National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation's

Local, Regional and National Events

bringing the growing dialogue & deliberation community together

Skip to main content.


Summary of Demonstration Project Idea    

The idea of an NCDD-led “demonstration project” emerged at the 2008 NCDD conference from a two-part workshop titled “How can WE revitalize democracy with D&D?” The workshop was co-led by DeAnna Martin of the Center for Wise Democracy and Adin Rogovin of the Co-Intelligence Institute.

The workshop brought together method leaders and practitioners in a dynamically facilitated fishbowl conversation to explore how we can weave together our work to enhance democracy. Workshop attendees were invited to observe the process and a couple of chairs in the fishbowl were left available so audience members could join in.  At different times the fishbowl conversation included: Tom Atlee, Theo Brown, Lucas Cioffi, Peggy Holman, Sen. Les Ihara, Julianna Padgett, Pete Peterson, Jim Rough, Elliot Shuford, John Spady, Patricia Wilson, Landon Shultz, Alexander Moll and others.

A demonstration project could…

  1. Give us the opportunity to collaborate on a tangible project that helps us learn and move forward together
  2. Generate momentum and resources for ongoing, sustainable, integrated method use
  3. Help us learn how to better meet the interests of decision makers
  4. Introduce a variety of D&D methods into governance, and integrate these methods into a system that is a citizen platform for having citizens make wise decisions in an inclusive way
  5. Build capacity at the local level and build capacity for our field – through capturing case studies, stories, and bringing leaders together to learn from one another
  6. Funnel into national processes (and vice versa) (more…)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

Report on the Youth Dialogue Project    

YDP group shotDeborah Goldblatt, director of the Youth Dialogue Project (YDP) submitted the following reflections on the YDP at NCDD Austin. Sponsored by the Rockrose Institute, the YDP’s goal is to ensure that the voices of young leaders are included in creative and innovative ways. To this end, the YDP hosted three inter-related sessions at the conference: one workshop for people under 30, one for people over 30, and a trans-generational sub-plenary session. The first session and the sub-plenary were co-designed and hosted by six young leaders from the On the Verge leadership training program in partnership with a team of mentors and elders currently active in the D&D community. The second session was co-designed and hosted by the YDP mentoring team.

NCDD is grateful for the extraordinary leadership of Deborah Goldblatt, the entire Youth Dialogue Project team (including the graphic recorders whose work is featured here), and the Rockrose Institute. It was a pleasure working with you, and we hope to work with you again soon!

What worked:

Young Adult Leadership session and sub-plenary were successful due to:

  1. an intentional invitation from NCDD to include and provide space for younger members to become more visible in the NCDD community.
  2. creating opportunities for younger D&D facilitators to model their skill and generate new ideas.
  3. modelling inter-generational design collaboration for participants.
  4. giving a voice to current concerns within young adult leadership and raising self-reflective questions about inter-generational collaboration.
  5. addressing challenges of bias and inclusion in community, especially NCDD.
  6. the sessions were highly experiential bringing in technology and the arts, which all ages appreciate, and offering young participants tools for engaging other participants.

YDP graphic close-upWhat was learned:

How can we help young people succeed and thrive in the D&D field? It really comes down to creating opportunities and pushing for breakthroughs in schools and colleges through willing, trained faculty. I refuse to believe that time and money are the key obstacles to making that happen, but in my experience of creating the Youth Dialogue Project, it is apparent that those two things stand out as obstacles to progress.

As we (hopefully) are now entering an age of transparency, issues inter-generationally of trust and control may be opened up to where faculty are more willing to relinquish the reins and experiment. Steve Pyser’s post recently on your blog is a perfect example of what we need to model much, much more of to help young people succeed and thrive in this field. Most young people just aren’t aware that D&D is out there. (more…)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

Summary of the Evaluation Results for NCDD Austin    

Close to 200 people (about 50% of attendees) completed the online evaluation survey

Here’s what people seemed to appreciate most about the 2008 conference…

- the people (the connections made and strengthened, the potential for collaboration)
- the conservatives panel (a huge hit)
- the D&D Marketplace (much appreciated and enjoyed, aside from the drumming which annoyed some folks)
- the slam poets (another huge hit)
- the graphic recording team and their work
- the workshops (not all were hits, but many people LOVED most of the sessions they chose)
- the use of the polling keypads in the plenary sessions
- the tech meeting on Thursday night
- the bookstore
- the food (although some people would have preferred a more modest venue with more food provided)

Here’s what people feel could have been better…

- the opening and closing sessions should have been more participatory, and included more dialogue
- the hotel was too cold and some people felt things were too spread out
- the amount of racial and ethnic diversity at the conference was troublesome to many
- the guidebook should have been easier to navigate (organized by date and time rather than by type of session) and activities could have been posted for all to see (more…)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

Phil Mitchell's Post on NCDD 2008    

On October 30th, Phil Mitchell wrote a great post on the blog about the 2008 NCDD Conference that included the great photo of a graphic recording created at the conference.  Phil was the leader of our challenge area on moving from D&D to action.

