Dr. Lukensmeyer previously served as Founder and President of AmericaSpeaks, an award-winning nonprofit organization based in Washington D.C. that promotes nonpartisan initiatives to engage citizens and leaders through the development of innovative public policy tools and strategies. During her tenure, AmericaSpeaks has engaged more than 165,000 people and has hosted events across all 50 states and throughout the world. Dr. Lukensmeyer formerly served as Consultant to the White House Chief of Staff from 1993-94 and on the National Performance Review where she steered internal management and oversaw government-wide reforms. She was the Chief of Staff to Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste from 1986-91, becoming the first woman to serve in this capacity. She earned her PhD in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University and has completed postgraduate training at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland.
Mission: The National Institute for Civil Discourse will integrate research and practice to support and enable:
- a congress and executive branch capable of working to solve the big issues facing our country.
- a public demand for civil discourse and a government that works in the best interests of the country as a whole.
- media that informs and engages citizens.
Rev. George Walker Smith, Founder, Catfish Club of San Diego
Reverend George Walker Smith, co-chair of Restoring Respect, has been breaking barriers in San Diego since 1963. He is a firm believer that a leader’s role is to, “move others to make changes that are necessary and right.” In 1963, Reverend Smith led a successful effort to change school board elections in San Diego to allow for more equitable representation. Prior to 1963, San Diego School Board Members were elected at large, which resulted in the underrepresentation of Southeastern San Diego and the African American and Latino communities. Reverend Smith and others formed the Citizens Study Committee of the Board of Education, which advocated for the shifting of election policy from at-large elections to a district-based election system. As the first District E representative, Reverend Smith’s election to the San Diego School Board made him the first African American to hold public office in San Diego. From 1963-1979, Reverend Smith served four terms on the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education and led the board seven times as president or vice-president. Reverend Smith also advocated for a change in the employment practices of the San Diego Unified School District. In a system in which many schools served student populations that were 75% or more African American and/or Latino, there were few African American and Latino teachers and no African American or Latino administrators. Reverend Smith campaigned for more inclusive staffing which led to the employment of almost 800 African American and Latino teachers by the end of Reverend Smith’s term. With the intervention of the United States Office of Education and the Superior Court, Reverend Smith was able to overcome board opposition and establish the Voluntary Ethnic Enrollment and Magnet programs to help eliminate racial imbalance in San Diego schools. On a national level, Reverend Smith served as president of the Council of Great City Schools in 1972 and president of the National School Board Association in 1976. He was a member of the White House Conference on Children and Youth, the White House Committee on Education and the Arts, the Appeal Board of the National Council for Teacher Accreditation, and the National Advisory Commission on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In 1989, Reverend Smith co-founded the Innovative Preschool Project, subsequently establishing the School of Success, now the McGill School of Success Kindergarten Charter. He also served in leadership roles on the California School Board Association, The Board of Trustees of San Diego Community College District, the California Junior College Association Committee on Student Personnel, and the Overseers Advisory Board of the University of California. Reverend George Walker Smith overcame intolerance and opposition to lead the way toward equal education opportunities for all students in San Diego County and beyond.
Constance M. Carroll, Ph.D.
Dr. Constance M. Carroll has had a distinguished career in higher education. In 2004, she was appointed Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District, after eleven years of distinguished service as President of San Diego Mesa College. With a total enrollment of over 100,000 students, the district is the second largest community college district in California and ranks sixth in the nation. The district also provides education to over 45,000 service personnel at numerous military bases across the country.
Prior to coming to San Diego, Prior to her service as chancellor, Dr. Carroll was president of three community colleges: San Diego Mesa College, Saddleback College, and Indian Valley Colleges. She held administrative posts at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Maine, Portland-Gorham (now the University of Southern Maine).
Constance Carroll holds a B.A. degree in Humanities from Duquesne University; an M.A. in Classics (Ancient Greek and Latin) from the University of Pittsburgh; a Certificate of Proficiency in Hellenic Studies from Knubly University in Athens, Greece; and a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of Pittsburgh, with a dissertation on Ancient Greek tragedy. She also attended the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management.
