space for that but at the same time what’s cool is that if you can build the trust among people which takes time in any community, if you can build that trust, people start figuring out the tenterhooks of how their work relates to one another, and kind of can start to advance the work more quickly by leveraging the power that they do have into the work.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Interesting. This is something I see with whatever the geographic setting is, a tricky thing, right? Especially in the time of the pandemic, in times of COVID we’re seeing how important all of the social determinants are to many of the outcomes yet often we’re starting from a more focused point, and so the ability to make connections across the different issues and get to some of the root causes and figure out then how to organize, as you said, the amoeba, like the different work groups or action teams. I think I’m seeing those conversations crop up in a lot of communities, and can see how in a rural setting it would play out in a unique way.

Deb Halliday: I have another couple of thoughts to share. Another one that is challenging for us is just that we have very little philanthropic capacity in our states and so I think that the whole building powerful, strong, professional backbone infrastructure really requires the resources to do that, and I think collective impact, you guys have done such a great job courting that awareness with foundations. It’s just in rural areas we don’t really have those foundations or if we do, the needs are so great, they tend to be funding more services than sort of infrastructure and capacity. 

So what that pushes on rural communities is to figure out how to weave money that we have which usually is federal money, sometimes state but often the state money comes from the federal, and so it’s kind of figuring out what are some of those ways to do that. More progressive rural states have more progressive flexibilities within how states perceive how to spend that money so that can vary from region I think to region around how that works. 

It’s not unusual, just to kind of give an example of that, if I’m starting off a new collective impact initiative in a rural area, sometimes the best I can do for the first 18 months or so is to get two or three organizations to give me somebody’s time, five or 10 hours a month, maybe 10 or 15 hours a month so if I get two or three people like from United Way or a school district and maybe one of the larger nonprofits, and they do tend to be some of the younger people, that’s some of my favorite work because then I’ve got two or three people in the community that I’m sort of coaching and training and mentoring in how to do this work. So they can usually hold the space, and if I anchor them in the right organizations that deepens the investment of those organizations in the work, and then they can kind of build enough traction. By 18 months in, if people are still voting with their feet and coming to our meetings, they kind of get what we’re doing. They trust one another, they like this work and so they can usually start to figure out some other funding opportunities, whether it’s going in for a grant that makes them more competitive because it’s a more robust coalition of organizations or just organizations are regularly seeing grants come through on their email, and they might pick up one and say, hey, this sounds a lot like what we’re trying to do in this area. 

So we have to be—it can have a slower build for capacity so you have this funny—I mentioned earlier about how having sort of early wins or early value-add, you have to sort of manage your capacity to do early value-add with slower buildup of capacity. 

But I will say that I’ve been a part of a few rural efforts that have had a lot of money clunk into a community and they say, OK, go forth and collaborate, and that actually without having the readiness to do that and having the money and having some kind of positional powershift can actually be more challenging to some extent. Sometimes I think I’m sort of arguing myself into seeing that that might not be a terrible thing, to have a slower build.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: That makes sense. Building some, I’ve heard folks call it the collaborative muscle or the muscle to do this work.

Deb Halliday: Yeah, that’s a great term. I love that.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Were there other challenges you wanted to speak to also, Deb? Or does that touch on the primary ones you were thinking about?

Dev Halliday: Yeah, thanks. The last one I would say is a counter position to what I said was an asset which is relationships. So relationships in rural areas can work both ways. Sometimes it’s like old scars heal slowly, and there are some people who just won’t be in the same room with one another because of something that has legitimately busted trust but, you know, 15 years ago. 

Sometimes you have some of that where you have to do some steward diplomacy to try to help people kind of move into the next space. Or people with long memories, so somebody might have been going through some growing pains in their 20s and did some things that weren’t awesome, and they’re still in the community 10 years later and they’ve really evolved into trying to do work differently, and then how do you support them reestablishing themselves in a meaningful way in the work.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Another question that has come up for me, Deb, was I’m curious when you’ve done this kind of or supported this kind of work in more rural settings, how often is the geographic footprint like a single town? So you said, lots of towns 3,000 or so folks, and/or kind of bigger footprints across several towns, several school districts, like is there a footprint that you think lends itself well to this kind of work?

Deb Halliday: That’s a great question. So in our work it would be towns or counties and sometimes regions and sometimes statewide depending on what the work is, and so in our larger towns, as much as the towns try to—larger meaning 100,000 or 40,000—they try to sort of have a county footprint but our counties are so big, it can take like an hour and a half to drive from one part of the county to another part of the county. It is hard to have in a more urban settings, it’s hard to have a more regional approach because all the services and the majority of the people are in the town area. 

But one of the initiatives, a collective impact initiative I’m supporting here in Montana is about 2,000 people countywide, and It’s got three sort of little towns that are the hubs of a gas station and a school so that initiative to really authentically engage people from all over the county just puts a lot of miles on their cars. I mean they really do. They just get out there and drive and do the work. 

