National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation's

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Contact the NCDD Team    

Many wonderful people have provided NCDD with direction, vision, and leadership over the years. Read about NCDD’s staff and Board of Directors below.  Scroll down a bit further to see a listing of former staff members and Steering Committee members.

Contact Us…

Phone: 717-243-5144
ncdd @ (emails for specific team members are below)
Mail: 114 W. Springville Road, Boiling Springs, PA 17007

The NCDD Team…

Sandy Heierbacher, Co-Founder and Director

After directing the first National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation in 2002, in collaboration with 60 individuals and 50 organizations representing the full spectrum of dialogic and deliberative practice, Sandy and her husband Andy (NCDD’s Creative Director) co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, a group of 50 organizations who shared Sandy and Andy’s vision of strengthening and uniting the growing dialogue & deliberation community. As of July 2010, NCDD has over 1,300 members. In addition to her work with NCDD, Sandy has consulted for such organizations as the Corporation for National Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kettering Foundation in the areas of intergroup dialogue, public participation and deliberative democracy. Read Sandy’s (and NCDD’s) full story here if you’re interested. Sandy can be contacted at sandy @

Andy Fluke, Co-Founder and Creative Director

In addition to creating and designing NCDD’s presence on the web, Andy Fluke designs all of NCDD’s print publications – including our 2004, 2006 and 2008 conference handbooks, the 2002 conference binder and our promotional material. Because of Andy’s vision and perseverance, the NCDD site is one of the most comprehensive websites in this field, boasting many interactive features. He can be contacted at andy @

Joy Garman, Office Manager

NCDD has grown from a Coalition of 50 in late 2002 to a Coalition of over 1,300, with over 20,000 people on our main email list. Processing new members, coordinating and managing our databases and keeping on top of email was not often done in a timely manner since NCDD staff were so busy with various projects and conferences. Joy Garman was hired in February 2006 to make sure these vital administrative tasks do not fall through the cracks. Joy can be contacted at joy @

NCDD Board of Directors

Paul Alexander, 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.

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.

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.

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

Taylor Willingham is a public engagement and change management consultant, and founded Texas Forums. She teaches 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.

Former Members of NCDD’s 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.

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…

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 facilitaiton 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 four National Conferences on Dialogue & Deliberation. Polly can be reached at lbezold @

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. Read about the results of Amy’s research at She can be reached at .

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 @ was the Program Director of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue ( 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 @ 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. NCDD is currently seeking funding to move forward on this idea. Lars Torres (lhtorres @ is a Researcher for AmericaSpeaks (, an organization that is 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, and we are developing a mentorship program which will pair new practitioners with more experienced folks, and an internship clearinghouse which will help match new practitioners to established organizations and practitioners who can use their help. Evan Paul (evanthomaspaul @ is a student at the University of Missouri.

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