ConversationCafe Recording and Resources

Last week NCDD held our first virtual Conversation Cafe session, and we were blown away by the turnout – thank you to the 125+ of you who joined us to learn about how to host Cafes online and participated in one on the call!

The level of interest and enthusiasm was overwhelming, and so we wanted to make sure that anyone who is interested in this simple, open-source model for dialogue has the information and resources to do so! The following is a list of links to new and existing materials that everyone is welcome to utilize:

  • NCDD’s current director Courtney Breese, co-founder Sandy Heierbacher, and Conversation Cafe co-founder Susan Partnow, created a bunch of resources for hosting Conversation Cafes online during this pandemic: Resources include a guide for hosts, the mini guide for use in the cafe, topics and questions for cafes, and an instructional on using Zoom for Cafes.
  • Beyond Conversation Cafe, NCDD’s Communications Coordinator Keiva Hummel has helped curate resources for responding to this pandemic. They are available (and can be added to!) over in Google Docs.

The recording of the virtual Conversation Cafe session is available at this link. Please note: the recording includes an overview of Conversation Cafe, the set-up for the cafe, and then the Q&A and wrap-up at the end. It does not include the breakout group conversations. Additionally, numerous resources and lots of information was shared in the chat.

NCDD is excited to see all the enthusiasm for what’s possible. We’ll continue to support these efforts as best we can, particularly by continuing to share resources and events. We’ve created a new Events Calendar to start sharing upcoming events, and a simple form for posting your event.

NCDD can also definitely use your help! If you want to help with social media, blog posts (share your stories of Cafes!), helping to create a stronger community of hosts, or something else you’d like to offer, send Courtney an email at We will convene a team if there is enough interest to support Conversation Cafes in this unique moment. If you are not in a position to give your time right now, perhaps you might consider making a contribution to help support Conversation Cafe: NCDD is a small nonprofit and we steward Conversation Cafe without any dedicated funding support, so any and all contributions are greatly appreciated.

We are all juggling a lot right now, no doubt, but it is so heartening to see you, connect with you, and talk about what we can do for our communities during these difficult times. NCDD looks forward to continuing to work with you all!

Join us in #WeavingCommunity during crisis

NCDD is partnering once again with numerous organizations in our field to encourage a national conversation – this time around the importance of weaving community during times of crisis. We hope you can take part!

The National Conversation Project is a coalition of partner organizations inviting Americans into online conversations and mutual support to weave a stronger community even now–especially now. Together, we’re promoting conversations and community amidst fear and isolation. We seek to serve our neighbors and nation in a moment of acute social crisis.

This pandemic can drive us apart or it can drive us together. Americans often rise to common challenges like this with kindness, love, mutual support, and shared responsibility to endure together. We need community now more than ever. Although our nation’s social fabric is badly frayed by distance and division, together we can weave a strong social fabric and emerge healthy and united.

Though we may avoid gathering in person, we can support each other in many ways online, via phone, and through acts of kindness for neighbors. By #WeavingCommunity now, we will be a stronger, more genuinely connected society on the other side of the pandemic.

We invite you to…

  1. Check out the Weaving2020 website now.
  2. Use the hashtag #WeavingCommunity whenever you invite people to your own online conversations or talk about your work.
  3. Host a video or phone conversation, spark a social media or text conversation, or do an act of kindness for a neighbor.
  4. Become a partner by contacting

Check back at, where we’ll soon be adding lots of resources for online dialogue, dialogues you and others can participate in, and more.

Watch the NCDD Network Call on COVID-19

Last week, NCDD hosted a call for our network to discuss how we are adjusting our plans and work in light of COVID-19. We had 70 people join us for this call, and we touched upon numerous topics! Thank you to everyone who made the time to join us and share your questions, ideas, and resources.

The call was recorded and can be accessed here. The chat, which contains a bunch of helpful links, can be found here. We started a Google doc with helpful resources and tools for navigating conversation and connection during this COVID-19 pandemic – find it here. Feel welcome to add to the doc, any resources/tools you think would be helpful.

What was abundantly clear from the call is there is a great desire to continue these conversations we started. NCDD is working on setting up additional calls for the network, to allow us to dig deeper into some of these topics. We need your feedback – please fill out this brief form to share with us what you would most like to discuss! We will announce a series of calls in the coming days, to allow more opportunities for us to share and work together.

In addition to these calls, we also want to invite you to help others by sharing your knowledge, skills, and talents with the broader community. No doubt there is a hunger for connection right now while we remain physically apart, and the members of this community are well equipped to help those who are new to dialogue and deliberation get started. 