So the most interesting work I’ve been able to—not interesting but the work that I’ve been able to see in rural settings that has the most impact or comes into impact as quickly are when we can get several communities to take on a project, take on the same project with the same framework contextualized to their community, and then get together on a regular basis and share what they’re learning. 

That’s how we structured Graduation Matters Montana. At the height of it about four years into it, there were 50 communities in Montana from the big communities or seven big cities in Montana, two of these tiny communities, to tribal communities which are often even tinier, even more strapped with infrastructure challenges, that each of them had this framework we put together that is kind of a simplified version of the collective impact framework, and they would each be working through the framework and we’d get together on an annual basis and drive conversation through the framework so that all these different kinds of economies and communities could compare what they’re learning, and what’s working and not working, and crosspollinate their ideas. 

Then there’s sort of a gentle competitiveness between communities, right, in any area so it’s like, “Damn, Dillon is doing this cool thing over here. We better try that in Miles City or we’re going to look like we’re dropping the ball.” So that kind of gentle productive competition helped kind of rachet the work up, and we were able to have record-breaking high school graduation rates within two years of putting that initiative together because we were creating a pretty robust community of practice and learning together.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: That’s a great example, a really great example. Another question I have, some folks I chat with are curious in general and in particular in rural communities given some of the challenges you mentioned around lack of philanthropic resources, a general sense of less infrastructure, the question comes up, with collective impact, is the juice worth the squeeze? 

So is the effort to put the process, do the data work, do all the components of collective impact, is the juice worth the squeeze? I’m curious what your reflection on that is.

Deb Halliday: I love that. I love the phrase too. It’s so evocative. Yes, I would say absolutely because the rigor around making sure that you’re engaging all the different conditions of collective impact are relevant whether it’s a really robust, complex, multinational collaboration or if it’s a small collaboration in your local community. 

If you don’t have some sense of where you are and where you want to go, and if you’re making that through your shared measurement, you don’t have a way to have efficacy of your work. If you’re not thoughtful about how you’re engaging people with communication that’s inspiring and consistent and well curated, then you’re losing people because it’s not that effort. If you don’t have that infrastructure of somebody who knows—who’s trusted and can convene people and convene people in productive, efficient, and hopefully fun ways, so I think that’s part of what I love about the framework of collective impact. It does stand as the essential components of what you need to be attending to. 

I think where it differs is just the how robust one needs to be in some areas. So I mean like really shared measurement is probably the one where I spend the most time saying, “is it good enough?” Can we say it’s good enough because if it tells us enough to know if this is an area we should be working on or not, if it gives us enough ability to communicate to the community why we’re working on this area, and if we can circle back and look at it again in a couple of years—you know what I mean? So it’s like don’t talk to me about data dashboards in rural areas. That’s more than we need but we do need to honor that we all have access to data now, and we can pull some of it to tell a better story and to assure ourselves that we’re focused on an area that matters.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Yeah, and the point you made earlier, to do some learning around what’s working, and to have either partners in the collaborative or across different communities learning from each other.

Deb Halliday: Yeah, one thing I love about, which is probably partly why I thrive in rural areas, is I do love the informality of rural areas, that we tend to be more relational, less formal, and just sort of the way we interact with one another, right? 

I mentioned the lack of hierarchy means that while power dynamics are always part of every gathering, whether it’s a family gathering or a professional gathering, they’re just not quite as intense. But one of the challenges of that is that informality can lead to people shooting from the hip about their own experiences and what they hear from their cousins, and so one thing that has really been good about collective impact is it has kind of professionalized the way that we think about collaboration, and raise the bar in a very productive way about using things like data but using it intelligently rather than like so many people are traumatized by data because they have to gather it, then shoot it up to some funder, usually a federal funder out here, and the data never really comes back, and they don’t have the capacity or bandwidth at the local level to do any analysis of that data really so they’re just worried about getting penalized if their data doesn’t do something that the funder is looking for. 

And so shifting from that sort of trauma mindset to owning your data, to feeling like your data is your friend and you can use data to learn from and to gain some confidence about the relevancy of the effort that you’re doing is some of the work that I do.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: I’ve been engaged in some sessions on learning and evaluation, and our colleagues, Joelle and Hallie, often will ask what’s the image that comes to mind when you think of evaluation, and you get a range of the mirror or the flashlight or the light bulb, and then you see the axe or the hammer or some definitely more negative images so your story certainly resonates with I think the range of experiences people have with how data can be used as a carrot or a flashlight or a mirror but also sometimes in ways that are not as helpful.

Deb Halliday: It’s this whole “owning it.” So like I love to use Margaret Wheatley’s quote, “people own that which they help to build,” and so much of this work—I mean I often will just start with that as who I am as a person is someone who believes that, and so giving people the invitation to own this work and to see themselves as not separate from a system they’re trying to change but integral to that system, and honoring that particularly when you can bring together people from different parts of the community and parts of the broader system and really intelligently engage with one another, they can build something very, very cool even with small resources and not even a whole lot of time when it really comes down to it, but just really thoughtfully structured and implemented.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Deb, is there any other advice you would have for folks who are engaged in or considering working in a collective impact type approach in a rural setting?

