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CommonSense Americans

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We are a group of ordinary Americans, dubbed CommonSense Americans, working together to instill common sense into American politics. Our members, from diverse backgrounds, share a commitment to the country’s well-being and believe in the power of ordinary wisdom, echoing Jefferson’s trust in the common people’s moral sense. We advocate for practical policy changes supported across the political spectrum, embodying Madison’s vision that America’s diversity is its strength, not a source of division. Our mission requires a broad and representative membership, and we invite you to join our journey toward meaningful change.

Are you a CommonSense American? Join Us

Ambassadors

Meet Our Ambassadors — the vital voices of CommonSense Americans in each state. These dedicated individuals bridge the gap between citizens and Congress, ensuring that the insights from our comprehensive issue briefs are heard and acted upon on Capitol Hill. Beyond their pivotal role in legislative advocacy, our Ambassadors are at the heart of our community, cultivating engagement and growth among our members. Meet the individuals behind this nationwide movement towards common sense governance.

If you are interested in this work and want to become an Ambassador, click here to inquire about the role of Ambassador

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Alabama Ambassador

Alaska Ambassador

Michelle Goodwin

Michelle currently serves CommonSense American (CSA) as a Convo Facilitator and State Ambassador for Alaska. Joining CSA as a Member in 2019, Michelle excelled as a Facilitator in the initial roll-out of CSA Convos in 2022. She continues in this role while growing as the new State Ambassador for Alaska. Michelle is looking forward to engaging more Alaskans in CSA Membership opportunities as well as conducting briefings for the Congressional Offices of Alaska’s representatives in Washington, DC.

Michelle has led a variable path during her life as each plan was adapted to reality. From missing persons recovery, emergency medical services and firefighting, Michelle propelled forward after college to a short career in workforce planning. She then supported her family during her husband’s tenure as a U.S. Air Force Officer, maintaining a stable and supportive environment for her three children, each with unique special needs, while residing in Upstate New York, South Dakota, rural Alaska, and Utah.

During years of advocating for the educational needs of her children, including homeschooling at times, Michelle volunteered as a French teacher, library clerk, scouting leader, PTO board member, religious education teacher, religious service leader, Officers’ Spouses Club Thrift Shop Manager, Town Hall Renovation Committee member, Library Feasibility Committee Chair, soccer coach and historical walking tour host for elementary students.

At the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA, Michelle completed an Honors Thesis: The Diffusion of Gifted Education in America. This capstone led to graduation with a B.A. Sociology, summa cum laude. She continues to pursue new understanding in how people relate to one another in groups and building productive relationships through effective communication. Michelle’s greatest strength lies in meeting people where they are, listening to understand their needs, matching them to the resources to reach their goals, and assisting to guide a course of action to completion.

Born and raised in small-town Massachusetts, Michelle and her husband now call Fairbanks, Alaska home. Their three grown children are in college or graduated. They have two beautiful huskies, Tikaani and Cloie. Michelle works elections with both the Fairbanks North Star Borough Clerk’s Office and the State of Alaska Region III Elections Office. She maintains a personal blog and is active in several civil discourse opportunities through CommonSense American, One Small Voice, Living Room Conversations and Braver Angels.

Kathleen Rahn
Arizona Ambassador

Kathleen Rahn

Kathleen Rahn, a retired school psychologist, and her family have lived in Mesa, Arizona for 30 years. In addition to her work in public schools, she has served her community on advisory boards and committees in the city of Mesa, Mesa Public Schools, and other nonprofit organizations. Kathleen has a history of advocating for public school funding, early childhood education and mental health services.

Through community service and interactions with her neighbors, Kathleen has learned that citizens of Mesa have more in common and share more values than disagreements. The city of Mesa works to envision a city “where all those living in, working in, or visiting Mesa are entitled to equal dignity and respect and have fair access to opportunities to thrive.”

In early 2020 Kathleen received an email inviting her to join CommonSense American and she discovered an organization that also shared her desire to work together to “instill common sense into American politics.” By reading briefs where all members review the same data- based information through CSA, the majority of members can find consensus. In 2023 Kathleen became a CSA Facilitator of conversations and became acquainted with other members yearning for a safe space to have conversations about vital issues such as infrastructure and revising the Electoral Count Act. She is proud to be an Arizona Ambassador.

