More than 200 Battle Creek residents had a hand in bringing 10 widely known thought leaders to Battle Creek. The visits, to take place throughout 2005, are part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s 75th Anniversary Expert in Residence Series. Each expert visit involves the collaboration of the Kellogg Foundation, another local host organization, and, in some cases, the resident whose suggestion inspired the visit.
“Sometimes, in a smaller community, we don’t have access to big-name celebrities,” said Nicole McKinney, who suggested Russell Simmons as a guest speaker. “The Expert in Residence program is our gateway to the world. It’s an opportunity for the world to come to Battle Creek.”
“It’s also nice to know that something I did actually materialized,” said McKinney.
Early in 2004, Battle Creek residents were asked to suggest topics or speakers they thought would help strengthen the fabric of life in Battle Creek. Their suggestions were culled by a committee of Battle Creek residents and community leaders.
Efrain Merchan, Jr., a Lakeview High School student, was part of the selection committee.
“The best part,” he said, “was that the committee was made up of people from the community. Since this is a program for the people, it’s important to have the people choose – to really have an impact. Because people chose who they wanted to hear from, I think it will make the project more successful than if someone else chose.”
Rose Tornabene was also part of the selection committee.
“We all worked together to select from a list of 144 nominations,” she said. “Eventually, we were able to narrow it down and come to a consensus on a few finalists. That was a challenge. There were many lively discussions, but everyone showed a great respect for the process and for each other.”
As a result of the resident recommendations and the selection committee’s work, an impressive roster of expert visitors is lined up for Battle Creek throughout 2005.
To learn more about the special 75th Anniversary Expert in Residence series, visit www.wkkf.org/75Expert.