Civic Action

Towards a More Civil Society: Conversations Across America | A Town Hall with the Civil Society Fellowship, a partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute

November 20, 2020  • Aspen Global Leadership Network

Join the Civil Society Fellowship, a partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute, Town Hall to engage in a national conversation about the state of the United States following the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. Civil Society Fellows will serve as hosts of a series of short conversations ​with key community members and elected leaders from Appalachia to California; from the Southwest to Michigan; from Florida to New York. These discussions will engage Americans from across the political spectrum asking questions such as: “What is your dream for America?” “What is a good society?” and “What does America mean to you?” 

You can expect to gain inside insight into everyday America – a window into diverse American experiences.

The mosaic of Fellows includes Indigenous Americans, People of Color (POC), LGBTQ+, immigrants, conservatives, progressives, libertarians, socialists, and independents. This is a platform for the Civil Society Fellowship, other AGLN Fellowships, the Aspen Institute, and ADL to host a virtual “common conversation” about the state of our union – and how we move forward collectively. This event is hosted in partnership with the Civil Society Fellowship, a partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute, and Resnick Aspen Action Forum.

This event will be live translated into Spanish.

For Fellow bios, please visit the Civil Society Fellowship

Featured Fellows and Their Guests:

Samah Abukhodeir, Managing Partner, The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm (Miami, FL)
Juan Carlos BermudezMayor of Doral, FL

Juan Carlos Bermudez is a friend of Samah Abukhodeir’s family and an attorney in Samah’s community who focuses his practice on Business & Commercial Transactions, Real Estate and Land Use, Public Policy, Procurement and Governmental Affairs and Civil Litigation. Mr. Bermudez has practiced law for 30 plus years in South Florida and throughout his career he has represented large, mid-size and start up business entities along with individuals. Mr. Bermudez has dedicated much of his career to civic involvement in the Miami area. In July 2003, he was elected the first mayor of the new City of Doral, serving until 2012. Mr. Bermudez was re-elected Mayor of the city of Doral in 2016 and again in 2020.

Ashley Bell, Partner, Public Policy & Finance, Dentons (Atlanta, GA)
Tony Lowden
, Pastor

Ashley Bell met Tony Lowden in 2011 when Tony was working on criminal justice reform for former Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Nine years later, Tony was hired by President Trump to do the same work in Ashley’s office in the White House.

Matt Fieldman, Executive Director, America Works (Beachwood, OH)
Colin Jackson, Director of Minority Engagement, Republican Party of Cuyahoga County  

Matthew Fieldman and Colin Jackson worked together to promote manufacturing in Northeast Ohio. They have never discussed politics (though they are on opposite sides of the political spectrum). Matthew is excited to take their relationship to a deeper level through this meaningful conversation and suspects that they have a lot more in common than they realize.

Joseph Kunkel, Design Director, SNC Design Lab, MASS Design Group (Santa Fe, NM)
Vanessa Roanhorse, CEO, Roanhorse Consulting  

Joseph Kunkel met Vanessa Roanhorse through common friends within the Urban Indian Community.Joseph also followed Vanessa’s work for the past 5+ years, and all the change she is focused on having locally within New Mexico and within the Native American community nationally. Joseph is excited about Vanessa’s work, and the change that she will bring to the communities she’s working with. Roanhorse Consulting (RCLLC) is an indigenous women-owned firm that has over 30 years of combined work co-creating efforts that put people at the center by lifting existing solutions and curating resources that catapult leaders.

Lauren McCann, Vice President, Stand Together (Falls Church, VA)
Stacey Chamberlin, Principal, Greenstone Public Affairs  

Stacey is a conservative evangelical that has been an active leader in the center-right movement for nearly 20 years. As a single mother of a mixed race child, the current political environment has created core tensions and a feeling that her beliefs are a mix of contradictions. At DCI, she drove client services for large US corporations, trade associations and nonprofit organizations. Prior to DCI she ran the Conservative Political Action Committee at the American Conservative Union. Stacey grew up in a blue collar community in Detroit, Michigan.

Blair Milo, Secretary of Career Connections and Talent, State of Indiana (La Porte, IN)
DeAmon Harges, the original “Roving Listener” and Staff Member of the Broadway United Methodist Church  

Blair will interview DeAmon Harges who is the original “Roving Listener” as a neighbor and staff member of the Broadway United Methodist Church, in Indianapolis, IN. His role is to listen and discover the gifts, passions and dreams of citizens in his community, and to find ways to utilize them in order to build community, economy, and mutual “delight.” DeAmon builds on what is already present and in place in the neighborhood, using those formally undiscovered assets to connect and empower rather than working only from the community’s needs and deficits. There is now a core of “Roving Listeners” working in the Broadway Methodist Church neighborhood.

