Contact the NCDD Team
NCDD is led by a small staff of five, with Courtney Breese at the helm as Managing Director. NCDD was co-founded in 2002 by Sandy Heierbacher and Andy Fluke, and many wonderful people have provided NCDD with direction, vision, and leadership over the years. Read about NCDD’s staff and Board of Directors below. Former staff members and Steering Committee members are also listed on this page.
The best way to get in touch with us is via our Contact Form. Otherwise, you can call, email, or write NCDD at…
General email: email@example.com (goes to Joy)
Mail: NCDD, P.O. Box 150, Boiling Springs, PA 17007
- Courtney Breese, Manging Director
- Sandy Heierbacher, Founding Director
- Joy Garman, Office Manager
- Roshan Bliss, Youth Engagement Coordinator & Blog Curator
- Keiva Hummel, Resource Curator
- Andy Fluke, Co-founder
Courtney Breese, Managing Director
Courtney manages NCDD’s day-to-day operations, and directs NCDD’s ongoing programming for our network (Confabs, Tech Tuesdays, and more) and several NCDD projects and contracts. Courtney has been involved with NCDD for years, serving as Conference Manager for the 2012, 2014, and 2016 national conferences and previously as a member of NCDD’s Board of Directors. She is a trainer, mediator, and facilitator with extensive experience in the National Issues Forums framework. When she isn’t working with NCDD, Courtney also works part-time with the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration, where she works on training projects and manages a mediation program. Courtney can be contacted at courtney [at] ncdd [dot] org. More about Courtney.
Sandy Heierbacher, Co-Founder and Founding Director
In addition to her work with NCDD, Sandy serves as a Research Deputy for the Kettering Foundation. She has consulted for such organizations as the Corporation for National Service and the Center for Disease Control in the areas of intergroup dialogue and public engagement. Sandy currently serves on the advisory board of the Participatory Budgeting Project, and has served on the Board of the National Issues Forums Institute, the Steering Committee of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, and others. Sandy has an M.A. in international management from SIT Graduate Institute. Sandy can be contacted at sandy [at] ncdd [dot] org. Learn more about Sandy or look over her writings and resources.
Joy Garman, Office Manager
NCDD has grown from a Coalition of 50 in late 2002 to a Coalition of more than 2,200 members and 34,000 subscribers. Processing new members and renewals, coordinating and managing our database, member directory and listservs, and managing our financial records are critically important to NCDD’s effectiveness, and Joy has managed all of these things swimmingly since early 2006. Joy can be contacted at joy [at] ncdd [dot] org. More about Joy.
Roshan Bliss, Youth Engagement Coordinator & Blog Curator
Roshan Bliss is an inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator who began working with NCDD when he stepped up to serve as volunteer coordinator for our 2012 national conference in Seattle. We enjoyed working with Roshan so much that we asked him to serve as our Blog Curator starting in 2013, helping us all stay up-to-the-moment on the most interesting and vital goings-on in our growing field. Roshan became NCDD’s Youth Engagement Coordinator in 2016 with the launch of our Emerging Leaders Initiative. His work outside of NCDD (and sometimes with NCDD) focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations. Roshan can be reached at roshan [at] ncdd [dot] org. Learn more about Roshan.
Keiva Hummel, Resource Curator
Keiva Hummel serves as NCDD’s Resource Curator, managing content in our well-loved Resource Center and working with Sandy, Courtney and Roshan on NCDD’s social media. Keiva also serves as Social Media Coordinator for Public Dialogue Consortium. She graduated cum laude from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Communication Studies, Minor in Global Peace, Human Rights and Justice Studies, and a Certificate in Conflict Resolution Studies. Keiva can be contacted at keiva [at] ncdd [dot] org. More about Keiva.
Andy Fluke, Co-Founder
Andy is a writer, educator and consultant who launched NCDD with Sandy Heierbacher in 2002. While serving as creative director from 2002 through 2015, Andy created & supported 4 generations of NCDD’s website and designed all of NCDD’s print material, including the 2010 Resource Guide on Public Engagement, our conference guidebooks, postcards & other promotional materials. Because of Andy’s vision and perseverance, the NCDD site is one of the most comprehensive websites in this field, boasting many interactive features. Andy transitioned from this role in July 2015 to pursue more personal projects but can still be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. More about Andy.
