Category Archives: Blog

March 9th – The Role of Values-based Leadership

On March 9th we will be hosting our fifth and final Learning Lab with the HealthDoers Network:  The Role of Values-Based Leadership:  Starting the Community Conversation.  For me, it has been an incredible learning experience.  We first started with Lowell Kruse's story about his 25 years in Northwest Missouri and the cirtiical need to engaged community leaders in the overall health of the region.  Then we heard from Brian Lassiter in order to understand a bit more about Baldrige and Communities of Excellence, and what is means for a community to pursue excellence.  We followed the next two Labs with presentations from our first pilot community:  San Diego County's South Region and their Live Well San Diego Vision for a County that is healthy, safe and thriving.  Barbara Jimenez talked about the experience of adopting the framework from the South Region's perspective and Anabel Poole followed with a conversation about the role of the Backbone Organization and how this journey has influenced their own internal Baldrige journey. 

Throughout these Labs, there was one theme that continued to follow in our discussions and questions from attendees:  Leadership.   Therefore, It seemed fitting to end the series with a discussion about Community Leadership and Values.  For this Lab I've invited two inspiring leaders to share examples from their experience in business and community.  I hope you will join us March 9th as our two presenters, Rick Norling and Brenda Grant discuss the importance of shared community values, role-modeling values-based behaviors as a key element of leadership, and how community leadership can go about establihing critical values that will drive the kind of behavior that will both engage residents and produce results.

You can register here to join us

Stephanie Norling, Managing Director, Communities of Excellence 2026

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Not What You Think

By Kruse Scholar Bianca Nguyen

In talking about Communities of Excellence thus far, it has been almost impossible to forgo mentioning the communities across the United States who are struggling with poverty, health disparities, and poor educational outcomes. This is the goal of Communities of Excellence—to lift up our communities that are not reaching their full potential and to enable them to attain success in all sectors so that our country can be a proud leader in excellence, whereas, currently, the United States spends far more than other first-world countries and is achieving far poorer health outcomes as a whole.

Part of the purpose of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to address the issue mentioned above. Health care costs continue to account for an alarming proportion of the GDP compared to other sectors, and per capita spending seems out of control for the outcomes we achieve compared to other nations. However, the ACA has received widespread criticism from some who debate that the federal statute is socialistic in nature because it imposes the requirement to buy health insurance upon every citizen in order to balance health insurance risk pools so that those who would otherwise have difficulty receiving or paying for health care can get treatment. Whether or not this argument is valid is a discussion for another day, but in realizing that there may be some similarities between the goals of the ACA and COE, I think it is important to recognize what Communities of Excellence is and is not.

Communities of Excellence is not about pouring in resources from one part of the community to subsidize or bail out any other areas in order to bring everyone to an equitable level of vitality. It is not an issue about not having enough resources because, as we know, the U.S. spends more than comparable countries on healthcare, but we are not getting the same bang for our buck. In fact, COE promotes using cross-sector collaboration and the Malcolm Baldrige Framework of Performance Excellence to make better use of the resources already available so that we improve efficiency and eliminate waste to achieve excellence. Now, “improve efficiency” and “eliminate waste” might sound like familiar buzz phrases heard within programs like Lean and Six Sigma which have grown in popularity.  So what makes the Baldrige Framework so special and essential to Communities of Excellence Framework? Why do we need Baldrige when there are other programs like Lean that exist?

The truth is, Baldrige and programs like Lean Six Sigma are not mutually exclusive—they are compatible, and even complimentary! The differentiating factor is that Lean Six Sigma and similar programs can be thought of more as tools, while Baldrige is a framework, but that does not mean that these performance improvement tools cannot be used within the framework. The Baldrige criteria sets a big picture roadmap for an organization or community, and while adopting this framework, we can apply Lean Six Sigma tools to help us achieve the level of excellence as outlined by Baldrige. If we rely on Lean Six Sigma alone, we may be streamlining processes and eliminating waste in many areas, but adopting the Baldrige framework will ensure that we are optimizing the entire system and achieving overarching objectives as a community rather than in siloes. That collaboration across entire systems and communities is what COE is all about and is what makes Baldrige crucial to our success.

Read more about Bianca Nguyen here

Communities of Excellence and the Spatial Fix

By Kruse Scholar Amy Jones

When we look around the country at the racial and wealth distribution in various neighborhoods, it is obvious that the vast majority of the US remains highly segregated along racial and socioeconomic lines. Pockets of high poverty mean that where you are born can have huge impacts on your economic and social mobility opportunities as well as your health outcomes. High-poverty areas have lower quality housing, more exposure to environmental toxins, fewer job opportunities, worse schools, and less resources.

