Speakers and Presenters:

Lizzy Cooper Davis, PhD, is an artist and scholar interested in how the arts can facilitate community conversation, resistance, and change. Particularly focused on Black freedom movements, she has conducted research in Cuba, Brazil, and New Orleans, and her current project examines the cultural workers of the civil rights era. She trained with Augusto and Julian Boal and used their Theater of the Oppressed in schools, community centers, and prisons, and has worked at the intersection of arts and organizing with Anna Deavere Smith, the Urban Bush Women, Angela’s Pulse, Jacob’s Pillow, The American Repertory Theater, ArtsEmerson, and the Boston Foundation. Lizzy has also performed nationally as an actor in such theaters as Second Stage, The Public Theater, The Long Wharf, Berkeley Rep, and The American Repertory Theater and with such directors as Liesl Tommy, Anne Bogart, and Mary Zimmerman in addition to work in television, film, and radio. Lizzy coedited Enacting Pleasure: Artists and Scholars Respond to Carol Gilligan’s Map of Love (2010), wrote on the freedom songs of the civil rights movement for the roots music journal No Depression, taught with the Posse Foundation and at Harvard’s Mellon School of Theater and Performance, and is an assistant professor at Emerson College.

Michaela Grenier is a program director for the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network (SDCN), where she spends much of her time helping campuses build capacity for dialogue and for collaborative problem-solving. Michaela supports campuses in building and sustaining dialogue initiatives by working with campus teams to apply the Sustained Dialogue model to retreat-based, course-based, and extracurricular settings. Before joining SDCN, Michaela worked in other roles within the fields of higher education and conflict resolution, including supporting student retention on a college campus, designing student civic leadership programming, and working with international and domestic conflict resolution programs for teenagers.

Shannon Wheatley Hartman, Ph.D, is a fellow of the Interactivity Foundation (IF), a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization focused on improving political discourse through exploratory discussion in communities and classrooms. Since 2011, Shannon has worked on all three components of IF’s mission: project discussions, community discussions, and higher education pedagogy. Prior to joining IF, Shannon was a lecturer on international relations at Arizona State University, where she was awarded Teacher of the Year for the School of Politics and Global Studies. Her teaching interests and research focus on critical cosmopolitanism, immigration and border politics, nonviolent resistance, critical security, postcolonial studies, and deliberative democracy. Her publications on the privatization of immigrant detention can be found in International Political Sociology, the Routledge Handbook of Private Security Studies, and in Critical Approaches to Security: Theories and Methods. She has also published critical essays on ecotourism and travel writing in the Journal of Politics and Margins, Peripheries, and Excluded Bodies: International Relations and States of Exception. Shannon is also currently working at Haverford College as a fellow-in-residence for the Center of Peace and Global Citizenship.

Sandy Heierbacher founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first conference. NCDD continued in that collaborative spirit and grew to a membership of thousands and a broader community of 35,000 subscribers. Under Sandy’s leadership, members of NCDD collaborated to create the Engagement Streams Framework, the Core Principles for Public Engagement, and a dozen more national and regional conferences involving more than 3.500 participants. The 2002 NCDD national conference was the first of its kind, bringing together 225 facilitators, nonprofit leaders, public administrators, faculty members and others, and fatefully combining the terms dialogue and deliberation to help ensure all of the trailblazers who were bringing people together across divides could see themselves and their work in the event. Based in the Boston area, Sandy consults with leading organizations in the field, like Everyday Democracy and the Kettering Foundation, in the areas of network- and community-building, public engagement racial equity, and participatory event planning. Sandy currently serves on the boards of the National Issues Forums Institute and the Participatory Budgeting Project, and is an adviser to Participedia.net. Sandy has an MA in intercultural and international management from the School for International Training Graduate Institute.

Martha L. McCoy is president of the Paul J. Aicher Foundation and executive director of its primary project, Everyday Democracy. The organization and its network are recognized for advancing participatory democracy with a racial equity lens throughout the United States. Their tools, advice, and training support grassroots, public, nonprofit, and business leaders in working across sectors to create inclusive dialogue for sustained, equitable change and democratic governance. Through their assistance, communities across the country are building their capacity for community engagement that leads to meaningful and measurable change in areas such as policing and the larger criminal justice system, K–12 education, early childhood development, and poverty reduction. Everyday Democracy partners with local, regional, and national organizations that are dedicated to expanding and deepening democratic capacity and infrastructure. McCoy writes and speaks on grassroots civic engagement, participatory governance, racial and intersectional justice, and on strengthening the emerging U.S. and global movements for participatory, equitable democracy. She serves on several advisory committees, including the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at Brandeis, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium. McCoy is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship.

Glenn Mitoma, Ph.D, is an Assistant Professor of Human Rights and Education at the University of Connecticut, jointly appointed with the Human Rights Institute and the Neag School of Education Department of Curriculum and Instruction.  He is also Director of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.  Glenn’s scholarship has focused on the history of human rights and human rights education.  His first book, Human Rights and the Negotiation of American Power, was published in 2013 by the University of Pennsylvania Press.  As Director of the Dodd Center, he oversees programs designed to promote a culture of human rights, including initiatives in K-12 human rights education and business and human rights.

