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Who’s Working on Issues of Income Inequality & Health Care?

A few months ago, I asked the NCDD network who was, is or will soon be working on engaging people around the issues of health care or income inequality. The Kettering Foundation was interested in learning about who is working on these topics (and still is!), as they are topics that the National Issues Forums Institute is currently addressing.

Later this month, Kettering will be holding its annual “A Public Voice” event at the National Press Club in DC, and NCDD has been honored to have played a role for the past several years in representing the broader dialogue and deliberation community in various ways — including in helping to create maps that represent the D&D community, like the one posted here.

This year, in addition to helping with a map and inviting some great people to attend the event, we are helping create a list of deliberative programs that have addressed (or will soon address) these issues. This list will be shown side-by-side with the list of National Issues Forums that have been held on these issues.

These lists will be featured in the publication that is given to the people who attend this year’s A Public Voice event (which includes some big names in DC and in our field!), and distributed online. We think this will be a great way to both highlight members of the DD community and NIF and give DC leadership a good sense of how robust and dynamic deliberative democracy is across the land.

Below is the list I’m starting off with, based on those of you who shared information about your programs with me several months ago. I want to grow both of these lists significantly, so please add your programs – or programs you know about – to the comments.  I need locations, organization names, and program names or topics covered. Please include your contact info in case Kettering wants to learn more.

Income Inequality / Economic Security

Montevallo, AL
David Mathews Center for Civic Life – Making Ends Meet and Economic Vitality

California Air Resources Board and Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (Institute for Local Government facilitating) — Income Inequality, Climate, Wellness

Sonoma County, CA
Ag Innovations – Economic Wellness

Lake Worth, FL -The Guatemalan-Maya Center – Family Financial Planning

Chicago, IL
The CivicLab in Chicago – Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Illumination Project

Johnson County, IA
Iowa Program for Public Life – Affordable Housing

Dubuque, IA
Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque – Community Equity Profile

The Obermann Center Place-Based Inclusion Working Group – Are U A Good Neighbor? (affordable housing)

Boston, MA
MA Office of Public Collaboration – Economic Security

Kansas City, MO
Consensus KC – Forum on the Living Wage

New Hampshire
New Hampshire Listens – The Opportunity Gap

New Mexico
New Mexico First – Statewide Town Hall on Economic Security and Vitality

North Carolina
Winston-Salem, NC
Wake Forest Baptist Church – Making Ends Meet (this may already be covered in NIF listing)

Kitchen Table Democracy / Oregon Solutions / Oregon’s Kitchen Table and Oregon Business Council – Poverty Reduction Initiative

City of Austin, TX
Fair Chance Hiring for the Formerly Incarcerated

Fairfax, VA
Unitarian Universalist congregation – Escalating Inequality
(also happening across the country!)

West Virginia
West Virginia Center for Civic Life – What’s Next, WV?

King County Executive’s Office – Income Inequality

Seattle, WA
University of Washington Dept of Communication and Center for Communication and Civic Engagement – Making Ends Meet (this may already be covered in NIF listing)

Washington, DC
Interactivity Foundation – Forums on Future of Employment, Rewarding Work, Retirement

Eau Claire County
Clear Vision Eau Claire – Poverty Empowerment Summit (2016-2018)

National Dialogue Network – Nationwide Conversation on Poverty and Wealth in America

Health Care

National Institute for Civil Discourse – Creating Community Solutions on mental health

David Mathews Center for Civic Life and Alabama Issues Forums – Minding Our Future: Investing in Healthy Infants and Toddlers

Mobile, AL
David Mathews Center for Civic Life and Bayou Clinic – Health, Education, and Financial Literacy

Institute for Local Government and California Summer Meals Coalition – Income Inequality, Health and Wellness

San Diego, CA
The San Diego Deliberation Network – Forums on Health Care

Merced, CA
Institute for Local Government and Merced Healthy Communities Network – Health in the Built Environment

Miami, FL
University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, Dept Public Health Sciences and Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy – Patient Engagement and Income Disparities in the Hospital System in the wake of ACA

Panama City, FL
Gulf Coast State College – Health Care Costs, Making Ends Meet, and How can we Stop Mass Shootings in our Communities? (this may already be covered in NIF listing)

Carnegie Mellon Program for Deliberative Democracy – Community Deliberative Forum on Allocation of Scarce Resources

Cape Code, MA
Special Legislative Commission on LGBT Aging – Dialogue and formation of Coalition on Cape Cod re: LGBT Aging issues

Orleans, MA
Orleans Council on Aging – One Book/One Community Discussion of Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Global (NGO based in Michigan)
Common Bond Institute – Response to Disaster Health Care Services and Resettlement for Refugees in the Middle East and Europe

Missouri Foundation for Health – Cover Missouri

St. Paul, MN
Jefferson Center – Health Policy Development & Quality Improvement

New York
Syracuse, NY
Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration and the Jefferson Center – Using Public Deliberation to Define Patient Roles in Reducing Diagnostic Quality

Austin, TX
Health and Human Services Department – Provision of Affordable Health Care

Alexandria, VA
S&G Endeavors – Community-Driven Strategies to Improve Health

Community Forums Network / National Dialogue Network – Healthcare Reform

Washington, DC
Interactivity Foundation – Forums on Depression, Mental Health and Community, Human Genetic Technology

West Virginia
West Virginia Center for Civic Life
What’s Next, WV

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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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We always encourage a lively exchange of ideas, whether online or off. Questions? Please feel free to contact us directly.