An important aspect of the spatial disparities that we see today are the social and historical contexts that allowed for these to arise. From Slavery to the Jim Crow era to the National Housing Act that redlined certain predominately minority communities, to the US interstate highway program that disproportionately demolished lower income neighborhoods or cut them off from resources.

These huge inequalities led to a big push in the 1990’s and early 2000 for dispersal programs. These programs focused on providing families with opportunities to move out of the city by requiring suburbs to build more affordable housing options or providing families with housing vouchers only valid in low-poverty areas. Programs like Moving to Opportunity (MTO) and HOPE VI had huge hopes for the impacts that they would have on the families that moved out of higher poverty areas to areas lower poverty. Decades later, most of the research on the impact of these programs show only mixed results. MTO brought some better mental health outcomes for girls, but worse mental health outcomes for boys. The $7 million dollar investment for MTO brought only minimal economic benefits for the families that moved and left the areas of high-poverty that they moved out of unchanged.

As researchers began to examine and discuss why programs like MTO and HOPE VI had failed, they saw that moving was causing a huge amount stress on these families - taking them away from social networks and placing them in areas where they will likely be stigmatized because of their lower socioeconomic status or race. They also began to realize the strength of the identity-place attachment and the impact that moving can have on identity. Identity is often intertwined with place, and many people will choose to stay in a higher-poverty area because of that place attachment, rather than move to a lower-poverty suburb that may provide better economic opportunities. MTO in particular brought a select group of families out of an area of high-poverty, but made no efforts to impact that original community, causing a perpetuation of the low-resource spatial disparity that had already existed. 

So how does Communities of Excellence relate to the spatial disparities? After a history of top-down discrimination and poorly planned policy approaches, I think it’s time to empower people to invest in their own communities through community development projects, such as Communities of Excellence. Rather than spend millions of dollars to move people out of their high-poverty areas, why not build the people potential within a neighborhood, recognizing that not all neighborhoods are equal - they have differing levels of resources available to them, and need different resources to survive. Too many of the top-down approaches rely on the idea that there is a homogenous public and the same program will work equally well for each community. Communities of Excellence is unique in its bringing together of community leaders - people who know what people in their community need to thrive and deciding collaboratively what the needs of the community are and how best to build the capacity of people in the community by building on the community identity to strengthen the place-attachment of people and provide them with what they need to work towards a better community.

Furthermore, COE is a fluid approach, not a strict prescription. Through developmental evaluation the community leaders can monitor the impacts that their work is having and adjust their work when things aren’t working to better fit what the community needs. As I wrote about back in September, here’s where the Collective Impact Framework is important, particularly for a more grassroots approach to community development.

Dispersal programs aren’t working. It’s time for policymakers to recognize the history of discriminatory practices that have perpetuated the spatial disparities. It’s time for policymakers to recognize the power of the people within their own communities and provide some water for the grassroots, empowering people through Communities of Excellence Framework to build their communities and ensure that all communities provide more equitable access to opportunities. Perhaps Communities of Excellence will finally provide the spatial fix we’ve been looking for in the US.

Read more about Amy Jones here

Closing the Chasm

By Kruse Scholar Bianca Nguyen

With the transition into the new year, the Kruse Scholars program has welcomed its latest cohort of bright and passionate scholars. After returning to campus for my final semester in the Master of Healthcare Administration program, I joined together with my fellow current scholars and those from the first-year class to discuss the work we have been doing and will go on to do with Communities of Excellence. While listening to the enthusiasm of the new students joining the Kruse Scholar family, I reflected upon why I chose to pursue this path and what it has meant to me along the way.

During my undergraduate at the University of Michigan, I was actively involved in social justice, engaging in conversations across campus and interacting with an array of multicultural groups surrounding issues of diversity and inclusion. Among the many aspects of life that people with varying identities experience differently, healthcare is one of them. In my personal life, I witnessed how being a minority played a role in receiving health care. Although I originally had a passion for medicine and was pursuing a track to medical school at the time, I realized that these inequalities in health could only be addressed at an elevated level using methods beyond just the clinical setting. I ended up in the MHA program with a zeal for minority health and a desire to change the structures that create barriers to addressing the social determinants of health.

