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Example 1: The Face-to-Face Interview

After many years of a hostile and unavailable superintendent of schools, the school board chose a new superintendent, Jim Brown. He was new to the area, but was experienced and enthusiastic about his new responsibilities. The Project Free Anti Drug Coalition which I directed had been around for a while and we wanted to connect with the new superintendent. I was excited about the possibilities for new programs and collaboration, but realized that, being new to the job, the superintendent would be very busy; and I didn't want to push the new superintendent too hard, too soon. After all, this was a potentially very important ally to the coalition. I sent a letter with a packet of information about Project Free and indicated that I would follow up with a phone call in two weeks. Two weeks passed, enough time for the superintendent to catch up with his mail and start to settle in to his new position. I called the superintendent, and briefly refreshed him about the coalition. We then scheduled an appointment to meet the following week and discuss coalition activities more formally. I now had a brief opportunity to learn about what coalition activities the superintendent may be supportive of, and which he may be less so. When the meeting occurred the next week, I was prepared to answer his questions and address his concerns, and, consequently, gain his support for present and future endeavors.

Example 2: Phone calls

A statewide healthy communities coalition meets on a monthly basis. It has had its first two or three meetings and the steering committee is not exactly committed or stable. I recognized the problem, and decided the problem could be corrected by getting some periodic guidance by an expert in planning and operations. Luckily, I knew of just the right person, a vice president of the largest medical center in the state. So, I made several attempts to set up an appointment for the expert to come and help us out. Twice the vice president was out of town on business trips, and the third time, an appointment was made, and then canceled at the last minute because the vice president had to attend a family dinner. Frustrated, but not ready to give up, I decided to schedule a telephone conference the next week. The vice president happily agreed, and the resulting guidance we received from the call helped us get our monthly meetings back on track.

Example 3: Letter Writing

In order to get a large number of people to show up at our first community meeting, our newly formed coalition, The Great Plains Heart Health Coalition, decided to conduct a letter writing campaign. After all, we only have a few members and so we didn't have the time or money to telephone hundreds of people, or personally visit potential recruits. The other coalition leaders and I spent a few days developing a letter that introduced the coalition, and invited everyone to attend the first meeting the following month. The letter was sent out, and a fair number of people to attend the meeting. After hearing the presentation, a number of attendees agreed to join the coalition. A couple of years later, the coalition decided to go statewide. Luckily, we had the old recruitment letter on file, and, with some minor revisions, we mailed the letter out again, with equal success.

Bill Berkowitz