Isaiah Oliver, President & CEO, Community Foundation of Greater Flint (Flint, MI)
Phil Shaltz, Flint Loyalist, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

It is no secret that our experiences shape our perception of the world. Isaiah Oliver has often shared an experience with Phil Shaltz and their reactions are entirely different. Their perceptions can differ wildly, so, in the end, how they each see the world may not be the reality. Phil and Isaiah have been on a journey to explore those differences, the perceived realities. They have practiced asking, constantly, whether they’re on the same page or not—and this isn’t a bad thing. Their relationship is far more fascinating and safer because they’ve given this a shot… believing when realities collide, new, stronger ones are born that only enhance our world.There are close to 8 billion people in the world. Imagine how strong we’d be if we would collide. How much more would we know about the world and one another?

Marlon Peterson, Founder & President, The Precedential Group (Brooklyn, NY)
Dr. Nadia Lopez, Founding Principal, Mott Hall Bridges Academy  

Marlon Peterson and Dr. Lopez partnered around youth development for about 15 years. She founded a middle-school in Brwnsville, Brooklyn, recently retiring after 10 years as the forinding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy. She touts the phrase, “I opened a school to close a prison,” and Marlon is excited to hear her share first-hand knowledgbe about what education should look like post-COVID-19.

LB Prevette, Director of Community Engagement, Forward Wilkes (Wilkesboro, NC – Appalachia)
Michael Cooper, Journalist, Attorney, and Presidential Leadership Scholar  

LB will interview Michael Cooper who has been a constant champion for young leaders in the community. While based in Raleigh to work for NC Governor Roy Cooper, Michael continued to support and guide multiple new candidates and rising community leaders. Michael is an expert on the rural urban divide and constantly looking for new ways to build bridges across the chasm. Michael is policy minded, but leads with a community centered heart.

Jenifer Sarver, Principal, Sarver Strategies (Austin, TX)
Holly Kuzmich, Executive Director of the George W. Bush Institute  

Jenifer Sarver and Holly Kuzmich both had the privilege of serving as political appointees in the Bush Administration in Washington, D.C. As principled conservatives, they have a shared vision for public policy solutions that invite civil society and the private sector to come alongside the government in addressing our collective challenges. Jenifer is excited to hear Holly’s perspective of values-based leadership, the importance of listening to understand one another, and how leaders can effectively collaborate to move the nation forward.

Joseph Tomás Mckellar, Director, PICO California (Los Angeles, CA)

Violeta Roman, Community Leader, Faith in Action Bay Area, Member of the PICO California state network  

Violeta Roman is a community leader and organizer with Faith in Action Bay Area in San Francisco, which is a member of the PICO California state network and Faith in Action National Network. She is an immigrant from Mexico and a mother of two. Her faith and her experience as an immigrant compel her to build people power for structural change rooted in justice and love. She provides leadership training to grassroots community leaders and accompanies them in their efforts to prevent evictions, build more affordable housing, keep immigrant families together, end mass incarceration and detention, expand access to quality healthcare, and create family-sustaining jobs.

Moderated by: 

Nike Irvin 
Managing Director
Civil Society Fellowship  

Nike Irvin serves as managing director of the Civil Society Fellowship a partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute for next generation community and civil society leaders, a joint partnership between ADL and Aspen Institute and new offering of the Aspen Global Leaders Network (AGLN). Based in Los Angeles, Nike led California Community Foundation’s (CCF) grantmaking for six years, overseeing grants to arts, education, juvenile justice and health. Before CCF, Nike served as president of The Riordan Foundation for seven years. She is active in American truth and reconciliation efforts with Kellogg Foundation and AGLN. Prior to her nonprofit career, she was a brand manager for Nestlé and Pepsi Cola. She is a trustee for The Riordan Foundation, Southern California Grantmakers, High Resolves, Nonprofit Finance Fund, and The Broad Center. Nike received a BA in Economics & Political Science from Yale and was named one of the “100 Most Inspirational Alumni” by UCLA Anderson School, where she earned her MBA. Nike is a Marshall Memorial Fellow. In 2016, she received LABJ’s Philanthropist of the Year award and recipient of Profiles in Diversity Journal’s Women Worth Watching award. Nike is a member of the 2004 Class of Henry Crown Fellows within the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute. 

About the Civil Society Fellowship, a partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute

The Civil Society Fellowship is a leadership development program preparing the next generation of community and civic leaders, activists and problem solvers from across the political spectrum. The Fellowship provides participants the opportunity to engage in experiential learning and text-based dialogue, build trust among a diverse cohort of leaders based on shared insights and mutual respect, and put ideas into action through a required leadership venture. The Fellowship will launch a new cohort annually and is a partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute. For more information visit