About Us

Restoring Respect is a community initiative promoting greater civility in San Diego civic dialogue.

The initiative was formed by a consortium of academic institutions and community groups including the Catfish Club of San Diego and the San Diego Community College District. The initiative is supported by numerous academic institutions including: San Diego Unified School District; San Diego Mesa College; San Diego City College; San Diego Miramar College; San Diego Continuing Education; California State University San Marcos; Point Loma Nazarene; University of San Diego's School of Leadership and Educations Sciences (SOLES) and College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). 

Our community partners and supporters include: San Diego Gas & Electric; United Way of San Diego County; San Diego Union-Tribune; San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council; National Conflict Resolution Center; League of Women Voters San Diego; San Diego North County; Independent Voter Project; San Diego Regional Chamber; and Jenna Druck Center. Past program supporters include: San Diego State University; The San Diego Foundation; Murray and Elaine Galinson; KGTV 10News; UC San Diego; Walmart;  and Weingart Foundation.

Restoring Respect Annual Conference

Held each spring at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice located at the University of San Diego, the Restoring Respect annual conference features locally, and nationally, renowned speakers and panelists attracting a large audience of concerned citizens, public officials, students, distiguished academics and members of the media. 

Past Keynote Speakers Include:

  • Alexander Heffner, PBS’ The Open Mind Host (coming in 2016)
  • Steve Dinkin, National Conflict Resolution Center President  (2015)
  • Carolyn Lukensmeyer, National Institute For Civil Dialogue Director (2014)
  • Eugene Robinson, Washington Post Pulitzer Prize winning columnist (2013)
  • Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee columnist (2012)

Our conferences have addressed issues of civility and politics welcoming a diverse array of speakers and panelists including:

  • Reverend George Walker Smith, Founder, Catfish Club of San Diego
  • Constance Carroll, Ph.D., Chancellor, San Diego Community College District
  • Mary Lyons, Ph.D., Former President, University of San Diego
  • Cindy Marten, Superintendent San Diego Unified School District
  • Murray Galinson, Director, National Conflict Resolution Center
  • Larry Hinman, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, University of San Diego
  • Tony Perry, San Diego Bureau Chief Los Angeles Times
  • Tom Shepard, President and CEO, Shepard & Associates
  • Greg Cox, Member, San Diego County Board of Supervisors
  • Karla Petersen, San Diego Union-Tribune Reporter
  • Mary Walshok Ph.D., Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Programs and Dean of Extension at the University of California, San Diego
  • Jeff Light, Editor, San Diego Union-Tribune
  • Martha Barnette, Co-host of Public Radio’s A Way With Words
  • Marty Block, California State Senator
  • Maria Nieto Senour, Ph.D., Counseling and School Psychology, San Diego State University and President SDCCD Board of Trustees
  • Virginia Cha, 10News Anchor
  • Pedro Villegas, Director of Community Relations for SDGE

In 2014 the USD/SDCCD Institute for Civil Civic Engagement and the Restoring Respect community initiative partnered with the San Diego Unified School District, SDG&E, San Diego Union-Tribune, United Way of San Diego County and numerous other community groups and institutions to hold the first ever Celebrating Civility Awards: Creating Civility On Our Campuses and In Our Community (The C6 Awards). Seniors from SDUSD are invited to demonstrate, through written essay, art installation, or performance piece what the word "civility" meant to them and how it might be best expressed across our community. Top student nominees were featured at Restoring Respect’s Annual Conference on March 20, 2015. Below is information related to the awards:

  • More than 200 student entries were received from three participating SDUSD High School campuses (Madison, Scripps Ranch, and Point Loma)
  • Three scholarships ($1000, $750, and $500) were given to three SDUSD seniors
  • Ten $50 participation prizes were given to SDUSD high school seniors who were nominees selected by our judges
  • Original screening of the entries was completed by staff of SDUSD under Linda Trousdale who produced the top nominee list
  • Final selection of the top three award winners was completed by the C6 Awards Committee distinguished judging panel  (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/restoringrespect/)

Contact Carl Luna (carlluna@sandiego.edu) for additional information.