So, what could you do?

  • Submit a post for the NCDD Blog – on anything you are thinking about or working on, really. But posts that help people think about ways they can engage right now will be particularly helpful. 
  • Share your resources – submit them to the NCDD Resource Center, or help gather resources with others. NCDD started a resource for this network here, which you are welcome to add to.
  • Do you have a quick video that could be helpful for faculty teaching about D&D? Share it! NCDD will happily post on our Youtube Channel – just send me a message with the original link ( 
  • Have students looking for projects? Looking for something to keep you busy right now? NCDD can always use help! We are always looking for help with posting on the NCDD Blog (original content and content shared from the network), creating new resources/updating old resources in the RC, facilitating network calls, and more. If you have an interest in the above or want to explore what’s possible, let me know!
  • Make a donation to NCDD or join/renew your membership. Your support as always goes directly to supporting staff in doing the work we’ve outlined above as well as our regular programming. 

Thank you for your participation and willingness to serve your communities in these challenging times. We will continue to be here for you all as we get through this thing together.

Join NCDD for a Network Call about COVID-19

With the declaration yesterday of a global pandemic, it’s clear that everyone’s way of life will be impacted. Public events are being cancelled or postponed, and people are being asked not to come together in person. Social distancing is being recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This social distancing has impacts on individuals and our communities, for certain. But it also impacts the very way in which many of us conduct our work. For the dialogue and deliberation field, the work we do happens most often in public spaces and with people face to face. In the wake of COVID-19, how can we adapt to ensure that this important work proceeds?

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NCDD is convening a conference call next Thursday, March 19th at 1pm Eastern/10am Pacific to allow our network to discuss this issue and share ideas for how to continue our work in ways which address the health and safety issues that currently exist. We’ll discuss how each of us are adapting our approach to the work, and consider what best practices we may want to adopt as we move forward. Everyone will be invited to share tools and resources they are utilizing. We hope this call will be a helpful opportunity for everyone to tap into our collective wisdom, and collaborate on plans to continue to assist communities in engaging and making decisions together. NCDD will compile what emerges from the call – the practices, resources, and tools that can be shared with our wider network and the public.

To join the call, which will take place via Zoom, please register here.

We are wishing you all the best.

A Big THANK YOU to our Contributors!

We’d love to start off the new year sharing our sincerest appreciation to everyone who supported NCDD during our End-of-Year Fund Drive, either by donating, renewing their memberships or by officially joining the Coalition for the first time as a dues-paying member!

With all of your support, we were able to raise nearly $4,500 to help support this amazing network of movers and shakers. We are only one week into 2020 and it is already shaping up to be a profound and pivotal year, for this country and the world. This powerful network has many tools, experiences, and connections, necessary to address the challenges of our era and positively impact the course of our future. We have a lot of exciting ideas in store that we hope to implement using these funds and continue to nourish this vital coalition. Thank you so much to all who contributed to making this possible!

Please join us in offering a deep and immensely grateful THANK YOU to our contributors!

Contributed $1,000:
Simone Talma Flowers

Contributed $500:
Ele Munjeli, Devopracy

Contributed $100 or more:
Cobie deLespinasse
Linda Ellinor, Sr. Partner & Founder, Action Dialogue Group; co-author of “Dialogue: Rediscover the Transforming Power of Conversation”
Hawaii State Senator Les Ihara
Betty Knighton

Contributed $75:
Carrie Bennett
Douglas Black
Jim Chamness
Russ Charvonia
Stan Deetz
Sara Drury
Kyla Epstein
Kelsey Foster
Richard Frieder
Seva Gandhi
Mary Gelinas
Diane Goodman
Jeff Hasenfratz
Peggy Holman
Kathleen Knight-Abowitz
Sharon Kniss
Joseph McIntyre
Premysl Pergler
Charles Pillsbury
Raquel Ramos
Dr. Sandor Schuman
Lori Shontz
Arjun Singh

Contributed $50:
Roshan Bliss, Organizing Director, Project VOYCE
Richard Burg
Elizabeth Traubman
April Struthers, Consultant, Wit Works Ltd, Canada

Contributed $25 or more:
Caroline Lee
Caroline Mellor
Ruthy Rosenberg
Dr. Carolyn Shadle, Owner, Interpersonal Communication Services, Inc.

Contributed up to $20:
Nicole Farkouh
Wade Hudson
Judith Mounty
Andrew Russell

Your contributions mean so much to NCDD and our staff! Thank you for your continued support of our network and its work!

