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AmericaSpeaks announces the Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer Innovation Fund

Here’s an announcement shared today by Steve Brigham, the new President of AmericaSpeaks since founder Carolyn Lukensmeyer transitioned to directing the National Institute for Civil Discourse based at the University of Arizona. AmericaSpeaks is a long-time organizational member of NCDD, and a sponsor of our 2012 national conference.

AmericaSpeaks is excited to announce the creation of the Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer Innovation Fund, which honors the founder and past president of AmericaSpeaks, Carolyn Lukensmeyer. Carolyn has had a profound effect on my career, my practice of citizen engagement, and my thinking about our democracy. She has had a similar impact on hundreds of staff, associates, table facilitators, public leaders at every level of government, and thousands of citizens across the country who have attended our town meetings and forums.

This fund was created to honor Carolyn’s work over the past 17 years. During that time, Carolyn continually pushed the boundaries of participation and democratic deliberation. Her signature creation, the 21st Century Town Meeting, has set the standard for citizen engagement and impacted the lives of thousands of participants and facilitators.

The Lukensmeyer Innovation Fund will support creative thinking around the challenges facing democratic participation in the new century. How will the internet impact citizen – government interaction? What is the role of new technology in the democratic process? What is the relationship between online and in-person engagement? How do we more regularly involve  more citizens in democratic deliberation?

The fund will invest in a number of different innovations over the years. This fall and winter, the fund will focus on a new technological platform for enhanced citizen engagement:

  • Mobile Crowdsourcing: We will work with software developers to develop a new tool that would create a simple, light-weight, mobile-optimized platform (using smartphones and tablets) that would enable the host of any meeting, forum, or event to pose a question to participants and to gather input as well as define/prioritize options through a scalable and meaningful yet simple and inexpensive process.

This platform will create a new level of interaction between in-person and online engagement, and give decision-makers and citizens new tools for interacting with each other.

If you have ever attended or facilitated a 21st Century Town Meeting you know how powerful the experience is. The Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer Innovation Fund will allow us to experiment with new ways to create similarly powerful citizen experiences online and in-person.

Please join with us and support this fund. By giving, you will honor Carolyn’s history of innovation and help shape the future of citizen engagement.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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