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NCDD’s 2015 Year in Review

When a new year begins, we naturally tend to reflect back on the previous year. As we look back on 2015, it’s clear that it was quite a year for NCDD, and it’s inspiring to look back and see all that’s happened.

Keiva-profile-borderThe year of 2015 was one of many transitions. NCDD had some personnel changes as we said a fond farewell to our former Creative Director Andy Fluke and gave a warm welcome to our new Resource Curator and Social Media Coordinator Keiva Hummel (pictured at left). We also brought Ellie Boynton on board to help maintain NCDD’s website.

In the midst of these transitions, I also made a personal transition with a move from rural Pennsylvania to Boston, moving NCDD headquarters (my home office!) closer to hundreds of our members in the process.

GrandeLum-NextStepBubble-borderNCDD also had a very dynamic year in 2015 in terms of programs and projects. 2015 saw the launch of our informal partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service, which came out of CRS Director Grande Lum’s involvement in our 2014 national conference. Meetings were held between Community Relations Service leaders and NCDD members in Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City, New York, Dallas, and Seattle, and a few more are still in the works. The meetings were designed to be informal networking and information-exchange events, and next steps have emerged organically from the events such as a great new collaboration in Chicago, with more on the way.

RoshanPic2014At this time last year, we began a scoping project in which we had Roshan Bliss, NCDD’s Student & Youth Outreach Coordinator for the 2014 conference (and our fearless Blog Curator!; pictured at left), conduct an online youth survey, seek feedback from our network about the role of young people in the D&D field, and host a few “focus group” calls with younger NCDDers in an effort to frame a possible NCDD youth initiative. The results gave us some good insights into how NCDD can support young people and folks who are new to the field, and will form the basis of what a Youth Program we’ll be launching this year.

Our regular Tech Tuesday and Confab Calls continued to thrive in 2015 under the coordination of our wonderful Program Director Courtney Breese. As always, you can check out the archives of the confabs at www.ncdd.org/confabs and watch the Tech Tuesday videos at www.ncdd.org/tech-tuesdays.

Confab bubble imageOur Confab Calls covered such topics as how brain science supports constructive dialogue and deliberation, ethics for facilitators, and strategies for handling latecomers in public engagement programs and disruptors at public engagement events. We talked with NCDD members Pete Peterson (about his experience running for CA Secretary of State on a “civic engagement” platform), Matt Leighninger and Tina Nabatchi (about their great new book Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy), and John Gastil (about the opportunity for organizations to host a fellow as part of the new Nevins Democracy Leaders Program).

Tech_Tuesday_BadgeAnd our Tech Tuesday events, which are designed to help practitioners stay on top of new opportunities and developments in the online engagement realm, featured innovative tools like Consider.it, Bang the Table, QiqoChat, and Common Ground for Action. In all, we served 450 people through our online events in 2015.

2015 also saw the launch of a new partnership between NCDD and the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State to create infrastructure that will bring more young people into the D&D field. The Nevins Democracy Leaders program piloted its first two fellowship Mccourtney Institute Logoplacements in 2015 with Everyday Democracy and No Labels, and we are thrilled that 2016 will see nearly two dozen bright D&D-trained students placed with leading organizations in our field in fully funded fellowship positions.

In 2015, I continued to work very closely with the Kettering Foundation, in my role as Research Deputy and otherwise. KF’s president David Mathews took the time to write a special message to the NCDD community about the Kettering-sign-outlinedhistoric opportunity we have right now to “find the public voice that’s missing.” I worked particularly closely on Kettering’s annual A Public Voice event at the National Press Club. Also be on the lookout for a fascinating report on the strategies that public engagement practitioners use to develop productive relationships with public officials over time — a collaboration between NCDD, Kettering, and the Jefferson Center.

As we look forward to the coming year, we hope for more and more opportunities like our partnerships with the Kettering Foundation, the McCourtney Institute at Penn State, and the US DOJ Community Relations Service — opportunities that allow us to utilize the infrastructure we’ve built up to serve the broader field. We look forward to launching our youth program, distributing new materials, continuing to provide quality online programming for our community, and of course, hosting the 2016 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation this October in Boston, MA!!!

NCDD’s work is funded mostly by members’ dues and small donations. If you want to support all of the great work we do, please consider making a tax-deductible donation by visiting www.ncdd.org/donate or renewing or upgrading your membership at www.ncdd.org/renew.

We look forward to enjoying the coming year with all of you, no doubt feeling constantly inspired by the important, innovative work you all are doing.

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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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