Best Wishes for A Happy New Year!

NCDD’s Staff wish you all a joyous and happy New Year! We know 2020 will be a busy year for all of us in the coalition, but we also know the work will be as important as ever. We’re committed to continuing to work with all of you to help spread the stories of how dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement can help our communities, nation, and world connect across differences and make decisions together.

We know the work will be at times challenging, and so NCDD is committed to helping this coalition continue to raise the visibility of this work for the benefit of us all. We will also continue to help connect members of this network, provide opportunities for learning and reflection, and share the latest news and information. In order to continue this work together, we continue to need your support. Help us finish out the year and our yearly fundraiser by making a donation today! We’ve raised close to $5,000 this season through donations and membership enrollments and renewals. Any amount is appreciated and goes directly to assisting our staff with supporting this network.

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Thank you for keeping NCDD vibrant for 17 years – we look forward to year 18!

With all our appreciation,

Courtney Breese – Executive Director
Keiva Hummel – Communications Coordinator
Joy Williams – Office Manager

Setting Our Sights on 2020

As 2019 draws to a close, the NCDD staff and board are setting our sights on the year ahead and making plans for what we would like to do together in 2020. Suffice it to say 2020 will be an important year for our country and our world. It will be a year where dialogue & deliberation are even more essential to helping people and communities build connections, increase understanding, and reach decisions together. This may feel like a real challenge for the public in the year ahead, but we all know the benefits of quality dialogue and NCDD will work hard to help share this message.

Keiva &Courtney believe what you do matters!

We will help spread the word about the work you all do every day, the impact that work has, and how more people can bring these tools to their communities. We will work with our network to teach more people to convene conversations. We will support our collective work through opportunities for shared learning and collaboration. And we will continue to look for the next steps we can take to advance our field together.

We, of course, can’t do this without all of you. NCDD is a coalition, and we are only as strong as our network. Our staff is made up of only three – myself, Joy, and Keiva, and we all work part-time. We continue to do this work because we are passionate about the potential that dialogue & deliberation offers our world, and know that this network harnesses the knowledge and skills to help see that potential achieved. With your help, we will get there.

Therefore, today we are launching our annual end-of-year fund drive. Our hope is to raise $10,000 before January 1 in order to support NCDD’s goals for 2020. On Giving Tuesday we were able to raise $1,400 to start this drive off, and we would love to raise double this amount in the next few days. Can you help us? If you believe in NCDD’s mission and find value in the resources, connections, and opportunities we provide, we urge you to show your support by making a donation. All contributions are welcome, whether they are $5 or $500. And your contributions are tax deductible! Please share the fund drive with your networks and consider asking your favorite angel donor to contribute as well. Help us reach our $10,000 goal, and thank you so much, in advance, for supporting NCDD!

NCDD Donations Matched Tomorrow on Giving Tuesday!

This week is Giving Tuesday, a day of giving back to the organizations that give to our communities year-round. We at the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) ask you to consider supporting our coalition’s work to bring more valuable conversations to communities across the country and the world. We work to increase access to resources for dialogue, deliberation, participatory democracy, and more. Our purpose is to foster connections between individuals and organizations passionate about having more informed and productive conversations; strengthening relationships in order to reduce information and skills from being siloed.

NCDD envisions a future in which all people–regardless of income, position, background or education–are able to engage regularly in lively, thoughtful, and challenging discussions about what really matters to them, in ways that have a positive impact on their lives and their world. We envision a society in which systems and structures support and advance inclusive, constructive, dialogue and deliberation. 

NCDD is a small outfit, with just three part-time staff, and we rely on the support of our network and friends to help us continue to educate people on dialogue and deliberation, and to build this national coalition. Your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $500.

On Giving Tuesday (tomorrow, December 3rd), Facebook will match a total of $7 million in donations. Starting at 8am Eastern/5am Pacific, donations made through our Facebook page, will be matched – so please give what you can and help NCDD continue to support this network of innovators!  Important to note: Facebook will be covering processing fees, so 100% of your donation will go towards NCDD (!!). If you don’t use Facebook, you can always make a donation of any amount on our donation page.

For seventeen years, NCDD has worked hard to gather visionaries and practitioners dedicated to raising the quality of discourse across many key issues and questions. Many of you have been a part of that – and we’re immensely grateful for you!

As you reflect back on your years of association, we’re curious: how much has this network meant to you? Has it made a difference for good in some way? In what ways can we continue to drive NCDD together to support each other doing this work?

