KU Certificate Program and Pro Bono Consulting

Certificate program, pro bono consulting help build new habits

It takes knowledge to build effective new habits of engaging the public. Consensus offers pro bono consulting to help municipalities move beyond the public hearing and a certificate program through the KU Public Management Center.

KU Certificate in Public Engagement

Elected officials, government staff, and technical consultants recognize that people in our communities want to be heard about issues that concern them. And we understand that more participative processes can lead to better decisions. Sounds like a win-win. Yet this understanding does not always result in constructive public engagement. Many issues in our communities are characterized by conflict because individuals bring vastly different perspectives on the role and reach of government. Our standard model for engagement – the public meeting – often simply highlights these conflicts and leaves everyone as frustrated as when they came in the door, if they come at all.

If you are struggling to make your public meetings more productive or want to move beyond the public meeting to engage with your community in more thoughtful ways, sign up for the Certificate in Public Engagement. The six-day certificate program covers the context of decision-making in the public sector and effective methods for engagement, taught by Consensus executive director Jennifer Wilding, and communicating effectively in public settings, taught by Patty Gentrup and Noel Raser.

Pro bono consulting

Consensus also provides pro bono consulting to municipalities who seek to move beyond the public hearing model. For example, we helped the Wyandotte County legislative delegation reshape its annual town hall meetings. We helped Mayor Mark Holland with his “listening tour” with meeting design and training facilitators to help groups decide how to spend a $12 million windfall. When Roeland Park faced the loss of one in seven dollars in its general fund, we worked with local leaders to switch to small-group discussions. Those meetings asked citizens to agree on the right balance between raising taxes and cutting services.


The new town hall small group element clearly added more voices to the discussion. Residents were better able to be engaged in the process and provide their direct feedback thanks to your advice and suggestions for how to increase the public’s role in policy making. We are grateful for the many hours both behind the scenes and during meetings in which you provided wonderful suggestions and guidance.Roeland Park Mayor & City Council