Constance Carroll’s professional history includes service on professional boards, numerous awards and publications. She has served on significant professional boards, including the American Council on Education, the American Association of Community Colleges, and the League for Innovation, and is a past chair of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. Accreditation remains one of Dr. Carroll’s key interests.
Constance Carroll’s affiliations have also included: the Board of Directors of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC); the California Council for the Humanities (as Chair); the San Diego Opera Board of Directors; the San Diego Youth Services Board; the San Diego Urban League Board; the Super Bowl XXXVII Host Committee, the Advisory Board of Ms. Magazine, and other organizations. In 2007, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) presented to Dr. Carroll the national “Marie Y. Martin CEO Award.” In 1992, she was named “President of the Year” by the American Association of Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC). In 1998 and 2006, she was selected as one of San Diego Magazine’s “50 People to Watch.” In 2004, Dr. Carroll was given a “Visionary” Award for Economic Opportunity by LEAD San Diego and, in 2006, was selected for the “Community Service Award” by the San Diego Labor Council.
Constance Carroll is a lector and Eucharistic minister at St. Rita’s Catholic Church, and she serves on the Finance Council of the Diocese of San Diego. Dr. Carroll is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Mary Lyons, Ph.D., President, University of San Diego
Mary E. Lyons, Ph.D. became the president of the University of San Diego in July 2003. During her extensive career in education, Dr. Lyons has enjoyed rich and varied experiences as a teacher, professor, and administrator. Before her present appointment, Dr. Lyons served as the president of the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota. Prior to this, she served as the president of the California Maritime Academy, a campus of the California State University in Vallejo, California. With this appointment, she was commissioned as a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Maritime Service. Previously, she was the Academic Dean and Professor of Rhetoric and Homiletics at the Franciscan School of Theology, Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley, California.
A fifth generation Californian, Dr. Lyons spent her childhood traveling with her military family, living throughout the United States and in Eritrea, Africa. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Sonoma State University; her Master of Arts degree in English from San Jose State University, and her Ph.D. in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley. During her twenty-five year career as a U.S. Naval Reserve Officer, she held a variety of assignments, including an active duty position teaching at the Naval Training Center in San Diego and two appointments as Commanding Officer of Naval Reserve units. She retired in 1996 as a Captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve.
Dr. Lyons has been recognized for leadership and service by numerous associations, including the Educator Distinguished Service Award from the National Defense Transportation Association, the University of San Francisco Medallion for scholarly achievement and community service, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Sonoma State University, and the recipient of a Doctorate of Humane Letters from The College of New Rochelle.
Her publications and presentations touch on a variety of topics, drawing upon her expertise as a Rhetorician, an educator, and a community leader.
Among her current Board appointments are: Chair, Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, Council of Presidents for the Association of Governing Boards, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, California Campus Compact, National Campus Compact, St. Joseph Health System, the San Diego Opera and University Club, Board of Governors.
Cindy Marten is deeply committed to creating educational conditions and opportunities that enable all children to become actively literate, contributing and participating members of a democratic society who make a positive difference in the world. Her 25 years as an educator include teaching elementary grades as a classroom teacher and later, serving as a school-wide literacy specialist in the award-winning Poway Unified School District.
After participating in a seven-year improvement effort at a struggling school in Poway Unified, Marten chose to take her experience to one of the most challenging schools in San Diego Unified — Central Elementary in City Heights— where she served for 10 years as teacher, instructional leader and principal.
At Central Elementary, Marten worked passionately at attracting and retaining high-quality, dedicated staff. She nurtured innovative programs to support her students and staff including: a highly successful bi-literacy program, a hands-on school garden program, quality after-school and preschool programs, employees’ child day care center, and a community health and wellness center for students and their families. Her team’s success was validated by steady and improved student achievement, which included an increase in the school’s Academic Performance Index (API). By 2012 it reached 788, just shy of the state target of 800.
