Connecting with people is the key to the success of the JoCo woman

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Alana Muller of Overland Park speaks with a participant in an event in the American public square.  Muller is director of community development for the association.  American Public Square was founded to bring together people of different points of view to civilly discuss their points of view with others.

Alana Muller of Overland Park speaks with a participant in an event in the American public square. Muller is director of community development for the association. American Public Square was founded to bring together people of different points of view to civilly discuss their points of view with others.

Special to the star

While many organizations struggled to stay alive during the pandemic, American Public Square not only survived, but thrived.

The Kansas City-based organization had its best year yet in 2020 with a record number of events and record fundraising.

And everything was done virtually, except for a pre-pandemic event in February 2020.

American public square was founded to bring together people of different points of view to politely discuss their points of view with others. Alana Muller of Overland Park is the Director of Community Development.

“We couldn’t have made it through 2020 without Alana’s participation,” said Claire Bishop, Executive Director.

Muller is known for her networking expertise and the value she places on connecting with people.

“An important part of our role is to bring people together,” Bishop said.

Rather than cancel plans when stay-at-home orders prevented individuals from meeting in the same room, American Public Square turned to Zoom-based programming.

In 2020, the organization presented a total of 33 events and 37 podcasts attended by some 50,000 people.

In addition to his ability to bring people together, Muller’s organizational and leadership skills helped produce the annual report and plan a successful night at Square in October – a fundraiser that raised over $ 100,000.

“If there are 50 different things to do, Alana does them all and does them right,” said Allan Katz, founder of American Public Square.

Katz founded the organization in 2014, opening in the fall with a program on the price society pays for incivility. He met Muller in 2015 and contracted with her for community outreach.

During a transition period in 2019, Muller stepped in as interim executive director and was instrumental in hiring Bishop for the role.

Prior to launching his consulting business, Muller worked for Kauffman FastTrac, an entrepreneur training program, and for Sprint Corporation in marketing and strategy.

Muller’s company and book, “Coffee Lunch Coffee” (available on Amazon) evolved from a blog, CaféDéjeunerCoffee.com, she started writing in 2011. The title of the book refers to the morning, noon and afternoon hours “to intentionally connect with people,” explained Muller.

Muller gained an appreciation for networking when she decided to leave the corporate world in 2007. She contacted five professionals for their advice and they all said, “What can I do to help you? Muller said.

They each gave him three to five names of other people to contact.

“Ninety-nine percent of all new professional, community or social opportunities I have had came from networking,” she said.

Muller describes himself as “a natural connector: networking is part of my DNA”.

Mindy Corporon recalls meeting Muller in 2012 after Muller started Coffee Lunch Coffee.

“She contacted me,” said the corporal.

They were talking about being mothers of boys, she recalls.

Two years later, Corporon contacted Muller after Corporon’s father and son were murdered by a white supremacist outside the Greater Kansas City Jewish Community Center on April 13, 2014.

Preparing to launch his foundation, the Faith Always Wins Foundation, Corporon searched for Muller.

“I went to see her and said, ‘How should I do this?’ Said the Corporal.

While the tragedy was still recent, Corporon wanted to create a foundation to counter the kind of hatred that led to the murders and to promote “dialogue for the betterment of our world through kindness, faith and healing.”

Muller guided Corporon by helping them understand how boards work, asking questions and helping them create the mission statement.

“She’s a strategic thinker,” Corporon said. “She helped me build the steps to get there, sharing the desire to walk alongside me to build a better world.”

The foundation was established in 2014 and incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 2015.

To fulfill its mission, the foundation offers an annual experience in April called “SevenDays Make A Ripple, Change the World”.

Muller has been volunteering since 2015 to help with programming and activities, and to lead one of the seven daily sessions.

In 2021, she virtually hosted “Connect Day” and brought together 80 women from across the Kansas City area on a Zoom screen to learn how to connect with each other.

In June, Muller will participate in a retreat to discuss how best to reach people through the SevenDays experience. She joined the foundation board in February.

In October, she will once again oversee the gala she has planned for American Public Square. This year, Robert D. Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett, authors of the book “The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We can Do It Again”.

“The message aims to improve the tone and quality of civil discourse which aligns very closely with the mission of the American public square,” she said.

It also aligns with Muller’s mission statement: “Connect, inspire and empower community.” “

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