However, after my first month in the MHA program at the University of Minnesota, I was experiencing a bit of an existential crisis. Though based in the School of Public Health, I found the MHA program to be deeply rooted in business operations with little attention paid to the communities and population health imperatives that I was so passionate about. On the outside, I was complacently taking notes in my finance class. In contrast, my heart was pounding and my mind was racing on the inside, wondering what kind of decision I had made for my life and how I would spend the rest of my career looking at numbers and scorecards, tracking volumes and revenues, while underserved communities continued to struggle achieving appropriate levels of health. The content I learned in the MHA program was stimulating, and I enjoyed the administrative and management side of healthcare, but I was not sure how to reconcile the apparent disconnect between my personal and professional goals and interests.

It was while I was questioning what I was doing with my life and career that Lowell Kruse, an alumnus from the class of ’67, came to speak to our class. Here was someone who had graduated from the MHA program, but was not just managing margins and services within the confines of a hospital. Although Lowell enjoyed an accomplished and successful career as a healthcare executive for many years, he went further than the traditional duties of serving the health systems he worked for and made remarkable efforts to serve the communities beyond them. His vision for this work resulted in the creation of Communities of Excellence and gave me clarity and a revitalized passion for improving and strengthening communities.

Joining the Kruse Scholar program and entering the work of Communities of Excellence was the answer to the tumultuous cognitive dissonance I was worried would eat at me for the rest of my career. I think that, too often, people end up in roles that suit them professionally, or even settle for jobs just to get the bills paid. Perhaps, like me, you honestly enjoy the field that you chose, but feel compelled to a bigger cause to serve the greater good—a cause that you are unable to reach in your current career or situation. No matter what position you hold or what industry you are in, being part of Communities of Excellence is the opportunity to make that difference in the world.

Read more about Bianca Nguyen here

Communities of Excellence and the One Health Model

By Kruse Scholar Andrea Stoesz

For people unfamiliar with the Baldrige Framework, Communities of Excellence can be hard to understand. It’s a complicated, but simultaneously abstract framework, and is just now beginning to be tested in pilot locations across the country. Though Communities of Excellence may be difficult to wrap one’s head around, it’s already practiced in public health on a smaller scale. The challenge is connecting the dots between the work that’s already happening and the work we need to do, and demonstrating to leaders in public health that Communities of Excellence is not as difficult to implement as they previously thought, as many times they are already working with partners across multiple sectors to improve community health outcomes.

Take for example, the One Health model, which is widely accepted in public health. This model, whose origins go back to 1821, recognizes that the health of humans, animals, and the environment are inextricably linked, and in order to improve the health of one sector, the health of the others must also be considered. Further, it strongly encourages cross sector collaboration between public health practitioners, medical professionals, community members, veterinarians, academics, and many others.

An example of the One Health model in action is a 2010 lead poisoning epidemic in Nigeria. At the beginning of the year, the ducks in northern Nigeria began to disappear. A few months later, Nigerian public health workers found that hundreds of children across a number of villages in northern Nigeria had been sickened with lead poisoning, and one fourth of these children had died. A diverse team went to the area to investigate. With the help of the locals, the team discovered that many people in the area had recently begun working in gold mines, as the price of gold had recently risen. After working in the mines, workers inadvertently brought lead back into their home environment on their person, subsequently elevating local lead levels. The mass exodus of ducks was a sign of environmental stress and contamination, and signaled future health problems.

The One Health model is a small-scale example of how working across sectors can successfully improve health outcomes. One difficulty is demonstrating to public health workers how community health can be improved even further by working across a wider variety of sectors and how the Communities of Excellence framework can help establish and cement the partnerships necessary for continuous improvement. This is why, the Kruse scholarship program, which exposes graduate students in public health and public health administration to Communities of Excellence, is so important. It helps students build partnerships across sectors before entering the professional world. As someone who hopes to work in public health, I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn more and work with Communities of Excellence.

Read more about Andrea Stoesz here

A Year in the Life of a Kruse Scholar

By Kruse Scholar Spencer Cahoon

Frequently I get asked the question, “So what does being a Kruse Scholar actually mean?” This is a valid question, since there are twenty-three students either currently engaged in the scholarship experience or who have participated prior to their graduation. I had the privilege of joining the Kruse Scholars exactly one year ago. After an amazing twelve months of growth and learning, I would like to provide some insight into the above question with a brief description of a year in the life a Kruse Scholar and what I have learned.

