New Strategies and Techniques

Promise USA - National Network of Citizen Conversation

What if Americans of all ages, races, backgrounds and beliefs could come together in a series of national conversations on topics of significant importance to the nation? What if we could create a listening and learning environment through structured conversations to lead us to better understand one another, establish common ground and transform ideas into action? What if all of us had a role in making this a reality? Promise USA proposes a series of national conversations, initiated by the Obamas, which invite citizens to explore questions of importance to all. Until now, it was impossible to have a two-way Fireside Chat. Today, we have well-researched and documented dialogic methodologies that make it possible to engage citizens in a networked, real-time, face-to-face, national conversation. Our Promise USA Team is comprised of respected experts in large-scale conversation who will partner with many other dialogue and deliberation facilitators throughout the nation. What if we brought our collective expertise in conversational leadership forward to confront the challenges that the nation faces? Promise USA Conversations would begin with the President or First Lady posing the questions for national intergenerational conversations. These questions would enable citizens to focus on strengths and opportunities that inspire personal commitment and action. In venues as small as living rooms and as large as auditoriums or convention centers, people would be seated together at tables of four or five. These Promise USA Conversations would start with a question on a national issue. People would explore ideas for 30 minutes and then move to a new table to discuss a related question on a local level, concluding with a final round that brings the conversation to an individual level and encourages commitment to action. Ideas generated at tables and commitments to action would be shared and recorded across the nation. To generate momentum and urgency, President and First Lady would attend one of these conversations. After brief introductory remarks, broadcast nationwide to all locations, the President would pose a single question that engages groups in every venue in compelling conversation on topics such as education, health care, energy and the environment. Several “Citizen Conversations” would be scheduled throughout the year, with the President and First Lady beginning each subsequent event with a quick update on their learning and highlights of actions taken as a result of a previous Promise USA event. Having youth organizations such as the Girl Scouts facilitate the pilot conversations would enrich Promise USA. Other promising young people would be engaged to co-host subsequent conversations. Creating an intergenerational environment whenever possible will enliven the learning and allow community understanding to emerge. When people of all ages are invited into conversations that matter, people listen better, work harder to understand and consider the future with their heads and hearts. We have many thoughts about variations on this process and welcome your ideas and input. We promise to build on our experience as pioneers in large-scale change and community dialogue. We promise to quickly and efficiently engage as many Americans as possible in the work of changing this country. We promise to ignite social networks to spark a new way for communities and our nation to work together. We will activate grass roots youth movements such as the Girl Scouts, as we have in the past, to pilot the conversations across the country. We will invite other young people to co-host subsequent conversations. We will engage those working in the fields of dialogue and deliberation, large-scale change and Asset Based Community Development and use the power of self-organization to stimulate strength-based citizen action. We will scale the intergenerational conversations to exponentially increase the number of facilitators, conversations and citizens involved. By November 2012, a connected web of thousands of cities and towns across the land will be providing citizen perspectives and innovative solutions to our local and national challenges. We invite you, President and First Lady Obama, to join us with your sponsorship, leadership and presence. We invite you to attend at least the first Promise USA National Conversation. We invite you to provide a live or recorded update on your learning and highlights of actions taken as a result of the previous Promise USA event. Together, we will invite the American people to fulfill the promise of the USA: of the people, by the people, for the people. PROMISE USA TEAM CHRISTINE WHITNEY SANCHEZ has coordinated and facilitated some of the largest intergenerational conversations in the world. At the 2005 and 2008 Girl Scout National Conventions, she facilitated over thirteen thousand girls and adults in face-to-face dialogue. Christine is a social entrepreneur, consultant, coach, teacher and pioneer in blending collaborative methods, reflective practices and conscious leadership. Christine has collaborated with leaders from over eighty organizations and communities across four continents to transform culture and collaborative practices, to research and nurture self-organization and distributed leadership, to tap collective wisdom and to foster dynamic and sustainable collaboration. She has led and virtually coordinated dozens of corporate, government and nonprofit groups in delivering large-scale change events and has trained hundreds of facilitators around the world in strength-based approaches for self-organizing in their own communities. Christine holds a Master of Counseling degree from Arizona State University. JUANITA BROWN, PH.D with her partner, David Isaacs, is the co-founder of the World Café, a unique approach to large group dialogue, which is rapidly spreading throughout North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The World Café is being used in a growing