Please consider a #GivingTuesday donation to help us continue this work into the new year. More than ever before, we could use the help and support – and would be so grateful for your assistance!

We recognize there are a lot of fantastic organizations out there to donate to on Giving Tuesday, but we hope you consider donating to NCDD, which plays such a critical role in building capacity for improved democracy, conversation, and connection (which, we argue, is actually the most important issue we face right now as a country). It is really tough for organizations like NCDD to fundraise and be sustainable because it is a network of organizations, practitioners, and volunteers. Most of the members understandably have to focus on their own organizations and efforts. But networks like NCDD are critical to build a community of practice and grow the field. 

If you don’t know very much about us, we encourage you to check out some of the great benefits of NCDD and become a member. If you are already connected, please consider donating, even just a little bit, especially since it can be matched this morning.

Thank you for your support this Giving Tuesday and every day!

Apply by Oct. 9th to Host A Nevins Fellow *for Free*!

NCDD Member Organization the McCourtney Institute for Democracy is again offering the incredible opportunity for D&D organizations to take advantage of their Nevins Democracy Leaders Program. The 2019-20 application is open now through Wednesday, October 9th, for organizations who want to host a bright, motivated, D&D-trained student at no-cost!

The Nevins Democracy Leaders Program was founded in 2014 after a gift from David Nevins, President and Co-Director of the Bridge Alliance, an NCDD Member Org. The program provides Penn State students with education and ­training in transpartisan leadership skills by exposing them to a variety of viewpoints and philosophies, as well as teaching critical thinking along with the tools of dialogue and deliberation.

But the flagship work of fostering the next generation of democracy leaders centers on the yearly initiative to place Nevins Program students in unique fellowship position with organizations focused on D&D, transpartisan dialogue, and civic renewal – that means organizations like yours! Stipends and living expenses are provided to the students through the program so that organizations can bring these bright, motivated students into their work for a summer at no cost. The McCourtney Institute provides $5,000 toward the cost of hosting a Nevins Fellow for a summer internship. Students come to their internship sites well prepared and ready to get to work.

Fellows have interned at the following organizations, just to name a few:

  • Everyday Democracy
  • Participatory Budgeting
  • National Institute for Civil Discourse

Much like students apply for the fellowship, organizations apply to host a fellow. Nonprofits, government organizations, or other groups committed to building and sustaining democracy that would like to host a fellow can apply here!

NCDD hosted a Confab Call last September with Chris Beem from the McCourtney Institute, who covered lots of the important details about the program. You can listen to the recording of that call by clicking here. You can also check out this blog post from a 2017 Nevins Fellow about their summer fellowship with the Jefferson Center, to get a better sense of the student’s experience. We also encourage you to watch this video from 2019 Nevins Fellow John Villella, who did constituent engagement work for the Baltimore City Council.

It’s an amazing opportunity for everyone involved!

We can’t speak highly enough about the Nevins program’s students or about the value of this program’s contributions to the D&D field. We know that these young people will be great additions to organizations in our field.  We encourage you to apply today!

NCDD Podcast on International Day of Listening on Sept. 19

Have you listened to someone today? How about someone that you disagree with? If not, why not? Sometimes we focus more on speaking than on listening, though both are crucial to dialogue and deliberation. That is why NCDD is restarting their podcast series with a feature on the fourth annual International Listening Day taking place on Thursday, September 19th. The International Day of Listening (  evolved in response to our modern-day “listening crisis” as one of many ways to remind us all of how to engage with one another even when we disagree, and even encourage us to actively listen precisely when we disagree.

The guests are Sheila Bentley and Jean Francios Mathieu, members of the International Listening Association ( and designers of the International Day of Listening day will speak with NCDD intern, Annie Rappeport. They will share the origin story for the initiative, movements taking place all over the world and how everyone can participate around this year’s theme to “Be Bold and Listen for Common Ground”.

You can listen to this podcast episode by searching “NCDD Podcast” on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) and Google Play, and on Soundcloud at

More about The International Day of Listening (IDL)

The IDL is a one-day event that is sponsored by the International Listening Association (ILA) and was initiated in 2016. The IDL takes place the third Thursday of September each year. The day promotes a variety of events from one-on-one conversations with friends and family to business or community meetings to governments and their citizens talking about mutual concerns. This year’s IDL theme is based on listening first for similarities – what we have in common. That’s what we mean by “listen for common ground”. Once two people have found common ground and priorities (and are surprised by the number of them), it is far easier to discuss differences, points of disagreement or conflict, in a mature and respectful way.