Our first meeting with Mr. Lowell Kruse helped me catch the vision of the Kruse Scholar program. Unlike other scholarships that are simply received and followed by a thank you letter to the donor, the Kruse Scholarship is a lifelong commitment to promoting and shaping community excellence. Crucial to this foundation is learning the Baldrige Principles of Performance Excellence, and so last February the Kruse Scholars attended the Performance Excellence Network Baldrige 101 and 102 courses. During a full day of learning the Baldrige Framework, including walking through each section and engaging in small group discussion, we were introduced to the vital principles that direct an organization toward excellence. Having worked as a registered nurse, I was particularly impressed with the Framework’s section around workforce. Employees must become more than satisfied- they must become truly engaged, meaning they feel like they belong and they want to make the organization better. This principle resonates with how I view Communities of Excellence in that community leaders and members must also feel a deeply rooted level of engagement in order for their community to thrive.

Later in the spring, the Kruse Scholars had the privilege of attending the PENworks 2016: Advancing Organizational Excellence conference. It was at this two-day event that we got to hear from actual Baldrige winners and learn how they applied the Framework to their respective organizations. I was particularly interested in the speakers from Mid-America Transplant, an organ transplant company that developed a unique process improvement design. Instead of recovering organs from donors at the hospital, the organization began transferring donors to their own organ recovery facilities. This allowed Mid-America to dramatically increase the number of viable organs harvested while also decreasing costs. Something else that resonated with me was this organization’s perseverance in their Baldrige journey, which started in 2003 and included eight Baldrige applications and five site visits before they received the award. The principles of innovation and perseverance in Mid-America’s story illustrated to me how communities must exercise patience and creativity when embarking on the Communities of Excellence journey.

During this past summer, I completed an administrative residency program with the Benedictine Health System and led a system wide initiative around process improvement and patient experience regarding Advance Care Planning. I learned a ton while using this opportunity to test out Baldrige principles I learned in the spring. Then, this past fall the Kruse Scholars organized our own monthly meetings to dive deeper into the Framework and explore specific areas of interest. For example, our first meeting was a conference call with Dr. JoAnn Sternke, Superintendent of the Pewaukee School District. During this profound conversation, we asked Dr. Sternke about the challenges, lessons learned, and rewards of her own organization’s Baldrige journey. Our next meeting was with Ms. Jeanette Raymond of the Minnesota Department of Health. She helped us understand what it looks like to bring a coalition of 34 members representing diverse organizations together to improve social determinants of health. Elements of this initiative are very reflective of how Communities of Excellence might look. Finally, we focused our last meeting on a hands-on experience of answering the Baldrige “Organization Profile” questions as a group, using the University of Minnesota School of Public Health as our organization. The specificity of this process was more difficult than we anticipated. It gave me an appreciation for this first step in the Baldrige Framework that lays the foundation for all other Baldrige sections.

My first year as a Kruse Scholar exposed me to the principles of Baldrige and helped me catch the vision of how this translates into Communities of Excellence.  So, what comes next? Although my University of Minnesota academic experience will end with my graduation in May, I believe this is only the beginning of my involvement in and support of Communities of Excellence 2026. As a Kruse Scholar, I am a proud ambassador for this important work. My role is to take what I am learning and share it with others, help people understand the urgency for Communities of Excellence, and implement the Baldrige principles of excellence in the organizations and communities of which I am a part. I love my role as a Kruse Scholar, and I am excited to see where I can contribute in the coming future!

Read more about Spencer Cahoon here

 

 

 

 

 

Playing Together

By Kruse Scholar Mohammad Bushnaq

Communities of Excellence is focused on achieving the health and wellbeing of all the residents within that community itself. To do, so, the framework asks that the primary focus be on education, health, economic vitality, and safety. In theory, this all sounds wonderful. In reality, however, it is actually very difficult to do. The main reason for the complications is that gathering all of the important parties is often the tallest task of them all. Many groups of the different areas: education, health, economic vitality, and safety want to be as involved in the process as possible. So, how does a community leader create buy-in and make sure all of the necessary cliques are at the table when the decisions are being made for a community? That is the most intriguing aspect of Communities of Excellence for me.

As a Kruse Scholar at the University of Minnesota, we had the privilege of meeting with a representative from Healthy Minnesota Partnership. I was specifically amazed at how they were able to invite community representatives to be working towards their common goal, "to improve the health and quality of life for individuals, families, and communities in Minnesota." Another aspect that gave me hope for the efficiency of Communities of Excellence moving forward was the fact that these meetings they were having were open to the public to attend, give input, and hopefully join the partnership one day should they find a group to represent. The Healthy Minnesota Partnership would be an ideal partner for the Communities of Excellence should they decide to try to establish a trial run there sometime soon.

