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A Time of Transition for NCDD

It has been a crazy summer — a crazy year so far, really — for me and for NCDD. Those of you who are connected to me on Facebook or who have seen me at events likely know what’s been going on. But this is an overdue update to the whole network.

Sandy and Andy picAs many of you know, NCDD was co-founded in 2002 (13 years ago now!) by me and Andy Fluke. The vision for NCDD was primarily mine, but Andy’s skills in website and graphic design were critical to the organization’s success. Back in 2002, everything we did to initially build this largely virtual network, from online survey creation to listserv maintenance to website design, required a very specialized skill set we wouldn’t have had the budget to acquire. Andy and my partnership and perseverance were what made NCDD possible.

Back in November of last year, Andy and I decided to get a divorce. We hoped for a while that he would be able to continue having a key role in the organization (publication design primarily, as he wanted to have someone else manage the website), but as we announced in April, it ended up being best for everybody for Andy to move on to other opportunities.

IntroGuide-CoverThis wasn’t an easy transition for any of us, or for the organization, but we managed — and pretty darn well, all things considered! Andy and I are amicable (indeed, I can now honestly say we are friends), and we are still working with him to finish up a project or two. Check out the gorgeous new pamphlet we created this summer! (pictured at right)

Andy is now pursuing his own projects related to dialogue and deliberation, and we plan to help him share those projects with the network.  He will also, always, be recognized as Co-Founder of NCDD.

In May, Andy moved from our house in Boiling Springs, PA to nearby Mechanicsburg, PA.  In June, I moved myself to Boston (I found a great place in Belmont, right outside of Cambridge).  I chose Boston because I wanted to be surrounded by NCDD members, and we have hundreds in the Boston area.  I also planned to co-locate NCDD with one of our founding members, the Public Conversations Project (PCP).  It turns out that PCP has decided to sell its two buildings in Watertown, MA and move to a new space in Cambridge or Boston, so for now I’m still working out of a home office.

We’re all hoping that PCP’s new space will be conducive for me to work out of as well. In the meantime, I have options. One of the NCDD members I’ve been spending a lot of time with since moving here is Frances Moore Lappe (author of Diet for a Small Planet and 17 other books, and founder of the Small Planet Institute). Frankie, it turns out, lives just a few blocks from me. And she and her partner Dick have kindly offered me daytime use of the writing cottage Dick built for her. It seems Boston is full of this kind of serendipity!

Frankie, for those who don’t know, gave me my first job in this field — hiring me as an intern at her organization the Center for Living Democracy in Brattleboro, Vermont. For my internship, which was also part of my Master’s program at SIT Graduate Institute, I interviewed 75 leaders of race dialogue programs across the country. It was these interviews that made me realize how disconnected these amazing facilitators were from one another, and how much of a difference it would make to their work to have more access to each other and each other’s resources and know-how.

Sandy-soloMy transition out of a long-term business partnership and marriage, and into a new life in Boston on my own has been complicated, emotional, amazing and challenging. It has been filled to the brim with new people, new experiences, an unprecedented reliance on my network of friends and colleagues for support, and yet a new sense of being completely on my own.

There is still so much that remains to do. But NCDD has stayed strong and resilient through all of this — in large part due to our amazing staff.

We are a small but mighty staff of five, plus some additional contractors. I want to recognize our core staff in this post, because these very special individuals have kept NCDD running seamlessly, and in fact kept it growing and thriving, during Andy and my transition.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am to these people.

Courtney Breese, Program Director (based in San Francisco)

Courtney-profile2-borderCourtney directs NCDD’s ongoing programming for our network (Confabs, Tech Tuesdays, and more) and manages numerous NCDD projects and contracts. Courtney has been involved with NCDD for years, co-leading the Boston regional event in 2010, serving as Conference Manager for the 2012 and 2014 national conferences and serving as a member of NCDD’s Board of Directors before transitioning to the staff. 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.

