Novelist Arthur Golden once said, “Adversity is like a strong wind, it tears away all but the things that cannot be torn so we see ourselves as we really are.” To Dr. Huff, truer words have never been spoken. On May 22, 2011, Dr. Huff’s resolve – along with so many others in the community of Joplin – was tested in the wake of an EF-5 tornado that destroyed one-third of Joplin, Missouri. In just 32 minutes, the most costly tornado in US history was responsible for taking the lives of 161 community members and doing over $3 billion in damage to the community. As the superintendent of Joplin Schools, CJ had to quickly transition from disaster survivor to recovery leader providing comfort, support, motivation, inspiration, and vision to those who looked to him for leadership during Joplin’s darkest hour.
The successful recovery of the Joplin community is well documented. What is seldom discussed is the physical, mental, and emotional toll the ensuing response and recovery effort took on the survivors, first responders, volunteers and community leaders who sacrificed so much to make that recovery possible. In his keynote, Career Sustaining Behaviors for Leaders During Challenging Times, Dr. Huff shares his personal experiences as a recovery leader, critical lessons learned “the hard way”, and practical strategies to ensure those in leadership roles do the right things to survive and thrive under the most trying of circumstances.