Arizona Ambassador

Michael Bartelle

Michael Bartelle serves as one of CommonSense American’s Arizona Ambassadors after retiring from a distinguished service career. A native of the Bronx, NY, Michael Bartelle retired in 2009 after over 30 years of active-duty service in the U.S. Army. Upon retirement from military service, Michael served as a Senior Management Analyst for Lockheed Martin Corporation and then Vice President of Overseas Operations for a military affiliated credit union in Europe.

During his travels with Lockheed Martin in Africa and South America, he developed Security Sector Reform Programs for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, with a focus on Military Capacity Building for U.S. partner nations.

Currently a resident of Oro Valley, Arizona, Michael is an Executive Advisor for several non-profits in the greater Tucson community.

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Arkansas Ambassador

California Ambassador

Cynthia Irmer

After many years working in the public and private sectors as lawyer, teacher, advocate, student, peacebuilder and conflict resolver, Dr. Irmer retired from fulltime work and moved with her husband from the Washington, D.C. area to Southern California. She has a passion for acknowledging under-represented voices and for comprehending social complexity. As volunteers, she and her husband: conduct outreach to the homeless in San Diego, putting people in touch with services; pick up, yearly, tons of trash from the San Diego Riverbed; support the creation of the San Diego Braver Angels Alliance; study and respond to CommonSense American (CSA) detailed policy briefs. She also serves as the CSA volunteer state ambassador for California.

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Colorado Ambassador

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Conneticut Ambassador

Delaware Ambassador

Alex Dewey

Alex Dewey, a lifelong Delawarean, is currently pursuing a degree in Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Delaware, with a minor in Economics. He plans to further his studies at UD by earning a Master's in Public Policy.

Alex actively engages in his community through his extensive involvement at UD. He serves as a Senator in the university's Student Government Association (SGA) and participates in the Biden Institute's Student Advisory Council. As a Peer Mentor, Alex guides first-year students through their transition to college life, offering resources and support.

Despite being early in his professional journey, Alex is a dedicated learner and advocate for civil discourse on bipartisan issues. He has interned with the NICD and aims to launch his career in policy within Delaware. Looking ahead, Alex aspires to expand his expertise to Capitol Hill, contributing his skills and experience beyond the First State.

Florida Ambassador

Jackie Sanders

Jackie Sanders, Common Sense American Ambassador to Florida, retired from teaching in New York State only to extend her career in education another three years in the Sunshine State. After leaving teaching, Jackie became a Guardian ad Litem, advocating for children who have been taken out of their homes through no fault of their own, and serving as a volunteer for the county sheriff's department. In addition to enjoying all-things related to living in a beach community, Jackie and her husband use their creative talents as actors in commercials.

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Georgia Ambassador

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Hawaii Ambassador

Idaho Ambassador

Jason Honn

Jason Honn is the Chief Technology Officer for the National Institute for Civil Discourse. He has created and helps manage NICDs websites including: NICD.Arizona.edu, CommonSenseAmerican.org, NxtGenUSA.org, EngagingDifferences.org, GoldenRule2020.org, and NICDResearch.org. He also assists with video production and graphic design.

Jason brings over 20 years of experience in development and design. He has a wide range of familiarity with different web platforms and technologies. He has worked with varying businesses and organizations in both the private, nonprofit and public sectors. Jason has created and managed over a 100 sites that range in both scale and function. He aligns tightly with NICDs purpose and objectives, and is passionate about helping this organization successfully make a difference.

Jason graduated with a degree from BYU Idaho. Jason and his wife Sheri have 5 children ranging in age from 21 to 5 (Talia, Braden, Cooper, Finley, and Gracie). They are active in their church and enjoy supporting and coaching their kids in sports, music, and life.

Illinois Ambassador

Carolyn Mendenhall

My name is Carolyn Mendenhall and I am an Illinois Ambassador for CommonSense American. I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. I am a graduate of University of Illinois Chicago with a degree in Philosophy. I attended Kellogg School of Management in the 80’s while I was climbing the food chain. I have always lived in Illinois, except for a mid-life crisis in my thirties when I moved to San Francisco for a year.

