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Our 2014 Conference Program

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The 2014 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation brought together 415 innovators in dialogue, deliberation and public engagement in Reston, VA. We had an amazing time together, and we encourage you to check out our Storify page on the conference and to join NCDD (if you’re not already a member) to stay connected. Keep an eye on the NCDD2014 tag in the blog for news on follow-up activities and check out the info below to learn more about what went on at our latest national conference in Reston, VA…

This page shows you the overall flow and focus of the conference, as well as start and end times, what meals were provided, and each day’s activities. You can also peruse the list of concurrent sessions here.

GUIDE:      = PLENARY     = WORKSHOPS     = LUNCH     = SPECIAL      = OTHER  

Optional Pre-Conference Activities on Thursday, October 16, 2014

NCDD encourages our attendees to plan both formal and informal meetings the day before the conference. So far, two invitation-only activities are being planned…

  • Mediators Foundation (Mark Gerzon’s organization) is planning a day-long invitational meeting for leaders in transpartisan dialogue work.
  • The CommunityMatters Partnership (led by the Orton Family Foundation) is convening leaders in the fields of community building, place-based planning, deliberative democracy, technology for engagement, and grassroots grantmaking, to strategize about how these somewhat siloed fields can work together to build civic infrastructure in communities.

Attendees are encouraged to organize additional meetups and activities on Thursday afternoon or evening. There are lots of small meeting nooks in the hotel, but for larger groups check out the restaurant list and map for Reston Town Center and start planning something fun! The Hyatt is marked as K on the map — so you can see there are tons of options right by the hotel.

Check out the comments at www.ncdd.org/16342 to see what NCDD 2014 attendees have been organizing so far!


We’re holding an informal reception the evening before the conference even officially begins, to encourage networking among participants at the pre-conference events and NCDD attendees who arrive on Thursday. This reception is co-sponsored by NCDD, Mediators Foundation and the CommunityMatters Partnership. (1st floor central lounge and bar)

  8:30 – 9:45 am  –  REGISTRATION

Check in and get your name tag and goodie bag, have some coffee and bagels, and start chatting people up! (Outside the ballroom, 2nd floor)

   10:00 am – 12:00 pm  –  OPENING SESSION

In our opening plenary, NCDD Director Sandy Heierbacher will orient us to the conference theme, Democracy for the Next Generation, and our goals and hopes for the next few days. She’ll talk a bit about the current state of the field from her vantage point at NCDD, highlighting some current innovations and exciting trends, and noting some of our field’s ongoing challenges.

When you walk into the plenary room on the first day of the conference, you’ll see ten large graphic recording maps on the wall that illustrate the ecosystems of work and partnerships of ten highly collaborative organizations and networks in NCDD. This sets the tone for the rest of the plenary and for the whole conference–where we’re encouraged to think of ourselves more as a collective, and we consider new inroads to collaboration, underutilized sources of knowledge and expertise, and gaps we could work together to fill. (Read more about our visual mapping project leading up to NCDD 2014.)

Kathryn Thomson of LeadershipMind Consulting, who conducted the interviews that resulted in the ten maps, will share some of her observations from the project, and then lead us in a collaborative network mapping exercise at our tables inspired by the World Cafe process. This activity will serve as a fun way to network with the amazing people in the room, and to begin to get a sense of the whole network, our existing connections, and potential new connections that can be made.

Our graphic recording team will guide you through this iterative mapping process, and will build on themes they notice on the table maps to begin creating a larger field map that they will be working on throughout the conference.

Our featured speaker for the opening plenary is David Mathews, President and CEO of the Kettering Foundation. Under David’s leadership, Kettering plays a vital role in our field by advancing and funding leading edge democracy research. Because one of the key ways they conduct research is through in-person “learning exchanges,” Kettering also provides an important convening role in our field.

David will orient us to the past and present landscape in Washington for dialogue and deliberation, from his work in the Ford Administration as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), to Kettering’s current efforts to draw policymakers’ attention to the work and potential of the deliberative public–and the community of innovators who have the skills and know-how to support and mobilize that public, but tend to be working under the radar of our political leaders.  (2nd floor ballroom)

   12:00 – 1:00 pm  –  LUNCH

A healthy buffet lunch is provided, and will be served outside the ballroom.

