News & Ideas  -  Kettering Foundation Hosts First Emerging Issues Conference

Community Event News

On September 19, 2023, in Washington, DC, the Kettering Foundation held its first Emerging Issues Conference, focused on connections and creative tensions among major themes in the pro-democracy space.

In a room filled to capacity at the Mayflower Hotel, expert panelists and audience participants explored the dimensions of authoritarian moves taking place both globally and in the United States, responses and the tensions between potential solutions, and potential ways forward.

This conference grew out of the longstanding Kettering Foundation Emerging Issues Roundtables, regular, off-the-record conversations with members of the policy community to explore ways to advance democracy.

Program topics and panel participants included:

Panel One: Countering Authoritarianism x Fostering Citizen Engagement 
There are rising authoritarian tendencies among certain political actors and also among their grassroots adherents. How does this square with important efforts to engage citizens in the work of governance?

  • Naja Bentzen, Policy Analyst, European Parliament
  • Marjan Ehsassi, Future of Democracy Fellow, Berggruen Institute
  • Yelena Litvinov, Partner, STROIKA
  • Jaco Roets, Programs and Learning Manager, Accountability Lab

Findings from a Report: What Promotes Pluralism in America’s Diversifying Democracy? Justin Gest, Professor of Policy and Government, George Mason University

Panel Two: Advancing Inclusive Democracy x Pluralism
Global movements are seeking to make democracy work for groups that have historically been excluded from its benefits. At the same time, increasing hyperpolarization has driven moves to promote bridging and pluralism. How do these movements coexist?

  • David Barker, Director, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University
  • Kristen Cambell, CEO, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement
  • Ted Johnson, Senior Advisor, US@250, New America
  • Ruby Quantson Davis, Senior Advisor, Peace Direct

Closing Reflections from Sharon L. Davies, President and CEO, Kettering Foundation

The program was moderated by Brad Rourke, Director of External Affairs and DC Operations, Kettering Foundation.