Photos from recent CONNECT Our Future Community Growth Workshops

The Lee Institute is working with the Centralina Council of Governments and Catawba Council of Governments on ways to engage the residents of our region in the development of a regional growth framework.  Part of that process are a series of Community Growth Workshops that have taken place in all 14 counties that are involved in the project.

Over 1,100 participates have already participated and there are several more workshops scheduled.  Below is a slideshow gathered from recent Community Growth Workshops.  We would like extend a huge thanks those who have already participated!

And it’s not too late to participate yourself … click here to register for the remaining workshops.

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NCIMHA Learning and Action Workshops

We have had the fabulous opportunity to design and facilitate nine learning and action workshops across North Carolina. Thanks to the NC Infant and Young Child Mental Health Association and funding from the NC Early Childhood Advisory Council. This opportunity came about from a recent study completed by the NC Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) titled “Growing Up Well: Supporting Young Children’s Social-Emotional Development and Mental Health in North Carolina” (2012). The report provides “guidance on how to create the kind of comprehensive, integrated system that is needed to support the social-emotional development and mental health of all young children.” One of the report’s recommendations calls for raising awareness of the social-emotional health needs of young children.

Each workshop is designed to do just that, with about 20% didactic and 80% interactive, the latter being time for participants to learn from each other. Those of you familiar with our work know that The Lee Institute thrives on designing engaging processes where our clients solve problems, make discoveries and find consensus. The group process builds ownership in the outcome and sustainability.

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Little did we know, however, how truly hungry the participants of these workshops would be to have time together. While the busy participants-ranging from pediatricians, mental health therapists, parents, professors, advocates to child evaluation specialists know their own professions well, they don’t necessarily have as much knowledge of the resources around them as they would like. When provided with the structure and space to converse on topics of interest they share, they have discovered common ground and surfaced inspiring ways to work together.

Participants have been inspired to start organizing and advocating at the grassroots, by first connecting with the other participants at their workshop. Several people from these workshops have taken the lead on gathering information from others, such as collecting stories and personal experiences from the diverse group of professionals that have been in attendance.

Social media has also been a hot topic at these workshops. Participants have been brainstorming on how they can use social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube in a creative way. Their hope is to not only to connect those within the field, but also to share the importance of young child mental health with others, especially legislators.

The last of this series is here in Charlotte on May 17.

Apply Now! RealityCheck2050


The Lee Institute has partnered with the Charlotte Urban Land Institute (ULI)and Centralina Council of Governments (Centralina COG) to produce “Reality Check 2050” as part of the CONNECT Our Future project.


RealityCheck2050 is a ground-breaking, interactive exercise designed to foster growth by choice, not by chance. Participants you will join 400 other leaders from across the 14-county CONNECT Our Future region in preparing potential options for regional growth, with a focus on accommodating the expansion of housing and jobs through 2050. Results from this meeting will play a pivotal role in creating the options for how this region can grow and best utilize limited resources.

This collaborative event jointly sponsored by the Centralina Council of Governments, Catawba Regional Council of Governments and Urban Land Institute is not about speeches, presentations, political theory or planning concepts. It is about challenging participant to develop potential options for addressing growth, change, housing and jobs in the region. The exercise pushes participants to see the connection between the choices we make and their unintended consequences.

Tri tables 11 (2)

The highlight of RealityCheck2050 is an exciting, collaborative event appropriately named, “Gameday.” It’s a hands-on, timed game where 40 tables of 10 participants place different colored LEGO bricks on a large map of our 14 county region under the guidance of trained facilitators. LEGO bricks represent additional people & jobs and string will represent various modes of transportation.

Four hundred diverse participants will be selected from each of the 14 counties and will represent the public, private and nonprofit sectors in each county. Participants will be selected carefully to ensure a geographically-balanced and diverse composition of exercise participants.

Don’t miss this opportunity to let your voice be heard! You can find out more information and apply at the Reality Check2015 website. The application deadline is May 3, 2013.

Girls on the Run Retreat


Girls on the Run International brought 12 of its strongest council leaders together for a day-long retreat last month to examine the ingredients for successful councils. In the afternoon, they explored the dynamics of affiliation and autonomy that occur in multi-site nonprofits, setting a path forward to maintain the strength of an organization that has grown rapidly to 209 councils serving girls in 47 states and Canada. The Lee Institute is honored by its role of designing and facilitating its second GOTRI retreat.

ZFive at the National Smart Start Conference


ZFive will be presenting the research and model for one of its initiatives at the 2013 National Smart Start Conference this spring in Greensboro. “Assessing Young Abused and Neglected Children: An Interagency Collaboration” will feature ZFive’s cross-agency partnership that co-locates licensed mental health clinicians and case coordinators with Mecklenburg’s Youth and Family Services social workers in each geo-district. Early outcome data show the positive impact on young children who have experienced abuse or neglect. For conference details visit –

Charlotte Bridge Home Joint Task Force Meeting

CBHThree local strategy teams are developing game-changing ideas that will make a difference for returning veterans in the areas of (1) Housing and Financial Security, (2) Education and Employment and (3) Physical and Mental Health. The Lee Institute is supporting the work of these teams on behalf of Charlotte Bridge Home. Their best ideas will be rolled out at a March 19, 2013 summit in Charlotte.

Members of the Charlotte Bridge Home's 3 task forces convene to plan for the March 2013 meeting.

Members of the Charlotte Bridge Home’s 3 task forces convene to plan for the March 2013 meeting.