Aspen Institute Joins Anti-Defamation League-Led Initiative to Combat Extremism in U.S. Cities

August 22, 2018

A diverse group of partners launches “Communities Overcoming Extremism: The After Charlottesville Project”

Contact: Jon Purves
Senior Media Relations Associate
Tel. 202-736-2111 |

Washington, DC, August 22, 2018 – The Justice and Society Program at the Aspen Institute is participating in a national capacity-building project focused on empowering communities with tools to combat the dramatic rise in extremism, intolerance, and political violence that cities and communities have seen in the year since the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last August.

Led by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the initiative will showcase the power of diverse public and private sector coalitions and help build localized capacity to enhance the ability of communities and cities across America to respond and prevent violent extremist events like Charlottesville from happening in the future. Additional participants include the Center for American Progress, The Fetzer Institute, the Charles Koch Institute, Hope Not Hate, and the National Immigration Forum.

The Communities Overcoming Extremism Advisory Board is chaired by former Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer. Meryl Chertoff, the Executive Director of the Justice and Society Program, will also sit on the board, bringing her program’s longstanding expertise in bringing diverse communities together in a spirit of open dialogue. Their contribution builds on the recent Pluralism in Peril report, which was spearheaded by the Justice and Society Program’s Inclusive America Project and explores how our nation can maintain its historical commitment to embracing people of all faith backgrounds against a backdrop of polarization.

Editor’s Note: For additional information about the wider partnership and to view the full advisory board, visit:

“Charlottesville was a local event with national and global implications,” said Meryl Chertoff. “If we are to defeat the forces of intolerance in this country it will be because good and decent people in every community in the nation stand up and say no to hate and yes to knowing their neighbors of all backgrounds. That is why I am so excited to have the mayors as our allies in this effort.”

Two summits, taking place fall 2018 at Washington University in St. Louis and spring 2019 in California’s Bay area, already promise such public and private sector leaders as former Missouri U.S. Senator John Danforth, U.S. Conference of Mayors President Steve Benjamin of Columbia, SC, Gold Star parent Khizr Khan, New York Times columnist Peter Wehner, and Constitutional law Professors John Inazu of Washington University and A.E. Dick Howard of the University of Virginia.

“Our great nation must be fully equipped to overcome hate, political violence and extremism,” said former Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer. “I am committed to sharing learning from last year’s events in Charlottesville as part of this national effort, bringing together key public and private leaders, and a diverse range of partner organizations around the country, who will work together to increase our collective capacity to stand up against hate.”

In addition, the project will launch a podcast channel with interviews of public and private sector leaders on their ideas about advancing tolerance and reconciliation while fighting against extremism. At the conclusion of the project in August 2019, a policy report will be released outlining lessons learned and guidance on how the nation can best confront and overcome extremism.

The Justice and Society Program (JSP) convenes individuals from diverse backgrounds to discuss the meaning of justice and how a just society ought to balance fundamental rights with the exigencies of public policy, in order to meet contemporary social challenges and strengthen the rule of law. JSP’s Inclusive America Project is a high-level nonpartisan project started in 2011 as a response to a rising tide of bigotry and intolerance that is inimical to Constitutional protections of minority religions. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit



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