I come to this work via a rather circuitous route. The last presidential campaign that I cared about was 1968 when Bobby Kennedy ran for president. I was sixteen, idealist and believed that the world could be reformed. After his death, I decided that Americans got the kind of government they deserved, so I exited the political sphere.

Fast forward to 2016 and on one side I saw glee and on the other side it was “the end of the world as we know it.” Since I did not see the existential threat, I embarked on a journey. I wanted to understand how politics changed while I was not looking.

I started to listen to podcasts. I joined Braver Angels, formerly known as Better Angels, and actually attended their annual convention in 2018. I left the convention on-fire. I attended moderator training, committed to reading Conservative thought leaders and spent several hundred dollars on books. As a bibliophile, I turn to books whenever I need to understand.

I quickly noticed that the Republican/Democratic divide had little to do with the argument between Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine. I also noticed that I could not find first principles in the cacophony of voices on either side.

In speaking with my colleagues at Braver Angels, I found that the norms had changed. Our two major parties, like our populations, had self sorted. We were no longer Americans who disagreed on the best way to solve a problem; we were enemies involved in combat who could not agree with anything proposed by the opponents on the other side. Our morality, our identity, our faith and our beliefs had all been rolled-up into our politics.

As a philosophy major who specialized in political and moral philosophy, the new worldview left me politically homeless. I have always felt that the most interesting moral cases lived in the land where our moral beliefs conflicted; the cases where we must balance two deeply held moral beliefs against each other. So I could not find a home in either political camp.

Braver Angels led me to Common Sense American. Keith Allred spoke at one of our member meetings and I thought CSA would provide an opportunity to supplement conversation with action.

So, even though I still am not a policy wonk, I care about processes. I do not want to be part of the generation that loses the republic. I want to leave the republic in good health for my granddaughter and the next generation.

That is why I choose to spend my time working in the margins to change the current status quo.

Incidentally, the least interesting part of me is my previous profession. I was an IT professional for over four decades. I started out as a computer programmer, did a brief spell as a middle level manager and a final retreat into specialized individual contributing. Despite my best efforts I could not keep the first company I worked for (Sears Roebuck and Co.) afloat. So I became a mercenary and retired from J.P. Morgan Chase.

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Indiana Ambassador

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Iowa Ambassador

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Kansas Ambassador

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Kentucky Ambassador

Louisiana Ambassador

Georgia Fox

I'm a Louisiana born and bred girl, but have been fortunate to live in a few other places before returning to my home state. Currently, I'm in my 15th year of working at LSU of Alexandria where I advise students, make the Ms. LSUA pageant sash, and perform in plays (when I'm not making costumes). I hope to expand my understanding of politics and become more involved in helping to shape this country as a member of CommonSense American.

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Maine Ambassador

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Maryland Ambassador

Massachusetts Ambassador

Jan Swindell

Janice Swindell is the Massachusetts Ambassador for Common Sense American, connecting with congressional offices at the state and federal level. In this she has the honor of representing the commonsense views of Massachusetts CSA members to Congress. Additionally, she is blogging as a climate change educator @climatechangesimplyexplained.blog.
Janice is also involved with various environmental groups, among them Th!rd Act, where she is the liaison to the Leadership Committee.
She has a background in science and science education, having taught Environmental Science, Biology, and Physics in the public schools. As well, she has many years’ experience as a Field Biologist for MassAudubon. Other involvement has been at the Ecotarium, a museum for Environmental Exploration, and as a Senior Technical Assistant and manager of a Microbiology Laboratory at the UMass Medical School in Worcester, MA. Janice has a B.S. in Natural Science from Worcester State University, and is currently working towards her Master’s in Education. Her passion is Environmental Education and empowering people to act as advocates for the environment and clean energy.
Currently living in central Massachusetts, Janice enjoys nature photography, hiking, solo kayaking, and habitat restoration through garden design.

