Exploring Engagement with Public Officials

Successful civic engagement projects often require support from public officials to enhance legitimacy and improve impact. Many officials, however, are wary of civic engagement strategies that differ from the norm and a large number are simply unaware of options for high quality public participation and civic engagement. In collaboration with the Kettering Foundation and the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD), the Jefferson Center will be researching the best ways to initiate, cultivate, and sustain relationships with public officials to strengthen civic engagement and dialogue and deliberation (D&D) projects.

The Jefferson Center will take the lead in exploring how civic engagement and dialogue & deliberation practitioners cultivate and sustain relationships with elected officials and other professionals involved with policy development. Results will be shared with practitioners through the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation network and elsewhere to improve the public impact of dialogue and deliberation and civic engagement projects.

The research will include interviews with practitioners who regularly engage with public officials to identify productive relationship building strategies with the aim of uncovering new opportunities for strengthening relationships between dialogue and deliberation practitioners and public officials. Interview responses will be synthesized by Jefferson Center and NCDD staff to create a formal report along with a user-friendly practitioner resource containing effective strategies for network-building and outreach in order to expand awareness, increase confidence, and build support for policy-focused civic engagement projects among public officials.

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