2.  Retreat Overview


Statement of Issue: 

This section provides an overview of the FY 2020-2021 Strategic Planning Retreat.

Staff Recommendation:

No Board action required.


In 2021, Leon County continued to make great progress and serve our citizens amidst seemingly endless challenges created by the global COVID-19 pandemic, a human tragedy of historic proportions. While delta variant cases surged, we led efforts to vaccinate and protect our most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach communities. While nationwide evictions and business closures soared, we provided tens of millions in direct assistance to households, businesses, and nonprofit partners. When well-paying jobs were needed most, we recruited Amazon to create the largest private sector job opportunity in our history. We answered these challenges head on all while producing results and delivering on our ambitious vision and bold goals for the organization and the community.


While Leon County has responded with organizational agility and innovation, the unprecedented economic impacts and the global recession unsurprisingly made it impossible to achieve some of the goals and initiatives we set for ourselves five (5) years ago as part of the FY 2017 – FY 2021 Strategic Plan. The necessary “Stay at Home” orders as well as limitations on travel and public gatherings significantly impacted the tourism economy and local unemployment rates. Likewise, while the County found innovative ways to connect with citizens remotely, the pandemic led to the cancellation of large events, concerts, and programs that directly support several of our initiatives. However, even and perhaps especially in these challenging times, the County has remained focused on the advancement of the County’s strategic priorities.  As a result, the County achieved the vast majority the goals we set out to accomplish and still made significant progress on the goals we did not reach.


Building on these successes in 2021 and the work of the last five (5) years, the primary goal of the Retreat will be to establish the foundation for the County’s next five-year Strategic Plan. The strategic planning process is critical in assessing our environment, evaluating our long-term progress, and engaging residents in shaping the future of Leon County. In turn, the final adopted plan will help to optimize our resource, measure and deliver results to the community, and communicate to staff at all levels how they fit into the mission of the organization.


Our Value Proposition

What You Get as a Taxpayer and a Stakeholder in our Community
Leon County government leverages partnerships embraces efficiency and innovation, and demands performance to the benefit of our taxpayers.  We actively engage our citizens, not only as taxpayers, but as stakeholders and co-creators of our community – providing meaningful opportunities to capitalize on their talents in making important decisions and shaping our community for future generations.





The following graphic illustrates the complete cycle of how Leon County aligns our strategic processes and optimizes resources throughout the organization to address our community’s most pressing issues and achieve the County’s top priorities. As we continue to build upon the hard work that established the FY 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, we are again in the “Direct” phase of the cycle which begins with the Board Retreat.

For many years the Board has conducted an annual retreat, facilitated by the County Administrator, for the purpose of establishing the County’s priorities for the year.  Annual retreats have served as a tool to develop specific Board priorities that have driven staff and organizational resources.  2011 marked the adoption of a new strategic planning process focused on developing a shared vision of the future.  The planning process led to the implementation and execution of the FY 2012 – FY 2016 Strategic Plan, which established an important foundation for the current FY 2017 – FY 2021 Strategic Plan.

The FY 2016-2017 Board Retreat was a “Renewal Year” meaning that it served to both close out the FY 2012 - FY 2016 Strategic Plan and established the baseline for the current FY 2017 – FY 2021 Strategic Plan. During the Retreat, the Board received a final summary of the last five-year plan, reviewed an environmental scan of the County as well as the results of a citizen survey, and conducted a Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis in preparation for developing a plan for the next five (5) years. As part of the planning process, the Board reestablished the Vision Statement and Strategic Priorities in addition to establishing new Strategic Initiatives. Staff also proposed adopting an organizational Mission Statement, a “Bold Goal” for each priority area, as well as a series of five-year “Targets.” The County’s five-year targets keep the organization focused on tangible results, and the Bold Goals ensure staff stretches to expand possibilities and exceed expectations.

The FY 2017-2018 Board Retreat theme was “Building Resilience to Serve and Strengthen Our Community” and focused on disaster and community resilience.   Leslie Chapman-Henderson, Executive Director of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), presented international and national trends in resilience, specifically related to FLASH’s #HurricaneStrong campaign as well as Florida building codes and other resilience efforts.  At the conclusion of the Retreat, the Board adopted 14 new or amended Strategic Initiatives.

The FY 2018-2019 Retreat focused on the status and outlook of the County’s “social infrastructure” – the places, events, and resources that strengthen communities by fostering social interactions and building relationships. The County Administrator provided an update on the status and outlook of Leon County’s extensive efforts to build social infrastructure in the community. Following the presentation, the Board was joined by Dr. Eric Klinenberg, a Professor of Sociology at New York University, Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge. Dr. Klinenberg provided a presentation on social infrastructure, which is the focus of his new book Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life. Finally, the Board concluded the Retreat by adopting or amending 17 Strategic Initiatives.

The FY 2019-2020 Retreat included a discussion on re-envisioning the possibilities of the Leon County Public Library System. The structure of the Retreat mirrored the Aspen Institute’s recommended three-step process for realigning libraries’ programs, services, staff, and physical spaces with the community’s greatest needs and goals. During the final segment of the Retreat, the Board was provided with an update on Leon County’s progress towards the FY 2017 – FY 2021 bold goals and targets and adopted a total of 13 new or amended initiatives.

As approved by the Board, the FY 2020-2021 Retreat was abbreviated to in order to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines recommending that indoor gatherings be limited in duration and attendance.  Following brief introductory remarks, the Board received an impact report on the Leon CARES program. The remainder of the Retreat agenda was dedicated to performing the necessary annual update to the County’s Strategic Plan which included adopting 16 new or amended initiatives.





As illustrated in the County’s five-year planning cycle (Table #1), FY 2021-2022 is a “renewal” year and serves to both close out the current five-year plan and adopt the new FY 2022 – FY 2026 Strategic Plan.  During the first segment of the Retreat, the Board will be presented with a detailed impact and progress report summarizing the current Strategic Plan’s implementation and impacts.

Table #1: Five-Year Planning Cycle for the FY 2022-2026 Strategic Plan:

Plan Year


Board Retreat

Plan Adoption by the Board


Renewal Year

January 2022

Adoption anticipated in February 2022


Update Year

January 2023

Revised in February 2023


Update Year

January 2024

Revised in February 2024


Update Year

January 2025

Revised in February 2025


Update Year

January 2026

Revised in February 2026


Renewal Year

January 2027

Adoption anticipated in February 2027









During the second portion of the Retreat, the Board will focus on the development of a Strategic Plan for the next five (5) years in Leon County. The Board will be presented with the results of a community survey, environmental scan, and SWOT analysis which are intended to assist the Board in completing the following tasks:

Completing these tasks will help to form Leon County’s new FY 2022 – FY 2026 Strategic Plan, but more importantly it will ensure that Commissioners have continued consensus and that staff has clear direction as to the Board’s vision, priorities, and strategic initiatives for the next five (5) years.