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Carolyn Lukensmeyer
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Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer is Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD). NICD works to move the needle on incivility and political dysfunction in order to strengthen our democratic traditions.

NICD integrates research and practice to support and enable:
a congress and executive branch that works to solve the big issues facing our country; a media that informs and engages citizens; and a public demand for civil discourse and a government that works in the best interests of the country as a whole.

Carolyn previously served as Founder and President of AmericaSpeaks and has made her mark as an innovator in deliberative democracy, public administration, and organizational development. Concerns about the deep partisan divide in Washington and the growing disconnection between citizens and government across the country led Carolyn to launch AmericaSpeaks in 1995. Her goal was to develop new democratic practices that would strengthen citizen voice in public decision-making.

Under Carolyn’s leadership, AmericaSpeaks has earned a national reputation as a leader in the field of deliberative democracy and democratic renewal. She and AmericaSpeaks have won a number of awards, including two from the International Association for Public Participation (2001 and 2003), the Organizational Development Network's Sharing the Wealth Award (2006), the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for best practices, a Distinguished Service Award from the Federal Managers Association for Outstanding Leadership (1994) and a Best Practice Award from the National Training Laboratories Institute in 1993.

Prior to founding AmericaSpeaks, Carolyn served as Consultant to the White House Chief of Staff from November 1993 through June 1994. In this capacity she ensured that systematic thinking was part of the White House's work on internal management issues and on government-wide reform. She also served as the Deputy Project Director for Management of the National Performance Review (NPR), Vice President Al Gore's reinventing government task force. From 1986 to 1991, Carolyn served as Chief of Staff to Governor Richard F. Celeste of Ohio. She was both the first woman to serve in this capacity and, at the time of her appointment, the only Chief of Staff recruited from the professional management field.

Carolyn also led her own successful organizational development and management consulting firm for 14 years. In this capacity, she worked with public and private sector organizations on four continents.

Carolyn earned a PhD in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University and completed postgraduate training at the internationally-known Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. She is affiliated with the American Management Association, National Training Laboratories, Organization Development Network and the Organization and Management Division of the American Psychological Association.

An avid traveler and outdoors adventurer, Carolyn has led a rafting expedition down the Colorado River, tracked panda bears in the remote Sichuan Province of China, and trekked in major mountain ranges all over the world. She currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Entries by Carolyn Lukensmeyer

Argument and Sound Bites Trump Civility

(1) Comments | Posted June 30, 2015 | 11:27 AM

At a dinner party the other evening, one of the guests stated, with great indignation, "The entire south is against gay marriage." This was the day that the Supreme Court had issued its ruling upholding the constitutionality of gay marriage. The trouble with his statement, whatever your opinion of gay...

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Civil Behavior Abounds in Response to Tragedy

(0) Comments | Posted June 22, 2015 | 4:45 PM

The tragedy last week in Charleston, S.C., in which nine people were murdered, has evoked a local, state and national response bathed in civility. In fact, what we have witnessed since the shooting on June 16, sets an example for the nation of the hope and promise that can come...

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Regular Order on the Highway

(0) Comments | Posted June 18, 2015 | 2:33 PM

After the 2014 mid-term election, House Speaker Boehner and soon to be Senate Majority Leader McConnell promised a return to regular order. The passage of the first congressional budget since 2009, showed that regular order does, indeed, make a difference. There is another pressing issue that provides the Leader and...

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Acknowledging Bipartisanship in Congress Is An Important Part of Civil Discourse

(0) Comments | Posted April 21, 2015 | 1:05 PM

Political gridlock in Congress has intensified over the last several years and the result has been too many large issues like immigration and educational reform remaining stuck in limbo as argument and innuendo trump action on too many critical issues. Add in the speed with which social media commentary now...

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Strengthening Our Democracy

(1) Comments | Posted February 4, 2015 | 11:19 AM

As January draws to an end, New Year's resolutions may have already faded from our minds, but a more important resolve for our national consciousness is to remain committed to the community service that is now a central element of our celebration of Dr. King's enormous contributions to the nation....

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Imbalances of Power

(0) Comments | Posted January 23, 2015 | 9:58 AM

Oxfam International released a report this week, just as the World Economic Forum opens in Davos Switzerland, which projects that by 2016, 1 percent of the population will control more than 50 percent of the wealth. As Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam's executive director said in a statement, "The scale of global...

