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Contact the NCDD Team

NCDD is led by a small staff of three, with Courtney Breese at the helm as Executive Director. NCDD was co-founded in 2002 by Sandy Heierbacher and Andy Fluke, and many wonderful people have provided NCDD with direction, vision, and leadership over the years. Read about NCDD’s staff and Board of Directors below.  Former staff members and Steering Committee members are also listed on this page.

The best way to get in touch with us is via our Contact Form. Otherwise, you can call, email, or write NCDD at…

General email: info@ncdd.org (goes to Joy)
Phone: 717-601-2430
Mail: NCDD, P.O. Box 150, Boiling Springs, PA 17007

NCDD Staff

Courtney Breese, Executive Director

Courtney-profile2-borderCourtney manages NCDD’s day-to-day operations, and directs NCDD’s ongoing programming for our network (Confabs, Tech Tuesdays, and more) and several NCDD projects and contracts. Courtney has been involved with NCDD for years, serving as Conference Manager for the 2012, 2014, and 2016 national conferences and previously as a member of NCDD’s Board of Directors. She is a trainer, mediator, and facilitator. When she isn’t working with NCDD, Courtney also works 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 Williams, Office Manager

JoyGPic2014NCDD has grown from a Coalition of 50 in late 2002 to a Coalition of more than 2,200 members and 34,000 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.

Keiva Hummel, Communications Coordinator

Keiva-profile-borderKeiva Hummel serves as NCDD’s Communications Coordinator, managing content in our well-loved Resource Center, Blog, and working with Sandy and Courtney on NCDD’s social media. Keiva also serves as Social Media Coordinator for Public Dialogue Consortium. 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.

NCDD Co-Founders

Sandy Heierbacher, Co-Founder

Sandy-profile-borderSandy co-founded NCDD in 2002 with Andy Fluke. She has transitioned into the cannabis industry and currently serves as co-owner and Chief Operating Officer of a Boston cannabis company. She has consulted for such organizations as the Corporation for National Service, Everyday Democracy and the Center for Disease Control in the areas of intergroup dialogue and public engagement. Sandy serves on the advisory board of the Participatory Budgeting Project, and has served on the Board of the National Issues Forums Institute, the Steering Committee of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, and others. Sandy has an M.A. in international management from SIT Graduate Institute. Sandy can be contacted at sandyheierbacher [at] gmail [dot] com. Learn more about Sandy or look over her writings and resources.

Andy Fluke, Co-Founder

Andy-profile3-borderAndy is a writer, educator and consultant who launched NCDD with Sandy Heierbacher in 2002.  While serving as creative director from 2002 through 2015, Andy created & supported 4 generations of NCDD’s website and designed all of NCDD’s print material, including the 2010 Resource Guide on Public Engagement, our conference guidebooks, postcards & other promotional materials. Because of Andy’s vision and perseverance, the NCDD site is one of the most comprehensive websites in this field, boasting many interactive features. Andy transitioned from this role in July 2015 to pursue more personal projects but can still be contacted at andy@ncdd.org. More about Andy.

The NCDD Board of Directors

Lori Britt

Lori L. Britt, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at James Madison University also serves as the Director of the Institute for Constructive Advocacy and Dialogue, which seeks to serve as a resource for the study and practice of public engagement in public problem-solving. She is interested in how people organize to meet community needs and is interested in how language shapes those efforts in particular ways. At JMU, she promotes training and engaging students as public process facilitators to investigate, explore, and develop productive conversations designed to help address complex community needs. Britt has been a learning partner with the Kettering Foundation conducting applied research on framing and facilitating public dialogue and deliberation in communities and is working on pedagogical resources for dialogue with the Interactivity Foundation. She has published numerous book chapters and journal articles on engagement, public processes, and pedagogy, and serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Deliberative Democracy (formerly the Journal of Public Deliberation). Connect with Lori.

Martín Carcasson, Board Chair

Martín Carcasson, Ph.D., is a professor in the Communication Studies department of Colorado State University, and the founder and director of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation (CPD, www.cpd.colostate.edu). He also serves as a Senior Public Engagement Fellow with Public Agenda and serves on the faculty of the Kettering Foundation’s Centers for Public Life program. His research focuses on deliberative engagement and collaborative problem-solving. The CPD serves as an impartial resource for the Northern Colorado community dedicated to enhancing local democracy through improved public communication, community problem solving, and collaborative decision-making. Dr. Carcasson trains students and community members to serve as impartial facilitators, who then work with local governments, school boards, and community organizations to analyze tough issues and then design, facilitate, and report on innovative public forums on those issues. Connect with Martin.