Graphic recordingPhil starts his post with “One of the least talked about but most far-reaching worldchanging innovations is the development of new processes of citizen-centered democracy. These processes (such as citizen assemblies) are not just solutions to specific problems; they hold out the promise of better collective decision-making in general. In this time of ultra-polarized, dysfunctional politics, such a promise is a beacon in a dark night. Yet, because most of us are focused on specific issues rather than on process itself, much of this innovation does not get noticed or used to its full potential.”

Later on in his post, Phil makes this astute comment:

“Indeed, tying dialogue and deliberation to actual political outcomes is perhaps the key challenge the field faces. The wonderful fact is that we know how to create the conditions for healthy dialogue and good collective decision-making. The sobering reality is that actually using good decision-making requires taking power away from those who currently hold it, and that is tangling with gravity.”

Visit to see the full post.

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

Hal Saunders' Closing Remarks at NCDD Austin    

We asked Harold Saunders, President of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue and long-time supporter of NCDD, to share some of his observations of the conference during the closing session on October 6th. It was our honor to have a respected and beloved elder in our field provide us with some closing comments that help us see the broader picture. Hal has graciously provided us a summary of his closing remarks.


Harold H. Saunders
President, International Institute for Sustained Dialogue

This has been a remarkable experience: imaginative, dedicated people committed at the core of who we are to change how human beings relate—one step at a time. One story of achievement after another. I stand in awe of what I have heard and learned.

Thanks to our leaders, we have worked within a broad framework that has enabled us to analyze and name the challenges before us. Having been named, they can be tackled with new energy and with new precision.

AND YET, many of us leave in the same state of agony that we brought with us. We have shared our doubts in so many ways: Do we make a difference? Can we make a difference? How can we make a difference? How can we know we’re making a difference?

Did a few American citizen soldiers at Valley Forge with George Washington make a difference? Yes, for two reasons: they knew they were part of something larger than themselves, and they persevered.

Did Rosa Parks make a difference? Yes, because she acted in the spirit of something larger than herself and because she and others like her persevered.

Can the course of history be changed?

Yes, one step at a time.

The American Revolution changed history, although that wasn’t evident to the citizen soldiers at Valley Forge.

The Civil Rights Movement changed America, although racism still runs deep. (more…)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

More Musings from Michael Ostrolenk on the Conference    

On October 17th, Michael Ostrolenk, one of the speakers in Saturday’s conservatives panel, posted the following to the Transpartisan Alliance website about his experiences at the conference (see the original post here)…

Conservatives and Dialogue

by Michael Ostrolenk

Thanks to Sandy Heierbacher, Director of the National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD), I was invited to the October 2008 NCDD Annual Conference in Austin Texas to participate on a panel entitled “Walking Our Talk: What Our Field Can Learn From Conservatives.”  I joined Grover Norquist (President of Americans for Tax Reform), Pete Peterson (Executive Director of Common Sense California) and Joseph McCormick (Director, Transpartisan Alliance) We spoke about conservatism, conservatives and the various reasons why conservatives may be hesitant to participate in dialogues.  I spoke about various philosophical, psychological, political and social issues related to the topic at hand.  It was a good dialogue and expertly moderated by Dave Joseph (Program Director, Public Conversations Project.)   According to the feedback I got and was told to me via others, our panel was a hit, educational and thanks to Grover entertaining and very useful to grist for the dialogue mill.

I know Grover from various center-right activities in DC and Joseph who I worked with at Reuniting America for a few years but got a chance to get to know Pete and Dave while at the conference.   Pete is a communitarian conservative, which I find to be interesting and I will need to learn more about his orientation.   From what I gathered in our brief conversations and the panel itself, I probable would not have too much disagreement with him except for the greater role he would seem to allow for the state in community life.   I have a communitarian streak as long as it voluntary and does not subsume the individual.    It was fun to engage in a conversation prior to the panel with Dave and learn that he is also a marriage and family therapist.  I look forward to learning more about his work as well.  Through Dave, I met Theo Brown, who is a Senior Associate of America Speaks.  He is based in DC, so it will be easy to learn more about his work in the near future. (more…)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

Reflections on "Attracting Conservatives" Workshop    

During the conference, Tim Erickson posted the following reflections on his Politalk blog at It’s a nice summary of some of the main points made in a great workshop that was offered at the conference, so I thought I’d post it here as well.

Conservatives and Dialogue

One of the themes that has come up at every dialogue and deliberation conference that I’ve attended, is the challenges that we face as a community of attracting conservative viewpoints to our conferences and oftentimes to our dialogues.

Yesterday, I attended a workshop called “Attracting Conservative Citizens to Dialogue Events: Liberal-Conservative Campus Dialogue & Mormon-Evangelical Interfaith Initiatives.” The workshop was lead by Jacob Hess (Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Illinois) and Rev. Greg Johnson (Pastor and Director of Standing Together).