The NCDD Board of Directors
Martin Carcasson, Board Chair
The Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) is dedicated to enhancing local democracy through improved public communication and community problem-solving. The CPD was founded by assistant professor Martín Carcasson in August of 2006 within the Speech Communication Department at Colorado State University, and serves as an affiliate of the National Issues Forum (NIF) network. CSU undergraduates and local citizens are trained as impartial facilitators, and work with the local governments, media, the school district, and citizen organizations on various deliberative projects. Deliberation requires safe places for citizens to come together, good and fair information to help structure the conversation, and skilled facilitators to guide the deliberative process. The CPD is dedicated to providing these three key ingredients to Northern Colorado. Connect with Martin.
Susan Stuart Clark
Susan Stuart Clark founded Common Knowledge (www.ckgroup.org) with the mission of exploring and demonstrating more inclusive and innovative approaches to achieving sustainable social change. She works with state and local government agencies, nonprofits, foundations and businesses, often facilitating multi-sector collaboratives. New insights and possibilities generated by dialogue are the core of the work. Susan and her colleagues gravitate to projects that that debunk the myth that the public is apathetic, that identify common ground on contentious issues and discover new resources hidden in plain sight in our communities. Connect with Susan.
Simone Talma Flowers
Simone Talma Flowers is the Executive Director of Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT), whose mission is to cultivate peace and respect through interfaith dialogue, service and celebration. Simone Talma Flowers brings over 26 years of extensive experience in non-profit management.
Simone promotes a culture of high performance, support and collaboration. She advances the mission of the organization by bringing people of diverse faiths, cultures and backgrounds together, to break down the barriers that divide us. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion and believes everyone should have access to opportunities, so they can live up to their fullest potential. Simone has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Business Administration from St. Edward’s University.
After graduating from Brigham Young University, Jacob Hess was admitted to the doctoral program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. There, he was invited by the UIUC Program on Intergroup Relations to help develop and co-facilitate a liberal-conservative dialogue course for undergraduates, the first of its kind in the nation. Jacob also joined Nathan Todd in interview research comparing narratives of liberal and conservative citizens. With Dr. Phil Neisser (State University of New York, Potsdam), Jacob recently co-authored a book on liberal-conservative dialogue entitled, “You’re Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You’re Still Wrong) Conversations between a Devoted Conservative and a Die-Hard Liberal” (Potomac Press). Connect with Jacob.
Betty Knighton is the director of the West Virginia Center for Civic Life, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes public dialogue on issues that affect the quality of life in West Virginia. A primary focus of her work has been building a network for civic engagement in the state through collaborative partnerships with educational, civic, faith-based, and governmental organizations. Through the Center, she works with West Virginia communities to develop balanced frameworks for local issues, to convene and moderate community discussions, and to develop processes to move from dialogue to action. Connect with Betty.
Wendy Willis is a national leader in the field of civic engagement and citizen-centered decision-making. She is Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and Senior Fellow at Kitchen Table Democracy. Wendy was the Executive Director for City Club of Portland, one of the most venerable civic organizations in the country. She has also served as an Assistant Public Defender for the District of Oregon and a law clerk to Chief Justice Wallace P. Carson, Jr. of the Oregon Supreme Court. Wendy is a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum Oregon, a poet, and mother of two daughters. She graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown Law Center and holds a B.A. from Willamette University. Connect with Wendy.
Former NCDD Board Members
A huge thank-you to our former Board members, most of whom are still advising NCDD on an informal basis.
Paul Alexander, former Board Chair
Paul Alexander is Director of the Institute on the Common Good at Regis University. The Institute seeks to facilitate effective social change in the community through the promotion of dialogue, deliberation, and communal discernment. The Institute was host to the 2004 NCDD Conference. Paul serves on the board of NCDD as well as several other nonprofits. He has a Ph.D. in community dialogue. Dr. Alexander has worked and traveled extensively in Latin America and elsewhere. In addition, he has facilitated a wide variety of diverse groups in both English and Spanish. He serves on several boards including Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning and the International Multicultural Institute.
John Backman, Former Board Treasurer
For 25 years, John Backman has served as principal of Backman Writing & Communications, which produces written text for a broad range of applications. As a marketing copywriter, he has developed creative approaches and copy in nearly every conceivable medium, with particular strengths in websites, brochures, magazines, and newsletters. His clients have included such distinguished organizations as Aflac, The Coca-Cola Company, the New York Lottery, the Bank of New York, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the State University of New York, and General Electric.
Lucas Cioffi, Former Board Treasurer
Lucas Cioffi graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Having served one year in Baghdad as an infantry officer, he realizes the need for effective dialogue and deliberation in preventing conflict. He is passionate about advanced online deliberative platforms and is co-founder of OnlineTownhalls.com. OnlineTownhalls.com offers organizations, companies, and elected representatives the ability to engage the public in a meaningful way on a large scale.