  1. Mike Huggins says:

    Eau Claire County
    Poverty Empowerment Summit (2016-2018)
    Clear Vision Eau Claire
    contact: Mike Huggins, hugginsmw@gmail.com

  2. John Spady says:


    Washington State

    Community Forums Network (now the National Dialogue Network)
    Statewide conversation on Healthcare Reform (2013) — 2,705 participants
    Reports and video briefing of findings: http://www.communityforumsnetwork.org/topic-reports/
    Contact: John Spady, jspady@mac.com

  3. John Spady says:


    National scope model, managed from Seattle.

    National Dialogue Network
    Nationwide conversation on Poverty and Wealth in America (2013) — 105 participants completed feedback survey
    History of the project and final report presented at the NCDD 2014 conference: http://bit.ly/NDN-R1-Results
    Wordpress plugin: http://bit.ly/Opinionnaire
    Contact: John Spady, jspady@mac.com

  4. Kara Dillard says:

    “Making Ends Meet”/Income Inequality
    March 7, 2016
    Seattle, WA at the University of Washington
    Dept of Communication and Center for Communication and Civic Engagement sponsored event

  5. ARE U A GOOD NEIGHBOR? Making Housing Fair and Affordable for Community Residents

    The Obermann Center Place-Based Inclusion Working Group, in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the University of Iowa Office of Outreach and Engagement, has invited three speakers to address the role of universities in furthering fair and affordable housing in their communities.

    Obermann Conversation: How Housing Impacts the Health of a Community

    A conversation with Sally Scott (Public Policy Center), Barbara Baquero (Community & Behavioral Health), and Maryann Dennis (Housing Fellowship).

    Contact: Teresa Mangum, Director, OCAS teresa-mangum@uiowa.edu

  6. Tina Nabatchi says:

    “Using Public Deliberation to Define Patient Roles in Reducing Diagnostic Quality”

    Syracuse, NY
    Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration and the Jefferson Center

  7. Jill McMillan says:

    “Making Ends Meet”
    February 28,2016
    Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    Wake Forest Baptist Church
    As part of a 6-week session of deliberation training coinciding with the Lenten season

  8. Martha Cox says:

    The San Diego Deliberation Network (www.sddn.org) conducted forums on Health Care on these dates:
    December 8, 2015 – San Diego City College
    February 6, 2016 – San Diego Public Library
    February 17, 2016 – Oceanside Public Library

  9. Tim Gamwell says:

    “Family Financial Planning”
    Lake Worth, FL
    The Guatemalan-Maya Center
    Our program works with low-income and often undocumented families struggling to pay their rent or utilities. We work with families to find resources to pay for these services, advocate for themselves with utility companies and landlords, and budget to provide future income stability.

  10. Elizabeth Trentanelli says:

    Trained student moderators and I have held several forums on the campus of Gulf Coast State College (Panama City FL), focusing on Health Care Costs, Making Ends Meet, and How can we Stop Mass Shootings in our Communities?:

    Health Care Costs: December 2015 (with American Government students) and March 2016 (with Bio-Medical Ethics students);

    Making Ends Meet: March (with American Government students) and April 2016 (with Introduction to Philosophy students);

    “How can we stop mass shootings in our communities?” campus/community forum last October (2015).

  11. DeKalb, Illlinois
    Northern Illinois University, Division of Outreach, Engagement, and Regional Development
    Making Ends Meet
    Healthy Communities

  12. Tom Tresser says:

    The CivicLab in Chicago (http://www.civiclab.us) created the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Illumination Project at http://www.tifreports.com. We use data mining, investigatory reporting, map making, graphic design and community organizing to explore and expose the impacts of TIFs on a community-by-community basis. We have been invited to 45 public meetings over past three years.

  13. Sarah Giles says:

    Kitchen Table Democracy / Oregon Solutions / Oregon’s Kitchen Table
    Oregon Business Council
    Poverty Reduction Initiative
    Our programs have been supporting and facilitating engagement around a statewide poverty reduction initiative. Activities include: Prosperity Agenda Design Lab held in Nov 2014 to take a fresh look at Oregon poverty and to develop promising long-range solutions; collaborative implementation projects focused around specific strategies to reduce poverty, including CTE and literacy; and public engagement around development of policy package to advocate state policies and investments aimed at reducing poverty in Oregon.

  14. Orleans Council on Aging
    Orleans, MA

    I am a volunteer with this town government center and have contributed to two community dialogue projects re: health care issues.