The Rev. Greg Johnson gave a very personal and inspirational account of his personal relationship with a Mormon professor, Robert Millet. This video captures much of his story.

Jacob Hess talked about his experiences facilitating a class that brings together a specially selected group of students with both liberal and conservative viewpoints, for a series of discussions about “hot” political topics.  He provided a very interesting outline of three “fears” that conservatives bring to the table.

  1. Doesn’t Dialogue assume that all truth is relative? (Fear of having to give up the truth).
  2. Is dialogue part of a larger effort to convince me of something? (Fear of hidden agenda)
  3. Does dialogue mean I’m going to have to compromise my beliefs? (Fear of being changed)

He suggests, that facilitators or organizers wishing to engage conservatives in their dialogue or deliberation events, need to carefully frame and organize their events, taking these fears in mind.

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

Michael Ostrolenk blogs on Conservatives and Dialogue    

The day after the conference (October 6th), Michael Ostrolenk added a post to his blog about his experiences at the conference.  Michael was one of four panelists in our “conservatives panel” sub-plenary on Saturday - unquestionably one of the best-received programs at the conference.  Here’s an excerpt from his post…

I was invited to the October 2008 NCDD Annual Conference in Austin Texas to participate on a panel entitled “Walking Out Talk: What Our Field Can Learn From Conservatives.”  I joined Grover Norquist (President of Americans for Tax Reform), Pete Peterson (Executive Director of Common Sense California) and Joseph McCormick (Director, Transpartisan Alliance) We spoke about conservatism, conservatives and the various reasons why conservatives may be hesitant to participate in dialogues.  I spoke about various philosophical, psychological, political and social issues related to the topic at hand.  It was a good dialogue and expertly moderated by Dave Joseph (Program Director, Public Conversations Project).  According to the feedback I got and was told to me via others, our panel was a hit, educational and thanks to Grover entertaining and very useful to grist for the dialogue mil.

I know Grover from various center-right activities in DC and Joseph who I worked with at Reuniting America for a few years but got a chance to get to know Pete and Dave while at the conference.  Pete is a communitarian conservative, which I find to be interesting and I will need to learn more about his orientation.  From what I gathered in our brief conversations and the panel itself, I probably would not have too much disagreement with him except for the greater role he would seem to allow for the state in community life.  I have a communitarian streak as long as it voluntary and does not subsume the individual.

We’ll be posting more about this eye-opening panel soon, I promise!

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

The 2008 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation    

ncdd2008_guidebook_pic.jpgThe 2008 NCDD conference took place in Austin, Texas October 3-5, 2008, with pre-conference trainings on Thursday, October 2nd.  You can find the conference’s schedule, program, supporters and staff (along with a whole lot more info) in the conference guidebook.

More About NCDD Austin

NCDD conferences provide people who are committed to helping dialogue and deliberation flourish in the world with the opportunity to increase their skills and knowledge in these processes, share their own learnings and innovations with others, and develop supportive, collaborative relationships with their peers. Perhaps most importantly, NCDD conferences leave you feeling more motivated, energized, supported and prepared to do this vital work.

NCDD conferences are chock-full of opportunities to network with colleagues, learn about and experience innovative group methods, explore key issues together, and hear from leaders in the field. Our conferences are not your typical panel/keynote-riddled conventions that leave you wandering the lobby. Some people say they’ve never attended better conferences.

At NCDD Austin, participants experienced…

Highly participative plenary sessions that allowed participants to experience large-group dialogue and deliberation methods while enabling the community to explore issues relevant to the field. Our Reflective Panel, for example, featured figureheads in our field (David Campt, Bill Isaacs, Carolyn Lukensmeyer and Najeeba Syeed-Miller) engaging in dialogue with each other about our field’s greatest challenges and what needs to be done to address them.NCDD 2006

In our D&D Marketplace, conference-goers visited with dozens of the most exciting tools, programs, and new innovations in the field, and meet the people behind them.

They also got to choose from dozens of innovative workshops offered by leaders in dialogue and deliberation, addressing the issues, challenges and questions most relevant to your work; Learned how War on Terror veterans are using dialogue for healing and empowerment. Help the U.S. Institute of Environmental Conflict Resolution design a long-range citizen engagement process to restore the ecosystem of one of America’s great rivers;  Learned how to attract more conservatives to dialogue events; Explored with change experts how D&D contributes to social change; Learned about Deaf Culture and how to work with interpreters and Deaf participants.

There were numerous opportunities to network with some of the most accomplished, innovative, and inspiring people in the field - NCDD attendees! We offered structured networking sessions that enable you to meet others who share your interests, as well as plenty of time and space for informal networking.

Our participants enjoyed experiencing how the arts can enhance dialogue and deliberation, by watching and interacting with our graphic facilitators, listening to slam poetry performed by local young people, and taking part in a conference-wide experiment to compose a musical composition based on what we’re learning and experiencing.