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.

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. Connect with Betty.

Former NCDD Board Members

A huge thank-you to our former Board members, most of whom are still advising NCDD on an informal basis.

Paul Alexander, Former Board Chair

Paul Alexander is Director of the Institute on the Common Good at Regis University. The Institute seeks to facilitate effective social change in the community through the promotion of dialogue, deliberation, and communal discernment. The Institute was host to the 2004 NCDD Conference. Paul serves on the board of NCDD as well as several other nonprofits. He has a Ph.D. in community dialogue. Dr. Alexander has worked and traveled extensively in Latin America and elsewhere. In addition, he has facilitated a wide variety of diverse groups in both English and Spanish. He serves on several boards including Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning and the International Multicultural Institute.

John Backman, Former Board Treasurer

For 25 years, John Backman has served as principal of Backman Writing & Communications, which produces written text for a broad range of applications. As a marketing copywriter, he has developed creative approaches and copy in nearly every conceivable medium, with particular strengths in websites, brochures, magazines, and newsletters. His clients have included such distinguished organizations as Aflac, The Coca-Cola Company, the New York Lottery, the Bank of New York, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the State University of New York, and General Electric.

Lucas Cioffi, Former Board Treasurer

Lucas Cioffi graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Having served one year in Baghdad as an infantry officer, he realizes the need for effective dialogue and deliberation in preventing conflict. He is passionate about advanced online deliberative platforms and is co-founder of OnlineTownhalls.com. OnlineTownhalls.com offers organizations, companies, and elected representatives the ability to engage the public in a meaningful way on a large scale.

Susan Stuart Clark

Susan Stuart Clark founded Common Knowledge (www.ckgroup.org) with the mission of exploring and demonstrating more inclusive and innovative approaches to achieving sustainable social change. She works with state and local government agencies, nonprofits, foundations and businesses, often facilitating multi-sector collaboratives.  New insights and possibilities generated by dialogue are the core of the work.  Susan and her colleagues gravitate to projects that that debunk the myth that the public is apathetic, that identify common ground on contentious issues and discover new resources hidden in plain sight in our communities.

Marla Crockett, Former Board Chair

Marla Crockett is a freelance dialogue and deliberation consultant in the Washington, D.C. area. Since 2007, she has worked primarily with the Kettering Foundation of Dayton, Ohio on projects designed to enhance the public’s influence with government officials in formulating policy on the achievement gap in education, health care reform, and the economy. Crockett is currently working with Kettering to brief federal officials on the public’s thinking about economic security.

She came to the dialogue and deliberation field from a career in public broadcasting. At KERA in Dallas, where she worked as a news anchor, producer and news manager from 1985-2006, Crockett became involved in a national reform movement that focused more on the public than candidate “horse races” in political coverage. That work inspired her to develop a talk show based on dialogic principles which ran for nine years–and to integrate these ideas in the newsroom. After leaving public broadcasting and moving to Maryland, Crockett took an online certification course in dialogue and deliberation from Fielding University in Santa Barbara, California.

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.

Martha McCoy

Martha L. McCoy is executive director of Everyday Democracy (formerly the Study Circles Resource Center). She helped take EvDem from a start-up organization to its current strength, with 13 full-time staff, associates across the country, and a network of hundreds of communities. Under McCoy’s leadership, EvDem has become respected as a national organization that excels in helping local communities build their own capacity to organize large-scale, diverse dialogue for problem solving. Under her direction, EvDem is at the leading edge of connecting public dialogue to collective action and democratic governance, and of keeping race and inclusion at the forefront of practices to strengthen democracy.

Ambassador John McDonald

Ambassador John W. McDonald is a lawyer, diplomat, former international civil servant, development expert and peacebuilder, concerned about world social, economic and ethnic problems. He spent twenty years of his career in Western Europe and the Middle East and worked for sixteen years on United Nations economic and social affairs. He is currently Chairman and co-founder of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, in Washington D.C., which focuses on national and inter-national ethnic conflicts. In February, 1992, he was named Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, in Fairfax, Virginia.

Diane Miller, Former Board Secretary

Diane Miller specializes in the design, facilitation and implementation of projects that help diverse groups of people work together to achieve exceptional results. As owner of Civic Collaboration, Diane works with governments, businesses and community groups to address complex community challenges, such as local and regional planning and resource management issues. Diane focuses on process, relationships and outcomes. She is a skilled communicator, process designer and project leader who understands how to bring together the necessary components of a civic change initiative and to help individuals and groups build the capacity for effective action in ways that can be sustained and replicated.

