About

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.

Who We Are

Healthy Democracy is a US-based nonpartisan nonprofit that designs and coordinates innovative deliberative democracy programs.

We pioneered the Citizens’ Initiative Review process. CIRs bring together groups of randomly selected and demographically representative voters in an intensive four-day, jury-like setting to research the basic facts of initiatives and referenda on the ballot. These citizen panels draft joint statements that provide clear, concise, and accurate information to their fellow voters, removed from campaign messaging and financial influence.

We also bring our experience in dialogue and collaboration to other venues, including high school classrooms and a cross-state exchange program bridging Oregon’s urban-rural divide.

What We Value

We recognize that the quality of a decision-making process is directly related to both the diversity of perspectives and the degree of deliberation that is attained. For this reason, we value inclusion and deliberation.

We continuously strengthen our reputation for and commitment to direct impact as we expand our suite of high quality deliberative processes.

We are committed to integrity and transparency within our organization, through our partner relationships, and on behalf of the public through our program designs and published results.

The values of fairness and respect are at the core of each of our relationships and are present in the services we design and offer the public.

History

Healthy Democracy developed the Citizens’ Initiative Review process, which brings together panels of randomly selected and demographically balanced voters to fairly evaluate ballot measures. We first designed and tested the CIR in Oregon in 2008, and the Oregon legislature approved the first official CIR pilot in 2010. The following year, Oregon became the first jurisdiction 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. In March 2017, we conducted our first CIR demonstration in California.

Timeline of the Citizens' Initiative Review

Ned Crosby, Ph.D – democracy process innovator and author of Healthy Democracy – and his wife and colleague Pat Benn begin to develop and promote the idea of the Citizens’ Initiative Review. Crosby’s pioneering work to develop the Citizens Jury method of public deliberation is the foundation of the CIR process.

(Recognized as a leading innovation in the field of citizen deliberation and public engagement, the Citizens Jury method has been used over the past 30 years in a wide variety of applications. To learn more about the history of the Citizens Jury process and the current work of the Minnesota-based Jefferson Center, visit jefferson-center.org.)

Following a meeting with Crosby and Benn, Tyrone Reitman and Elliot Shuford co-found what is then known as Healthy Democracy Oregon, where they remain as co-directors until 2011 – when the CIR is adopted into Oregon law. Reitman will continue as Executive Director until 2015.

A “field test” of the CIR process reviews Oregon Ballot Measure 58, and the League of Women Voters of Oregon finds this early test to be fair and unbiased. Kate Brown, at the time Oregon’s Secretary of State, suggests legislation to authorize a CIR pilot.

The Oregon Legislature passes House Bill 2895, which authorizes a Citizens’ Initiative Review pilot.

Healthy Democracy conducts pilot Citizens’ Initiative Reviews of Oregon Ballot Measures 73 and 74. The resulting Citizens’ Statements are published in the official statewide voters’ pamphlet (and can be viewed here).

Deliberation scholar John Gastil, then a professor at the University of Washington, leads an academic evaluation of the CIR process, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The evaluation’s final report to the Oregon Legislature finds that citizen panelists “conducted a sufficiently rigorous analysis of the issues put before them and maintained a fair and respectful discussion process throughout their proceedings.” What’s more, it finds the final Citizens’ Statements “free of any gross factual errors or logical fallacies.”

A bipartisan group of Oregon legislators sponsors House Bill 2634, which provides authorization and governance for Oregon’s Citizens’ Initiative Review process. It is signed into law July 21, 2011, and the CIR becomes a permanent fixture of Oregon’s electoral process.

The law creates the Citizens’ Initiative Review Commission, a bipartisan state board that oversees the CIR process, including verifying panelist selection and determining which measures will be reviewed.

The Citizens’ Initiative Review Commission convenes Oregon’s first official CIRs and selects Healthy Democracy to conduct the reviews. Two citizen panels review Measures 82 and 85 (view final Citizens’ Statements here).

The CIR continues to be the focus of extensive academic study. John Gastil, now at Penn State University, collaborates on another report, which once again affirms the CIR’s “high level of factual accuracy.” (Additional CIR research is available here.)

Using a redesigned CIR process, Healthy Democracy conducts Citizens’ Initiative Reviews of statewide Oregon Measures 90 and 92, and carries out its first county-level initiative review in Jackson County, Oregon (view final Statements here).

HD also conducts its first Citizens’ Initiative Reviews outside Oregon, with CIR pilots in Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona.

After once again refining the CIR process, Healthy Democracy carries out official CIRs in Oregon and Arizona, as well as a pilot CIR in Massachusetts. Legislation is introduced in Massachusetts to establish the CIR as an official, permanent part of the state’s electoral process.

 

Recognized as a leading innovation in the field of citizen deliberation and public engagement, the Citizens’ Jury method has been used over the past 30 years in a wide variety of applications. To learn more about the history of the Citizens’ Jury process and the current work of the Minnesota-based Jefferson Center, visit jefferson-center.org.