NCDD conferences provide participants with the opportunity to hear the stories and insights of some of the most prominent leaders in public engagement, change management and conflict resolution. We were excited that a phenomenal group of figureheads in our field committed to play a speaking role at NCDD Austin.  On Saturday (day 2), David Campt, Bill Isaacs, Carolyn Lukensmeyer and Najeeba Syeed-Miller served on this year’s Reflective Panel, where they engaged in dialogue with each other about some of the most challenging issues facing our field.

Featured Speakers at NCDD Austin

David W. Campt, PhD

Dr. David Campt currently provides consultation about race relations and diversity issues with U.S. congressional representatives, the foundation community, and national community organizations. David is also a Senior Associate with AmericaSpeaks, serving leading roles in a number of AmericaSpeaks projects. To name a few, he was the co-facilitator and co-designer of Citizen Summits III and IV for the Mayor of Washington, D.C., and played a similar role in the multi-site Unified New Orleans Plan Community Congresses II and III. David is the co-author of the recently published book, The Little Book of Dialogue for Difficult Subjects.

Campt worked as a senior policy associate with President Clinton’s Initiative on Race at the White House from September 1997 until the end of 1998. Campt led an effort by the Initiative to bring together the best diversity trainers to produce a general-purpose guide for racial dialogue that was promoted by the President. In addition, Campt used his extensive background in program evaluation to design criteria from which diversity efforts would be evaluated for potential recognition by the White House.

Before joining the Initiative, Campt completed his doctoral dissertation in City Planning at the University of California at Berkeley. His work focused on cultural competency, which concerns the challenges to institutions that attempt to become more reflective of the populations they serve. He has provided technical assistance to numerous state, county, and non-profit agencies interested in increasing their cultural competence. His co-authored article, “Cultural Competency in Human Service Systems” was the lead article in a monograph on cultural competency published by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Abandoned Infant Assistance Resource Center.

Learn more about David and his work at

Jim Fishkin

James S. Fishkin holds the Janet M. Peck Chair in International Communication at Stanford University, where he is Professor of Communication and Professor of Political Science. He is also Director of Stanford’s new Center for Deliberative Democracy and Chair of the Dept of Communication.

Fishkin is best known for developing Deliberative Polling® - a practice of public consultation that employs random samples of the citizenry to explore how opinions would change if they were more informed. Professor Fishkin and his collaborators have conducted Deliberative Polls in the US, Britain, Australia, Denmark, Bulgaria, China, Greece and other countries.

He is the author of a number of books including Democracy and Deliberation: New Directions for Democratic Reform (1991), The Dialogue of Justice (1992), and The Voice of the People: Public Opinion and Democracy (1995). With Bruce Ackerman he is co-author most recently of Deliberation Day (Yale Press, 2004).

Fishkin has been a Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge as well as a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and a Guggenheim Fellow. Fishkin received his B.A. from Yale in 1970 and holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale as well as a second Ph.D. in Philosophy from Cambridge.

Bill Isaacs

Dr. William Isaacs is Founder and president of Dialogos, a consulting and leadership development firm based in Cambridge, MA and a Senior Lecturer at the Sloan School of Management. He is a leading authority on collective leadership, dialogue, and the design and implementation of organizational learning. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Dialogos Institute, a not-for-profit action research organization.

His book, Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together (Doubleday), has been translated into seven languages, including Swedish, Chinese, and German. It was featured in Fast Company as a guide to “the secret of good informal conversation,” and has been acclaimed by a variety of reviewers as the definitive guide to profound change through speaking and listening. Change Management Monitor, a publication of reviews of management books, included Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together in its list of the twelve most significant business books. Isaacs’ has published widely. His articles have appeared in The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook by Peter Senge et al. (1994, Doubleday), in The Dance of Change by Peter Senge et al. (1999, Doubleday), and in numerous articles and journals.

In 1990, Isaacs co-founded (with Peter Senge) the Center for Organizational Learning at MIT, a consortium of 25 leading companies dedicated to cross-organizational learning and change. He received a major grant from the Kellogg Foundation to found and run the MIT Dialogue Project, which initiated a decade of cross-boundary conversational experiments around the world.

For the past 20 years, Isaac

s has consulted to senior leaders of prominent organizations around the world assisting them in creating visionary transitions and maturing the collective leadership of their systems. His work focuses on producing generative change that can engage large numbers of people, leading to “learning at scale.” He has also focused on the integration of functional and technical organizations into business leadership, the transformation of management union relationships, and the means to produce “organic growth” by creating cross-boundary and cross-functional
transformation and action. Some recent clients include BP, the International Finance Corporation (and the World Bank Group), W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Royal Bank of Scotland, NASA, Shell, Motorola, the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Joint Strike Fighter Program.

Isaacs received an A.B. in policy studies from Dartmouth College, an M.Sc. in political philosophy from the London School of Economics, and an M.Phil. and D. Phil from Oxford University in organizational behavior, social theory, and applied social psychology. He lives with his family in the Boston area.

