Prepare for crises, speakers tell Humphrey Fellows
pandemic kept Humphrey Fellows from gathering at Syracuse University for an
annual workshop on crisis management. But a virtual program taught lessons
relevant to the ongoing public health crisis as well as strategies to prepare
for future crises.
exact circumstances vary, there are patterns in the way crises unfold. The goal of the workshop was to learn
about these patterns and explore best practices in crisis management,” said Keli
Perrin, faculty lead of Leadership and Governance During Times of Crisis,
sponsored by Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and administered by Executive
Education. Perrin is managing director of the Institute for Security Policy and
Law, a partnership between the Syracuse University College of Law and the
workshop, the ninth Maxwell has hosted, took place in nine two-hour remote
sessions over three weeks rather than one week. Twenty-one Humphrey Fellows
representing 19 countries and 11 host campuses participated in the program.
Fellows reflect a wide range of academic interests, including education, media,
health care, economics, politics and public policy. They are among the year’s
approximately 127 scholars from 81 countries.
workshop was not only an opportunity for Humphrey fellows to gain perspective
on leadership during crisis from faculty experts with real-world experience,
but also to learn from each other, which is especially critical during this
program year during the pandemic,” said Margaret Lane, director of Syracuse
University’s Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program. “Providing a platform for them
to connect with fellows at campuses across the country and discovering key
skills regardless of the crisis is immeasurably beneficial.”
Bruce Dayton, associate professor, Peacebuilding & Conflict Transformation,
School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont; Stephen Haggerty,
mayor of Evanston, Illinois, and a member of Maxwell’s advisory board; and
Margaret Hermann, professor of political science and director of Maxwell’s
Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs.
O’Keefe, University Professor and Howard G. and S. Louise Phanstiel Chair in
Strategic Management and Leadership at Maxwell, shared insights from his
experience as NASA administrator. Also participating were Michael Meath, former
interim chair and professor of public relations at the Newhouse School, and an
expert on crisis communications; Hon. James Baker, professor of public
administration and international affairs (by courtesy appointment) and professor
of law, and an expert on national security; and Thomas Dennison, professor of
practice emeritus of public administration and international affairs, and an
expert on public health.
included case studies that demonstrate real-world crisis management strategies.
Strategies included preparation, media relations on sensitive issues, tracking
issues that may evolve into crises, and the importance of reputations and
Mwanyama of Tanzania, a Maxwell Humphrey Fellow, said the workshop underscored
the importance of developing a risk management plan. “I also learned the
importance of having role models for different kinds of crises because they
help you think of what they would do in the same situation,” she said.
head of research and learning for BBC Media Action in Tanzania. She hopes to
use her fellowship experience to use data and policy analysis to improve
adolescent health and increase opportunities for farmers.
away from the workshop with more practical lessons. “It is important to be able
to manage stress, because some levels of stress are important for enhancing
performance, but too much stress is bad for performance,” she said. “Effective
communication in crisis is vital to avoid fake news and misinformation.”
appreciated the workshop’s interactive structure and the chance to network with
fellows from other campuses. “So many opportunities came with every morning
breakout room,” she said. “I got to meet fellows from other continents and
countries and other fields of study and learn from them.”
prepared her to manage crises. “I now understand that not every leader is a
good leader during crises and that some leaders emerge during crisis and others
fall,” she said. “It takes good crisis management skills to be a good leader
during a crisis.”