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Michigan Ambassador

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Minnesota Ambassador

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Mississippi Ambassador

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Missouri Ambassador

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Montana Ambassador

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Nebraska Ambassador

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Nevada Ambassador

New Hampshire Ambassador

Susan Smith

Susan Infantine Smith is a long-time New Hampshire resident currently living in Milford with her husband, two sons, and rescue puppy. Susan graduated from Milford Area Senior High and has a BA in English from Bucknell University. After graduating, she lived in Massachusetts and California before returning to New Hampshire. Susan has worked in publishing, media sales and marketing for 30+ years. Currently, Susan is a Senior Director of Product Marketing for TechTarget in Newton, MA. Susan currently volunteers for the town of Milford's planning board, master plan committee, and capital improvement plan committee. She enjoys New Hampshire's natural beauty by going on camping trips with her family each summer and skiing the local peaks each winter.
Linda Murphy
New Jersey Ambassador

Linda Murphy

Linda was born in New Jersey, where she and her husband raised their two children. She is a retired educator who now has more time to devote to those interests she is passionate about, such as the CommonSense American program.

Linda earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Upsala College and her master’s degree in teaching from Marygrove College. During her tenure in education, she worked for a county vocational school system and witnessed firsthand the benefits of career connected learning. She worked with industry partners to secure paid internship positions providing students with invaluable work-related experience. Not only did this help students build the required technical skills, but it also helped them learn the much-needed softer skills employers desire.

Linda is an avid reader and a lifelong learner. She is currently researching her family genealogy and learning how to play chess. She enjoys walking, biking, and going to the beach.

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New Mexico Ambassador

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New York Ambassador

North Carolina Ambassador

Helen Sullivan

Helen is a retired career federal civil servant, with 30 years experience. She began her career as an Army JAG, then after a short stint in the private sector, moved on to serve as a civilian attorney, first with the Library of Congress, then with the Defense Mapping Agency. She concluded her service with 13 years in the Office of the General Counsel to the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, including serving as a senior level attorney.

After retirement, Helen moved to Western North Carolina with her husband John. There she served as a Board member and president of an art-related nonprofit based in McDowell County and also as a Board member and Board President of the McDowell County Tourism Development Authority.

North Dakota Ambassador

Kim Koppelman

Kim Koppelman has led a distinguished career in business and public service. He retired from the North Dakota Legislature as Speaker of the House in 2022 after serving for 28 years, many of them as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He previously also chaired the Constitutional Revision and Administrative Rules Committees.

During his years as a legislator, he sponsored landmark legislation and Constitutional amendments to preserve important Constitutional principles, protect individual rights, improve criminal justice and government efficiency and protect our freedoms.
Speaker Koppelman has served in leadership roles on the state and national level. He was elected National Chairman of the Council of State Governments—which consists of all three branches of government in all 50 states—and organized and hosted the First
National Interbranch Summit of the States, which included leaders from all three branches of government, nationwide.

As CSG Chairman, he also presided over its 75th Anniversary, organized and led the first national search in 19 years for a new Executive Director and, from a large pool of notable applicants, hired the current Executive Director who has now served for 15 years. He cofounded the national CSG Interbranch Working Group and has represented his state and nation before world leaders, from Ottawa to Berlin; from Taiwan to Prague, where he led a delegation to confer on governing principles with Czech President Vaclav (pron. “Vass-lav”) Klaus. He also led a delegation of American dignitaries and state officials to Iceland.
He is a graduate of the Bowhay (pron. “Bowwee”) Institute for Legislative Leadership Development (BILLD) and the Toll Fellowship leadership programs and participated in the Rising (American) State Leaders Program of the Canadian national government. He has led delegations of American state leaders to international exchanges and had helped facilitate civility training workshops for legislatures of other states.

He served on the Executive Committees of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Midwest Legislative Conference and the Council of State Governments and also on the CSG Governing Board and the Twenty-First Century Foundation Board, as well as in many other leadership roles. He has helped author model legislation on regulatory reform.
Speaker Koppelman is the recipient of several awards for his legislative service and business achievements. He is the founder and President of Koppelman & Associates, LLC, an award-winning, full-service communications, public relations, marketing and advertising firm serving clients in a variety of fields on a local, regional, national and (on occasion) international scale, which now also offers government relations consulting. He has been active in his local community and church as has served on numerous boards. He has been a guest lecturer in colleges and universities and has spoken before government, business, and general audiences throughout the nation.

