We envision a thriving and dynamic democracy with informed and involved citizens.
Healthy Democracy is nonprofit and nonpartisan.
We work to elevate the voice of citizens and improve public discourse for the benefit of all voters.
Healthy Democracy developed the Citizens Initiative Review® process, which brings panels of randomly-selected and demographically-balanced voters together to fairly evaluate ballot measures. We first piloted the CIR in Oregon in 2010; the following year, Oregon became the first state to adopt the CIR into law.
Since then, Healthy Democracy has continued to conduct biennial CIRs in Oregon. We have also run statewide CIRs in Arizona, Colorado, and Massachusetts, in addition to CIRs at the city and county level. More recently, Healthy Democracy is working to bring its innovations in deliberative democracy to new venues – to high school civics classrooms, to communities across Oregon's urban-rural divide, and through new technologies to the public at large.
Citizens Initiative Review Timeline
Robin Teater, Executive Director
Before joining Healthy Democracy, Robin served for 13 years as executive director of the American Leadership Forum (ALF) of Oregon, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors work more effectively together in order to better serve the public good.
Robin’s previous experience spans over three decades in nonprofit administration, including serving as executive director of WorldTeach, an international NGO based at the Kennedy School of Government’s Center for International Development at Harvard University, and seven years with the New York based American Field Service (AFS) where she last served as National Director of Volunteer Development for what was then the largest international student exchange program in the country.
Robin grew up in Oregon’s high desert country and has a degree in social science education from Oregon State University. She has taught high school in such far-flung places as Crane, Oregon, and Lobatse, Botswana, the latter as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. Robin makes her home in Portland which has often also served as a temporary(ish) home base for several adored nephews and nieces over the years.
Jessie Conover, Program Director
Jessie hails from Denton, Texas. Prior to joining Healthy Democracy, she helped stakeholder groups find policy agreement at Oregon Consensus and the National Policy Consensus Center. She received acclaim from Governor John Kitzhaber for her work to further public policy collaboration in Oregon.
Jessie holds an M.S. in Conflict and Dispute Resolution from the University of Oregon School of Law, an M.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Rhode Island, and a B.S. in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of Texas at Austin.
In her spare time, Jessie performs improv comedy at theaters around town. She has a special fondness for the non-profit Curious Comedy Theater in Northeast Portland.
Linn Davis, Operations and Technology Manager
Linn grew up in Milwaukie, Oregon, then spent a decade away from the Northwest before returning to pursue a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University. Before joining Healthy Democracy as Information Coordinator for the 2016 Citizens Initiative Reviews, he worked at PSU’s Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies and at Metro, the Portland area’s regional government.
While away from Oregon, he earned a B.A. in History from Grinnell College in Iowa, then worked as a journalist in South Africa and India, as a production intern at NPR’s On the Media in New York, and in the corporate world in Minneapolis.
In off-hours, he enjoys playing music and rediscovering his home state – from its highest windblown fire lookouts to its lowest subterranean pubs.
Board of Directors
Manju Lyn Bazzell, Board Chair
Manju Lyn Bazzell consults with organizations committed to creating a vibrant, intelligent, adaptable democratic culture in the U.S. Professional background includes: Executive Director, The Gangaji Foundation; Principal, Pfaelzer Communications & Organizational Consulting; Co-host, San Francisco radio show, Now We’re Talking; Award-winning high school teacher. Ms. Bazzell lives in Ashland, OR.
Pat Benn is a former teacher of German and French. She served as president of her union (the Robbinsdale Federation of Teachers) from 1976-78. In 1991, she helped create Shared Decisions Minnesota, an effort to create collaborative decisions in Minnesota schools involving students, parents, teachers and administrators. Since 1999 Pat has worked with her husband, Ned Crosby, to promote the Citizens’ Initiative Review, a method for bringing trustworthy information to voters on initiatives.
Craig comes from a family deeply rooted in Oregon and in Oregon public life. Craig received both his undergraduate Political Science and his Doctorate of Jurisprudence degrees at the University of Oregon. He also completed a Masters Degree in Military Science from American Military University. Craig has served as the Chief of Staff for the Speaker of the House under his father, Larry Campbell, and was Special Assistant Attorney General and Coordinator of the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Task Force under then Attorney General Ted Kulongoski. He has also served as Senior Policy Advisor and State Homeland Security Advisor for Governor Kulongoski. Aside from work, Craig has participated in a number of community roles having served as Chair of the Lane County Youth Development Commission, Chair of the Keizer Community Policing Committee, City Counselor for the City of Keizer, and Chair of the Oregon Commission on Children and Families. Craig was awarded the Oregon National Guard Meritorious Service Medal in 2005.
Marge Easley has held many leadership positions with the League of Women Voters, most recently as state president from 2007 to 2011. Through her involvement with the League she has served on a number of government task forces, interviewed candidates each election cycle on TVCTV, moderated debates, and advocated at the Legislature on issues as diverse as land use, the initiative system, National Popular Vote, and voting rights. She recently helped edit and write More Power than We Knew, a History of the League of Women Voters 1920-2012, in honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Oregon. Originally from Pennsylvania, Marge had a twenty-year teaching career in Rhode Island, Delaware, Switzerland, and South Carolina before moving to Oregon in 1995.
