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.

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, which provides voters with high quality information on initiatives and referenda. This is voter information written by voters, for voters.

CIRs bring together everyday people – randomly selected and demographically representative of the general public – into an intensive, four-day jury-like setting. These panels question advocates and experts, evaluate the most important facts for voters to know, and write a report that is distributed through official voters’ guides or by other means. Independent research suggests that CIR panels provide clear, comprehensive, and accurate information, removed from campaign messaging and financial influence.

In addition to carrying out CIRs in several US states and abroad, Healthy Democracy also has adapted this type of representative, deliberative public decision-making to the local government context. We have designed an easily replicable, four-day model for municipal Citizens Juries. Like the CIR, these panels evaluate the facts behind an important policy decision, but they go one step further: provide city councils with detailed policy recommendations on the topic at hand.

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

Alex Renirie, Program Co-Director

Alex co-leads Healthy Democracy’s programs department with a focus on process design, facilitation, and partnership development. After working as a moderator for two HD projects in 2019 and 2020, she joined the team as staff in 2021.

She holds dual Master’s degrees in Conflict & Dispute Resolution and Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon, and a BA from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Prior to Healthy Democracy, she spent seven years working with a wide range of environmental and social justice non-profits as an organizer, trainer, and administrator on grassroots advocacy campaigns. All her work centers around one simple principle: involve more people in the policy decisions that affect their lives.

As a relative newcomer to Oregon, she spends most of her free time exploring new mountains and rivers by foot, bike, and boat.

Contact: alex@healthydemocracy.org

Eliska Broes, Designer

Eliska joined Healthy Democracy in 2021 and is responsible for designing all outward-facing visual materials for the organization. She has an extensive background working for nonprofit organizations in the capacities of design and web development. She holds a BA in Architecture from the University of New Mexico. 

Since immigrating from South Africa, Eliska has spent most of her time residing in the culturally diverse New Mexican desert. She has worked on various projects with the Indigenous populations, such as culturally responsive education and language revitalization programs. 

Eliska spends most of her free time outdoors or in front of an easel painting

Contact: eliska@healthydemocracy.org

Kacey Bull, Director of Outreach and Communication

Kacey joined Healthy Democracy in June 2021 and manages our various outreach and communication projects. She builds and maintains relationships with Healthy Democracy’s outside partners and leads educational programs about the work that we do.

She studied deliberation throughout her master’s coursework and undergraduate degree at Colorado State University. She was exposed to HD’s work as a research assistant for Dr. Katherine Knobloch at CSU, who studies the efficacy of the CIR process, and attended 4 CIR events between 2012-2014. She also worked with CSU’s Center for Public Deliberation where she was trained and volunteered as a public facilitator, worked on process design and outreach, and engaged in over 5 years of deliberative events in Northern Colorado.

Kacey grew up in Washington and Colorado but has been living in Cusco, Peru since 2017. She relishes in traveling and learning about new cultures and foods. She spends her free time hiking the Andes with her family and playing with her dogs.

Contact: kacey@healthydemocracy.org

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Kelly Coates, Operations Director

Kelly joined Healthy Democracy in April 2018, and works on various operational activities to support the organization. She has more than 20 years of experience working with various nonprofit organizations as a staff member, volunteer and Board member.

She received her PhD in Health Systems & Policy from the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health in May 2021, 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

Linn Davis, Program Co-Director

Linn leads Healthy Democracy’s program development and process design. He coordinates HD’s complex public processes, trains its facilitation teams, and consults on deliberative projects in the U.S. and abroad. He has been with Healthy Democracy since 2016.

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

Michael Magnes , Operations Director

Michael joined Healthy Democracy in June 2021 as the organization’s Operations Director. He has worked for various nonprofits since 2009. Michael has undergraduate and graduate degrees in fiction, and has taught English in South Korea and Chile. He first moved to Portland in 2010 for grad school. In his professional career, he has managed database transfers, grants, BBQs, and piano moving.

Contact: michael@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.

Vickie Chamberlain, Vice Chair & Secretary

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.

John Horvick, Chair

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.

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 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