    CURRENT PROJECT: February-May 2016 (and ongoing follow-up)
    One Book/One Community
    Discussion of Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
    -free books distributed
    -movie event w/author interview
    -book discussion
    -community event with The Conversation Project to present starter kit for end-of-life care discussion
    Future events re: dialogue include: Death Cafes, coalition to create action with local medical providers and local legislators.

    2015 Project and newly formed coalition:
    LGBT Aging Group for support of dialogue among community members.
    Contributed to state-wide dialogue with Special Legislative Commission on LGBT Aging that issued report in December 2015.
    Ongoing social group meetings and engagement with state-level advocacy has spurred creation of newly formed coalition on Cape Cod re: LGBT Aging issues.

    Contact: Mary Anne Ryan, mryan@town.orleans.ma.us

  15. The Pain Opioid Epidemic Project is a citizen oriented, multi-stakeholder approach to treat pain and address the challenges associated with opioid use, abuse and overdose

  16. We will be hosting online deliberation of Income Inequality and Healthcare as well as other issues people vote up as important on a platform that is designed to be fair, balanced and civil. The online platform allows for diverse national discussion. People interested can sign up now at Synaccord.com and we will send out notifications when it starts.

    • This is very cool, David! I’m not sure we can list it in the Kettering Publication, since we are organizing programs by state and this seems like a future online deliberation program. But I’d love to stay updated on this. You should submit a blog post on this initiative for one thing!

  17. David Mathews Center for Civic Life (Alabama)

    – Special forum series on “Health, Education, and Financial Literacy” with the Bayou Clinic in Mobile County (December 2015). Approximately 150 participants
    – “Making Ends Meet” forums in AL: 5 with high school students (Montevallo, AL), 1 with a Council of PTAs (Birmingham, AL) and 1 with business, community, nonprofit, and faith leaders at Innovation Depot (Birmingham, AL). Over 150 Alabamians participated in the series.
    – Statewide Alabama Issues Forums (AIF) series on “Minding Our Future: Investing in Healthy Infants and Toddlers” in 48 of Alabama’s 67 counties with nearly 1500 Alabamians.

    Please let me know if you need further information from us at the David Mathews Center.

    Cristin Foster

  18. I facilitate a program in Missouri focused on reducing the number of uninsured to less than 5% in five years. Missouri Foundation for Health funds Cover Missouri through a partnership of external contractors and resources to meet this goal. We have more than 900 members from across the state, and we convene monthly by webinar or in person. Our goals are to build awareness, facilitate enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace, increase health insurance literary, and expand Medicaid in Missouri.

  19. Health Care
    Global (NGO based in Michigan)

    Common Bond Institute

    International conferences addressing the Syrian refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe.

    A summit of key stakeholders for dialogue and deliberation on developing a bi-regional, collaborative network for comprehensive response to disaster health care services and resettlement for refugees in the Middle East and Europe.

    Participating stakeholders represent current efforts in societies directly impacted by the refugee crisis in both regions, including but not limited to Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Greece, Germany, France, Sweden, Italy, and Bosnia. The international summit is open to all parties interested in being part of these efforts.

    2-part working conferences held back-to-back in Jordan and Germany building practical tools, action plans, and collaboration for joint humanitarian assistance, including a planned cross-training initiative between European and Middle Eastern psycho-social therapists.

    Contact: SOlweean@aol.com

  20. Adriane Gelpi says:

    University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine– Dept Public Health Sciences and Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy:

    As a professor of Public Health, I am developing several projects related to those themes. We are looking at financial literacy as a determinant of health, how health reform is reshaping the VA system in Miami, as well as patient engagement and income disparities in the hospital system in the wake of ACA, to name just a few of the projects.

    I’d love to engage with those working on similar topics.
    Adriane Gelpi

  21. The Interactivity Foundation (IF) has conducted and is currently conducting a number of civic discussion projects that focus directly on some aspect of economic inequality/insecurity (Future of Employment, Rewarding Work, Retirement) or healthcare (Depression, Mental Health and Community, Human Genetic Technology). IF also has conducted and is currently conducting a number of these projects where these themes are core dimensions embedded in the discussion of a related topic (in fact, a plurality of our projects have focused on these themes). For example, the projects on the Future of Sports, Freshwater, Food, Mobility, Childhood, and Crime and Punishment all delve into these themes. These discussion projects frame contrasting policy possibilities that appear in the form of discussion guides that IF makes available for community discussions (http://www.interactivityfoundation.org/resources-downloads/discussion-reports). Those community discussions are intended as springboards for the participants to expand and enrich their own thinking about different ways our society might approach these complex topics.

    IF’s Fellows are based in the greater DC-Baltimore area, in Wisconsin (Madison and Dodgeville), and in Manhattan, Kansas. IF’s project discussions occur largely in those areas and also online. Community discussions based on IF’s discussion guides have taken place over a wider range.

  22. Going back a while but in May 2011 the MA Office of Public Collaboration held a forum on Economic Security (using the then-current NIF issue guide) at UMass Boston. over 25 in attendance. Additional details submitted to Kettering at that time.

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