Podcast with Gina Kane: A Second Chance After the Joplin Tornado

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on November 20, 2017

I was recently a featured guest on Gina Kane's podcast, "A Second Chance." She and I talked about a second chance I had a number of years ago and what it was like to be a community leader in the aftermath of the devastating Joplin tornado that took place in May of 2011.

Gina had some interesting questions for me. We discussed the factors that motivated me to care so deeply about everyone else, when I could have stayed close to my kids and family. We talked about how this experience has changed me and about the things I am passionate about today.

If you'd like to hear the interview for yourself, just click below. Enjoy!


Read More

Topics: Community Resilience, Joplin's EF-5 Tornado

Leadership: The Yin and Yang of Head and Heart

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on April 4, 2017

On May 22, 2011, around 6:20 p.m. I was walking down Connecticut Avenue in Joplin, Missouri. The debris on the street was heavy as I headed towards my office nearly 7 blocks away. I needed to grab my laptop before I headed to the emergency command center.

Read More

Topics: Joplin's EF-5 Tornado, Meaningful Leadership

Joplin's EF-5 Tornado: 3 Lessons Learned about Leadership in Crisis

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on November 30, 2016

Crisis happens. Sometimes major crisis occurs with a sudden shift in the economy. It can occur with the sudden loss of a key individual without a succession plan in place. Major changes in policy, laws or regulation can also cause organizational upheaval. And certainly, we have all seen what happens when it comes in the form of a natural or manmade disaster.

The truth is that when a major crisis strikes, the person sitting in the leadership chair at the onset of crisis can never be fully prepared. Why? Simply put...every crisis is unique.

Read More

Topics: Joplin's EF-5 Tornado, Meaningful Leadership

Joplin's EF-5 Tornado: 3 Lessons Learned about the Importance of Vision Casting within Crisis

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on September 8, 2016

Following Hurricane Katrina, researchers began trying to identify factors that make a community better prepared to respond and rebuild following an unthinkable disaster. After the destruction following the Joplin, MO tornado in May 2011, Joplin became a focal point of this research due to the community’s ability to rally quickly after the storm. It was a point of pride for the citizens of Joplin as people around the world were inspired by the “can do” attitude and resolve of Joplin in the face of a seemingly insurmountable challenge.

Read More

Topics: Community Resilience, Joplin's EF-5 Tornado

Joplin's EF-5 Tornado: 2 Lessons about Bringing a Community Together

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on August 5, 2016

How often have you seen this scenario play out on a national scale?

A community is faced with a major obstacle and
suddenly becomes either united or divided.

I was in a unique position at the time of the Joplin Tornado to observe and participate in a number of high-level conversations related to the recovery effort. There were certainly a lot of decisions and actions in the early hours and days that set the course for recovery. Each of which had tremendous influence on the coming together of the community that may have separated Joplin’s response from that of other communities who have experienced unexpected tragedy.

Read More

Topics: Joplin's EF-5 Tornado

Joplin's EF-5 Tornado: 1 Lesson I'll Never Unlearn

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on July 12, 2016


Three years into my tenure as Superintendent of Joplin Schools, an EF-5 tornado ripped through our town. Packing winds in excess of 200 mph, the Joplin Tornado is one of the most documented and thoroughly studied natural disasters in recent history. The Weather Channel classified the Joplin Tornado as the most costly and the 5 th most devastating tornado in U.S. history. The implications of the research into this event resulted in changes to FEMA policy, school safety protocol, facility design, emergency planning, mental health, community engagement, and communications.

Read More

Topics: Joplin's EF-5 Tornado