Policy & Practice | Spring 2023

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intentionally to repair harm and dis mantle systemic biases baked into our delivery systems. Modeling Community Engagement: Leaders must be willing to relinquish power, be open to feedback, set expec tations for community outreach and engagement, listen to community needs and their solutions, and regularly show up in the community. How to Operationalize a Community Driven Approach A local county leader noted that “to operationalize being community driven, we need to build ‘participant governance structures’ that include proportional representation of commu nity at decision-making tables.” Embedding community voice in decision making is how we can take community engagement from concept to systemized aspects of how we deliver services. Leaders need to seek

input from clients and community leaders prior to making programming decisions, especially communities of color and other populations that have been historically marginalized— this includes hiring people from the community. There is a need to routinize mecha nisms for consistently gathering community input, such as through a standing community advisory board and by hiring people with lived experience in the community into decision-making roles. Empowering community members can be aided by implementing these additional processes: n As a matter of course, compensate people with lived experience for their time and insights. n Create pathways for clients to “own” their data and share with other public agencies and community partners. n Allow for input from staff who are part of a community being served.

long-standing structural racism and the resulting inequities. A New Leadership Paradigm When discussing what leaders can do differently to increase community connection, we repeatedly heard that to truly be “community driven and led” requires a new leadership paradigm. Leaders must be visible in commu nity and make an intentional effort to understand “place” through the lens of the community that lives and works there. To lead differently, leaders need to get out of their own way and truly honor the agency of people who know their community best. Opportunities to achieving this include: Building and Gaining Trust: This involves being accountable, acknowl edging the lack of trust in institutions, partnering with community-based organizations (CBOs) that have the trust of the community, and working

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