Lawyer, author, ethicist John Frohnmayer’s views on the First Amendment first captured national attention when he served as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts during the first Bush Administration.
He graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in American History. While a Rockefeller Fellow at the Union Theological Seminary in New York, he studied voice with Julliard professor Dolf Swing. John received his Masters degree in Christian Ethics from the University of Chicago, and graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law where he was Editor-In-Chief of the Law Review in 1972. He practiced as a trial lawyer in Oregon and Montana.
John served in the US Navy from 1966-1969 and, along with various Vietnam service medals, received the Navy Commendation Medal for bravery in attempting to save a drowning Marine. The People for the American Way honored John with its first National First Amendment Award in 1992, the Governor of Oregon recognized him for excellence in public service with the Governor’s Arts Award in 1993, and the Montana Library Association awarded him its Intellectual Freedom Award in 1997. He received an Oregon Literary Arts Award for his musical comedy SPIN, produced in 2008 by Oregon State University.
John entered the race for the U.S. Senate in Oregon as an Independent candidate in 2008 (a fool’s errand), and is an award winning (AP, 2009) weekly commentator for KLCC public radio. He is a dedicated rower with the Corvallis Rowing Club, and won Gold medals at the National Masters Rowing Competition in 2006, 2009 and 2012, the Canadian National Championship in 2007 and 2014, the Head of the Charles International Competition in 2009 and 2015 and Northwest Regionals multiple times.
John continues to speak, as he has at over 100 Universities and Colleges, on issues of art, constitutional law, ethics, creativity and leadership. He is a thought leader on topics as widely diverse as re-inventing government and sports leadership. John has served as Chair of Oregon Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and as such is on the forefront of programs to promote civility and understanding differences.He has two sons, Jason, a diplomat, and Aaron, an art teacher and coach.
Lilisa Hall has more than 25 years of corporate and nonprofit sector experience in strategic planning, communications and alignment, community affairs and engagement, corporate philanthropy, and nonprofit organizational management. She has served as director of community affairs and strategic partnerships, managed global communications and was executive director for two corporate foundations.
She currently leads Nonprofit Association of Oregon’s membership, communications and advancement portfolio. Lilisa is an active community leader and has served on numerous nonprofit boards and led committees for CEO search, human resources, CEO compensation, development, membership and equity, diversity and inclusion. Lilisa holds degrees in business administration and English Literature and is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum of Oregon.
For close to 20 years, Su has been involved in thousands of projects over her career and feels privileged to work on issues that improve communities across the country. She is a University of Tennessee Volunteer graduate and serves on several boards to support civic participation, education, and economic development. Occasionally, she can be found teaching a class on voting and policy to the toughest and scariest audience…fifth graders.
Jim Scherzinger retired as the Dept of Human Services (DHS) Chief Operations Officer in March 2016, where he served since 2011. He had also served as interim Deputy Director for the agency. Jim began his career with DHS in 2006 as Chief Financial Officer. Prior to coming to DHS, Jim served 20 years, 14 years as director, in the Legislative Revenue Office; a nonpartisan office in the Oregon Legislature that is the staff to the House and Senate Revenue and School Finance Committees.
In 1998 he moved to Portland Public Schools as chief financial officer and was appointed superintendent in June 2001 before retiring in June 2004. Jim is a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum of Oregon and has served on the ALF board as well as being a long-time member of the board of directors for Neighborhood House, a non-profit organization that assists low-income, recent immigrant and other vulnerable people living in the greater Portland area.
Gary lives outside of Gates, Oregon with his wife Nancy. Graduating in 1968 from Lewis and Clark College in Portland with a Bachelor’s degree in speech communication, he started his career as a high school teacher working in the disciplines of speech, drama, and music. In 1975 he chose to start his own business. He is the owner and operator for the last 41 years of Swanson Stained Glass Studio, one of the oldest studios in the State of Oregon.
Gary has believed in volunteer service to his community from the time he was a high school student. He currently serves in a continuing role (33 years) as the volunteer Fire Chief for the Gates Fire District. Gary has also served on the executive council for the area 911 PSAP center, and serves on several small corporate boards of directors. Gary is a graduate of both the Ford family Community Leadership Program, and a Senior Fellow with the American Leadership Forum (ALF) of Oregon.
Kim taught from 2000-2010 at the Harvard Kennedy School before joining PSU as the Academic Director of the Center for Women, Politics and Policy. She teaches courses on American politics, including courses on race, gender, immigration, and social movements. Her current research focuses on black-immigrant relations and political coalition building.
She published her first book Mark One or More: Civil Rights in Multiracial America (University of Michigan Press) in 2006. In 2007, Kim was appointed to the U.S. Census Advisory Committee for the African American Population. In 2008 she was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Kim was born and raised in Oakland, California. She earned her B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University. In between degrees she lived in London, Paris, Barcelona, Alaska, and New York City doing odd jobs. Kim and her husband, Mingus, are the parents of two young sons, Langston (6) and Coltrane (5).