So, how does one go about creating the "burning platform" for some of these not-for-profit organizations to join hands with schools, health systems, and the government. I mean, they all have very important work that they are doing already. Health systems are providing medical care to keep us alive, schools are teaching the next generation, the government is trying to maintain the law and order of the land, and not-for-profit organizations are providing a lot of charity work to many people in need around the world. It is not like all of these people are sitting around twiddling their thumbs not knowing what to do next. As a result, community leadership really needs to help them paint a picture of where the deficiencies are within a community and how working together between these sectors could help eliminate the weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

Let us not kid ourselves. Communities of Excellence is no small task. To undertake change within the community, the partnership really must be focused on a culture of inclusion, not exclusion. If you have not, as a group of leaders, created an environment that allows people of all different mentalities and backgrounds to contribute, you will have failed. The path to success is one of incorporation and, while it may be a difficult one, it will be very rewarding in the end. You cannot really argue with that.

It goes back to one of the first things we learned as children. Play nice and play together.

Read more about Mohmmad Bushnaq here

Announcing the Communities of Excellence 2026 National Learning Collaborative – A Systematic Approach to Excellence in Communities

It is our pleasure to formally announce the launch of a National Learning Collaborative:  A Systematic Approach to Excellence in Communities - Using a Baldrige-based Framework to Lead Transformation.  Over the next few months we will be looking for 12 additional communities (three are already on board!) to join this group of community performance excellence trailblazers.  You can learn more about the Collaborative on our website or by downloading the Collaborative Brochure.  This year-long collaborative will begin in April of 2017.

A message from Communities of Excellence 2026 Chair and Co-Founder Lowell Kruse

For those of you who are keeping up with the development of our Communities of Excellence 2026 initiative you know we have completed our "Communities Framework" and are now ready for testing.

Over the next few months we'll be working to develop a Collaborative of 10-15 communities from throughout the country who are willing to adopt the Framework and help modify and improve its structure and approach. The testing and improving process, in communities, is critically important to making sure we have the best Framework possible when we begin to roll it out and encourage its use by communities throughout the country.

We have appreciated the feedback and support so many of you have given to us during this early developmental period.  We now look forward to working with the participants in our Community Collaborative as they work within their own communities (and with each other) to test and refine the work that's been done to date. Our thanks to everyone for taking the time to be a part of this important effort.

 

The Picture of an “Excellent” Community – What the Data Tells Us

By Board Member and Former Kruse Scholar Autumn Chmielewski

How do you define an “excellent” community? What does it look like? The best explanations usually come in the form of a story or real-life example, so let’s start there.

One of the communities that the Communities of Excellence 2026 (COE2026) team is considering for inclusion in our pilot demonstration to test the community quality framework is a perennial winner in “best of” lists for a wide variety of measures. They consistently rank at or near the top in the key focus areas of community performance that the COE2026 framework is built around: educational attainment, economic vitality, health status, and safety.

Evidence of this can be found in verified community data and is highlighted by some of the accolades this community has won in recent years include the following:

  • 3rd highest % of adults with at least a high school diploma
  • Top 10 ranking for most educated place in America
  • America’s top place for business
  • Top 10 ranking for healthiest community in America
  • Top 10 ranking for safest community in the nation
  • And #1 best place to raise a child in the country

From all appearances this is a high performing community and is clearly doing something (or many things) right.

Let’s compare this to another community that the COE2026 team is considering for inclusion in the pilot demonstration. This community has many great assets, but it’s struggling in the majority of key focus areas. Some of the struggles of this community are seen in data reported in recent years including the following:

  • High rates of high school dropouts with 27% of the population having less than a high school diploma
  • Widespread racial stratification in schools with 70%+ of K-12 public, charter school students attending virtually segregated schools (the modern day version of “separate but equal”)
  • Widespread poverty with 65% of the community living at or near federal poverty levels
  • Chronic unemployment with 40% of the community unemployed or not in the labor force
  • Worst health disparities in the country
  • And criminal justice disparities rated 2x the national average

This is a community that is hurting. The major systems and policies that are supposed to create opportunities and pathways to better lives are clearly not working here.