Carolyn Lukensmeyer

Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Founder and President of AmericaSpeaks, has made her mark as an innovator in deliberative democracy, public administration, and organizational development. Concerns about the deep partisan divide in Washington and the growing disconnection between citizens and government across the country led Carolyn to launch AmericaSpeaks in 1995. Her goal is to develop new democratic practices that will strengthen citizen voice in public decision-making.

Under Carolyn’s leadership, AmericaSpeaks has earned a national reputation as a leader in the field of deliberative democracy and democratic renewal. She and AmericaSpeaks have won a number of awards, including two from the International Association for Public Participation (2001 and 2003), the Organizational Development Network’s Sharing the Wealth Award (2006), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for best practices, a Distinguish

ed Service Award from the Federal Managers Association for Outstanding Leadership (1994) and a Best Practice Award from the National Training Laboratories Institute in 1993.

Prior to founding AmericaSpeaks, Carolyn served as Consultant to the White House Chief of Staff from November 1993 through June 1994. In this capacity she ensured that systematic thinking was part of the White House’s work on internal management issues and on government-wide reform. She also served as the Deputy Project Director for Management of the National Performance Review (NPR), Vice President Al Gore’s reinventing government task force. From 1986 to 1991, Carolyn served as Chief of Staff to Governor Richard F. Celeste of Ohio. She was both the first woman to serve in this capacity and, at the time of her appointment, the only Chief of Staff recruited from the professional management field.

An avid traveler and outdoors adventurer, Carolyn has led a rafting expedition down the Colorado River, tracked panda bears in the remote Sichuan Province of China, and trekked in major mountain ranges all over the world. She currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Hans-Peter Meister

Dr. Hans-Peter Meister is a German entrepreneur and a leader in change management. Following a career in business and politics, he founded IFOK, one of Germany’s le

ading political consulting firms, and Meister Consultants Group, a newly established American subsidiary based in Newburyport, MA. Deeply convinced that change can only be achieved successfully by involving those affected, Hans-Peter and his team innovated change management by approaching political, environmental and social challenges with the expertise of a think tank and the professionalism of a business consultancy.

Among IFOK’s signature projects are the Regional Dialogue Forum Frankfurt Airport, a comprehensive political mediation process on the future and enlargement of Frankfurt Airport as well as a highly successful energy saving program, by now implemented in 80 German cities. IFOK’s clients include the Office of the Federal Chancellor; the European Commission and Parliament; the German Council of Sustainable Development; the City of Heidelberg; BMW Group; Deutsche Lufthansa; EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG; Vattenfall Europe Mining Corporation; the Bertelsmann Foundation, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE); Chamber of Commerce and Industry Rhine-Neckar among many others. IFOK recently led a Europe-wide group of leaders in public engagement to launch the European Dialogue Consortium — a network inspired, in part, by NCDD.

Prior to founding IFOK, Hans-Peter served as t

he Head of Political Communications and Environmental Public Affairs at the international chemical company, BASF AG, and as the Spokesperson of former German Federal Minister for the Environment, Klaus Töpfer. Currently Hans-Peter advises the German Federal Government as well as several State governments on energy and climate change issues, and counsels international companies on how to move towards a low-carbon economy.

Hans-Peter is the author of numerous books and articles, his most recent book is Beteiligung - ein Programm für Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (Participation - a Program for Politics, Business and Society). Since 2005, he teaches Political Communication as an adjunct professor at the Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University in Washington DC. He studied Biology in Darmstadt, Wuerzburg, Los Angeles and Lisbon, and holds a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Wuerzburg.

Najeeba Syeed-Miller

Najeeba Syeed-Miller is currently the Executive Directo

r of the Western Justice Center Foundation (, a conflict resolution and dialogue based organization that works with communities, children and courts to increase the opportunity for peaceful conflict resolution and displace the power of violence in our society.

She oversaw a tripling of the organization’s budget a

nd staffing and the development of environmental conflict resolution programs, violence prevention and interracial relations training throughout LA County for parents, expansion and creation of a gang intervention program in the San Gabriel Valley, technical assistance to over 30 clients such as the LA County Mental Health Commission on the development of school based curricula and leadership for community leaders, innovative dialogue programs between Latino/African American communities that reduced the incidences of hate crimes, development of an award winning mediation and dialogue program between community and police (the only one in Southern California), crisis response intervention in community and school settings, instruction and curriculum development for educators in the area of conflict resolution, partnerships with institutions such as the Art Center College of Design on instructing arts based university students in the area of conflict resolution. She has traveled to and trained relief workers, students, faculty and crisis intervention NGO’s in the areas of mediating and designing dialogue processes for complex historical conflicts in various locations around the United States, India, Latin America, Africa, Afghanistan and Guam.