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13 Milliseconds to Civility

(0) Comments | Posted January 9, 2015 | 5:16 PM

Representative John Boehner was reelected as Speaker of the House this week, surviving a challenge from the far right as the 114th U.S. Congress, with Republican leadership in both Houses, began its work. Boehner, when handed the gavel by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, sounded a mildly positive note in...

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We Are All Wounded

(1) Comments | Posted December 4, 2014 | 8:36 PM

The idea that that we might live in a post-racial society -- a concept that became a topic of national discussion among the pundits after the election of President Barak Obama -- has slinked into a dark corner in recent weeks.

As the ashes still smolder in Ferguson, Missouri,...

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Search for Common Ground in Ferguson

(0) Comments | Posted November 25, 2014 | 1:27 PM

Ferguson, Missouri, as feared, erupted with violence, rage and frustration yesterday when the grand jury, which began hearing testimony on August 20, decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, the black unarmed teenager. On the same day, President Obama awarded the...

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Where Have All the Voters Gone?

(1) Comments | Posted November 12, 2014 | 9:38 AM

On Election Day last week, only 36.4 percent of eligible voters managed to squeeze their constitutional right-to-vote into their very busy lives.

Despite a range of early voting options that allow us to vote whenever we want, only 83 million out of the 230+ million citizens in...

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Voters to Politicians: Start Working Together

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2014 | 9:48 AM

Across our country, we awakened this morning to a newly-configured federal government where Republicans control both houses of Congress while a Democrat remains for two more years in the White House. As political analysis of the elections unfolds, one thing seems quite clear: Americans want a government that functions to...

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Millennials Offer Hope for More Civil Future

(0) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 12:01 PM

Civility in America, a new poll by Weber Shandwick/Powell Tate Research, offers real hope for the future of civil behavior in our country. The poll takes the temperature of today's generations and finds that Millennial's, those born during the two decades book-ended by the optimism of Ronald Reagan's...

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Restoring the Promise of the American Dream

(0) Comments | Posted August 5, 2014 | 1:05 PM

We applaud the new Majority Leader's message calling for civility and bipartisanship in Congress.

Kevin McCarthy, the new Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, calls for civility and a functioning committee process in an op-ed that appeared in the Washington Post. In it, Congressman McCarthy offers...

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Let's Take the High Road

(7) Comments | Posted July 9, 2014 | 7:05 PM

Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a young Army officer in 1919 when the U.S. Army launched the first Transcontinental Motor Convoy across the United States. The convoy left the Ellipse south of the White House in Washington, D.C. on July 7, 1919, and followed the nations' only transcontinental route,...

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Reflections on 'Common Sense' This July 4th

(0) Comments | Posted July 2, 2014 | 2:39 PM

It was in January of 1776 that Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense was published in the 13 colonies. His pamphlet is remembered today not because he offered new ideas on the need for America to separate from England and replace monarchy and hereditary rule with republicanism. These concepts had been...

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Maya Angelou -- A Pioneer of Civil Discourse

(0) Comments | Posted May 28, 2014 | 3:28 PM

Today the world experienced a significant loss when prolific American author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou passed away. Among Dr. Angelou's many contributions to the world was her ability to use words to lift people up, rather than to bring them down. A literary genius, Dr. Angelou used...

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How Can Journalists Repair Our Public Discourse?

(1) Comments | Posted January 7, 2014 | 4:30 PM

At a recent gathering in Washington. D.C., a group of about 40 journalists from around the country representing diverse media platforms agreed on a core values statement stating that journalists, among other things, must: "Seek and report truth and information founded in facts, grounded in humanity and necessary to public...

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America Loses Unless We Act

(3) Comments | Posted October 18, 2013 | 2:01 PM

Cooler heads finally prevailed in the latest fiscal crisis that essentially shut down the U.S. government for 16 days and threatened default on the national debt for the first time in our history. That Congress stepped back from the brink is critical; that our political leaders took us so close...

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We Are Each 100 Percent Responsible for Our Democracy

(1) Comments | Posted October 4, 2013 | 9:01 AM

The bystander effect refers to the ironic probability that the more people who see a victim in distress, the less chance there is any of them will stop to help. This phenomenon characterizes our collective response to the incivility and political dysfunction that dominates America's governing institutions today.

What does...

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What The Supercommittee Couldn't Do, The American Public Has Already Done

(1) Comments | Posted November 22, 2011 | 2:15 PM

How is it that the 12 members of the Supercommittee can, after three months of work, simply throw up their hands and leave us deeply in debt, when a year and half ago, 3,500 ideologically diverse Americans sat down together for one day and came to consensus about what to...

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