In comparing and contrasting these examples, it seems obvious that the first community might be how we define and picture a “community of excellence.” Where is this community? It’s the state of Minnesota.

And what about the second example? Where is that community and what is happening there to create such a bleak picture? Believe it or not, that is also the state of Minnesota.

The first example is the dominant narrative of the North Star state - a state where everyone has an opportunity to learn, to work, to grow and to thrive. But it’s a false narrative. Because behind the high rankings and “best of” lists lay the silent struggles of the growing minority populations in the state. And the second example above is their narrative.

The overwhelming majority of people who live in Minnesota, 82%, are white. And they have benefited from systems that were built by them and for them creating routine advantages enjoyed for generations. The overall health and wellness enjoyed by Minnesotans is largely limited to the white population. The “best of” lists and high accolades enjoyed by the state are based on a skewed sample. The lesson here is that averages do not tell the whole story.

We can’t afford to be blinded by averages and surface level success stories when deciding which measurements to use in setting our community priorities and measuring success. We have to work together in an authentic and reconciling collaboration to build the communities of tomorrow. Using inclusive data, an expanded understanding of existing inequities, and a shared vision for the future, we can write a new chapter for the next generation and paint a better picture of an “excellent” community for everyone.

Read more about Autumn Chmielewski here

Sustaining Excellence

By Communities of Excellence 2026 Board Member Brian Lassiter

This past year, we celebrated our 240th birthday as a nation.  Most of us probably had a picnic with family, enjoyed a parade, or watched fireworks with friends.  But all of us enjoyed the freedom – the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness that has made this country strong for nearly a quarter millennia.  Let’s hope it lasts.

I hate to get fatalistic, but consider this: most world powers last 200-500 years.  In fact, a study of 55 historic empires showed a median age of 330 years.  The Ancient Greek Empire lasted about 350 years; the Roman Empire about 500; the Ptolemaic Egyptian civilization about 300; and even the British Empire spanned just under 350.

The United States as a nation turns 250 in the year 2026, which is why a small group of visionaries created a nonprofit called Communities of Excellence 2026.  Our collective goal is not just to make it to 2026, but to create a framework that systematically addresses our nation’s issues at a grass roots level – within the communities in which we all live, work, and play – such that we sustain our nation’s strength for many generations, many centuries to come.  The philosophical foundation of COE2026 is that the continuous improvement tools which have been proven to impact outcomes within organizations can be used to improve community outcomes across organizations.

So imagine a time when leaders within a community – official leaders (those elected or appointed to their formal positions) as well as the many informal community leaders – work together to set community vision; listen to community stakeholders to better understand community assets and needs; (re)allocate resources to address community issues or advance community initiatives; use community scorecards to monitor progress of those initiatives and the outcomes they intend to impact; and engage, mobilize, and align people resources – workers, volunteers, and citizenry – on the initiatives that will make a difference in a given community.  That’s how high performing organizations succeed; we believe that’s how high performing communities will succeed.

Communities of Excellence 2026 envisions using a validated improvement framework – Baldrige – to improve health status, educational attainment, economic vitality, and other key community outcomes by focusing on improving overall community performance in addition to individual components within communities.

I have been a practitioner of the Baldrige Framework for 20 years, as an examiner at both the state and national levels, as a judge for several Baldrige-based award programs (such as American Health Care Association and the Veterans Administration’s Carey Award),  as president of the Performance Excellence Network (the regional Baldrige-based program serving Minnesota and the Dakotas), and as chair of the Alliance for Performance Excellence (the national consortium of state/regional Baldrige-based programs).  In these roles, I have seen the impact Baldrige has had on improving performance of American hospitals, schools, nonprofits, governmental agencies, and businesses.  It improves outcomes, aligns activities, and optimizes resources.  I am convinced that the Communities of Excellence 2026 vision will help community leaders – both formal and informal – better allocate resources, solve problems, and address some of the pervasive challenges we face as a nation.

I am honored to serve on the Communities of Excellence 2026 board, because I believe in the potential of this vision.  And I am honored to help execute Communities of Excellence 2026, because I believe this country needs bold, innovative solutions to address our complex problems.

In many ways, America is at a crossroads.  We are still the best nation on earth, but we are now facing increasing challenges and vexing problems that may threaten our ability to stay on top.  I look forward to working with Communities of Excellence 2026 to achieve and sustain the highest level of performance for our communities and build a lasting culture where passion for community excellence is the norm in our country.  I invite you to join the cause!

This blog was updated from an originial post in July 2015