   1:00 pm – 2:00 pm  –  SHORT TALKS

Our 20-minute “short talks” sessions will be repeated, so you can choose two of the nine short talks. Presenters will give snappy 10- or 15-minute talks, facilitate some Q&A, and then repeat the talk and Q&A with a new group after a 20-minute break that allows attendees to move to another room. Our short talks presenters are leading innovators and thought leaders in the field. (Breakout rooms, also on 2nd floor)

   2:00 – 2:30 pm  –  BREAK

   2:30 – 4:00 pm  –  WORKSHOPS

Workshop Session A. Choose from among ten exciting sessions led by people who have done extraordinary work in dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement. This afternoon’s workshops will include at least two great options designed to help those newer to dialogue and deliberation get a better grip on the field.  (Breakout rooms)

   4:00 – 4:30 pm  –  BREAK

   4:30 – 6:00 pm  –  D&D SHOWCASE and RECEPTION

Have some snacks and stroll around the ballroom, talking with about 20 presenters stationed around the room who are excited to tell you about a tool, concept, or initiative they’re working on. Showcase presenters will have posters on display and materials to give you. This is a great chance to meet some movers-and-shakers in D&D, learn what’s new in the field, and do some more networking!

Click here to see who will be presenting in the Showcase. (Regency ballroom, 2nd floor)

   6:00 pm on  –  FREE TIME FOR DINNER

Dinner on your own. Go out to dinner with new or old friends… We’ll provide you with all you need to organize your evening out. Check out the restaurant list and map for Reston Town Center if you’d like to start planning something now. And check out the comments at www.ncdd.org/16342 to see what’s being proposed so far. (The Hyatt is marked as K on the map — so you can see there are tons of shopping and dining options right by the hotel.)

   9:00 – 10:30 am  –  WORKSHOPS

Workshop Session B. Choose from an amazing selection of nine concurrent sessions. (Breakout rooms, 2nd floor)

   10:30 – 11:00 am  –  BREAK

Coffee will be available!

   11:00 – 12:30 pm  –  WORKSHOPS

Workshop Session C. Choose from another amazing line-up of ten concurrent sessions. (Breakout rooms)

   12:30 – 1:30 pm  –  LUNCH

A healthy buffet lunch is provided, and will be served outside the ballroom.

   1:30 – 3:30 pm  –  AFTERNOON PLENARY

People who are committed to dialogue and deliberation are by definition hopeful people. We believe a better world is possible, and strive to create the conditions needed to enable people to solve problems and resolve conflicts more effectively.

Imagine we are able to travel into a not-so-distant future when D&D has taken a positive leap forward in our society. What is it that we are aspiring to as a field in this next phase of our development? Our Day 2 plenary is designed to help us consider what we want dialogue, deliberation, and engagement to look like a generation from now, and to identify promising practices and co-create new ideas that will help us get there.

We’ll begin by exploring our aspirations for our work and our field, with the help of dog & pony dc — a well-loved ensemble of local artists who devise innovative performances that incorporate new ways for audiences to experience theatre. Artists from dog & pony will lead us in creating a vision for “the future of D&D” through collage, infographics, “dramatagraphs” and word-cloud poetry.

Seven of our colleagues from Alberta Climate Dialogue (ABCD) will then take the stage to ground us in a timely real-world example of an ambitious, inspiring project. As deliberation practitioners addressing a global issue at a local level, their aspirations have been high from the start of the project, and we can all learn from their challenges and how they’ve overcome them. They will each offer quick interventions, sharing an aspiration they held for their work on the project, an obstacle they faced during the project, and their strategies and struggles to overcome that obstacle.

We’ll close out this plenary with table discussions on how we might address the barriers we see as getting in the way of our realizing our aspirations for this work. While it’s important to have a clear vision of the future we hope for, it is equally important to be clear about what stands in our way and devise plans for getting around those obstacles.