Awards

Harvard University Ash Center
Innovations in American Government Awards
Top-10 Program – 2018, 2017, and 2015
 
International Association for Public Participation
International Project of the Year – 2013

Memberships

Healthy Democracy is proud to be part of national and international networks to advance dialogue, deliberation, and transpartisanship.

Staff

Robin Teater, Executive Director

Before joining Healthy Democracy, Robin served for 14 years as Executive Director of the American Leadership Forum (ALF) of Oregon, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that joins and strengthens diverse leaders to work more effectively together in service to the public good.

Robin’s previous experience spans over three decades in nonprofit administration. She served as Executive Director of WorldTeach, an international NGO based at the Kennedy School of Government’s Center for International Development at Harvard University. She worked seven years with the New York–based American Field Service (AFS), where she last served as National Director of Volunteer Development.

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 currently makes her home in Portland, Oregon.

Contact: robin@healthydemocracy.org

Linn Davis, Program Manager

Linn manages the Citizens’ Initiative Review program, as well as design and outreach for Healthy Democracy’s emerging local government and high school programs. He joined HD in 2016 and began by managing information and technical logistics for the CIRs that year.

He holds a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State University and a BA in history from Grinnell College. Prior to Healthy Democracy, he worked at PSU’s Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies and at Metro, the Portland area’s regional government. His first career was in journalism, including stints at National Public Radio’s On the Media and at several newspapers and magazines in South Africa and India.

Linn grew up in Oregon but spent nearly a decade living elsewhere – in five US states and three countries overseas – before returning to the Pacific Northwest. He spends his free time playing music and rediscovering his home state – from its highest windblown fire lookouts to its lowest subterranean pubs.

Contact: linn@healthydemocracy.org

Kelly Coates, Office Coordinator

Kelly joined Healthy Democracy in April 2018 as the Office Coordinator. Prior to coming to HD, she has more than 16 years of experience working with various nonprofit organizations as a staff member, volunteer and Board member.

She is also a full-time doctoral student in the Health Systems & Policy PhD program in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, with a specific interest in health-focused policy strategies as a means for addressing the academic achievement gap in the current U.S. education system. She holds a Masters in Public Health from Portland State University and an undergraduate degree in Combined Sciences from Santa Clara University.

Kelly is a lifelong Portland resident and revels in all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Contact: kelly@healthydemocracy.org

Board of Directors

Manju Lyn Bazzell

Manju Lyn Bazzell consults with organizations committed to creating a vibrant, intelligent, adaptable democratic culture in the United States. Her professional background includes serving as Executive Director at The Gangaji Foundation, as Principal at Pfaelzer Communications & Organizational Consulting, as Co-Host of the San Francisco radio show Now We’re Talking, and as an award-winning high school teacher. Ms. Bazzell lives in Ashland, Oregon.

Craig Campbell, Vice Chair

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 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.

Vickie Chamberlain

Vickie recently retired after 13 years as Executive Director of Oregon’s Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, where she led a complete rewrite of Oregon teacher licensing rules and instituted the nation’s first online on-demand teacher licensing tests. Chamberlain also helped Oregon become the first state to require prospective teachers to demonstrate they can teach in ways that are sensitive to students’ ethnicity and culture.

Vickie has a multifaceted background as a lawyer, community college administrator, and public school PE teacher, comprising nearly 30 years of working for public agencies in Oregon. She currently works as an educational consultant based in Portland.

Marge Easley

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 of Oregon 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.

Lilisa Hall, Secretary

Lilisa Hall has more than 25 years of corporate and nonprofit sector experience in strategic planning, communications and alignment, public relations, community affairs and engagement, corporate philanthropy, and nonprofit organizational management.

She has served in leadership roles at corporations and nonprofit organizations. Most recently she was Executive Director of the Banfield Foundation. Previously she served as Executive Director of the PacifiCorp Foundation, one of the largest utility foundations in the western United States, where she partnered with nonprofit, business, and civic organizations and invested in education, health and social services, arts and culture, and civic/community programs. She served as Director of Community Affairs at PacifiCorp, where she was responsible for the company’s community relations, reputation, and stakeholder relations/outreach activities, and Director of Communications, where she was responsible for company-wide communications. Before that, she managed global communications in the pharmaceutical and engineering industries and garnered valuable experience at an advertising–media–public relations agency.

Lilisa is an active community leader and has served on numerous nonprofit boards and led committees for CEO searches, human resources, CEO compensation, fundraising, membership and equity, and diversity and inclusion. She currently serves on the boards of United Way of the Columbia-Willamette and Concordia University.

John Horvick

John Horvick is Vice President and Political Director at DHM Research. In his decade with the firm, John has wedded his passion for community based politics with his expertise in opinion research. In his mind, public opinion work serves as a powerful tool for answering the question at the center of any democracy:  “What kind of community do you want to live in?” He manages complex projects for the firm, is an experienced focus group moderator, and serves as DHM’s political commentator.