He and his wife, Torey, reside in West Fargo, North Dakota.

Ohio Ambassador

Ken Mancuso

After being dissatisfied with partisanship and loud voices speaking over each in today’s politics, Ken searched for an organization that was able to bridge the partisan divide and find common ground. This search led Ken to joining CommonSense American where he now serves as Ohio Ambassador.

Ken has lived in Ohio all of his life, being born in Cleveland and growing up in Lake County, a suburban county east of Cleveland. Ken feels a special connection to Ohio as it is where his immigrant grandparents chose to settle when they came to the United States from Italy. As the grandson of laborers who built many of the buildings and landmarks in downtown Cleveland, his heritage is interwoven with the area.

Ken led a career in telecommunications for 40 years in sales and sales management, spending 31 years with AT&T and its predecessors. He completed his career at AT&T managing a team that worked with state and local government, K-12 schools and higher education institutions across 22 states. Ken retired from AT&T in February 2019.

Ken graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with minors in Economics and Spanish from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois in 1979 and with an MBA from Cleveland State University with an emphasis in Marketing in 1982.

Ken lives in the Concord area where he volunteers with his Catholic parish and serves on the board of trustees for an Americans of Italian Heritage Club. In his free time he enjoys photography, travel and hiking, as well as participating in Postcrossings, an internet-based project that promotes postcard exchanges with random people all over the world. Ken is married and lives in the same house where he raised his two daughters, only now it is filled with his two rescue dogs.

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Oklahoma Ambassador

Allen Guthier
Oregon Ambassador

Allen Guthier

Allen is a first-generation Cuban-American originally from Miami, Florida, and is now proud to call the Pacific Northwest home. His guiding principles of curiosity, empathy, and kindness aligned with the values of CommonSense American. As a member since 2020, a conversation facilitator, and state ambassador for Oregon, Allen takes pride in supporting an organization that brings people from across the political spectrum together to engage in productive dialog and then sharing that collective wisdom with our elected officials and their staff.
Pennsylvania Ambassador

Preston Gibson

Preston enjoyed a career in the U.S. Coast Guard, then another career in community news media at the Jersey Shore. Preston and his wife now live in a small mountain lake community in Northeastern Pennsylvania. A search for constructive socio-political engagement led Preston to CommonSense American, where he now serves as CSA's Ambassador for Pennsylvania.

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Rhode Island Ambassador

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South Carolina Ambassador

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South Dakota Ambassador

Tennessee Ambassador

Bill Andrews

Mr. Andrews has over 40 years experience in the development and direction of energy, environmental and policy analysis projects and organizations. This includes systems analysis, decision support, risk management, program development and management, international business, public communication, and stakeholder engagement.
Texas Ambassador

Ron Baker

Ron is a recently retired IBM Distinguished Engineer from their Sustainability Software organization, with products that manage Assets, Building Facilities, Supply Chains, Weather and Environmental Intelligence and ESG Reporting product suites, featuring climate risk analysis and financed emissions. He led the Environmental Insights Strategy, the SRE discipline and operations technology for SaaS offerings. Having previously led the design and delivery of the expansion of AI and Analytics on Internet of Things content. Prior to this, he was the Director of Geospatial Content & Analytics in the Weather Company, leading the curation of global location data from our mobile and web properties and their use in industry and consumer applications. This global data lake is one of the largest IOT platforms in the world, with world-class spatial-temporal analytics capabilities. Ron was also the technical executive leading the IBM Smarter Cities software portfolio, and its corresponding domain products in Transportation, Water, City Planning & Operations, Video Analytics, and Energy. This software supports cities, regional municipal entities, stadiums, airports, and other operations-based organizations. Bringing together different agencies into a single view, these products were named the industry leader for three straight years by Frost & Sullivan, IDC, and Navigant for their vision and breadth of features. He holds over a dozen software patents.

