What is it? A community speaker series highlights a theme or topic by engaging effective presenters to share perspectives and experiences with the public, during multiple sessions, over a set period of time. Speakers can be local, regional, national, or international experts or leaders. Events may vary greatly in form, purpose, and content, and are limited only by resources and imagination. Local residents can partner with area colleges, libraries, musueums, or other organizations to organize and sponsor the project. Attendees learn about a topic of interest in their community, and take-way insights relevant to the series theme, which may be a topic such as leadership, innovation, cultural heritage, or diversity. Speaker series brings people together, helps identify new connections, and encourages local innovation.
How has it been used? The Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance brought together community and campus partners, including graduate students, to envision and organize a speaker series in the New River Valley, called Community Voices. Community Voices engages leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors in sharing stories and insights about their creative leadership initiatives and innovative approaches to problem-solving, the hard lessons learned and the rich experiences gained. Speakers give concise, engaging talks, followed by conversation and dialogue with audience members. The presentations are video recorded and made widely available through a public access web-site. So far, there have been nearly 20 Community Voices events, and the program is ongoing. Presenters have included artists, entreprenuers, international non-profit leaders, and regional innovators from southwest Virginia. All have the opportunity to share their ideas for change. (Source: Community Voices)