As the district’s new superintendent, Marten looks forward to leading the district team and community with a singular focus on student success. She believes that there are NO EXCUSES when it comes to providing children with the very best conditions that will enable them to become confident, successful learners who can achieve their dreams. Marten will work with the Board of Education to implement Vision 2020, creating quality schools in every neighborhood throughout the district.
Jerry Sanders began his lifelong career in public service when he joined the San Diego Police Department at the age of 22, fulfilling his dream of becoming a police officer. He ascended the police department ranks, serving as the SWAT Team commander before becoming one of the youngest police chiefs in the city's history.
In 1999, Sanders retired from the police force and became CEO of the United Way of San Diego, where he reduced the organization's costs and increased fundraising by 20 percent. Three years later, he chaired the board of the local chapter of the American Red Cross. He increased financial transparency at the chapter and helped restore the nonprofit's credibility.
In 2005, with his reputation as a successful turn-around executive, civic leaders urged Sanders to run for mayor. After winning in a special election, Mayor Sanders immediately launched a top-to-bottom review and streamlining of city operations, which eliminated more than 1,800 positions from the city budget.
Under Mayor Sanders, city financial staff completed six years’ worth of back-logged audits, allowing the city to return to the public bond markets in January 2009 -- helping to fund the mayor's commitment to repair San Diego's long-neglected water, sewer and transportation infrastructure.
Sanders also won City Council approval for compensation cuts for employees that saved the city more than $34 million annually, sparing the public from drastic service cuts. He negotiated permanent changes to the pension system that delivered savings to generations of San Diego taxpayers, and reformed the retiree healthcare system, which will save approximately $700 million over the next 25 years. Sanders also introduced Managed Competition to city government, which allows private companies to compete against city employees for the right to provide a variety of municipal services.
In addition to his broad reform agenda, Sanders has placed a high priority on economic growth and job creation during his time in office. Specifically, the mayor has been a champion of the region's promising clean technology industry – including solar energy, biofuels and other environmentally-friendly products.
Sanders' focus and leadership on water reliability led to widespread adoption of water-efficiency measures throughout the city. Since then San Diegans have responded by cutting their water use by 21 percent since 2007. Leading by example, he reduced his own home water consumption by 54 percent during that same period.
Sanders completed his second and final term as Mayor in December 2012.
Sanders currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Richard Barrera has spent more than 20 years as a community and labor organizer, helping working families build power to win economic, political and social justice. As a community organizer with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Consensus Organizing Institute, Richard worked with residents of neighborhoods from San Diego to Chicago to Little Rock and Las Vegas to build affordable housing; improve schools and public transportation; establish job training programs and increase voter participation. As a union organizer with the United Domestic Workers of America, SEIU United Healthcare Workers, and the California Nurses Association, Richard helped home care providers and service workers in hospitals win new organizing drives; negotiate higher standards in wages, benefits and patient care protections; and build political power.
In 2008, Richard was elected to the San Diego Unified School Board, representing the communities surrounding San Diego and Hoover High Schools. During a period in which public schools in San Diego faced historic budget cuts from the State of California, Richard helped build coalitions of parents, students, teachers, classified workers, administrators and community leaders to protect the outstanding work going on in neighborhood schools. This process of community-based reform - distinct from top-down corporate reform - has produced unprecedented gains in student achievement, narrowing of the achievement gap, and reduced dropout rates in San Diego's public schools. San Diego Unified is now recognized as one of the top performing large, urban districts in the nation, and has received prestigious awards for its groundbreaking work in science instruction, arts and music education, career technical education, and classroom technology. Under Richard's leadership, San Diego Unified has also passed two bond measures totaling nearly $5 billion in taxpayer investment. Richard was re-elected to the School Board in 2012 with 100% of the vote.Richard is a first generation American who's father immigrated from Colombia and who's grandparents immigrated from Europe through Ellis Island. Both of Richard's parents are retired educators who taught in public schools, community colleges, and at San Diego State University. Richard grew up in El Cajon, graduated from El Cajon Valley High School, and went on to receive a Bachelor's Degree in History from UC San Diego and a Master's Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. Richard lives in South Park with his wife Kim, who works for the Women, Infants and Children Program at the American Red Cross, and his sons Jeff and Jesse. Jeff attends Stanford University and Jesse is a high school student in the San Diego Unified School District. Richard currently serves on the boards of the United Way of San Diego and the Cesar E. Chavez Service Club, is an Adjunct Faculty member at San Diego City College, and coached both of his sons for seven years in the North Park Little League.
