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2016 Conference Schedule

NCDD2016 · Boston Metro Area

Conference Schedule

The 2016 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation is over and we had an amazing time at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel & Conference Center in the Boston Metro Area, October 14-16!

This page shows you the overall flow and focus of the conference, as well as start and end times, what meals are provided, and each day’s activities.  We’ll continue to update this page with specific details about all conference activities.

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

Pre-Conference Activities


Essential Partners (formerly the Public Conversations Project) is known for its high-quality workshops. We’re proud to say that they’re offering their advanced workshop on “Facilitating Public Meetings” on October 13th at the Sheraton!

Leading effective public meetings has become increasingly difficult. Designing and facilitating effective public meetings requires coolness, clarity, courage and skill. This workshop will help participants address the challenges of engaging an impassioned and deeply involved public in constructive conversation.

Dave Joseph, MSW will facilitate the training. The regular rate for this one-day training is $150, but NCDD members pay only $127. Learn more and register today. (Middlesex East)


Do you mean by pro-life what I mean by pro-life? What about socialism? Freedom? Compassion? Answering these questions is the goal of the Red-Blue Dictionary, a transpartisan collaboration to help all Americans explore the varied meanings of commonly used (and misused) words. We’re not building a reference handed down from some great authority on high; we’re exploring what words really mean to all of us down here on the ground.

This free interactive workshop, co-facilitated by Cynthia Kurtz and John Backman, is your chance to learn about the Red-Blue Dictionary, join us in improving it, and explore our diverse experiences with the words we love (and love to hate) most. Email Cynthia Kurtz at cfkurtz@cfkurtz.com to let her know you’d like to participate in this workshop. (Commons II)

  5:00 – 7:00 pm  –  DELIBERATION BOOTCAMP

This free evening session will provide an overview of the deliberative perspective and an introduction to many of the key concepts, organizations, and challenges related to the field. Specifically designed for newcomers to the field, the boot camp will help acclimate participants to the conference.

The session will be led by Martín Carcasson, NCDD Board member and Director of Colorado State University’s Center for Public Deliberation. Dr. Carcasson’s presentation will focus on the question of “what kind of talk does democracy need?” and will make the case for building deliberative capacity in our communities.

Email Martín at mcarcas@colostate.edu to let him know you’ll be attending the Bootcamp. (Commons I)


Though the conference doesn’t begin officially until Friday morning, many of you are arriving on Thursday.  Plan on coming down to the hotel bar/restaurant for some informal networking if you’re around (food and drink is on you, though).  Of course, you’re welcome to stick around after 7pm!  (Hotel bar)


NCDD is hosting a pre-conference event for young people and students. This will be a time for attendees 35 and under connect with the other younger conference attendees. During the event, we will be officially unveiling NCDD’s new Emerging Leaders Initiative and all the great ways NCDD will be working to bring younger folks into the D&D field and support them in shaping its future. We will also be kicking off our NCDD 2016 Mentoring Program, which will intentionally connect a cadre of experienced D&D leaders with students and youth attendees during the conference. (Commons II)

Friday, October 14, 2016

  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)

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

The opening plenary session for NCDD2016 is all about lifting up stories of how all of us in the dialogue & deliberation community are bridging divides. We’ll start with our fabulous conference emcees, John Gastil of Penn State and Shari Davis of the Participatory Budgeting Project, who will welcome you to the conference and get you meeting other folks in the room right away. NCDD staff will then introduce the theme of the conference, Bridging Our Divides, and talk about how this theme carries through our three days together.

The plenary then shifts to sharing stories of this work. We’ll begin the conversation with several dialogue practitioners sharing short, personal stories about how they have been bridging the racial divide, healing the divide between communities and police, and exploring how truth and reconciliation processes have offered ways forward for entire societies. Our story tellers will include:

Shelby Brown – Managing Director of Everyday Democracy
India L. Gerald – Program Supervisor at Roxbury’s Youth and Police in Partnerships
Robert Daum, Ph.D. – Board of Directors of Reconciliation Canada

You can learn more about our story tellers and this part of the plenary by clicking here.

It will then be conference attendees’ turn to share stories through a participatory storytelling activity designed to help participants share their own stories about how they have bridged various divides through their dialogue and deliberation work. Multiple opportunities will be available throughout the conference to capture these stories through our Video and Audio Rooms and by connecting with journalists attending the conference, and our emcees will explain how to take advantage of these opportunities.

We’ll close out the plenary by describing how attendees can connect with others at the conference working in similar areas to network and explore spaces for collaboration and innovation. It promises to be a fun and inspiring session! (Ballroom)

   12:00 – 1:00 pm  –  LUNCH

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

  1:00 – 2:30 pm  – WORKSHOPS

Choose from among ten exciting sessions led by people doing extraordinary work in dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement. (Breakout rooms)

   2:30 – 3:00 pm  –  BREAK

   3:00 – 4:30 pm  –  WORKSHOPS

Choose from among ten exciting sessions led by people doing extraordinary work in dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement. (Breakout rooms)

   4:30 – 4:45 pm  –  BREAK

   4:45 – 6:00 pm  –  D&D SHOWCASE and RECEPTION

Have some snacks and stroll around the room, talking with about 25 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! (Worcester Room)

   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.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

   9:00 – 10:30 am  –  WORKSHOPS

Choose from among ten exciting sessions led by people doing extraordinary work in dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement. (Breakout rooms)

   10:30 – 11:00 am  –  BREAK

Coffee will be available!

