Kathy Francis, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Emergency Management (MACEM) had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion at the 19th Annual Emergency Management Higher Education Symposium regarding “Education as Part of a Broader National Preparedness System.”

Kathy’s insight is shared in the second of four installments.

Question 2. Any challenges/advice you might offer to the group on expanding their reach beyond traditional stakeholders?

The academic environment is ever evolving, coupled with a growing interdependence for funding, innovation, and diversity expectations. I believe we need to change our mindset from viewing networking as a task to viewing it as an essential component to achieving our organizational/program outcomes.

When you develop your professional networks, I encourage you to expand your boundaries. Think about harnessing the skills, knowledge, and life experiences of your staff and, in some cases, your students. Grow networks horizontally, and embrace cross-functional collaborations which in turn increase program innovation. I encourage you to work to reduce the traditional boundaries and expand your network vertically to have a voice in the strategic actions of your institution. By expanding your geographic and demographic networks, you can often incorporate valuable and maybe traditionally overlooked perspectives and grow culturally and creatively.

New technologies drive program innovation – reach out to the tech leaders in your area. They are often happy to showcase their products, and you can learn from them in the process.

I began by talking about the value of collaboration, connection, and commitment. Look at these networks as a bridge to your success, and remember to be an energetic contributor as well.

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