Fifteen residents with diverse backgrounds, including an attorney and an author, will act as co-facilitators for Columbia’s Vision Committee.
The candidates’ names were submitted by Vision co-chairs Dianne Drainer and Jeffrey Williams at a presentation on Monday. Co-facilitators will work with the co-chairs to help Citizen Topic Groups and will work with consulting firm ACP Visioning and Planning to create a final plan for Columbia’s vision.
The co-facilitators were approved by the Sponsors Council — a group of seven Columbia figures responsible for the project’s logistical details.
Williams said the task was “difficult because of the excellent qualifications of the applicants.”
Drainer and Williams say the co-facilitators strike a balance between people with ongoing local histories who bring credibility and newcomers with fresh perspectives.
“We picked a strong group of individuals that represent a cross section of Columbia,” Drainer said.
The co-chairs said they were attentive to the need for “demographic diversity” when choosing co-facilitators. Williams said it’s important to aim for racial and ethnic diversity but also for a younger audience and members of “traditionally underrepresented groups.”
To build trust and to ensure a “bottom-up process,” Drainer and Williams said elected officials would not act as co-facilitators.
Becky Wagner, a Columbia broker and owner of RealtyNET, was chosen as a co-facilitator. After being in real estate for 30 years, she said she’s very invested in the community.
“In my work, I see the low end, high end and the wants and needs for all areas,” Wagner said. “If you can bring the two together and reach some common ground, everyone will benefit.”
Louesa Fine was also chosen to be a co-facilitator and said she was intrigued by the process. Fine said the qualifications for co-facilitator fit what she does professionally with State Farm Insurance.
“I like the idea of facilitating with a neutral point of view and moderating discussion,” Fine said. “If you just let people open up and talk, you can come up with a good end result.”
Columbia attorney B. Daniel Simon has lived in Columbia his entire life and for that reason views himself as uniquely qualified to be a co-facilitator. Simon said he hopes to take all opinions into account. Simon said he’s very proud of Columbia but acknowledged there are areas in which the community can improve.
“I’ve seen a lot of these kinds of efforts and what was done was disregarded,” Simon said. “The vision process has a real chance to accomplish something.”
The Vision Committee will kick off from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 on the mezzanine floor of the Daniel Boone City Building. The kickoff is open to the public. Drainer said the planning meeting is a chance for the co-chairs and co-facilitators to get together for the first time as a group and work with ACP Visioning and Planning.