   11:00 – 12:30 pm  –  WORKSHOPS

Choose from among ten exciting sessions led by people doing extraordinary work in dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement. (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

In our Day 2 plenary, we’ll reflect on the challenges to doing this work and explore opportunities for partnership. To start, we’ll take some time to honor long-time D&D pioneers and also to recognize emerging young leaders. We’ll also remember those we’ve recently lost.

We’ll then begin a frank exchange with a panel of philanthropists and funders. Our panelists and conference participants will focus on the financial constraints — and opportunities — facing our field’s efforts to bring people together across divides. Panelists will share their experiences around funding “bridging the divides” projects and organizations, and share practical ideas about how leaders in this field can be more effective advocates for their work during conversations with funders. Our panelists will include:

Kahlil Byrd – Forward Progress in Politics
John Hardin – Charles Koch Foundation
David Nevins – Bridge Alliance
Leslie Pine – The Philanthropic Initiative

Meanwhile, conference participants will use the Conversation Café process to share their experiences working with funders and philanthropists, and identify questions they would like the panel to address. Following this activity, attendees will challenge panelists with their provocative, timely questions and commentary about the role that funders play in the development of the D&D field. Our colleague Mark Gerzon, President of Mediators Foundation, will moderate this panel and plenary discussion. You can learn more about the panel and by clicking here.

We’ll close out the plenary by outlining the various activities available to participants in the afternoon. A field trip, as well as opportunities for networking and collaboration will be available. (Ballroom)

   3:30 pm – 4:00 pm  –  BREAK


Take advantage of this time to propose a meeting to network and explore opportunities for collaboration! A board will be posted during the conference for attendees to propose a session during this open space. We encourage folks to gather with others working in similar arenas or interested in exploring specific topics, and to use this time to connect and explore ways to work together.

For those who’d like to do something different, the following field trip is available Saturday evening:

FIELD TRIP: Participate in Boston’s Youth Lead the Change PB Process ($35)
NCDD participants will have an opportunity to not only learn about participatory budgeting, but participant in a Boston historic process. In 2014, Boston became the first city in the country to implement a citywide PB process focused on youth. Youth Lead the Change allows young people to directly decide how $1 million dollars of the city’s capital budget is spent. Participants will join an idea collection session in Boston where they will have a chance to get an overview of PB, suggest ideas to make Boston even better and then will have a chance to debrief over dinner and drinks downtown!

We have space for 30 people in the bus, so reserve your spot soon! Email Logistics Manager Rob Laurent at robdotlaurent@gmail.com to claim your spot, and plan to bring a check for $35 or cash with you to cover your portion of the bus costs. The bus will return to the conference hotel at around 10pm.

    6:00 pm-on  –  DINNER

You’re on your own!  Eat in or dine out, but make sure you connect with the fantastic folks you meet at NCDD 2016!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

   9:00 – 10:30 am  –  WORKSHOPS

Choose from among ten exciting sessions led by people doing extraordinary work in dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement. (Breakout rooms)

   10:30 – 11:00 am  –  BREAK

Coffee will be available!

   11:00 – 12:30 pm  –  WORKSHOPS

Choose from among ten exciting sessions led by people doing extraordinary work in dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement. (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

Our closing plenary session will invite participants to look to the future, and imagine the next steps we can take together as a field.

Shari Davis, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Participatory Budgeting Project, will talk with us about creative uses of technology designed by PB participants to bridge physical divides and create safe spaces in government. Young people in Boston running the PB process weighed in on every element of the design and implementation of the process. Shari will share with us some key and simple strategies that allowed them to collaboratively move work forward without eliminating human elements.

We’ll then hear from a panel of media representatives who are engaging with society’s divides and the public in innovative ways.  They will talk about the ways they are engaging with divided communities and divisive issues, discuss how we can increase the visibility of this kind of work, and learn from and envision new ways engagement practitioners and journalists can partner with one another. In short, our media colleagues will help us explore what’s happening now, what’s emerging for the future, and how we can work together to create innovative ways to bridge our divides and shift the toxic political discourse. Our panelists will include:

Christa Case Bryant – Politics Editor for the Christian Science Monitor
Chris Faraone – Co-Founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism
Michelle Ferrier, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University
Linda Miller – Director of Network Journalism & Inclusion, American Public Media Group
Ellen Mayer – Community Manager, Hearken

During this final plenary session, we will also ask the panelists to reflect on what they heard during the conference, what excites them, and what possibilities they see for lifting up or creating stories of those who are bridging divides. Our colleague Peggy Holman, Executive Director of Journalism That Matters, will moderate this panel and discussion. You can learn more about the panel and the panelists by clicking here.

We will close the conference by envisioning the headlines that we want to see written about the work being done in our field over the next several years and plotting a course for how to make them into real current events. And we’ll celebrate our time together and our continued commitment to our work! (Ballroom)