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Introducing NCDD’s New Board Members

As many in our network know, NCDD had a major transition on our Board at the beginning of this year. On January 1st, we were excited to have four new leaders from the field join our Board, and at the same time, we said goodbye four of our outgoing Board members.

The outgoing Board members – Barb Simonetti, Marla Crocket, Diane Miller, and John Backman – all worked tirelessly over the last six years to help steward NCDD through important transitions in our organization and guide our work to new heights. We can’t thank the four of them enough for all of the hard work they put in over the years, and if they weren’t all term limited, we would have kept them on forever! But thankfully, none of these incredible leaders will be going far, and you can expect them to remain regular parts of the NCDD network.

But as Barb, Marla, Diane, and John step off the Board, we couldn’t be more excited to be welcoming on four amazing new additions! These new Board members will be joining our remaining Board members – Martín Carcasson and Susan Stuart Clark – in helping provide vision and leadership for NCDD and our field more broadly, and we wanted to officially introduce them to our network! We encourage you to join us in thanking them for taking on these new roles and to learn a bit more about them below.

The New Members of the NCDD Board of Directors

Simone Talma Flowers

Simone Talma Flowers is the Executive Director of Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT), whose mission is to cultivate peace and respect through interfaith dialogue, service and celebration. Simone Talma Flowers brings over 26 years of extensive experience in non-profit management.

Simone promotes a culture of high performance, support and collaboration. She advances the mission of the organization by bringing people of diverse faiths, cultures and backgrounds together, to break down the barriers that divide us. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion and believes everyone should have access to opportunities, so they can live up to their fullest potential. Simone has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Business Administration from St. Edward’s University.

Jacob Hess

Jacob Hess is the author of 14 peer reviewed articles exploring contrasting health and socio-political narratives and has (co)authored three books: You’re Not  as Crazy as I Thought, But You’re Still WrongOnce Upon a Time… He Wasn’t Feeling It Anymoreand A Third Space: Proposing Another Way Forward in the LGBT/Religious Conservative Impasse (Disagreement Practice, Treasonous Friendship & Trustworthy Rivalry in the Face of Irreconcilable Difference). His work with Phil Neisser at State University of New York has been featured on This American Life and was also recognized by Public Conversations Project (Essential Partners). Jacob enjoys being a part of Living Room Conversations and the Village Square – and is grateful for a chance to serve NCDD, as an organization he has loved for many years.

Betty Knighton

Betty Knighton is the director of the West Virginia Center for Civic Life, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes public dialogue on issues that affect the quality of life in West Virginia. A primary focus of her work has been building a network for civic engagement in the state through collaborative partnerships with educational, civic, faith-based, and governmental organizations. Through the Center, she works with West Virginia communities to develop balanced frameworks for local issues, to convene and moderate community discussions, and to develop processes to move from dialogue to action.

Wendy Willis

Wendy Willis is the Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium , a global network of major organizations and leading scholars working in the field of deliberation and public engagement. Wendy is also the Founder and Director of Oregon’s Kitchen Table, a program of the National Policy Consensus Center at Portland State University. Wendy is also a widely published poet and essayist, writing often on issues of public life. She is also the former Executive Director of the City Club of Portland and has served as an Assistant Public Defender for the District of Oregon and law clerk to Chief Justice Wallace P. Carson, Jr. of the Oregon Supreme Court. Wendy graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown Law Center and holds an M.F.A. from Pacific Lutheran University and a B.A. from Willamette University. Her next book, A Long Late Pledge, is due out in September.

We are so pleased to be working with this amazing new class of Board members and hope that you will join us in honoring their commitments to playing such key leadership roles in our field! You can learn more about all of NCDD’s Board and staff by visiting www.ncdd.org/contact.

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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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