The County Voice

Finding Opportunity in Adversity

“Out of adversity comes opportunity” — Benjamin Franklin

2020 has been a year filled with adversity. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are felt across CSAC and its related organizations. Certainly, the CSAC Institute for Excellence in County Government has faced its share of recent adversity — and through partnership and perseverance, it has successfully transformed.

When COVID-19 forced the postponement and rescheduling of several dozen in-person classes, Institute Dean Bill Chiat and the staff developed dozens of new resources on leadership in a crisis to add to the Institute website. In addition to these resources to aid county executives during the pandemic, we added a free series of webinars via Zoom in June and July as part of the Institute’s foray into online learning. Recordings of these webinars are now available on the Institute website here.

While the untimely death of our friend and colleague Bill Chiat (view In Memoriam page here) was yet another moment of adversity for the Institute, that same spirit of partnership and perseverance propelled us forward.

Thanks to the hard work and commitment of the California Counties Foundation’s Board of Directors and Education Committee, in conjunction with the Institute’s instructors and staff, the CSAC Institute announced a full Summer-Fall session with nearly 30 courses, now offered entirely online.

This achievement was made possible by a group effort to thoroughly investigate online learning platforms and retool popular courses to be part of the new virtual lineup. Traditionally favorite classes offered online this term include Realignment 101: The Basics of 1991 and 2011 Realignments and Thinking and Acting Strategically in Trying Times.

Additionally, in light of the changing political, social and public health environments, Institute instructors and staff worked hard to develop brand new courses, including:

  • Finding the Blind Spots: Personal & Organizational Best Practices & Strategies for Countering Implicit Bias;  
  • Lead and Manage from Afar: Nuts and Bolts of Facilitating Virtual Meetings and Teams;  and
  • Living and Leading in Chaotic Times: Leadership and Change.

Instructors are the lifeblood of the Institute and we are forever grateful for their understanding, flexibility and perseverance as the Foundation and County governments alike cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. That commitment has made the transition to online class format a success, with enthusiasm expressed by instructors and students alike.

“Our course content at CSAC has been customized for this unusual time in history and, maybe more now than ever, people need to hear from other counties and share best practices,” said Institute instructor Dr. Laree Kiely, Founder and CEO of WeWill, Inc. “We presenters are so happy to continue to be connected and helpful to the folks keeping the counties functioning.  Although virtual, it still feels like we’re all in this together.”

Similarly, feedback from class attendees has been positive as well. Some recent comments from class evaluations include:

“The handling and operation of the class was very well done! Thank you for the experience!”

“Very engaging.”

”The impact of the distance/web format was significant.”

While we all look forward to when we can resume in-person instruction, the CSAC Institute will continue to operate virtually until that day comes. We send our most sincere thanks and gratitude to our County Campuses and staff for their ongoing commitment to excellence in professional development through the CSAC Institute.

To view the Summer-Fall course schedule and register for an upcoming virtual class, please visit the CSAC Institute webpage.  Please also keep an eye out for the 2021 Winter-Spring course schedule that will be available in December.

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