While he has a particular love for and knowledge of Oregon’s political life, John has worked on projects and given presentations across the country. Particular areas of interest include electoral politics, health care, education, land-use planning, natural resource use, energy and utilities, transportation, and taxation.

He regularly presents on issues of community, policy, and governance to public officials and governing bodies, in front of boards of directors, and as a part of regional and national conferences. A proud Minnesotan, John graduated from University of Minnesota in 2000. He has since found a second home in Portland, and has devoted himself to furthering a culture of civic engagement in Oregon. He has served as President of the City Club of Portland, and remains an active member in the organization.

Besides his exploration of the state’s civic and political landscape, John is an avid traveler and runner, and hopes to soon meet his goal of running in all 36 of Oregon’s counties.

Jim Scherzinger, Treasurer

Jim Scherzinger retired as Chief Operations Officer at the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) 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 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 nonprofit organization that assists low-income, recent immigrant, and other vulnerable people living in the greater Portland area.

Gary Swanson, Chair

Gary lives outside of Gates, Oregon with his wife Nancy. Graduating in 1968 from Lewis & 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 has served for 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 the Ford Family Community Leadership Program, and was a Senior Fellow with the American Leadership Forum of Oregon.

Kim Williams

Kim taught from 2000-2010 at the Harvard Kennedy School before joining Portland State University 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 US 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 BA from the University of California at Berkeley and her MA and PhD 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).

National Advisory Council

Jennie Drage Bowser

Jennie is a senior fellow in the Legislative Management Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures, where she directs Election Programs. She focuses on the areas of elections administration, initiative and referendum, campaign finance reform, and term limits. She has authored numerous magazine articles and book chapters on these subjects, and staffed NCSL’s Initiative & Referendum Reform and Elections Reform Task Forces. She speaks frequently on these issues to legislatures and other groups, and is a trusted source for the local and national media.
 
Prior to joining NCSL, Jennie taught English as a second language at the Universities of Colorado and Kansas, and worked for the Miami-based Leadership Center of the Americas, a USAID-funded program that provided training in leadership and democratic action skills for college students from Latin America and the Caribbean. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and Latin American studies and a master’s degree in linguistics, both from the University of Kansas.

Jessie Conover

Jessie served as Healthy Democracy’s Program Director from June 2015 to July 2017, during which time she coordinated a revamp of HD’s Citizens’ Initiative Review process and managed four CIRs in four states. She is currently studying law at the University of Virginia.

Prior to joining Healthy Democracy, she helped stakeholder groups find policy agreement at Oregon Consensus and the National Policy Consensus Center, and received acclaim from Governor John Kitzhaber for her work to further public policy collaboration in Oregon.

Jessie holds an MS in Conflict and Dispute Resolution from the University of Oregon School of Law, an MS in Biological Sciences from the University of Rhode Island, and a BS in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of Texas at Austin.

Jessie hails from Denton, Texas, and performs improv comedy in her spare time.

Twitter: @jessie_conover

Dr. Anne J. Udall

Anne has deep leadership experience across school systems, nonprofits, government organizations, and business. She spent the first 20 years of her career focused on PreK-12 public education, first as an aide, then as a teacher, a staff developer, a program director, and ultimately an assistant superintendent in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, with leadership responsibilities for PreK-12 curriculum, instruction, and professional development initiatives.

She brought that expertise with her into the nonprofit sector, facilitating hundreds of community and organization collaboration efforts in her nine years as Executive Director of the Lee Institute, a Charlotte, North Carolina–based nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging collaboration, problem solving, and strategic planning for individuals, civic organizations, and community efforts. She also led the Charlotte Region Chapter of the American Leadership Forum (ALF) while at the Lee Institute.

Anne moved to Oregon to join the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), where she served as Vice President of Professional Development.  Following that, Anne served as Chief Strategy Officer for the Santa Cruz, California–based New Teacher Center (NTC), a national organization dedicated to improving student learning by accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers, experienced teachers, and school leaders.

Anne has co-authored Creating the Thoughtful Classroom, and is a major contributor to ALF’s Everything We Know About Leadership: Is Less Than We Still Have To Learn.  Anne has written numerous articles, blogs, and journal articles. She is an accomplished keynote speaker and presenter on formative assessment, evidence driven decision making, the power of teaching, and creating thoughtful classrooms.

Anne is back in Oregon currently serving as the interim CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette, based in Portland. She lives with her wife Tillie, and enjoys hiking, knitting, Pilates, the desert, the Northwest, politics, and family gatherings.

Major Funders

The Noble and Lorraine Hancock Family Fund, located at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Ned Crosby and Pat Benn

The Ford Family Foundation

The Samuel S. Johnson Foundation

The Saling Foundation

Scott and Cay Borduin

The Carpenter Foundation