Rich Harwood to speak at Michigan Local Government Management Association’s Winter Institute in Battle Creek

Community Change Expert to Address Michigan Govt. Group Thursday in Battle Creek Rich Harwood to Speak about Communities’ Needs to Change Discourse, Move Forward

Jan. 29, 2014, Bethesda, Md. – Rich Harwood, a nationally recognized expert in community change, is scheduled to deliver a  keynote speech at 9 a.m. Thursday (Jan. 30) at the Michigan Local Government Management Association’s Winter Institute in Battle Creek, Mich. Harwood, founder and president of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, will speak to an audience of about 300 city managers and administrators from across the state about communities’ needs for a change in discourse and the importance of shared responsibility to accelerate change.

Harwood was invited to participate in the conference by Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema. The two worked together last year while Ritsema was assistant city manager for the City of Battle Creek. It was there that The Harwood Institute joined with the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region on its grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to carry out a three-year initiative to make Battle Creek the first-ever “Beacon Community” – a national model for uniting individuals and organizations to address the community’s challenges.

Like every city, Battle Creek has its share of challenges ranging from school achievement gaps to poverty. In the case of Battle Creek, the community has been working together to mobilize resources to create positive change. Previously, Harwood worked with the community to identify and address challenges such as the need to create services to assist the area’s disenfranchised Burmese population. In addition to his work in Battle Creek, Harwood has worked in other Michigan communities and has written and spoken extensively about Detroit’s bankruptcy. His two op-eds on the topic, “Hold on: Detroit Is Not Dead!” and “Don’t Sell Detroit’s Soul”, urge city leaders to focus on community efforts to improve the area and avoid focusing solely on financial solutions. Harwood was in Detroit when General Motors declared bankruptcy. He had a team on the ground speaking with residents about their concerns and aspirations for the community.

In 2013, Harwood worked with the City of Newtown, Connecticut to help a 28-person task force come to a unanimous decision on the fate of Sandy Hook Elementary, where 26 children and educators were killed in December 2012.

The Harwood Institute, a national nonprofit based in Bethesda, Md., teaches and coaches people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together. Harwood has more than 25 years of experience helping to transform communities and the way they work. He is a prolific author whose books and guides include “The Work of Hope: How Individuals and Organizations Can Authentically Do Good”; “Hope Unraveled; Make Hope Real”; and “Why We’re Here: The Powerful Impact of Public Broadcasters When They Turn Outward.” Learn more about Rich and his inspirational personal journey.

The Michigan Local Government Management Association Winter Institute runs Jan. 28-31 at the McCamly Plaza Hotel. For more information about the Institute, visit the Michigan Local Government Management Association, the professional association for local government managers from municipalities, counties, and townships throughout Michigan.

To schedule an interview with Harwood. contact jpacker@theharwoodinstitute.org or call 301-656-3669.