Marla Crockett, Former Board Chair
Marla Crockett is a freelance dialogue and deliberation consultant in the Washington, D.C. area. Since 2007, she has worked primarily with the Kettering Foundation of Dayton, Ohio on projects designed to enhance the public’s influence with government officials in formulating policy on the achievement gap in education, health care reform, and the economy. Crockett is currently working with Kettering to brief federal officials on the public’s thinking about economic security.
She came to the dialogue and deliberation field from a career in public broadcasting. At KERA in Dallas, where she worked as a news anchor, producer and news manager from 1985-2006, Crockett became involved in a national reform movement that focused more on the public than candidate “horse races” in political coverage. That work inspired her to develop a talk show based on dialogic principles which ran for nine years–and to integrate these ideas in the newsroom. After leaving public broadcasting and moving to Maryland, Crockett took an online certification course in dialogue and deliberation from Fielding University in Santa Barbara, California.
Martha L. McCoy is executive director of Everyday Democracy (formerly the Study Circles Resource Center). She helped take EvDem from a start-up organization to its current strength, with 13 full-time staff, associates across the country, and a network of hundreds of communities. Under McCoy’s leadership, EvDem has become respected as a national organization that excels in helping local communities build their own capacity to organize large-scale, diverse dialogue for problem solving. Under her direction, EvDem is at the leading edge of connecting public dialogue to collective action and democratic governance, and of keeping race and inclusion at the forefront of practices to strengthen democracy.
Ambassador John W. McDonald is a lawyer, diplomat, former international civil servant, development expert and peacebuilder, concerned about world social, economic and ethnic problems. He spent twenty years of his career in Western Europe and the Middle East and worked for sixteen years on United Nations economic and social affairs. He is currently Chairman and co-founder of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, in Washington D.C., which focuses on national and inter-national ethnic conflicts. In February, 1992, he was named Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, in Fairfax, Virginia.
Diane Miller, Former Board Secretary
Diane Miller specializes in the design, facilitation and implementation of projects that help diverse groups of people work together to achieve exceptional results. As owner of Civic Collaboration, Diane works with governments, businesses and community groups to address complex community challenges, such as local and regional planning and resource management issues. Diane focuses on process, relationships and outcomes. She is a skilled communicator, process designer and project leader who understands how to bring together the necessary components of a civic change initiative and to help individuals and groups build the capacity for effective action in ways that can be sustained and replicated.
Diane’s background is a unique blend of project management, civic engagement, group process design, and corporate and civic culture change expertise. Before launching her own firm, Diane was assistant director at Envision Central Texas (ECT), a non-profit that helped citizens develop and implement a vision for future growth in Central Texas that would preserve and enhance the region’s quality of life. She designed and executed numerous collaborative, multi-stakeholder projects to raise awareness and mobilize action on regional visioning, community planning and sustainability issues.
Leanne Nurse is a program analyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Center for Environmental Innovation. She staffs EPA’s public involvement policy and collaborative problem solving initiative, including the new Collaboration Practitioners Network. She served as a community involvement coordinator, a public affairs specialist for water and environmental justice programs, and as liaison to the US Green Group. She is an inaugural fellow of the University of Virginia’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute and is certified by IAP2, the International Association for Public Participation. Prior to government, Leanne worked as an award-winning public and commercial television producer, editor and reporter.
Barbara Simonetti, Former Board Chair
Barbara Simonetti has over 30 years experience, now as an independent consultant, helping social and for profit organizations structure meetings to be highly relevant and open conversations that foster the continuous and effective application of all of our knowledge and creativity to our most pressing questions and challenges. She has extensive experience in developing the capacity of managers and professionals to create, share and use knowledge to meet emerging challenges. Her expertise is in facilitation, training design and delivery, strategy implementation, and building networks and communities of practice.
Najeeba is Executive Director of the Western Justice Center Foundation. Previously, Najeeba served as the Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center (APADRC), which has provided mediation and conciliation services for the diverse Los Angeles Asian and Pacific Islander community as well as youth based conflict resolution programs for schools. Najeeba has attended over 400 hours of conflict resolution training and mediated a large number of cases, including youth oriented disputes, inter-racial disputes and community based conflicts. She has trained hundreds of people in mediation skills ranging from prosecutors to community leaders. She currently teaches Intercultural Conflict Resolution, a master’s course at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
The late Taylor Willingham was a public engagement and change management consultant, and founded Texas Forums. She taught Change Management for the Graduate Library and Information Sciences distance education program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Texas Forums, a program of the LBJ Library and Museum, was launched in 2002 to help give citizens a voice in decisions that affect their lives. Using the National Issues Forums (NIF) model for community conversations, Texas Forums trains people how to engage others in their community in thoughtful conversations about important public issues – issues like health care, immigration and Americans’ Role in the World. Learn more here about donating to the Taylor Willingham Legacy Fund, which is administered by NIF.