Quixada Moore-Vissing, Ph.D, named after Don Quixote, leverages her idealism to support communities in building strong, participatory democratic systems, particularly at the local level. Quixada leads Public Engagement Partners as a civic researcher and community engagement designer, specializing in creating processes to problem-solve across difference, including race and politics. Quixada has collaborated with many national democracy-focused organizations including Public Agenda, Everyday Democracy, the MacArthur Foundation, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, and the 92Y’s Ben Franklin Circles. She is a fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, the George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine, and the Center for Childhood and Youth Studies at Salem State University. Her scholarship centers on local democracy, rural public engagement, and K–12 and higher education engagement with students and local communities. Quixada earned her PhD in education from the University of New Hampshire and her MA in communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Dave Neely, Ph.D. (he/him/his) is the Diversity Education and Training Specialist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is also a Lecturer in the Social Justice Education Concentration in the College of Education. He is passionate about providing experiential, social justice learning environments that draw on intergroup dialogue, storytelling, and applied theatre, and he is committed to coaching peer educators to facilitate workshops and dialogic conversations within and across differences. An alum of UMass Amherst, New York University, and the University of Michigan, his dissertation research explored the outcomes of integrating aspects of intergroup dialogue into a critical service-learning program.

John Sarrouf is is co-Executive Director for Essential Partners. He has facilitated dialogues on issues such as guns in America, police – community relations, Israel-Palestine, Muslim-Jewish relations, abortion, human sexuality in the Christian Church, and race in America.  He has helped to start dialogue programs at universities, organizations, cities and towns across the country. He served as the Assistant Director of Difficult Dialogues at Clark University and helped start the Peace and Conflict Studies program at Gordon College.  John lead a team from five universities studying the use of dialogue for the development of intellectual humility, conviction, and engagement in the classroom with funding from the Templeton Foundation. He is the author if several dialogue guides about issues like the opiate crisis, the boarder wall, firearms in America, and the red-blue divide.  

Nancy Thomas, Ph.D, directs the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, conducting research and providing assistance to colleges and universities to advance student political learning and participation in democracy. The Institute’s signature initiative, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), is a large dataset for research and a service, providing more than 1,100 participating colleges and universities with tailored reports containing their students’ aggregate voting rates. Her work and scholarship center on higher education’s democratic mission, college student political learning and participation, political equity and inclusion, discourse, free speech and academic freedom, and deliberative democracy on campuses and in communities. She is the author of multiple book chapters, articles, and the monograph, Educating for Deliberative Democracy. She has a law degree from Case Western Reserve University and a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Matthew Sagacity Walker is Everyday Democracy’s Community Assistance Analyst. Sagacity provides administrative support to the programming unit and network consultants as they work with communities. He also provides tools, training, coaching sessions, and materials to community based organizations organizing and holding dialogues. Sagacity has facilitated community dialogues on various issues; education, policing, and racial equity-to name few. He has worked on Everyday Democracy’s Evaluation and Learning Team where he co-created surveys and input and analyzed data from Everyday Democracy’s community trainings. Sagacity played a key role in developing Everyday Democracy’s internal database. With a background in youth programming, education, program evaluation, and small group facilitation, Sagacity Walker continues to work with Everyday Democracy on national initiatives and programs while continuously serving his local community. 

Ximena Zúñiga, PhD., a national leader of diversity, equity and social justice issues in education in higher education. Dr. Zúñiga's background is in critical philosophy and critical pedagogy, participatory education, and action research. Her initial work was in literacy work and popular education in non-formal adult education programs in her native Chile. Before joining the faculty at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Dr. Zúñiga directed the Program on Intergroup Relations at the University of Michigan where she participated in developing the intergroup dialogue educational model in higher education. She has served as PI and Co-PI on several international, national and local grants including the Inclusive University Initiative at Pune University in India (Obama Singh Grant, 2013-2016), Multi-University Intergroup Dialogue Research Project (W.T.Grant & Ford Foundation, 2005-2008) and Pluralism and Unity Initiative at UMASS Amherst (W. & F. Hewlett Foundation 1998-2002). She is co-editor of Multicultural Teaching in the University (1993), Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (2001; 2010; 2013; (Routledge); Intergroup Dialogue: Engaging Difference, Social Identities, and Social Justice(Routledge, 2014). She is co-author of Intergroup dialogue in higher education: Meaningful learning about social justice(2007;Jossey-Bass) and Dialogues across difference: Practice, theory and research on intergroup dialogues (2013; Russell Sage Foundation). She recently co-edited a special issue for the Journal of Equity and Excellence in Education on intergroup dialogues in k-12, higher education and communities (February 2012). Recent articles and book chapters address racism, immigration & globalization issues in anti-racist education, diversity and social justice education in higher education, and theory, practice, and research on dialogues across differences in higher education and communities. She teaches foundations courses in social justice education, theory, practice and research on intergroup dialogue in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and communities, and a multi-section intergroup dialogue undergraduate course.