By engaging our community leading up to the conference, NCDD has already identified four categories of persistent barriers to effective dialogue and deliberation work, and numerous elements within each category. Rather than lamenting the barriers themselves, table conversations will focus on strategies for overcoming the specific barrier at hand. Some tables will have pre-identified discussion leaders who will share leading edge strategies that are already in the works, and elicit more ideas and examples from their table.

Each table’s top three ideas will be collected and entered into the online participation platform Codigital, so conference participants and others in the D&D community who aren’t present will have the opportunity to hone and prioritize the ideas, providing guidance to NCDD and many others who are interested in paving the way for this important work. (2nd floor ballroom)

   3:30 pm – 4:00 pm  –  BREAK

     4:00 on  –  NETWORKING and FIELD TRIPS

Members of our local planning team have organized four amazing field trips for conference participants on Saturday evening. We left time in the schedule for you to enjoy what the DC area has to offer on Saturday starting at 4pm, and though you’re free to do whatever you’d like that night, you can’t go wrong with these four options.

There’s something for everybody in these four field trips:  music, history, performance, monuments, yummy food, and of course, lots of great discussion and networking! Read more about the four trips, and sign up today to secure your spot.

  • Trekking through Generations of Democratic Participation in DC, hosted by the Close Up Foundation
  • Stage Performance of Toast by dog & pony dc
  • Field Trip to Historic Morven Park
  • U Street Food & Jazz Tour (Hosted by Natalie Hopkinson, author of Go-Go Live)

Those who don’t go on field trips can take a break, do a little shopping, watch a movie, or go out to dinner with colleagues. We’ll help you organize group dinners that night, but feel free to get a head start by looking over the Reston Town Center restaurant list and map if you’d like to lead a group dinner (you can even announce it now at www.ncdd.org/16342 if you’d like). The Hyatt is marked as K on the map — so you can see there are tons of shopping and dining options right by the hotel.


After dinner, napping, shopping or whatever you do, come back to the hotel and enjoy a screening of the not-yet-released film “Bring It To The Table.” Filmmaker Julie Winokur traveled across the country with a small star-spangled table, inviting people of all stripes to sit down and share the roots of their political beliefs. Afterward, talk with filmmaker Julie Winokur about her journey, and about how you might utilize the film. More on this.

   9:00 – 10:30 am  –  WORKSHOPS

Workshop Session D. Choose from among nine top-notch concurrent sessions (Breakout rooms)

   10:30 – 11:00 am  –  BREAK

Coffee will be available!

   11:00 – 12:30 pm  –  WORKSHOPS

Workshop Session E. Choose from among nine more top-notch concurrent sessions (Breakout rooms)

   12:30 – 1:30 pm  –  LUNCH

A healthy buffet lunch is provided, and will be served outside the ballroom.

   1:30 – 3:30 pm  –  CLOSING PLENARY

In our final plenary, we’ll begin with a panel focused on Gamification and Public Engagement, featuring Josh Lerner of the Participatory Budgeting Project (and author of Making Democracy Fun), Amy Lee of the Kettering Foundation, and  Gene Koo of iCivics and Good Games Group.

This panel will examine how the principles of game design can strengthen public engagement efforts. We’ll look at several inspiring examples of gamified public engagement and identify some basic ideas for thinking about these tools for your work. We’ll also explore when a game design approach might not be appropriate.

After a speed networking activity that helps you meet one or two more people you haven’t yet connected with, we’ll hear from featured speaker Grande Lum. Grande is the Director of the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service (CRS). Known as “America’s Peacemaker,” CRS has worked with thousands of communities over the years, many of whom came together in crisis and emerged stronger and more unified. CRS delivers four services: mediation of disputes, facilitation of dialogue, training, and consulting.

Read more here about the Community Relations Service’s work in Ferguson, Missouri and in Sanford, Florida to get a better sense of the critical and challenging work this agency does.

Utilizing game design techniques, we’ll then explore how we, as a community/field/movement can work together to achieve one of our field’s aspirations: a rapid response mechanism for issues and crises that require citizen engagement or conflict resolution techniques. Jess Solomon of the bold and inventive U.S. Department of Arts & Culture initiative will lead us into this final exercise. (2nd floor ballroom)

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