The Power of Collaboration During COVID-19

The Power of Collaboration During COVID-19
August 19, 2020

Our greatest powers are rooted in connection. Our most effective actions are collective.

As the effects of COVID-19 began to hit home, hitting some much harder than others, a group of Culture of Health Leaders recognized that their network of relationships put them in a unique position to take collaborative action, both to help each other and to help communities across the country.

A call went out to all Culture of Health Leaders—current and alumni—and a self-organized team began to emerge. Dubbed the Culture of Health Leaders Coronavirus Task Force, the group has attracted members from each cohort, and leaders continue to join the effort.

A Nationwide Networked Resource

Drawing on diverse expertise in epidemiology; philanthropy; emergency management; disaster response; and public, community, and mental health—plus experience developing online resources for communities and organizations facing COVID-19 and other emergencies—the task force has built a COVID response, resources, and recovery website. The site expands on the Coronavirus Support Network, co-founded by Culture of Health Leaders Breanna Lathrop, Joseph Agoada, and Ryan Oelrich.

In a time of crisis like this, we find ourselves reacting to immediate emergencies. It can be hard to plan or strategize, let alone digest the overwhelming volume of information available. Yet communities need simple, accurate, and culturally relevant information about dealing with this pandemic, especially when it comes to addressing structural inequities and COVID-19’s disproportionate impacts on marginalized populations. Tapping the collective capacity of the Culture of Health Leaders network, the website is designed to help communities connect and learn from each other. 

The site uses a simple submission form to gather practices, ideas, and lessons. Culture of Health Leaders then vet these resources and learnings, and make them available as a sorted and searchable database. People can upvote or downvote resources, making it easier for other users to find what’s most helpful. By sharing what is and isn’t working in response to COVID-19, the website helps communities:

• Connect and collaborate.

• Highlight successful practices and initiatives.

• Adapt and build on successes.

• Avoid mistakes already made.

• Save valuable time and resources.

Leaders Helping Leaders

Team members have also prioritized the health and well-being of their peers.

Recognizing that COVID-19 is impacting leaders in diverse ways and that they are facing a range of challenges—providing direct service to hard-hit communities, working to keep organizations afloat, dealing with job losses, and more—the task force has organized to support and encourage each other.

To determine what that support might look like, the team recently conducted an “Asks, Offers, and Opportunities” assessment. The survey helped identify:

• The requests and needs of each leader and his or her community.

• The resources each leader can offer.

• The projects and opportunities each leader would like to be part of.

Task force members emphasize that this collective effort is just beginning and that they are still figuring out how all their puzzle pieces fit together. And, in this time of crisis, they know it’s crucial to get the proverbial “plane in the air” as they continue building it.

This kind of collective leadership—leaders across cohorts and across the country rising to the occasion together, recognizing the power of their connections, and lifting up their voices as one—is exactly what this moment calls for. And in the longer term, after this crisis has passed, it is exactly what our country will need to continue to build a Culture of Health.