More About Our Events

NCDD gatherings are not your run-of-the-mill conferences. Instead of parading endless speakers in front of you in the hope that you will absorb some of their knowledge, we acknowledge and tap into every participant’s expertise and unique perspectives, and ask you to play an active role in shaping the future of this burgeoning field. At NCDD Austin, we had the opportunity to help make progress on 5 major challenges facing our field identified by participants at previous NCDD conferences…

  1. How can we make the values and practices of D&D integral to our public and private systems (government, schools, organizations, etc.)?
  2. How can we frame this work in a more accessible and compelling way, so that people of all income levels, education levels and political perspectives are drawn to D&D?
  3. How can we demonstrate to powerholders that dialogue and deliberation really do work?
  4. How can we strengthen the link between D&D and community action and policy change?
  5. How can we address issues of oppression and bias both within the D&D community itself, and throughout society through the use of dialogue and deliberation?

NCDD conferences are known for being innovative and highly participatory. Here is what Dave Joseph, Director of Project Development at the Public Conversations Project, wrote to us after he attended the 2006 NCDD conference:

“I have gone to many, many, many conferences, workshops etc. over the past 30 years. NCDD was by far the best conference I have ever attended. It was 100% isomorphic and congruent with our practices, with a focus on developing a sense of relationship, connection and community. The activities all contributed to making it extremely easy for participants to get to know each other by focusing on shared purposes, interests and goals. Plus, you had a wonderful mix of people, of course. The structure really contributed greatly to getting to meet a large number of very diverse people and have fun doing it.”

And Avril Orloff, Project Manager for Canada’s Philia Dialogue on Caring Citizenship, had these kind words for us:

“I’m still coming back to earth after the amazing NCDD conference! It was packed so full of wonderful information, ideas, resources and people that I came away utterly inspired and energized. My heartiest congratulations to your team for pulling it off.

What a monumental effort - and what tremendous results! Thank you for every minute…. You’ve created something that’s going to leave a big legacy, and whose effects will just keep rippling further and further out into the world. To say nothing of a great community of practice - one that I’m honoured to associate myself with.”

Find similar posts: NCDD Stuff,NCDD2008,ncdd events

Free Conversation Café and Host Training on October 2nd    

We’re holding a free Conversation Café and host training the night before the conference begins, open to conference participants and anyone else in Austin that wants to join us. If you’re in Austin or know people who are, please send them a link to this post, or give them this Conversation Cafe flyer.


Are you curious to learn how ‘the other guys’ are thinking?  Have you wondered how to talk to others who hold very different points of view?  Come experience a FREE Conversation Café at the Renaissance Austin Hotel (Ballroom B) on October 2, 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. when we will explore the theme of learning from differences.

Conversation Café is a simple but powerful process that fosters fascinating and lively conversation with a diverse group. It offers an easy-to-use format that helps people feel at ease, speak with sincerity and listen with respect. The result is a shift from small talk to “big talk” about questions that matter.

You can also learn how to be a conversation host by attending the FREE workshop from 6:15-7:30 p.m. offered by Conversation Café co-founder Susan Partnow. You will be joined by others from around the U.S. (and a dozen other countries!) attending the National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation.

You’ll have fun, get inspired and leave with an empowering tool that can help you create more satisfying and meaningful conversations in your community, workplace, neighborhood or just at your kitchen table. Be sure to invite your friends, family and co-workers to join you for this special event!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

FREE Workshop for Volunteer Hosts
6:15 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

FREE Public Conversation Café (ages 16 and up)
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Renaissance Austin Hotel
9721 Arboretum Boulevard, Austin
Ballroom B

For more about Conversation Café go to You are also encouraged to review the Volunteer Host training guide at

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

Saturday's Sub-Plenary, a Panel of Conservatives    

Here’s the final info for Saturday’s sub-plenary session (one of two large sessions) featuring four conservatives who support public engagement work.

Walking our Talk: What the D&D Community Can Learn from Conservatives

Saturday 2:15 to 4:00 pm – Ballroom A

The D&D community and related fields struggle with the fact that this kind of work attracts many more progressives than conservatives. The vast majority of D&D practitioners are politically progressive, and it’s often more challenging to recruit people with more traditional or conservative views to participate in dialogue and deliberation programs. This is a major problem for a field that embraces inclusion as a core principle, and we want to address this challenge head-on at NCDD Austin.

Join us for a panel discussion and dialogue featuring conservative leaders who support public engagement. Panelists will share their thoughts and ideas about the state of American civic engagement and the fields of dialogue and deliberation. Learn about language commonly used in the D&D field that inadvertently turns off people with more conservative views and/or traditional values. At a time of increasing division and polarization in the U.S., more effective ways of engaging with those whose worldviews differ from ours is critically needed. This is a unique opportunity to interact with four leaders who strongly value civic responsibility, engagement and community, but approach it from different points of view.

