WASHINGTON – The National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) today announced that Keith Allred will become the organization’s new Executive Director. Allred was a candidate for governor after he founded The Common Interest, a grass roots advocacy group. He is a former Harvard Kennedy School professor and an expert mediator. Allred is succeeding Dr Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, who will transition to Executive Director Emerita.
“At a time when disagreement in Washington is driving a shutdown of historic proportions, the mission of the National Institute for Civil Discourse has never been more urgent,” said Keith Allred, Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. “I am grateful to Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly for the opportunity to lead our nationwide work helping to reinforce the importance of civility, empathy, and respect.”
Giffords and husband Mark Kelly welcomed Allred as the new executive director at a reception in Washington on January 11 that included NICD board members Tom Daschle, former Senate Majority Leader, and Jim Kolbe, a 12-term congressman from Arizona. Allred comes to NICD following his work to launch CommonSense American, which brings together Republicans, Democrats, and Independents from across the country to find and champion solutions with broad support. Allred plans to integrate CommonSense American into the National Institute for Civil Discourse as part of the organization’s ongoing work to revive civility and improve problem-solving across the partisan divide. Prior to launching CommonSense American, Allred ran the Idaho-based initiative The Common Interest, a statewide group that brought everyday Idahoans together to offer solutions to state government.
“With our politicians struggling to find ways to work together, Keith Allred brings a unique background to the National Institute for Civil Discourse as a mediator skilled at helping people find agreement on common solutions,” said former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. “His dedication to, and many years of experience in, bringing Americans from all backgrounds together will be a terrific asset as our organization enters this important new chapter.”
Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, the National Institute for Civil Discourse’s first executive director, has guided the organization to become a national leader on the importance of strengthening civility. NICD’s broad grassroots programming works with thousands of people every year in elementary schools, on college campuses, in state capitols, and in local communities, teaching the skills needed to improve conversations, demonstrate respect, and find common ground. Through the organization’s Revive Civility initiative, over 12,000 people have participated in trainings on civil discourse and listening across differences for understanding in hundreds of events and conversations. NICD’s Next Generation program has reached 850 state legislators in 16 states, providing training Washington’s future leaders to embrace bipartisanship and explore the benefits of improving the level of civil discourse and more effectively work across the aisle.
“We would like thank Carolyn Lukensmeyer for her dynamic leadership and service to the National Institute for Civil Discourse,” Giffords said. “Over the past seven years, she has become a national champion for civility, working tirelessly to create programming and passionately advocate for improved discourse in all corners of the country. Through her vision and dedication, the National Institute for Civil Discourse has developed into the leading resource to help school students, community leaders, voters, and Members of Congress to understand civility and find ways to compromise.”
About the National Institute for Civil Discourse
The National Institute for Civil Discourse, is a non-profit, non-partisan institute based at the University of Arizona dedicated to addressing incivility and political dysfunction in American democracy by promoting structural and behavioral change. Informed by research, NICD¹s programs are designed to create opportunities for elected officials, the media, and the public to engage different voices respectfully and take responsibility for the quality of our public discourse and effectiveness of our democratic institutions. Their National Advisory Board includes former Presidents Bill Clinton; former Senators Tom Daschle and Olympia Snowe; former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Colin Powell; and journalists including Katie Couric and NPR’s Scott Simon.