Meta-Leadership Summit for Preparedness: 5,000 leaders trained in 36 Summits nationwide

The nation’s response to Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, novel H1N1 flu and other emergencies highlights the urgent need for leaders to work collaboratively across public and private sectors to respond to crises.

Through a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Harvard University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the CDC Foundation developed and presented the Meta-Leadership Summit for Preparedness – a unique national initiative to better prepare business, government and nonprofit leaders to work effectively together during a public health or safety crisis.

The CDC Foundation organized and presented 36 Meta-Leadership Summits in states and metropolitan areas across the U.S. reaching 5,000 leaders of businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. At each Summit, participants learned leadership skills needed for effective action during times of crisis from Harvard University presenters and then worked together to identify local and regional partnerships that could be leveraged before, during and after a crisis.

"The Federal government has taken significant steps to increase connectivity between its agencies; between the federal, state and local agencies; and between the public, private and non-profit sectors. Still, there is much more work to be done," says Harvard presenter Dr. Barry Dorn. "Eighty-five percent of the critical infrastructure is in the private sector – including utilities, banks and the food supply – and thus working and leading collaboratively is essential to our recovery from any large-scale crisis. Working together after a disaster requires forging bonds before a disaster."

After each Summit, a dedicated CDC team worked with state and local leaders to organize a post-summit activity to continue the momentum of meta-leadership efforts begun at the Summit.The activity, offered within three to six months of the Summit, reconvened participants and other community leaders to address local and regional preparedness gaps identified at the Summit.

Although the program is coming to an end, participants can continue to build on and deepen their meta-leadership skills through membership in the Meta-Leadership Online Community, where over 2,500 meta-leaders network, share resources and collaborate.

To learn more about meta-leadership or the Meta-Leadership Summit for Preparedness, visit

Lisa Splitlog is the director of CDC Value Communications for the CDC Foundation.