Deb Halliday: Yeah, you bet. One thing I would just say is just to be very curious about the history and the context and the narrative that the community has around how it does multisector work together. Oftentimes I will counsel folks to do what I call a “hundred cups of coffee,” and some initiatives actually have gotten up to about a hundred cups of coffee but just going out and talking to folks, and starting with the 10 or 15 people that have some formal or more importantly often, informal power in the community, and asking them, tell me the history of how do you connect into this issue, and how has the community tried to tackle this issue in the past, and separate from this issue, tell me a story of a time the community really came together and made something wonderful happen, and who are some of those people. 

So having that curiosity to just get out and understand the specifics of how that community functions is invaluable. In rural communities I think it might be a little easier because the narratives are maybe potentially a little—there’s probably fewer strands to the narrative than there are in bigger urban areas. Then I love this quote, this phrase from Liz Weaver from Tamarack. Every community’s got Mabel who kind of gets everything done so if you don’t have Mabel at the table, it’s going to be really hard for you to get things done. So who are those movers and shakers who make things happen in the community, and then what’s your possibility of getting at least the conversations going with them so that they know what you’re doing so that they don’t hear about it because if they’re used to knowing everything that happens in the community and they don’t hear about it from you first, you know. 

And if you’re working in tribal communities, there’s a whole other protocol around having a formal meeting with the tribal council to let them know what you’re doing because that’s part of the protocol of working in tribal communities. 

And then, you know, just really I love this phrase “to go slow to go fast,” like recognizing that there is having some humility, that you’re in an ecosystem that has its formal and informal, visible and invisible ways of doing work, and being curious about that and being an observer of that to some extent, so going to some meetings, going to a Rotary Club meeting or going a community meeting like here in Helena, Montana, where I live, there’s a once-a-week morning meeting that everybody goes to, and somebody speaks, and if you just—not even to go present but just go to observe like how does this community actually share information, how does it make decisions, you know. And so that whole kind of I think is invaluable to being effective in a rural area. 

The last thing I would just say is that there’s all this curiosity around scaling things, like you make something successful and you want to scale it to everybody or there’s a cool program that happened in Albuquerque and so let’s make it happen in Missoula, Montana, and so that kind of transferability stuff I think is rarely in my experience really works. Neither does scaling things. So you do some really cool work in one community and you think we can get five more communities to do this, because the context is so much constantly changing, the people, the moment, and so it’s more about what are those universals that we can learn from to engage community but always really honoring the context.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Deb, I could not agree with you more I think on so many of the points you just mentioned so I’m just really appreciative of you naming those, and just the point you ended on around context, context matters and context is everything, and learning from other communities is terrific but what do you need to do to adapt that in the local setting and not think of it as sort of the magic recipe or formula that’s going to work the same everywhere. 

So I think when we think about collective impact, part of what we hope communities do is create the process for the relationships and learning to see what makes sense in the community. It’s all about kind of creating that container for that learning to happen, and so I just want to underscore what you’re saying for rural communities but also for folks doing collective impact in other settings as well. 

So, thank you. I have really enjoyed chatting with you today, and I hope folks have really also enjoyed and learned a lot from listening to Deb. We are just so grateful for being able to spend time with you this morning.

Deb Halliday: Thank you so much, Jen. It’s such a pleasure, and look forward to when we can all convene in person again and hug each other and share cups of coffee and all that, but until then we’ll just keep staying in touch as we can and learning alongside one another.

Jennifer Splansky Juster: Yeah, we can go to a hundred real cups of coffee instead of virtual cups of coffee. Thank you, Deb.

And this closes out this episode of the Collective Impact Forum podcast. If you are interested in learning more about what was discussed, you can find links to resources in the footnotes of this podcast. 

We would like to acknowledge that this episode was produced and edited on the unceded, traditional lands of the Coast Salish people, including the Duwamish, Suquamish, Stillaguamish, and Muckleshoot tribes. We honor with gratitude the land itself and the past, present, and futures of these tribes. 

The Intro music for this episode was composed by Rafael Krux and our outro music is composed by Kevin Macleod.

Our big news this month is that we just opened registration for our upcoming Champions for Change 2021 online workshop. Champions for Change is designed specifically for those in the early stages of their collective impact work. This year’s online workshop will be held over three weeks, from Sept. 21 through Oct 5, and will feature a mix of weekly online sessions and virtual office hours with faculty. And the big plus for online workshops is that all the sessions are recorded, so you won’t have to worry about missing a session. You’ll have access to them all. Check out more about Champions and register for this year’s workshop at And if you’re interested, we recommend registering before the early-bird rates ends this August.

This is Tracy Timmons-Gray, Associate Director here at the Collective Impact Forum, and your podcast host. I want to say thank you so much for listening, and We look forward to connecting with you more in our next episode. Until next time, we hope you are safe and well.