Members of NCDD’s original Steering Committee
Before the Board of Directors was in full swing, we had a very active and incredibly helpful Steering Committee. NCDD deeply thanks all of the people listed below. They are listed with the organizational affiliations and positions they had at the time.
Communications Director, Study Circles Resource Center
Co-Director, Canadian Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation
Former NCDD Team Members…
The following is not a comprehensive list, and we’ll keep adding funded team members from previous projects and events as we go.
Polly (aka Laurie Bezold) is the Managing Partner of Fusion Partnerships, Inc., a nonprofit in Baltimore whose mission is to be a catalyst for justice and peace. Fusion offers facilitation and educational programs for schools, organizations, and communities that build unity and bring people together across lines of difference. Polly has managed the logistics with grace and style for all six National Conferences on Dialogue & Deliberation! Polly can be reached at pollyriddims [at] gmail [dot] com.
The world of dialogue & deliberation is expanding rapidly, and Amy was hired to help us keep up with the constant influx of news, opportunities and resources we are committed to sharing with our members and visitors on our News & Perspectives blog on the main page of our site. Amy Lang is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia. She wrote her dissertation on British Columbia’s groundbreaking Citizens’ Assembly process, and is currently doing follow-up research on the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly. Amy served as our lead blogger for several years. Read about the results of Amy’s research at www.ssc.wisc.edu/~alang.
Kate was the conference manager for the 2006 NCDD conference. She is a skilled facilitator and is currently a graduate student at the University of Maryland. She has designed and facilitated numerous public involvement processes and civic engagement processes. She is particularly interested in interfaith, law enforcement, and race-relations dialogues, and in deliberative democracy. Kate holds a BA from Oberlin College, and hopes to return to Northern California upon completion of her Masters program.
Part of the New Practitioners Project, Priya Parker initiated the Mentorship Program to meet the needs of young people and others who are entering the dialogue and deliberation field. The mentorship program will pair new practitioners with more experienced D&D practitioners, scholars, and activists who are established in the field. Until recently, Priya Parker (priya.parker @ gmail.com) was the Program Director of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue (www.sustaineddialogue.org). Priya is currently representing IISD in India, and recently served as the M.C. at NCDD’s 2006 conference in San Francisco.
In partnership with Americans for the Arts’ Animating Democracy Initiative, NCDD developed a web feature designed to help members of the dialogue & deliberation community strengthen their work by linking it to the arts. The feature includes descriptions of successful arts-based civic dialogue projects and links to artists who can work with D&D practitioners to bring the arts into their projects. Leah Lamb coordinated this project. She also coordinated the arts component at NCDD’s 2006 conference in San Francisco. Leah (leahlamb @ gmail.com) is the director of Online Election Initiatives at Current TV.
In 2004 and 2005, Lars ran a scoping study to determine whether a “National Dialogue Bureau” was a feasible idea. The Dialogue Bureau, if developed, would supply journalists with a “one stop” destination for the collection of views held by ordinary Americans who engage in dialogue about current affairs. The Dialogue Bureau would create a network of leaders of dialogue and deliberation groups who are willing to speak with the media about the key findings and concerns of their group. The Dialogue Bureau would deepen media coverage of an issue while providing D&D leaders – and D&D in general – with increased publicity. The results of Lars’ research are available at http://ncdd.org/rc/item/2941. At the time, Lars Torres was a Researcher for AmericaSpeaks, an organization well-known for its 21st Century Town Meeting model that engages large groups of citizens in public deliberation.
Karla Andreu, Dialogue Bureau Project Coordinator
Karla worked in collaboration with Lars Torres on the preliminary stage of the Dialogue Bureau project. She interviewed numerous dialogue and deliberation practitioners and public journalists in order to determine whether a Dialogue Bureau is needed and will be used by both parties, and how best to design such a Bureau. Karla has an impressive background in community organizing and social justice advocacy.
Evan Thomas Paul, New Practitioners Project Manager
Initiated by the young people and other new practitioners who attended the 2004 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, this project focuses on meeting the needs of new practitioners in dialogue & deliberation. The project has created an email discussion list for new practitioners to share experiences and resources. Evan also looked into developing a mentorship program to pair new practitioners with more experienced folks, and an internship clearinghouse to help match new practitioners to established organizations and practitioners who can use their help.