Public Conversations at NCDD National Conference

The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation holds their national conference in Washington, D.C., October 17-19. Public Conversations is not only a sponsor of the conference, a number of our practitioners will be speaking and facilitating workshops at the conference!

See a full list of workshop descriptions here, including those listed below that are facilitated or co-facilitated by Public Conversations’ practitioners.

Friday, October 17, 2:30pm-4pm

Reviving Congress One District at a Time
The congressional district is the step-child of citizen participation, an under-tapped arena in which to activate concerned citizens to hold their elected representatives accountable for the responsible use of their power. Presenters from No Labels and Voice of the People will speak about their strategies for getting Members of Congress to be more aware of and responsive to the values and priorities of their constituents. After small group exchanges about how these or other D&D resources might be used to help upgrade congress from the ground up, the whole group will brainstorm ideas to share within NCDD.

Laura Chasin
Founder, Public Conversations Project

Steven Kull
President, Voice of the People

David Nevins
National Grassroots Coordinator, No Labels


“Them” and “Us”: Liberating Stories Through Dialogue
Storytelling can be an important part of public dialogue work. How can stories discourage civic engagement and relate to “Themification” of others? What can facilitators do to understand the group dynamics of storytelling in dialogue? This session will draw from both experience/practice of dialogue and relevant research on storytelling to explore what stories can “do” to dehumanize, imprison, or liberate. Participants will tell their own stories, listen to/make sense of other peoples’ stories and engage the activist photography of Dick Simon (

Robert Stains
Sr. VP for Training, Public Conversations Project

Laura Black
Associate Professor, Ohio University

Saturday, October 18, 11am-12:30pm

Facilitating With Grace, Even Under Fire
When contentious topics are under discussion, even the most skilled facilitator can come under fire, charged by a participant with bias or another form of inadequacy. In this session, the presenters will lay out some basic principles of facilitation, introduce the Walk About Model for staying grounded in difficult moments, then have small groups work on a case asking not only “What would you do?” but also, “What would your thinking be?” and “What does that suggest about how you see your role?”

Maggie Herzig
Senior Associate, Public Conversations Project

Robert R. Stains, Jr.
Senior Vice-President for Training, Public Conversations Project

Sunday, October 19, 11am-12:30pm

Building Bridges between Deliberative Democracy and Collaborative Public Policy
Where do we stand in 2014 in bringing these related fields together, formally or informally? Does a public policy conflict resolution practitioner need to know the D&D and civil discourse worlds, and vice versa? If so, what should they know? What are the best ways to make that happen? What new connections could or should be made? Are these different names for the same discipline? Different disciplines? Related elements of the same discipline? This session will review and build on earlier efforts (including a similar session at the 2013 ACR-EPP Conference), and provide a venue for discussion.

Michael Kern
Director, William D. Ruckelshaus Center, University of Washington/Washington State University

Wendy Willis
Executive Director, Policy Consensus Initiative

Carolyn Lukensmeyer
Director, National Institute for Civil Discourse

Mary Jacksteit
Associate, Public Conversations Project 


#CanWeTalkGender: Safe, Compassionate Conversations about Gender
This year’s hashtag firestorm (#YesAllWomen / #notallmen) exemplified the daunting difficulties and myriad sensitivities involved in any conversation about gender. D&D practitioners are uniquely equipped to address those challenges by fostering a safe space for all genders and creating powerful questions for unlocking discussion. But how do we foster that space? And what are the questions? This session will engage all participants in imagining a fruitful, respectful, compassionate conversation.

Dave Joseph
Senior Vice President for Program, Public Conversations Project

Barbara Simonetti
Principal, Meetings That Matter and NCDD Board Member

John Backman
Principal, The Dialogue Venture and NCDD Board Member

Debilyn Molineaux
Project Coordinator and Managing Partner, Center for Transpartisan Leadership (CTL) and Living Room Conversations

Public Conversations Project: Doing Dialogue

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