With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw how quickly things could shift, disrupting our established patterns and assumptions. In times like these, we need to take greater care of ourselves and by doing so, support our communities, and the global humanity.
GW’s Center for Excellence in Public Leadership (CEPL) responded to this need by organizing a virtual Co-VITA19 Social Medicine initiative to support the communities they serve in the nation’s capital and the many people who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. They chose “VITA” as an appropriate title for the new community as it comes from the Latin and stands for “LIFE,” symbolizing the new community’s goal to re-imagine how we continue our life together, as one humanity and how we choose to show up in this world.
The Co-VITA initiative includes a series of virtual meet-ups, a new CO-VITA19 Social Medicine Facebook group and daily resources (videos, readings, coaching, meditations) to support each other, and anyone who wishes to participate.
As part of the initiative, "Co-VITA19 Social Medicine: Mobilizing Community Wellbeing through Leadership Conversations," CEPL’s team of leadership faculty and coaches hosted a series of 31 virtual community meet-ups, focused on building resilience, improving wellbeing, and supporting each other through this difficult time.
Many of CEPL’s alumni participated as speakers and volunteered their leadership lessons from the field.
The one-hour virtual meet-ups utilized Zoom. Sample topics included:
- Finding Your Calm in Perilous Times (April 6): Molly Sturges, Artistic Director; Composer; Leadership & Wellness Coach; Visiting Professor at Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at George Washington University
- Joy in a Time of Coronavirus (April 7): Patrice Tanaka, Founder and Chief Joy Officer, Joyful Planet, helping individuals and organizations discover and actively live their purpose to unleash greater success, fulfillment and joy in their personal lives, workplaces and communities.
- Conversational IQ: Enhance the Quality of your Conversations to Build Trust and Build Safety in Covid-19 (April 8): Wendy Swire, Thought Leader in the field of Neuroleadership; Professional Certified Coach; Author, Anytime Coaching: Unleashing Employee Performance
- The Beloved Community: Using Art and Storytelling (April 10): Laurie Marshall, Educator; Speaker; Author, Beating The Odds Now; Founder, Singing Tree Project
- The Leadership Medicine: What We Can Learn from Women (April 13): Laurie Marshall, Educator; Speaker; Author, Beating The Odds Now; Founder, Singing Tree Project
- Walk-and-Talk: Guided Group and Peer Coaching Experience in Nature (April 14): Julia Karpeisky, PCC, Executive Coach; author, THE VOICE, International Communications Specialist; Founder, JMK Coaching; co-founder Deepen Impact
- How our Lives Will Change: Provoking Thought and Creativity in Times of Uncertainty (April 15): Giovanni D. Megighian, Ph.D., Doctor, Therapist; Certified Life Corporate Medical and Health Coach
- Strategic Agility in a Disruptive World: Five Tools to Help Your Leaders Pivot Fast (April 16): Doug Maris, Senior Consultant and Trainer, LBL Strategies
- Surfing Lessons for The Ocean of Uncertainty (April 18): Molly Sturges, Artistic Director; Composer; Leadership & Wellness Coach; Visiting Professor at Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at George Washington University
- Feeding the White Wolf: Meditation Practices for Leaning into Love (April 20): Stacey Guenther, PCC, Team Development Coach; Certified Meditation Teacher
- Making the Shift: From Stress to Tranquility During Times of Uncertainty (April 21): Bonny Meyer, founder of Silver Oak Winery, Impact Investor; Author of PERFECTLY PAIRED The Love Affair Behind Silver Oak Cellars.
- Embracing Adversity: Finding Freedom from Discomfort during Times of Disruption (April 22): David Hanscom, MD, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon; Founder, Vertus, Inc.; Author, Do You Really Need Spine Surgery? and BACK IN CONTROL A Spine Surgeon’s Roadmap out of Chronic Pain.
The virtual meet-ups focused on providing insights on how we cannot just survive, but thrive in the middle of all this uncertainty and fear. They looked at the social distancing mandate as triggering a new leadership imperative to help prevent the spread of viral harms in our global community: isolation, stigma, and hopelessness.
“I cannot thank you [GW] enough for the amazing opportunity to participate in the Co-VITA talk series and listen to the wonderful, knowledgeable and very insightful speakers,” said Célia Paschoal, one of the participants.
“It has helped me in so many ways. The experiences shared, the exercises, questionnaire, books, arts, etc., have contributed immensely to help me to start the conversation about what’s next for me and also find joy in the hard times. Thank you and I am looking forward to the next ones. Cheers!”
This is who we are. Keeping the community alive and connected is what strengthens our hearts, our minds and our spirits.