(On a train, finishing a Boston>Newark>Philadelphia>DC>Philadelphia>Newark>Boston circuit) As a board member of AmericaSPEAKS, I am delighted that our founder and president, Carolyn Lukensmeyer, has a great new opportunity to be Executive Director of the National Institute of Civil Discourse, and the excellent former Chief Operating Officer of AmericaSPEAKS, Steve Brigham, is stepping up to lead the organization. This is a twofer, as far as I am concerned: great new leadership at two important institutions, with Carolyn still playing an important role at AmericaSPEAKS. As she writes,
Today too many of our public meetings, and certainly the images that mass media presents us with of ourselves, are exactly the opposite of [a] respectful exchange and exploration of views. Americans find themselves in structures and processes that support the angry expression of their opinions, with the intention of drowning out anyone who thinks differently than they do. This is how we behave when demagoguery is all we hear and our leaders make incivility seem acceptable.
But getting people together to discuss issues is possible and it yields satisfied and empowered people as well as wise solutions. That is the role (in different ways) of both AmericaSPEAKS and the National Institute of Civil Discourse, which was founded in response to the Gabby Gifford’s shooting and now has an ambitious national leadership role. Onward!