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Our regional NCDD events brought together over 700 people total this October and November. A huge shout-out to all the members of our local planning teams!

Archives for October 2008

Clinton Global Initiative U. Invites Student Applications    

Thought some student NCDDers might be interested in this…

The Clinton Global Initiative, a nonpartisan initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation, is accepting applications from college students for the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) 2009 meeting.

CGI U is dedicated to the distinct potential that young people and higher educational institutions have to make a difference on their campuses and around the world. President Clinton will host the second annual meeting of CGI U at the University of Texas at Austin, February 13-15, 2009. Building on the success of CGI U 2008 in New Orleans, the meeting will bring together young leaders, university presidents, and activists to address pressing global challenges in the areas of education, energy and climate change, global health, human rights and peace, and poverty alleviation.

The deadline for early decision applications is November 7, 2008. The final deadline for applications is December 12, 2008. Attending CGI U is free, and travel assistance is available for those who qualify. CGI U actively seeks a range of students who have a variety of experiences, interests, talents, and goals.

In order to attend, all students must make a commitment to a new, measurable plan for addressing a specific problem on their campuses or around the world. Visit the CGI website for complete program information.

Civic Health Index Shows 80% of the U.S. Public wants National Deliberation    

Here’s a great post by Joe Goldman from the DDC’s blog at…

The National Conference on Citizenship just put out its third Civic Health Index. Lots of really interesting stuff, including:

  • 87% of the American public support giving every young person the opportunity to earn tuition money by completing a year of national or community service
  • 80% of the American public favor holding a national deliberation on a major issue and requiring Congress to respond to what citizens say
  • 76% would like to see service-learning (combinations of classroom learning and community service) required in schools
  • 67% would strengthen civic education by requiring new tests in the subject

At AmericaSpeaks, we’ve been waiting to see national polling results on what people think about the idea of conducting national discussions for a long time. It’s great to see that 80% number. What is really interesting is that the 80% goes across ideological lines. 60% of Republicans were “strongly in favor” and 70% of Democrats were “strongly in favor.” Support was strong across demographic groups.

Thanks so much to everyone at the National Conference on Citizenship for bringing this data to light. Lots of other interesting stuff. Check it out.


Publication Not to Miss: “Where is Democracy Headed?”    

I’m on a webinar right now about a new Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC) publication titled “Where is Democracy Headed?”  The webinar is sponsored by PACE and Grassroots Grantmakers.

Matt Leighninger presented about this new publication during the D&D; Marketplace at NCDD Austin.  The publication summarizes four years of the DDC’s learnings about deliberation, decision-making, and problem-solving.

Download Where Is Democracy Headed report now.

Job Opening at CPRN for Director of Civic Engagement    

Just found out about this from our friends at the Canadian Community for Dialogue & Deliberation…

CPRN logoCanadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN) has an opening for a Director of Civic Engagement.  This person will supervise a senior researcher, two researchers, and a project manager, and the salary range is $85,000 to $135,000. The position can be designed for a full-time or part-time commitment.  While it is important to spend some time in Ottawa, the position can also be designed for someone based in another location.  The position can also be designed for someone seeking an interchange or sabbatical opportunity.

The Director, Civic Engagement, in collaboration with the President, provides the intellectual leadership of this program to build on CPRN’s pioneering research with respect to citizen involvement in the public policy process. The position requires dynamic leadership that combines exceptionally strong content, policy and management skills with a keen interest in core social values and the evolution of social policy in Canada.

Visit;=en to download the full position description.  Applications should be forwarded to and include a cover letter stating your interest in this position and your vision for this research area, a detailed CV, two or three of your recent articles which demonstrate your policy skills and the names and contact information for three references.  Deadline for applications is November 14, 2008.

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…)

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Get Involved in Viewpoint Learning’s Online Dialogue on Health Care    

Viewpoint Learning would like to invite NCDD members and friends to get involved in Voices for Health Care, a national online dialogue on health care reform. They would love your thoughts and feedback on this effort – and encourage all of you to spread the word to anyone in your networks who is concerned about improving health care.

The first phase of this project, funded by the Kellogg foundation, has been focused on face-to-face dialogues in three target states (Ohio, Kansas and Mississippi).  Viewpoint Learning is now ready to launch an online dialogue to include US-wide perspectives and priorities for health care reform.

There are two phases to the dialogue. It begins with a personal deliberation via an “interactive choicebook” open now through November 14th; then an opportunity for small group dialogue Nov. 18-25. The results of the online dialogue will be reported to decision makers in DC this December – and everyone who completes the choicebook will get a customized participant report comparing their results to everyone else’s.

If you have questions about the project, contact Isabella Furth, Ph.D., Manager of Special Projects at Viewpoint Learning, Inc. Her email address is (some of you may have just met Bella at NCDD Austin!). And visit to check out the project or participate.

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.

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NCDD Austin Photo Journal by Tim Thomas    

Everyone who attended the closing remembers fondly the gorgeous, moving photo journal produced by photographer Tim Thomas, which we played at the beginning of the closing plenary session. Many, many thanks to Tim, and to our friends at the Generative Change Community, who made this photo journal possible.

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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!

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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.”

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