Diane’s background is a unique blend of project management, civic engagement, group process design, and corporate and civic culture change expertise. Before launching her own firm, Diane was assistant director at Envision Central Texas (ECT), a non-profit that helped citizens develop and implement a vision for future growth in Central Texas that would preserve and enhance the region’s quality of life. She designed and executed numerous collaborative, multi-stakeholder projects to raise awareness and mobilize action on regional visioning, community planning and sustainability issues.

Leanne Nurse

Leanne Nurse is a program analyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Center for Environmental Innovation. She staffs EPA’s public involvement policy and collaborative problem solving initiative, including the new Collaboration Practitioners Network. She served as a community involvement coordinator, a public affairs specialist for water and environmental justice programs, and as liaison to the US Green Group. She is an inaugural fellow of the University of Virginia’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute and is certified by IAP2, the International Association for Public Participation. Prior to government, Leanne worked as an award-winning public and commercial television producer, editor and reporter.

Barbara Simonetti, Former Board Chair

Barbara Simonetti has over 30 years experience, now as an independent consultant, helping social and for profit organizations structure meetings to be highly relevant and open conversations that foster the continuous and effective application of all of our knowledge and creativity to our most pressing questions and challenges. She has extensive experience in developing the capacity of managers and professionals to create, share and use knowledge to meet emerging challenges. Her expertise is in facilitation, training design and delivery, strategy implementation, and building networks and communities of practice.

Najeeba Syeed-Miller

Najeeba is Executive Director of the Western Justice Center Foundation. Previously, Najeeba served as the Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center (APADRC), which has provided mediation and conciliation services for the diverse Los Angeles Asian and Pacific Islander community as well as youth based conflict resolution programs for schools. Najeeba has attended over 400 hours of conflict resolution training and mediated a large number of cases, including youth oriented disputes, inter-racial disputes and community based conflicts. She has trained hundreds of people in mediation skills ranging from prosecutors to community leaders. She currently teaches Intercultural Conflict Resolution, a master’s course at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Taylor Willingham

The late Taylor Willingham was a public engagement and change management consultant, and founded Texas Forums. She taught Change Management for the Graduate Library and Information Sciences distance education program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Texas Forums, a program of the LBJ Library and Museum, was launched in 2002 to help give citizens a voice in decisions that affect their lives. Using the National Issues Forums (NIF) model for community conversations, Texas Forums trains people how to engage others in their community in thoughtful conversations about important public issues – issues like health care, immigration and Americans’ Role in the World. Learn more here about donating to the Taylor Willingham Legacy Fund, which is administered by NIF.

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.

Members of NCDD’s original Steering Committee

Before the Board of Directors was in full swing, we had a very active and incredibly helpful Steering Committee. NCDD deeply thanks all of the people listed below. They are listed with the organizational affiliations and positions they had at the time.

Tom Atlee
Founder, The Co-Intelligence Institute

Andy Fluke
Creative Director, NCDD

Nancy Glock-Grueneich
President, HIGHER Edge

Sandy Heierbacher
Director, NCDD

Leilani Rashida Henry
Founder, Being and Living Enterprises, LTD

Pam Korza
Co-Director, Animating Democracy Initiative of Americans for the Arts

Leah Lamb
Founder, The Performance Initiative

Amy Malick
Communications Director, Study Circles Resource Center

Diane Miller
Project Coordinator, Envision Central Texas

Priya Parker
Program Director of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network, International Institute for Sustained Dialogue

Susan Partnow
Director of Conversations, Let’s Talk America

Barbara Schaeffer-Bacon
Co-Director, Animating Democracy Initiative of Americans for the Arts

David Schoem
Faculty Director, Michigan Community Scholars Program

John Spady
Director of Research, Forum Foundation

Lars Torres
Researcher, AmericaSpeaks

Taylor Willingham
Director of Texas Forums, a member of the LBJ Family of Organizations

Miriam Wyman
Co-Director, Canadian Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation

Sandra Zagon
Co-Director, Canadian Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation

Former NCDD Team Members…

The following is not a comprehensive list, and we’ll keep adding funded team members from previous projects and events as we go.