Joy Garman, Office Manager (based in Boiling Springs, PA)

JoyGPic2014NCDD has grown from a Coalition of 50 in late 2002 to a Coalition of more than 2,200 members and 35,000 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, Blog Curator (based in Denver)

RoshanPic2014Roshan 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. 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 (based in Oakland)

Keiva-profile-borderKeiva 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. We fell in love with Keiva when she stood out as an extraordinary volunteer at our 2014 conference. 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.

I am also indebted to our amazing Board of Directors, led by our chair Barb Simonetti. They (including Marla Crockett, Diane Miller, Martin Carcasson, John Backman, and Susan Stuart Clark) have worked tirelessly to ensure the organization came out of this transition with a strong footing — and yet managed to be as patient as possible with me. And I am grateful to my friends and colleagues at the Kettering Foundation (where I also serve as a Research Deputy), who have helped me through this transition in more ways than they know.

Others of you (you know who you are!) have been sources of regular support and encouragement on Facebook, via phone calls, and otherwise. And some of you are supporting and helping Andy through his transition, and I am also very grateful to you for that.

Originally, this post was going to be an announcement about NCDD’s (my) move to Boston, and an appeal for our membership drive. But I found it difficult to announce the move without explaining the full picture. NCDD has always been a transparent, open organization, and it feels right to share the whole story — especially since many have seen NCDD as a “mom and pop” operation, and that is changing.

That said, we do still need your support to remain a strong, resilient organization. If you are a non-dues member or not yet a member at all, would you please consider joining at www.ncdd.org/join or upgrading at www.ncdd.org/renew? Individual membership is only $75/year, and organizational membership dues are $200.

You can easily search for yourself in the members directory at www.ncdd.org/directory to see if your dues have lapsed or if you’re a non-dues “Member” (rather than a Supporting Member or Sustaining Member) who could show your support by upgrading. Or you can send a quick email to joy@ncdd.org to have her check on your status.

More than ever, I feel like NCDD is a strong, growing, resilient organization. With more than 2,200 members, 35,000 subscribers and 3,000 online resources, we have a lot to offer the incredible people and organizations we serve. Your support means a great deal to us, and I hope this update helps you feel more informed about where the organization is at right now.

Joy is receiving NCDD’s mail at our fairly new post office box back in Boiling Springs: P.O. Box 150, Boiling Springs, PA 17007.  I am receiving mail at my new place at 13 Bright Road, Belmont, MA 02478. You can email me at sandy@ncdd.org, but right now, Facebook messages reach me more effectively because there are so many fewer of them!

Thank you to those who made it to the end of this long note. I hope you had a great summer, and are gearing up for a productive fall.

Sandy Heierbacher on FacebookSandy Heierbacher on LinkedinSandy Heierbacher on Twitter
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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  1. Dave Biggs says:

    This is beautiful, heartfelt and inspiring, Sandy! Your work with NCDD is so important and I’m thrilled to hear that your new life is taking shape in Boston. It’s a long way from MetroQuest HQ in Vancouver but it’s good to know you’ll be there when I visit.

    All the best,

  2. The words “class act” spring to mind. My best wishes as you enter this new phase, Sandy. I know you’ll continue to be an inspiring leader in the deliberation community wherever you hang your hat.

  3. Beatrice Briggs says:

    Thanks so much for being who you are and doing what you do. I am still on the International Association of Facilitators board and would love to explore ways for our two organizations to collaborate. Meanwhile, hugs from Mexico!

  4. Sandy, thank you for your vulnerability and strength. It’s so fantastic to be a part of this organization and I really appreciate all that you, Andy and the NCDD Team have done! Sending deep gratitude and appreciation!

    Cheers, Karina

  5. Pat says:

    Wishing you all the best, Sandy, in the changes and shifts in your life and new endeavors for NCDD. Change is always a bit daunting yet exciting and I can see many successes coming your way.

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