Thella F. Bowens has been Chief Executive Officer and President of San Diego County Regional Airport Authority since March 2003. Ms. Bowens has been the Owner and Operator of San Diego International Airport since January 1, 2003. She also served as Secretary and Treasurer of Airports Council International-North America. Prior to 2003, Ms. Bowens served as the Port's Senior Director of Aviation for seven years. From September 2001 to December 2002, she served as Interim Executive Director and President of the new Authority as required by State legislation, which created the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. In that role, she performed the monumental task of planning the transfer of the Airport. Ms. Bowens served as the Deputy Executive Director of Kansas City's Aviation Department, which included Kansas City International Airport and the city's two general aviation airports. She served as Budget Administrator for the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport in Texas. She has acquired 35 years of experience in public administration, with the last 21 years in the aviation field. She serves as First Vice Chair and a Director of Airports Council International-North America. She served as Second Vice Chair of Airports Council International-North America. Ms. Bowens is a Member of the boards of the National Conflict Resolution Center, the San Diego World Trade Center, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the American Association of Airport Executives Policy Review Committee. She served on the boards of the San Diego United Way and the San Diego Symphony. Ms. Bowens holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Barnard College of Columbia University and has done graduate work at the University of North Texas and University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is also a graduate of the Executive Leadership Institute sponsored by the National Forum for Black Public Administrators.
Scott oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, its website and daily functions. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently breaks news and goes back and forth with local political figures.
Martin Carcasson, Ph.D.
Martín Carcasson, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Communication Studies department of Colorado State University, and the founder and director of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation (CPD). He also serves as a Senior Public Engagement Fellow with Public Agenda, a nationally recognized public engagement firm based in New York, and is adjunct faculty for the University of Denver Conflict Resolution Program. His research focuses on contemporary public affairs, and the interdisciplinary theory and practice of deliberative democracy and collaborative governance.
The CPD serves as an impartial resource for the Northern Colorado community dedicated to enhancing local democracy through improved public communication, community problem solving, and collaborative decision-making. Dr. Carcasson trains students and community members to serve as impartial facilitators, who then work with local governments, school boards, and community organizations to design, facilitate, and report on innovative public forums on important issues. His research has been published in Rhetoric & Public Affairs, the Journal of Public Deliberation, Higher Education Exchange, the International Journal of Conflict Resolution, New Directions in Higher Education, Public Sector Digest, and the Quarterly Journal of Speech.
Carl Luna, Ph.D.
Carl Luna is a professor of political science at San Diego Mesa College and lectures on politics at the University of San Diego. In 1999-2000 he was a senior Fulbright Scholar lecturing on American Politics and international political economy at Nizhni Novgorod State University in the Russian Federation. In addition to teaching and research, Dr. Luna is a frequent commentator on politics for local, national and international media, including public radio and television, the CBS Morning Show and Evening News, NBC’s Today Show, the BBC, the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. Dr. Luna is a frequent contributor to the Op-Ed pages of the San Diego Union Tribune and wrote the UT’s first political weblog from 2003-2007. He has also been a columnist for San Diego City Beat Magazine which hosted his blog, “Political Lunacy.” He is a contributing author to the anthology of presidential biographies, Public Pillars, Private Lives and a revised volume on the presidency: Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama. He also wrote Motherland, a novel of Russian political intrigue. Dr. Luna is co-chair of Restoring Respect, a community initiative promoting greater civility in San Diego civic dialogue. supported by a consortium of San Diego area academic institutions and community groups including the Catfish Club of San Diego, the San Diego Community College District and the University of San Diego. As a minor footnote to history, a brief written by Dr. Luna formed the closing argument presented to the United States Senate by Presidential Counsel Greg Craig in the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton.