October 8, 2021

Applications Being Accepted for 5/31 Memorial Committee

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Oct. 8, 2021) — For anyone interested in applying to serve on the 5/31 Memorial Committee, the questionnaire and application are now available online at https://www.vbgov.com/government/departments/city-clerk/appointed-agencies/Pages/talent-bank.aspx. Both are due to Amanda Barnes, the City Clerk by Nov. 1, 2021.

The City has hired consulting firm Kearns & West to facilitate the memorial planning process. Kearns & West will serve as the family and survivor liaison, facilitate the Memorial Committee, and create multiple opportunities for the families, survivors, and community to provide input in the memorial planning process. After applicant names and identifying information have been redacted, the questionnaires will be reviewed by the family and survivor liaison for recommendations to the City Council. The City Council may consider the recommendations, but they will not be binding on the Council.

At their meeting on Sept. 5, 2021, the City Council established responsibilities and make-up of the Committee. The goals of the 5/31 Memorial Committee shall include:

  • creating firm protocols for meeting structure and consensus-building
  • creating a vision for the memorial
  • setting project priorities goals, and building consensus on the design
  • leading a transparent process open to any interested members of the public or stakeholders
  • advocating for the families, survivors and community
  • soliciting input from the stakeholders and public
  • developing design goals and recommendations on the memorial site, and funding for the memorial using collected input
  • determining a preferred location for the memorial
  • providing project budgets and mobilizing funding
  • soliciting design proposals
  • reviewing proposals, conducting selection process, and making a final recommendation to City Council
  • overseeing the installation and dedication of memorial

Background of Kearns & West
Kearns & West is a 37-year-old, women-owned small business providing collaboration, public involvement, and strategic communications services virtually and across the country with offices in Austin and 10 other locations. Whether it is facilitating complex processes for public involvement, providing neutral conflict resolution services to chart viable solutions, or increasing visibility by strategically putting messages in context before the right audiences, Kearns & West offers expertise and a diverse toolset to help clients achieve their goals. The firm combines decades of experience with new tools of engagement to customize their approach to the project at hand. Kearns & West is expert at integrating innovative and leading-edge collaborative technology solutions to connect and engage stakeholders regardless of location.

Sample of Past Clients
PlanRVA in Richmond; the Community Task Force on Policing for Elgin, Illinois; the Racial Equity in Policing Commission in Salt Lake City, Utah; the Equity-Based Historic Preservation Plan for the City of Austin, Texas; and the Urban League of Jacksonville, Florida.

Biography of Dr. Larry Schooler, Project Manager, Kearns & West
After an award-winning career as a journalist, Larry Schooler became a mediator, facilitator, public engagement consultant and educator. He works with agencies around the world to resolve disputes, build consensus and involve the public and stakeholders in decisions that will affect them. He also specializes in land use mediation, strategic planning and visioning, and has extensive experience in a wide array of issues including energy, water, community and regional planning, transportation, housing affordability, health and human services, and technology. Dr. Schooler also teaches Conflict Resolution and Facilitative Leadership at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Schooler established the first public engagement division for the City of Austin, Texas, one of the first of its kind nationally, where he designed innovative and award-winning tools for involving the public in decision-making like Conversation Corps and the reverse town hall award-winning broadcast series "A View from You." He has worked with municipal, county, state and federal government agencies, as well as nonprofit and religious organizations. His work has been recognized by (among others) the National League of Cities, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the Harvard School of Government. He also earned the Peacemaker Award from the Austin Dispute Resolution Center for his efforts on a longstanding community conflict. Dr. Schooler served as president of the International Association for Public Participation (U.S. affiliate) and has taught at Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas at Austin. He is a senior fellow at the National Civic League and the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin; a subject matter advisor for 100 Resilient Cities; and a senior advisor for the Divided Communities Project at Ohio State University.

Prior to his work in government, Dr. Schooler produced stories for National Public Radio and Voice of America, anchored live coverage, and moderated public forums. He also has facilitated interfaith dialogue and served as an ombudsman for the U.S. Department of Defense. His volunteer service includes Big Brothers Big Sisters, Interfaith Action of Central Texas, and Generation Citizen, a civics education nonprofit organization.

Dr. Schooler holds a bachelor's degree from Yale and a doctoral degree in conflict resolution from Nova Southeastern University. He is the author of a manual entitled "Keys to an Effective Public Meeting" and a forthcoming book on truth and reconciliation commissions, entitled Truth Talks.

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