Leadership and History of the Conference

The National Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation is a collaborative effort among practitioners who represent a variety of prominent and up-and-coming dialogue and deliberation organizations.

The momentum that led up to the event began at MRA?’s Connecting Communities conference in June 2001 (MRA is now called Initiatives of Change), when Cricket White of Hope in the Cities began talking to a small group of leaders in the dialogue community about the need for a conference that would allow dialogue practitioners to experience each other?’s models, share strategies and get to know their colleagues in the field. Cricket?’s enthusiasm was contagious, and the following people began seriously talking about how we could make this idea a reality:

Sandy Heierbacher
Dialogue to Action Initiative

Randy Ross
New Jersey Office of Bias Crime and Community Relations

Jim Snow
George Mason University?’s Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution

Melissa Wade
Study Circles Resource Center

Mike Wenger
NABRE (the Network of Alliances Bridging Race & Ethnicity)

Cricket White
Hope in the Cities

Upon returning home, the group created a listserv (email discussion list) so that we could communicate with one another readily, and wrote to each other excitedly about planning an event which would bring dialogue practitioners together to learn about each other?’s dialogue models and strategies and to address the disconnect and lack of infrastructure that exists in the dialogue community.

We also reached out to others in our networks, and were joined by the following people who became actively involved in our planning efforts:

Reena Bernards
The Dialogue Project

Chip Hauss
Search for Common Ground - USA

Maggie Herzig
Public Conversations Project

Jennifer Murphy
George Mason University?’s Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution

Maggie Potapchuk
NABRE & The Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies

Polly Riddims
Fusion Partnerships, Inc.

David Schoem
University of Michigan

Toni Tucker
Dayton Dialogues on Race

Michele Woods Jones
Citizens Unity Commission

It soon became evident that although everyone on the listserv was committed to organizing a gathering of dialogue leaders, each person had different ideas, needs and unique vision for the event. In order to create some clarity about the ways in which dialogue practitioners could really benefit from such an event - and whether or not there was demand for an event like this ?– the group decided to design a needs assessment, and invited dialogue facilitators, organizers, researchers, students and participants to complete an online survey about a possible "national dialogue conference."

115 people from throughout the dialogue community completed the survey. The results, which were posted on the Dialogue to Action Initiative?’s website and publicized throughout the field, are both interesting and informative, and confirmed that dialogue practitioners have a strong need ?– and many ideas! ?– for a dialogue conference.

A grant proposal was then written and presented to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (thanks to David Shoem mentioning our efforts to Terry Amsler of Hewlett!). After some rewriting and waiting, we received the good news on Thursday, May 23, 2002!

Since that time, we have moved into high gear. We had already found a great location and agreed on October 4-6, 2002 as the dates for the event. So Sandy Heierbacher sent out an announcement to about 2700 contacts throughout the dialogue community, hoping to not only encourage people to plan to attend, but also to join our Organizing Team and our Coalition. We want this conference to be welcoming, relevant, useful and inspiring to practitioners and theorists representing the entire spectrum of dialogic practice, and assembling a broad-based Organizing Team was an important step in achieving this goal.

Within a couple of days, we had received over 400 email messages from dialogue leaders who wanted to express their excitement about the event. Many of these leaders accepted our invitation to join the conference organizing team or to have their organization become a part of the Coalition for a National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation.

To learn more, click on the titles below:

Organizing Team...

Find out which 58 exceptional people are organizing the conference ?– and what committees they?’re serving on.

Coalition for a National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation...

Find out which organizations are committed to strengthening the dialogue process by helping to make this event happen.

The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation...

Find out more about the wonderful organization that is funding the conference.

NABRE (Network of Alliances Bridging Race & Ethnicity)...

Learn about the Conference?’s fiscal agent.

Sandy Heierbacher...

Learn more about the Director of the Conference.

- about the conference
- who should attend

- why this conference?
- full proposal (pdf)

Purpose & Goals
- conference goals
- survey results

- history of conference
- organizing team
- coalition
- Hewlett Foundation
- conference director

About Dialogue
- what is dialogue?

- registration form