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A Public Voice 2014

The Kettering Foundation’s annual DC event, “A Public Voice,” took place yesterday at the Newseum in Washington DC. The content of the event is off the record, so those from government can feel comfortable engaging in a deeper conversation in front of the audience that attends.

This year’s topic was Health Care: What Do We Want and How Can We Pay For It?, and the proceedings will inform the development of a National Issues Forums Institute discussion guide on this very timely and contentious issue. This roundtable panel bought together leaders with a deep understanding of healthcare policy, along with others who have similarly deep experience in engaging citizens on contentious public issues.

I was honored to have been asked to invite a dozen NCDD members to attend — members representing prominent organizations in our field and large networks of facilitators:

  1. Kyle Bozentko, Director of Policy and Research, Jefferson Center
  2. Courtney Breese, Board Member, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD)
  3. Steve Brigham, Former Executive Director, AmericaSpeaks
  4. Steve Clift, Executive Director, e-democracy.org
  5. David Isaacs, Co-Founder, The World Cafe
  6. Steven Kull, Founder and President, Voice of the People
  7. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Executive Director, University of Arizona National Institute for Civil Discourse
  8. Martha McCoy, Executive Director, Everyday Democracy
  9. Bill Potapchuk, President, Community Building Institute
  10. Sarah Rubin, Program Manager, Institute for Local Government
  11. Steve Waddell, Executive Director, Networking Action
  12. Wendy Willis, Executive Director, Policy Consensus Initiative

I serve on the planning committee for A Public Voice, and also helped select the four panelists who represented the deliberative democracy community: Jean Johnson of Public Agenda and NIF, Matt Leighninger of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, Val Ramos of Everyday Democracy, and Gloria Rubio-Cortes of the National Civic League.  In addition, I facilitated and helped organize a planning meeting at Kettering in February with about 8 of the NCDD representatives, to talk about their role in Public Voice and glean their valuable input for Kettering.

Here is a snapshot of most of the NCDD members who were present yesterday, including my invitees, the panelists, and some Kettering guests who are members of NCDD.

NCDD Group Attending Public Voice 2014

I also helped with the content of the event brochure and some great postcards that were distributed yesterday.  The event brochure included descriptions of the deliberative democracy organizations represented by my invitees.  It was designed to give policymakers who were present a sense of the breadth and expertise available to them if they are interested in engaging citizens more deeply.

The postcard (which I’m really excited about) features a map of the United States that highlights the areas where you will find members of the NCDD community, the National Issues Forums network, and Everyday Democracy community leaders. Look at all of the blue circles that represent NCDDers! The larger circles indicate a larger cluster of contacts.


I really enjoyed yesterday’s event, and loved having the chance to introduce some new NCDD members to the Kettering crowd. NCDD is proud to be developing such a strong partnership with the Kettering Foundation, and we look forward to engaging more and more of you in our work with Kettering.

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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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