Catalytic Leadership in Food & Fitness Community Partnerships

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Catalytic leadership is a type of multidimensional leadership that facilitates cross-sector collaboration to enact systems and policy changes within communities. Catalytic leaders provide opportunities for stakeholders to partner and merge their efforts to create new opportunities for their work. Catalytic leaders are individuals, organizations, and collaborative partnerships that stimulate partnership alliances. Additionally, catalytic partnerships facilitate the process of collaboration through encouraging and supporting stakeholders to work together effectively and successfully. This article provides examples of catalytic leadership roles that emerged from the Food & Fitness community partnerships. These partnerships were funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to increase access to locally grown food and safe places to play for children and families through systems and policy changes in communities throughout the United States. Key strategies and types of support (i.e., informational and instrumental support) provided through Food & Fitness catalytic leadership that sustained the work of these partnerships was discussed. Based on catalytic leadership strategies identified and types of support provided, outcomes that emerged from this work were also described. We conclude with key recommendations for community partnerships interested in serving as catalytic leaders for large-scale initiatives in their communities.

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