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2016 NCDD Year In Review

Looking back, 2016 was an important year for NCDD and the dialogue & deliberation community. NCDD and the field saw a lot of important things happen and transitions take place, and as we look forward to the work ahead, we also wanted to look back at what we’ve accomplished and what’s changed.

NCDD 2016

Of course, the biggest effort on NCDD’s part was organizing the 2016 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation on “Bridging Our Divides,” a timely focus on the important work of bringing people together across differences of politics, race, socioeconomic status, and more. We had 350 public engagement practitioners, journalists, academics, public officials, funders, and students converge for this three-day gathering focused on sharing stories, exploring collaborations, and talking about what’s next for the dialogue and deliberation community following the divisive election season. You can view the schedule and speakers, watch panels, and more in the Events section of our site.

Following the conference and the presidential election, NCDD continued this conversation with our #BridgingOurDivides campaign, which sought to continue to collect and share stories, resources, and tools for bridging divides in our communities. We also hosted a special open Confab Call about what our community can do and is doing post-election. We invite you to check out the amazing compilation of the tools and resources we gathered and to watch the recorded Confab on the blog here. Many thanks to our community for sharing your great tools, resources, and stories!

New Projects, Programs, and Partnerships

In 2016, NCDD truly embraced our stewardship of Conversation Café with the launch of the new Conversation Café website and a Confab Call sharing the story of how Conversation Café was created and how it has been utilized in communities across the country. Conversation Café is an elegantly simple process for dialogue, and with its materials all open source and available for free (including a recording of our recent host training session), it’s a important resource for our field and communities in a time where dialogue is so critically needed.

NCDD was also proud to finally unveil our new Emerging Leaders Initiative, a program we’ve been working towards since our 2014 Conference. The Emerging Leaders Initiative, or ELI, will provide resources and support to rising leaders in our field and create more “on ramps” into the dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement field, especially for young people 35 and under. The ELI also seeks to provide support to newcomers to the field, no matter their age, in addition to helping facilitate collaborations and connections among D&D efforts that involve or focus on young people. Learn more about this exciting initiative at www.ncdd.org/eli, or contact our Youth Engagement Coordinator Roshan Bliss at roshan@ncdd.org.

Another outcome from NCDD 2016 was the launch of our new NCDD Podcast. The podcast brings together members of the D&D community to discuss ideas, opportunities, and challenges in our work, as well as share tools and resources. Our first three episodes, all recorded at NCDD 2016, are up on iTunes, SoundCloud and Google Play!

Last year, NCDD also solidified an agreement to embark upon an exciting new partnership with the American Library Association. NCDD is proud to partner with the ALA on the Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change initiative that will train librarians across the country in dialogue and deliberation methods for community engagement and connect them with NCDD members. We look forward to launching these online and in-person trainings very soon! For more information, see our blog post here.

And as always, our work with the Kettering Foundation continued – including a huge inventory survey we conducted in collaboration with KF and work engaging the dialogue and deliberation community in Kettering’s annual DC event, A Public Voice.

Changes in Leadership

So who was responsible for this fabulous work? Our amazing staff, of course! In 2016, we saw our amazing team of five continue to work hard to deliver fabulous programming, projects, and a successful conference. We also saw a transition in our leadership, with myself, Courtney Breese, moving into a larger role as Managing Director working in partnership with Sandy Heierbacher, who transitioned from Executive Director to Founding Director. Sandy and I enjoy working together so much, and we think this transition is a great move for both of us and NCDD. I know I have a very tough job ahead in managing NCDD’s day-to-day operations as skillfully as Sandy has! And Sandy is excited to continue her essential work nurturing and building our network with us, as well as having the flexibility to explore new opportunities to use her skills at building and engaging networks.

The year 2016 also saw the end of an era for our Board of Directors. Board members John Backman, Marla Crockett, Diane Miller, and Barbara Simonetti completed six years of service to NCDD – two complete terms, which is our max for Board members. We could not be more thankful to these Board members for their guidance, support and (serious) heavy lifting they provided to NCDD as we succeeded in gaining 501(c)3 status, building our staffing from three to five, organizing three successful conferences and numerous programs and initiatives. They will be missed!

We were also grateful to continue to work with Board members Susan Stuart Clark and Martin Carcasson, who are continuing into 2017 and will be joined by new Board members Simone Talma Flowers, Jacob Hess, Betty Knighton, and Wendy Willis, all of whom we’re excited to work with.

Looking Forward

As 2017 gets underway, NCDD is committed to continuing to support the dialogue and deliberation community through sharing resources, convening conversations, supporting collaborations, reaching out to new networks, and lifting up the stories of the work of this network.

NCDD’s staff is a small outfit that does a great amount of work to keep this community connected and supported. Our work is significantly funded by members’ dues and small donations. If you want to support all of the great work we do, please consider making a tax-deductible donation by visiting www.ncdd.org/donate or renewing or upgrading your membership at www.ncdd.org/renew.

We look forward to continuing to work with this community at this important time for dialogue in our country, and we certainly continue to be inspired by the innovative and essential work you do!

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Courtney Breese
Courtney Breese is the Managing Director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). She has a B.A. in Social Work and Counseling from Franklin Pierce College.

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