2013 Spring Conference

Conference at a Glance

The Fall, 2012 political campaign was one of the nastiest, least civil in modern times (and we thought it couldn’t get worse than 2008!) Are we stuck with a permanent politics of incivility or is there something we, the people, can do it about it? Join us for Restoring Respect’s 2nd Annual Conference On Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue, where we, the San Diego community can come together to promote greater civility in future political campaigns.

Conference Purpose

This free, half-day conference is scheduled for February 20, 2013, and will be held on the beautiful campus of the University San Diego at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. The morning will begin with opening remarks by the Reverend George Walker Smith, Founder of the Catfish Club of San Diego, Dr. Mary Lyons, President of the University of San Diego and Dr. Constance Carroll, Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District. Roberto Rosas, President of the Mesa College Associated Student Government will provide a student perspective. Dr. Paula Codeiro, Dean of USD’s School of Leadership and Educational Sciences (SOLES) will introduce our keynote speaker, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. The Keynote address will be followed by a panel discussion with Jeff Light, Editor, UT-San Diego, Martha Barnette, Co-host of Public Radio’s A Way With Words; Marty Block, California Senator; Maria Nieto Senour, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, San Diego State University and former California Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. The panel will be moderated by San Diego Mesa College political science professor Carl Luna.

The conference aims to accomplish the following goals:

  1. To raise San Diego community awareness of the problem: the lack of civility in our public discourse creates in our attempt to achieve the public good.
  2. To encourage the San Diego community to embrace basic elements of civility in dealing with civic activism and political campaigning.
  3. To produce a Commitment to Principles of Civility, a statement of basic principles attendees will be willing to commit to in their public lives.

The conference has been designed to bring together people from across the San Diego Region including:

  1. Public officials and candidates for elected office.
  2. Social and economic community leaders
  3. Business leaders
  4. Concerned citizens of our community
  5. Secondary and post-secondary students
  6. Members of the media and political consulting industry

Keynote Speaker:

Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist for the Washington Post Eugene Robinson Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist for the Washington Post

Eugene Robinson uses his twice-weekly column in The Washington Post to pick American society apart and then put it back together again in unexpected and revelatory new ways. To do this job of demolition and reassembly, Robinson relies on a large and varied tool kit: energy, curiosity, elegant writing and the wide-ranging experience of a life that took him from childhood in the segregated South—on what they called the “colored” side of the tracks—to the heights of American Journalism. His remarkable story telling ability has won him wide acclaim, most notably as the winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for his commentary on the 2008 presidential race that resulted in the election of America’s first African-American president.

Read more about Eugene Robinson.

Opening Remarks:

Reverend George Walker Smith Reverend George Walker Smith Founder, Catfish Club of San Diego
Mary Lyons, Ph.D. Mary Lyons, Ph.D. President of the University of San Diego
Constance Carroll, Ph.D. Constance Carroll, Ph.D. Chancellor, San Diego Community College District


Jeff Light Jeff Light Editor, UT-San Diego
Martha Barnette Martha Barnette Co-host of Public Radio’s A Way With Words
Marty Block Marty Block California State Senator
Maria Nieto Senour, Ph.D. Maria Nieto Senour, Ph.D. Counseling and School Psychology, San Diego State University
Virginia Cha Virginia Cha 10News Anchor


Carl Luna, Ph.D. Carl Luna, Ph.D. Professor of Political Science, San Diego Mesa College


Restoring Respect is Endorsed by:

The San Diego League of Women Voters and the League of Women Voters of North County San Diego.


  • Rev. George Walker Smith, Chairman and Founder of the Catfish Club
  • Carolyn Smith, Catfish Club
  • Ed Quinn, former General Manager of KGTV
  • Dorothy Smith, Ed.D., Former member of the San Diego Unified School District and member of the San Diego Ethics Commission
  • Carl Luna, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, San Diego Mesa College