Roshan Bliss, NCDD’s Blog Curator and Youth Engagement Coordinator

Roshan Bliss served as NCDD’s  Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator until 2017. Roshan was a leader in developing NCDD’s Emerging Leaders Initiative and in organizing youth presence and mentoring at the 2014 and 2016 conferences.  Roshan is a trained mediator, has facilitated hundreds of hours of various types of group processes, and has a background as a diversity and inclusiveness trainer. Roshan can be reached at roshan.bliss [at] gmail [dot] com.

Polly Riddims, Logistics Coordinator of NCDD’s National Conferences

Polly (aka Laurie Bezold) is the Managing Partner of Fusion Partnerships, Inc., a nonprofit in Baltimore whose mission is to be a catalyst for justice and peace. Fusion offers facilitation and educational programs for schools, organizations, and communities that build unity and bring people together across lines of difference. Polly has managed the logistics with grace and style for all six National Conferences on Dialogue & Deliberation! Polly can be reached at pollyriddims [at] gmail [dot] com.

Amy Lang, Happenings Blog Editor

The world of dialogue & deliberation is expanding rapidly, and Amy was hired to help us keep up with the constant influx of news, opportunities and resources we are committed to sharing with our members and visitors on our News & Perspectives blog on the main page of our site. Amy Lang is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia. She wrote her dissertation on British Columbia’s groundbreaking Citizens’ Assembly process, and is currently doing follow-up research on the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly. Amy served as our lead blogger for several years. Read about the results of Amy’s research at www.ssc.wisc.edu/~alang.

Kate Howard, 2006 Conference Manager

Kate was the conference manager for the 2006 NCDD conference. She is a skilled facilitator and is currently a graduate student at the University of Maryland. She has designed and facilitated numerous public involvement processes and civic engagement processes. She is particularly interested in interfaith, law enforcement, and race-relations dialogues, and in deliberative democracy. Kate holds a BA from Oberlin College, and hopes to return to Northern California upon completion of her Masters program.

Priya Parker, Mentorship Program Manager

Part of the New Practitioners Project, Priya Parker initiated the Mentorship Program to meet the needs of young people and others who are entering the dialogue and deliberation field. The mentorship program will pair new practitioners with more experienced D&D practitioners, scholars, and activists who are established in the field. Until recently, Priya Parker (priya.parker @ gmail.com) was the Program Director of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue (www.sustaineddialogue.org). Priya is currently representing IISD in India, and recently served as the M.C. at NCDD’s 2006 conference in San Francisco.

Leah Lamb, Dialogue & the Arts Project Manager

In partnership with Americans for the Arts’ Animating Democracy Initiative, NCDD developed a web feature designed to help members of the dialogue & deliberation community strengthen their work by linking it to the arts. The feature includes descriptions of successful arts-based civic dialogue projects and links to artists who can work with D&D practitioners to bring the arts into their projects. Leah Lamb coordinated this project.  She also coordinated the arts component at NCDD’s 2006 conference in San Francisco. Leah (leahlamb @ gmail.com) is the director of Online Election Initiatives at Current TV.

Lars Hasselblad Torres, Dialogue Bureau Project Manager

In 2004 and 2005, Lars ran a scoping study to determine whether a “National Dialogue Bureau” was a feasible idea. The Dialogue Bureau, if developed, would supply journalists with a “one stop” destination for the collection of views held by ordinary Americans who engage in dialogue about current affairs. The Dialogue Bureau would create a network of leaders of dialogue and deliberation groups who are willing to speak with the media about the key findings and concerns of their group. The Dialogue Bureau would deepen media coverage of an issue while providing D&D leaders – and D&D in general – with increased publicity. The results of Lars’ research are available at https://ncdd.org/rc/item/2941. At the time, Lars Torres was a Researcher for AmericaSpeaks, an organization well-known for its 21st Century Town Meeting model that engages large groups of citizens in public deliberation.

Karla Andreu, Dialogue Bureau Project Coordinator

Karla worked in collaboration with Lars Torres on the preliminary stage of the Dialogue Bureau project. She interviewed numerous dialogue and deliberation practitioners and public journalists in order to determine whether a Dialogue Bureau is needed and will be used by both parties, and how best to design such a Bureau. Karla has an impressive background in community organizing and social justice advocacy.

Evan Thomas Paul, New Practitioners Project Manager

Initiated by the young people and other new practitioners who attended the 2004 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, this project focuses on meeting the needs of new practitioners in dialogue & deliberation. The project has created an email discussion list for new practitioners to share experiences and resources.  Evan also looked into developing a mentorship program to pair new practitioners with more experienced folks, and an internship clearinghouse to help match new practitioners to established organizations and practitioners who can use their help.