Ron has served on the Board of MEASURE, a non-profit dedicated to elevating the experiences of people of color, using data and analysis to educate and recommend policy change and the President of the Board of Austin Smarter Cities Alliance, working to bring technology to the City of Austin to improve citizen services and the effectiveness of city agencies. He was the co-chair of the Affordable Housing Committee, where he is working to ease the effects of rapid growth on lower income families and individuals.

Utah Ambassador

Maury Giles

As Chief Growth Officer Maury leads all sales and marketing efforts at Heart+Mind Strategies, bringing over 25 years of market research, analytics, and communication strategy expertise across numerous industries.

Prior to joining Heart+Mind, Maury founded and led a global strategic consulting group at Ipsos called Strategy3—launched after Ipsos acquired his own consultancy PURSUIT, a blend of branding, marketing communications, design, and market research disciplines.

A story-teller at heart, Maury is a three-time David Ogilvy Award winner for his work at Wirthlin Worldwide, Omnicom’s GSD&M, and PURSUIT. Maury started his career as a journalist before entering the consulting world of political strategy on behalf of candidates, associations, and non-profit organizations. He spent 10 years with Wirthlin in the US and Singapore. At GSD&M, Maury launched a new internal division at the ad agency called analytical solutions. His team developed tools and frameworks to link creative, media, and planning teams in a unified focus on accountability to deliver real, in-market results for the agency’s clients.

For the last 15 years, Maury has pioneered the development and application of systems thinking to mapping journey of human decision-making across categories. The solutions his teams have created provide the foundation for Heart+Mind Strategies’ journey mapping offer.

Over his career at both the research firm and ad agency side, Maury has consulted clients on five continents in most major verticals.

Maury studied at BYU and New Mexico State University. He regularly gives guest lectures at universities across the country and is an adjunct professor now at BYU. He also continues to lead the National Advisory Board for the NMSU College of Arts & Sciences.

Maury and his wife Jody live in Herriman, UT. They have a blended family of 10 kids from the ages of 29 to 16 – lots of love, chaos, and joy!

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Vermont Ambassador

Virginia Ambassador

Lisa Row

Lisa Row served as a US Marine for 27 years. Her military career included multiple tours in Virginia. After retirement from the Marine Corps, she attended Old Dominion University, earning a PhD in Education. Then Lisa undertook another challenging assignment as the homeschool administrator and teacher for her sons. Now that these young men have graduated from high school, Lisa is deciding what to do in the "next phase" of her life.

Presently, Lisa is drawn to bridge-building across political chasms. She worries about partisanship creating artificial divides in communities and across America. Lisa wants to help others understand the complexity of contemporary issues, the nuance in most people's views, and the areas where common ground exists. This calling led her to Braver Angels and CommonSense American, which both seek to help Americans understand diverse viewpoints and to find common ground. It then led her to discover some balanced news sources that present viewpoints from varied perspectives. With a related interest in bridging divides between practitioners of various faith traditions, she is now contemplating ordination as an interfaith minister.

Lisa and her family share a farm in northwestern Virginia with a dog, a cat, a few chickens, and some itinerant cows. She and her husband dream of boating the great loop one day after he retires.

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Washington Ambassador

West Virgina Ambassador

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Wisconsin Ambassador

Jack DeWolf

After graduating from Duke University with a degree in zoology and a special interest in marine invertebrate ecology, Jack DeWolf worked as a field biologist for the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Having previously been a factory certified motorcycle mechanic, he decided that dentistry might be a good synthesis of these two interests. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine Jack was fortunate enough to fulfill his NHSC scholarship obligation at what is now an FQHC medical and dental clinic in Lakewood, WI. After his scholarship obligation was satisfied, Jack entertained an offer to become head of IT for the Chicago Regional Office of the USPHS but he and his family had grown fond of rural living in Wisconsin so he bought a private practice from a retiring dentist which he sold a few years ago to become fully retired himself. Jack's hobbies include amateur radio (KA9TQC), sailing, and both types of biking. Both of his daughters now practice dentistry in WI and MN and Jack's lovely wife of 49 years and he split their time between northern Wisconsin and southwest Florida.
Ambassador At-large

Kerry Kirk

Kerry serves as an Ambassador-at-Large focusing on briefing members of Congress and policy staff on the selected legislative issues in current focus for bipartisan support. He also assists the National Staff and State Ambassadors in advancing membership participation and development.