Our panelists…

Joseph McCormick
Joseph McCormick is the co-founder of Reuniting America, a network of individuals, associations and organizations engaged in dialogue across divides since 2004. Joseph was a Republican nominee for the U.S. Congress in Georgia in 1998 in one of the most conservative districts in the country. As a veteran of our political civil war he recognizes the most destructive force in our country today is Americans taking sides against other Americans. As a result of his experience he has become a pioneer of the transpartisan movement, teaching people how to increase their political empowerment by constructively engaging across political divides. He is a former officer in the U.S. Army Rangers and a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and Yale University.

Grover Norquist
Grover Norquist, who is of Swedish descent, grew up in Weston, Massachusetts and has a BA and MBA from Harvard University. After leaving professional school, Norquist became executive director of both the National Taxpayers Union and the national College Republicans organization, holding both positions until 1983. Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform in 1985, at the request of President Ronald Reagan, and has headed the organization ever since. Mr. Norquist is author of the book Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government’s Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives. The book is an optimistic look at how the conservative movement can and will grow during the next 25 years. Mr. Norquist also serves on the Boards of the National Rifle Association of America and the American Conservative Union.

Michael Ostrolenk
Michael D. Ostrolenk is a public policy consultant who works on health, education, privacy and national security related issues. Michael is the founder and national coordinator for the Medical Privacy Coalition, and Executive Director of the Transpartisan Center in Washington DC. He is the co-founder and National Director of the Liberty Coalition, a transpartisan coalition of groups working to protect civil liberties, privacy and human autonomy. He is also co-founder and President of the American Conservative Defense Alliance, which works to promote a traditional conservative foreign and defense policy. Michael has written for a wide variety of publications ranging from USA Today to The American Conservative Magazine. He has also done dozens of talk radio interviews on national security related issues.

Pete Peterson
Pete Peterson is executive director of Common Sense California, a bi-partisan organization that supports and promotes civic engagement throughout California. In 2005, Pete ran for the Republican nomination of a county-level office in his native New Jersey. Pete has worked on several Republican campaigns both for state and national office. Based on his experiences and current work, he sees a growing partisanship becoming one of the great challenges to American governance in the coming decades. He has written several opinion pieces about the need for greater policy-making power at the local level and a removal of ideological influences in local decisions. Pete is a graduate of The George Washington University and has a Masters in Public Policy from Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy. He was a Public Affairs Fellow of the Hoover Institution in 2006.

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

D&D Marketplace Presenters    

Friday 4-5:30 pm

Meet some of the movers-and-shakers in the field, and learn about some of the newest and most innovative D&D tools, resources, and programs during this 90-minute plenary session. Presenters include… (more…)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

Saturday's Reflective Panel    

We will end our second day together on Saturday (October 4th) with our signature “Reflective Panel” featuring four prominent leaders in our field: Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Bill Isaacs, David Campt and Najeeba Syeed-Miller. The Reflective Panel is the closest we come to a “keynote speech” at NCDD conferences, enabling conference participants to hear from D&D figureheads without enduring long speeches without any dialogic quality to them.

Each panelist will address major challenges facing the D&D community as part of an Inquiry Circle.  Unlike traditional “talking head” panel presentations, conversation in this space flows among the panelists without long monologues.  The Inquiry Circle builds collective intelligence while honoring and modeling the spirit and power of dialogue.

After a couple of rounds of the inquiry circle, you will have the opportunity to discuss what you heard and what question your table would like to submit to one of the panelists. In the final segment of this session, the panelists will respond to some of these questions, touch on emergent themes and insights, and share closing thoughts.

Steve Pyser will be moderating the Reflective Panel. Learn about our panelists… (more…)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

NCDD Austin's 5-Person Graphic Recording Team    

The Graphic Recording Team at NCDD 2008 included Sunni Brown, Julie Gieseke, Mariah Howard, Marilyn Martin and team leader Avril Orloff. NCDD owes each of these women a huge debt of gratitude for the incredible contributions they made to  the 2008 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation!

Graphic recording has long been a feature of NCDD conferences, but for the 2008 conference we took it up a few notches. Instead of just one or two graphic recorders, we had a whole team — and rather than having them record quietly in the back of the room, we closely integrated the graphics with the rest of the program.

In addition to recording the plenaries and sub-plenaries, the graphic recording team created mural-size posters for each of the five challenge areas we focused on at the conference. The posters were displayed throughout the conference, and the graphic recorders worked with our challenge leaders to add to the posters each day as new thoughts, insights and ideas emerged related to the challenges.

Conference participants were also urged to contribute ideas to the posters, and many did. And to help people along, our Graphic Recording Team offered a graphic recording demo/session at the D&D marketplace on the first day of the conference, giving dozens of conference attendees the opportunity to try their hand at graphic recording and learn some basic graphic recording skills.

Avril Orloff created the mural that captured themes related to the Framing Challenge, which explored the question “How can we talk about and present dialogue and deliberation work in ways that are accessible to a broader audience?” At the 2008 conference, we focused on the need to attract more conservatives to D&D work in particular. Click on the image below to see a larger version of this mural on Avril’s website. You can learn more about Avril’s work at


Many more images of the graphic recordings created at NCDD Austin have been uploaded to Flickr by conference participants. Be sure to check them out at

What are Graphic Recording and Graphic Facilitation anyway?

