Contact the NCDD Team
NCDD was co-founded in 2002 by Sandy Heierbacher and Andy Fluke (pictured here), 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (goes to Joy)
Mail: NCDD, 114 W. Springville Road, Boiling Springs, PA 17007
Sandy Heierbacher, Co-Founder and Director
In addition to her work with NCDD, Sandy has consulted for such organizations as the Corporation for National Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kettering Foundation in the areas of intergroup dialogue, public participation and deliberative democracy. Sandy currently serves on the advisory boards of the Participatory Budgeting Project and Living Room Conversations, and has served on the Board of the National Issues Forums Institute and the Steering Committee of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium. 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.
Andy Fluke, Co-Founder and Creative Director
In addition to creating and designing NCDD’s presence on the web, Andy Fluke designs all of NCDD’s print publications – including the 2010 Resource Guide on Public Engagement, our 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2012 conference handbooks, the 2002 conference binder and our 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. He can be contacted at andy [at] ncdd [dot] org. Learn more about Andy.
Joy Garman, Office Manager
NCDD has grown from a Coalition of 50 in late 2002 to a Coalition of over 1,700, with over 25,000 people on our main email Updates list. Processing new members, coordinating and managing our database and listservs, and managing our financial records are critically important to NCDD’s effectiveness, and Joy has managed all of these things since early 2006. Joy can be contacted at joy [at] ncdd [dot] org. Learn more about Joy.
The NCDD Board of Directors
Marla Crockett, 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. Connect with Marla.
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. Connect with Paul.
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. Connect with John.
Courtney Breese, Board Secretary
Courtney Breese is Program Coordinator for the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration (MOPC) at the University of Massachusetts Boston. MOPC provides more effective forums for conflict resolution, public decision-making and community involvement on contentious public issues, and helps build capacity within public agencies. Courtney is a trained mediator, facilitator, and deliberative dialogue moderator. She has extensive experience with the National Issue Forums (NIF) dialogue model and during her time at MOPC has worked with the Kettering Foundation and National Issues Forums Institute on several dialogue initiatives.
Previously she worked for the New England Center for Civic Life, where she helped coordinate, facilitate, and analyze a series of thirty deliberative dialogues across the state of New Hampshire on health care and financial security for AARP’s Divided We Fail Campaign. Courtney was a co-lead of the planning team for the 2010 NCDD Regional Event in Boston. Connect with Courtney.
Lucas Cioffi, 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. Connect with Lucas.
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. Connect with Diane.
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. Connect with Barbara.
Former NCDD Board Members
A huge thank-you to the members of our initial NCDD Board of Directors! These wonderfully dedicated folks are still advising NCDD on an informal basis.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Former NCDD Team Members…
The following list could use some real updating! We plan to add a number of folks who played indispensable leadership roles during our 2010 regional events held in Denver, Boston, Austin, Cupertino and Portland.
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 facilitaiton 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 four National Conferences on Dialogue & Deliberation. Polly can be reached at lbezold @ fusiongroup.org.
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. Read about the results of Amy’s research at www.ssc.wisc.edu/~alang. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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. NCDD is currently seeking funding to move forward on this idea. Lars Torres (lhtorres @ americaspeaks.org) is a Researcher for AmericaSpeaks (www.americaspeaks.org), an organization that is 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.