In 2023 Kerry retired from a 28-year career with global investment firm Cambridge Associates, LLC during which span he served as a Managing Director and executive consultant to major endowments, foundations, and healthcare organizations on all aspects of asset management policy and implementation. Kerry has also worked in the banking profession managing commercial and consumer banking activities and serving on a merger & acquisition team. Prior to joining the private sector, Kerry served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps with deployments to the Far East, Middle East, the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Scandinavia.

Kerry is a distinguished graduate of the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and History and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA where he earned a Master of Business Administration degree.

Ambassadors

Ambassadors are the vital voices of CommonSense Americans in each state. These dedicated individuals bridge the gap between citizens and Congress, ensuring that the insights from our comprehensive issue briefs are heard and acted upon on Capitol Hill. Beyond their pivotal role in legislative advocacy, our Ambassadors are at the heart of our community, cultivating engagement and growth among our members.

Meet the individuals behind this nationwide movement towards common sense governance. Click here to see who the Ambassador for your state is.

Keith Allred, Founder & Executive Director

Keith has spent over two decades focusing on the problem of bringing ordinary citizens together across partisan divides to identify and champion good public policy. Keith developed the state-level pilot for CommonSense American, known as The Common Interest , and led it in Idaho for five years. There, he demonstrated the success of the four-step process by passing commonsense legislation in one of the nation’s reddest legislatures.

In 2017, Keith decided to take the four-step process to the national level and organized CommonSense American. When the National Institute of Civil Discourse heard of his work, they offered to be the platform from which to launch. On January 1, 2019, Keith became NICD’s Executive Director.

Keith’s brings significant experience in the business world and academia to the work of promoting good government. Prior to coming to NICD, he worked as a Senior Partner at the Cicero Group, ranked the 12th best boutique management consulting firm in the world by Vault.com. He also served as COO of Health Catalyst where his leadership was critical to concluding a deal with Sequoia Capital. He is a member of the Board of Directors for Midas Gold, which trades on the Toronto Exchange (TSX: MAX).

Keith started his career as a professor at Columbia University, and, subsequently, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where his teaching and research focused on conflict resolution. He holds a BA in American History from Stanford and a PhD in Organizational Behavior from UCLA.

A fifth-generation Idahoan, Keith grew up working summers on the family cattle ranch. In 2017, he finished 8th in the World in the 15,000 Amateur Class of the National Cutting Horse Association after competing in the World Finals in Fort Worth. He is married to Christine Edwards Allred. They are the parents of two daughters and a son.

Keith Allred
CSA Founder & NICD Executive Director

Keith Allred

Keith has spent over two decades focusing on the problem of bringing ordinary citizens together across partisan divides to identify and champion good public policy. Keith developed the state-level pilot for CommonSense American, known as The Common Interest , and led it in Idaho for five years. There, he demonstrated the success of the four-step process by passing commonsense legislation in one of the nation’s reddest legislatures.

In 2017, Keith decided to take the four-step process to the national level and organized CommonSense American. When the National Institute of Civil Discourse heard of his work, they offered to be the platform from which to launch. On January 1, 2019, Keith became NICD’s Executive Director.

Keith’s brings significant experience in the business world and academia to the work of promoting good government. Prior to coming to NICD, he worked as a Senior Partner at the Cicero Group, ranked the 12th best boutique management consulting firm in the world by Vault.com. He also served as COO of Health Catalyst where his leadership was critical to concluding a deal with Sequoia Capital. He is a member of the Board of Directors for Midas Gold, which trades on the Toronto Exchange (TSX: MAX).

Keith started his career as a professor at Columbia University, and, subsequently, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where his teaching and research focused on conflict resolution. He holds a BA in American History from Stanford and a PhD in Organizational Behavior from UCLA.