According to graphic facilitator Brandy Agerbeck (, graphic facilitation is the practice of using words and images to create a conceptual map of a conversation. A graphic facilitator is the visual, usually silent partner to the traditional, verbal facilitator, drawing a large scale image at the front of the room in real-time.

Agerbeck describes graphic facilitation as both a process and product. Watching the graphic facilitator create the map as the group speaks is highly experiential and immediate. It focuses the group as they work, aiding concentration by capturing and organizing their ideas. Everyone can watch their ideas take shape; the manifestation is most resonant with the visual, spatial and systematic thinkers in the group, but it’s a powerful tool of recognition for everyone. After the event, the map becomes a document; evidence of the meeting’s progress and direction. This resulting conceptual map is an engaging and meaningful tool, because the audience watched its creation in relationship to their experience. Images being emotional and subjective, participants can interpret the image and recall their own ‘Aha!’ moments.

According to, graphic facilitators (or ‘visual practitioners’) use visual methods to assist learning and communication between groups and individuals. Graphic facilitators tap into the power of ‘visual thinking’-they literally draw information out of people, functioning as facilitators and scribes to get the wisdom of groups into a tangible form. Some use visual presentations to ‘PUSH’ information to people. Other use a ‘PULL’ approach, gathering the information that is pulled out of people, into graphic displays or renderings. Whatever approach is used, the artifacts that are created have a very graphic or visual nature.

What Are the Benefits of Working Visually?

As human beings our world is speeding up and the amount of information that we are forced to digest is growing exponentially. One of the prime benefits of working visually is that it is humane! The human brain processes information visually - pictures help convey reams of data efficiently. Visual Practitioners know and use the efficiencies of visuals. We know how to extract and distill the key messages, wisdom and knowledge held within an individual or group.

Working graphically is efficient and effective - as such it saves time, money and much aggravation. Comprehension increases, participation increases, the quality of decision-making tends to increase; all in all, working visually helps people more effectively see their circumstances, understand themselves and one another, and results in smoother decisions and agreements.

The ease of reproduction is another large benefit of working visually, particularly in the case of business meetings or settings where meeting minutes and summary notes are of prime importance. No longer does someone have to slave over the transcription of an important meeting - most of the approaches that visual practitioners use do not require additional writing work; the minutes are literally created as we go (particularly in graphic recording and graphic facilitation venues).

Benefits of interactive, highly facilitated approaches to graphic recording:
Increases Clarity And Comprehension (People Literally See What They Mean); Boosts Learning For Visual And Kinesthetic Learners (Over 88% Of People); Heightens Thinking Levels (Enables Higher Level Of Dialogue And Discussion); Saves Time And Increases Efficiency By Reducing Repetition And Redundancy; Lowers Misunderstandings And Helps Resolve Conflict; Increases Quality Of Decisions And Understanding Of Commitments And Accountabilities; Shrinks The Need For Traditional Meeting Minutes And Reports (The Charts Become The Report).

Benefits of passive, off-on-the-side scribing approaches:
Collects Key Information Without Invasive Questioning Or Interruption; Expands Retention And Understanding Of Key Themes And Main Ideas; Increases The ROI For Speakers & Presenters (Documents Their Crucial Points); Builds A Graphic Summary That Leaders Can Use To Summarize/Interact With; Equips Participants With A Unique ‘Takeaway’ Of Their Experience (Paper Or Digital); Makes For Easy Sharing And Communication Of The ‘Gestalt’ Of The Event.

Resources on Graphic Facilitation

Grove Consultants International, a well-established group of graphic facilitators based in the San Francisco Bay area, feature a number of video demos on their website.  The short videos walk users through using their most popular planning templates.  At, you’ll find a number of other great resources on graphic facilitation.  A great place to start is at the resources section of their online learning center.

The International Forum of Visual Practitioners website, at, features a nice database of graphic facilitators you can hire. For over 25 years, business people, artists, communities, governments, educators, and individuals have been leveraging the power of their Visual Practitioner community of graphic recorders and graphic facilitators.

This introductory text about graphic recording and graphic facilitation was excerpted from and

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

Saturday's Poetry Slam at NCDD Austin    

Thought I’d add a quick post about this… Our thanks to Central Texas Team member and NCDD Board member Taylor Willingham for coordinating this performance!

Austin City-Wide Youth Poetry Slam

This performance during Saturday’s lunch is sponsored by the Texas Youth Word Collective (TYWC) - a nonprofit youth literacy program that encourages middle school and high school students’ interest in writing through youth poetry slams, open mics and online anthologies. It is our hope that the performance will inspire you and get your minds all warmed up for the sub-plenaries taking place after lunch.

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

© 2003-2010 National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation.
Learn more about us or explore this site.