number of corporate, community, government, health, education, NGO and multi-stakeholder settings to engage “conversations that matter” across traditional boundaries. Juanita served as a Senior Affiliate at the MIT Sloan School's Organizational Learning Center, an Associate with the Norwegian Center for Leadership Development, a Research Affiliate with the Institute for the Future, and program faculty at the John F. Kennedy University School of Management, the California Institute of Integral Studies, Columbia University, and the University of Monterrey, Mexico. She is a Fellow of the World Business Academy and has been honored in the World's Who's Who of Business and Professional Women. She is the co-author of the “award winning book The World Café: Shaping our Futures Through Conversations that Matter, now being widely used to support civic engagement efforts both in the United States and abroad. DIANE OETTINGER brings over thirty years of experience assisting teams, groups and organizations to develop the leadership, culture and aligned systems that enable innovation and sustainable change. She has held senior leadership positions in the corporate arena, served as a change and leadership advisor to organizations across the private and non-profit sector, and is presently the Chief Learning Officer for the Girl Scouts of the USA. She has served as an executive coach to many organizational leaders, and has experience as executive education adjunct faculty. Diane combines these diverse perspectives and experiences to design and facilitate engagement-based programs that deliver results. She is a proud alumnus of Cornell University. NANCY MARGULIES began developing her visual recording technique in 1984 and is a pioneer in graphic facilitation. She has worked with corporations and educational groups worldwide and facilitated workshops in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Switzerland, Turkey, South Africa and India. Her books on visual recording have been translated into five languages. She is on the online faculty of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, a Green MNA program in sustainability and social justice and is a visual facilitator for the online dialogues at The Global Dialogue Center. Nancy is currently collaborating on a book about building healthy communities with Meg Wheatley. She worked with President Clinton and the Cabinet visually recording strategic planning meetings in which the President, Vice President and each Cabinet Secretary presented their top strategies for the coming year. She did the same for other senior policy meetings including the USDA. REUBEN SANCHEZ brings twenty-seven years providing consultation, training, facilitation, organizational development, and coaching with clients in manufacturing, mental health, medicine, and educational settings. He developed start-up Employee Assistance operations in Latin America for a multinational manufacturing corporation. He has built his success on his ability to establish relationships of trust and collaboration to achieve personal goals and objectives that benefit the community or organization he serves. Reuben’s first language was Spanish and he was the first child in his family to be born in the United States. As founder of ShapeShifter Productions, he applies his artistic abilities in creative ways that keep him thinking outside the box. Reuben holds a Master of Counseling degree from Arizona State University. DAVID ISAACS is a co-founder of the World Café is President of Clearing Communications, an organizational and communications strategy company working with senior executives in the United States and abroad. David has collaborated with a wide range of corporate clients and has served as adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies and the University of San Antonio Business School's executive MBA Program. His not-for-profit work has included hosting World Cafe dialogues with the Shambhala Institute, Society for Organizational Learning, and the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children. David co-authored The World Café: Shaping our Futures Through Conversations that Matter. JIM MYRACLE focuses on partnering with organizations to build the leadership, processes and cultures necessary to support adaptive strategies and innovation. He has extensive experience in new product development, strategic planning, and change initiatives, and has evolved an inclusive, inquiry-based approach to planning that energizes organizational understanding and commitment. Prior to co-founding TMT Associates, he spent 22 years in the corporate sector, holding senior leadership positions in New Product Development, New Technology, Quality Systems, and Strategic Planning. Jim holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The Catholic University of America, and has been awarded seven U.S. patents. EMMETT MILLER, M.D. is best known for his seminal work in the field of holistic health and Mind-Body Medicine, especially his invention of the relaxation/guided imagery cassette in 1970, soon after receiving his M.D. from The Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is also an accomplished musician, scientist, mathematician and living systems specialist. His chief contributions have been his discoveries of how thoughts, emotions, and mental images can be guided to have a profound impact on illnesses, wellness, and performance. Dr. Miller is a trainer, coach, speaker, and tireless worker in the service of planetary transformation. His most recent books include: Deep Healing; The Essence of Mind-Body Medicine, presenting tools for self-healing and optimal performance, and Our Culture on the Couch; Seven Steps to Global Healing, presenting perspectives on the use of Self-awareness and social networking to awaken the leader within and transform our lives and our world. For more information, please contact: Christine Whitney Sanchez 480.759.0262 You can download a PDF of this proposal at



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Idea No. 165