Issue #9
December 1, 2008

FOCUS on Co-creating Our Network

   As we celebrated Thanksgiving last week, we here at Liquori and Associates were— and are — particularly thankful for the vision and dedication of the many people and organizations working on School Food FOCUS.

   Our Oct. 30th-Nov. 1st meeting in St. Paul gave us a great sense of the energy all kinds of partners are bringing to this work—and how much we are going to be able to accomplish together. The convening hosted representatives from school districts and leaders in their foodservice operations, along with local and national organizations partnering with school districts and School Food FOCUS on relevant food, procurement, policy and other issues. The supporting core team of School Food FOCUS was also present, together with our excellent planners, evaluators and transformational leadership consultants, to help facilitate and support the work of stakeholders as we began to create the overall vision, mission and hands-on programmatic work of School Food FOCUS.

   Our goals for the intensive convening were intentionally broad and specific, as we set out to:

• Form the program leadership with new people and stronger relationships;
• Strengthen our understanding and practice of leadership in this transformative project;
• Engage in significant teamwork on designing and developing each of the core program areas;
• Understand the program’s evaluation plan and set program outcomes for first year;
• Begin integrating the work of the program areas;
• Identify and design ways to develop the larger FOCUS network;
• Develop this next year’s overall program timeline and work plan with deliverables;
• Clarify and improve communication and decision-making.

   It was an ambitious agenda with as much focus on relationship building and process as there was on outcomes. We devoted large chunks of time for “worker bees” in the

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