Restoring Respect Mission Statement:

Political campaigns and civil discourse has become increasingly divisive and even hostile, to the detriment of our ability as a community to come together to achieve the public good. As concerned citizens of the San Diego region we are seeking ways to encourage, promote, and increase civility in civic discourse by our fellow citizens, public officials both interpersonally and in all manner of media. We seek to promote ways to be civil in our disagreements and respectful in our debates. We seek to make America’s Finest City and County the nation’s most civil community. 


Restoring Respect -- San Diego Civility Project seeks to accomplish the following goals:

  • Raise San Diego community awareness around the problem of lack of civility in public discourse creates in the attempt to achieve public good;
  • Encourage the San Diego community to embrace basic elements of civility in dealing with civic activism and political campaigning;


The San Diego Civility Project seeks to accomplish these goals through:

Public Engagement and Awareness

  1. Organizing and hosting the Restoring Respect Annual Conference to Restore Civility In Civic Dialgoue, a major public forum with local, regional, and national participation.
  2. Organizing and holding periodic community forums such as the recently held Restoring Respect Breakfast to Promote Civility in the Fall Campaign. (USD, October 3, 2012). 


1. At the College Level

  • Work to integrate principles of civility into local colleges’ and universities’ mission statements and student learning objective;
  • Work to integrate principles of civility across the curriculum of local colleges’ and universities’;
  • Holding events for students, faculty and staff of local colleges’ and universities’ to raise awareness in their communities of issues of civility and civil conduct in their community and civic dialogues.

2. At the K-12 Level

  • Working with local School Districts to integrate principles of civility into their organizing documents and curriculum;
  • Holding events in K-12 schools of issues of civility and civil conduct in their community and civic dialogues.

3. Accountability

  • Monitoring the effectiveness of, and compliance with, these principles through the Campaign Civility Project which evaluates the civility of the political campaigns of elected officials and candidates;
  • Working with media partners to disseminate Restoring Respect’s findings and evaluations to the San Diego community.

Long Term Goals

In 2014 Restoring Respect was institutionalized as a permanent initiative of the newly created Institute for Civil Civic Engagement (ICCE). With offices at the University of San Diego, ICCE is a partnership between USD, San Diego Mesa College, and San Diego City College.  For more information about ICCE please go to:


Restoring Respect Sponsors and Partners

  • The Catfish Club of San Diego
  • San Diego Community College District
  • SOLES, University of San Diego
  • College of Arts and Sciences, University of San Diego
  • League of Women Voters, San Diego Mesa College
  • League of Women Voters, San Diego North County
  • 10News
  • San Diego Mesa College
  • San Diego Gas & Electric
  • United Way of San Diego County
  • San DiegoUnion-Tribune
  • San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council
  • National Conflict Resolution Center
  • League of Women Voters San Diego and San Diego North County
  • The Independent Voter Project
  • San Diego Regional Chamber
  • Jenna Druck Center

Restoring Respect Past Sponsors and Partners

  • San Diego Foundation
  • Union Bank of California
  • SDSU Office of the President
  • San Diego State University
  • The San Diego Foundation
  • Murray and Elaine Galinson
  • KGTV 10News
  • UC San Diego
  • Walmart 
  • Weingart Foundation

Initial Organizing Committee

  • Rev. George Walker Smith, Director, Catfish Club of San Diego
  • Carolyn Y. Smith, Catfish Club of San Diego
  • Dorothy Smith, Member Advisory Board, USD SOLES
  • Ed Quinn, Former President McGraw-Hill Broadcasting
  • Carl Luna, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science San Diego Mesa College & Visiting Professor, University of San Diego
  • Jeff Marston, former California State Assemblyman and president, Marston & Marston
  • Dr. Anthony Bebee, President, San Diego City College
  • Jack Beresford, Director Communications and Public Relations SDCCD
  • Margaret Lamb, Executive Assistant Office of the Chancellor, SDCCD