NCDD is a network of 1,600 organizations and individuals who bring people together across divides to discuss, decide, and act together on today’s toughest challenges.
Mission and Purpose
NCDD’s stated mission is to “bring together and support people, organizations, and resources in ways that expand the power of discussion to benefit society” and their primary purpose is “to educate people — members and non-members alike — on dialogue and deliberation.” Through collaborative projects, online resource and a variety of conferences and events, NCDD strives to connect “professional and grassroots practitioners, academic researchers, businesses, government officials, activists, artists, students and technologists drawn from a wide range of sectors and practices.”
Origins and Development
NCDD was co-founded in 2002 by Sandy Heierbacher, Andy Fluke, and a coalition of 50 organizations that came together to endorse and organize the first National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation. Since then, NCDD has grown into a vast network of international partners and national affiliates, all of whom are dedicated to expanding the capacity of people with divergent views from all walks of life to engage in honest dialogue and quality deliberation.
The relationships forged and the learnings and resources shared during the 2002 Conference left many participants with a sense that they were part of an important, growing field of practice. The 50 organizations that had formed the Coalition for a National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation decided to continue working together, becoming the founding members of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD).
Between the 2002 and 2004 conferences, a recognizable “dialogue and deliberation community” began to develop. Sharing resources, news, and opportunities became a hallmark of the Coalition’s work and NCDD continues to address disconnects in between practitioners, scholars, and participants in dialogue & deliberation by providing a variety of activities, collaborative projects, and resources to its members and others the field.
Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding
NCDD’s Founding Director is Sandy Heierbacher, Courtney Breese is Managing Director, Joy Garman is Office Manager, and Keiva Hummel is the Communications Coordinator.
NCDD is made up of over 700 members encompassing a broad range of practitioners, organizations, researchers, public administrators, activists and students involved in the field of dialogue, deliberation, and collaborative action.
Funding for NCDD is provided through membership dues and by sponsoring organizations. Organizational memberships are $200-$350/year and individuals can become Members for $75/year or $7.50/month. Student Memberships are also available for $30/year. Sponsorship starts at $1,000 and helps support NCDD’s network and operations.
Specializations, Methods and Tools
The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation supports the work of D&D practitioners: those who “bring people together across divides to discuss, decide, and take action together effectively on today’s toughest issues.” The Coalition providing its members with opportunities to gather and exchange knowledge, resources and teaching guides, news about new developments in the field, and a variety of recurring events.
Its National Conferences are highly participatory, involving plenary sessions as a way to showcase innovative large-group dialogue and deliberation techniques – often blending methods to better meet the group’s needs - and to utilize the wisdom in the room to tackle challenges facing this emerging field. Concurrent workshops, led by key leaders and innovators in the field, allow participants to build skills, increase knowledge, broaden awareness, and build relationships. Arts and culture also play a prominent role in each conference.
NCDD’s resource section of its website is publicly-accessible, offering information on everything from teaching manuals to case studies and program evaluations. Its popular Engagement Streams framework helps community leaders, public officials, and others decide when best to use different engagement processes, based on their goals and means.
Major Projects and Events
NCDD’s “Confab calls” give members the opportunity to connect with each other, hear about exciting projects in dialogue & deliberation, and explore the field’s most pressing challenges. Audio recordings, video recordings, and archives of the collaborative documents created by participants are all made available to members. Examples of past Confab Calls include:
- A discussion between engagement practitioners & journalists on partnering to help bring people together across differences
- Michelle Vilchez and Malissa Netane-Jones shared their experience working with communities and law enforcement at the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center
- Linda Ellinor and Paul Cienfuegos of Community Rights US talked about the community rights movement and its impact on dialogue and deliberation efforts at a local level
- Senator John Unger discussed how community engagement during his campaign lead to his re-election
Tech Tuesday Learning Events
NCDD’s semi-monthly Tech Tuesday series invites leaders in the field of online technology to share their innovations and ways to use online tools to support engagement work. Past speakers have included Ethelo, Konveio, Citizens Foundation, and the Urban Interactive Studio.
NCDD has held National Conferences on Dialogue & Deliberation every two years since 2002. NCDD's national conferences place special emphasis on the goal of strengthening and uniting the rapidly-growing dialogue and deliberation community. The Conferences have been held in different cities in the United States and have attracted over 3000 participants from over 20 countries.
Other Projects and Engagements
NCDD has also come to play a strong facilitative leadership role in the emerging field of dialogue and deliberation by collaborating with its members on a variety of projects and programs. Examples include:
- Public Engagement Principles (PEP) Project: beginning in February 2009, NCDD initiated and co-led (with the International Association for Public Participation and the Co-Intelligence Institute) a collaborative project to create a set mutually-agreed upon Core Principles for Public Engagement
- Upgrading the Way We Do Politics: developed in the fall of 2009 in response to the controversial health care town halls held during the August congressional resource, NCDD members worked together to quickly create a series of articles and a one-page flyer to help public officials hold more productive public meetings
- Regional Conferences: in fall 2010, NCDD held 5 regional conferences instead of one national event. Over 700 people attended the events in Austin, Boston, Denver, Cupertino (Bay Area), and Portland
- Presentation on Audience Polling Systems 2015: co-hosted with the IAP2 Northern California Chapter in San Francisco the two-hour event included networking and a presentation from NCDD Supporting member David Campt titled “Paradigm Shift: How Facilitators Are Accelerating Their Practice Through Recent Developments on Audience Polling Systems.”
- Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference 2018: hosted by NCDD member organizations the Participatory Budgeting Project and the Jefferson Center, as well as, the Center for the Future of Arizona, the Katal Center, the Participatory Governance Initiative at Arizona State University, Phoenix Union High School District, and the Policy Jury Group, the three-day conference hosted a wide range of innovators in community engagement and participatory democracy.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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NCDD’s resource-rich website is a popular hub for public engagement and conflict resolution practitioners and researchers. Their website offers a comprehensive assortment of resources, tools and best practices related to participatory democracy, public engagement, political inclusion, restorative justice, organizational development, and conflict resolution at all levels. They also publish updates on their work, the work of their members, and news about upcoming events and opportunities in the D&D field on their blog and in their public LISTSERV newsletters.
 “What We’re All About,” NCDD, accessed May 5, 2019, http://ncdd.org/about.
 “The Story of NCDD’s Conferences,” NCDD, accessed May 5, 2019, http://ncdd.org/events/story.
Official Website: http://ncdd.org/