A fifth-generation Idahoan, Keith grew up working summers on the family cattle ranch. In 2017, he finished 8th in the World in the 15,000 Amateur Class of the National Cutting Horse Association after competing in the World Finals in Fort Worth. He is married to Christine Edwards Allred. They are the parents of two daughters and a son.

Our Staff

Cheryl Graeve
Mid Atlantic Regional Liaison

Cheryl Graeve

Cheryl Graeve currently serves as the Director of National Programs for NICD, including the Engaging Differences and Golden Rule 2020 programs. She works with communities and partner organizations to foster civil discourse capacity and help bridge political divides through online and in person NICD programs.

Prior to joining NICD, she served as the Senior Director of Field Support for the League of Women Voters of the United States. There she worked with national, state and local leadership on internal governance programs and civic capacity building through development of a nationwide training system and volunteer coaching structure to increase organizational outreach and effectiveness. Prior to that she served as Executive Director of AFL-CIO’s national youth group, where she developed an international anti-child labor campaign called the Toycott (a boycott of toys made in China). Cheryl also served as Legislative Director for the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) and helped pass a state “motor voter” law designed to increase voter registration among under represented populations through public agencies. She also worked as a district Field Representative for Minnesota Congressman Gerry Sikorski when he served in Congress.

She and her husband Alain Fournier enjoy spending time in nature and observing birds through experiences in our country’s state and national parks.

Holli Woodings
Senior Fellow

Holli Woodings

Holli Woodings is a Senior Fellow at the National Institute for Civil Discourse. Her focus is on representing over 65,000 CommonSense American members and presenting their responses to the 2023 Career Connected Learning issue brief on Capitol Hill, both directly and in cooperation with the Regional and State Ambassadors in the Far West Region.

Prior to relocating to Washington, DC, she served as President of Boise City Council and was integral to the creation and adoption of Boise’s comprehensive and progressive modern zoning ordinance. She worked to bolster local businesses, support working families, and to pass and implement Boise’s goals of 100% clean energy by 2035 and carbon neutrality by 2050. Holli has also served as a Ambassador in the Idaho Legislature and in 2014 ran for Idaho Secretary of State. She’s a proud graduate of Boise State University with a BA in English and Executive MBA.

Prior to entering public service, she worked in the renewable energy industry helping to develop and finance wind farms in Idaho and Minnesota before founding Woodings Group, a consultancy specializing in startup energy companies. She has been honored as one of Idaho Business Review’s Women of the Year and Accomplished Under 40, as a Women’s and Children’s Alliance TWIN awardee, a recipient of the Girl Scouts of the USA Thanks Badge and a Boise State University Alumni of Distinction.

Holli has served on many nonprofit boards including the Boise State Foundation, Idaho Women in Leadership, and as Chair of the Girl Scouts of Silver Sage and the North End Neighborhood Association. She has volunteered for the Washington Urban Debate League, Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, YMCA, NEW Leadership Idaho, and the Yes! For Boise Schools campaign.

Holli lives in NW Washington with her husband Ryan and their two children. They love to explore their new city (especially the restaurants!) by foot, bike, bus and Metro.

Mary Tanner
Ambassador Program Director

Mary Tanner

Mary Tanner is the Director for CommonSense American’s Ambassador Program and oversees the design and implementation of ambassador training programs and recruitment. She has a background in education, training, and Participatory Learning and Action (PLA). Mary is passionate about building trust, resolving conflict, and helping others find common ground.

In addition to her role at NICD, she lectures international college students on Conflict Resolution, Volunteerism, Diversity in the U.S., Cultural Awareness, and U.S. Government and Politics. She has lived in Israel, England and most recently Denmark.

Mary earned her bachelor’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies from Brigham Young University, and her Masters of Science in Education and Training with an emphasis in empowering women through adult education programs in rural villages of developing countries from the University of Reading in the UK.

She currently resides in Northern Virginia where she loves spending time in nature with her husband, five children and two dogs

Jason Honn
Chief Technology Officer

Jason Honn

Jason Honn is the Chief Technology Officer for the National Institute for Civil Discourse. He has created and helps manage NICDs websites including: NICD.Arizona.edu, CommonSenseAmerican.org, NxtGenUSA.org, EngagingDifferences.org, GoldenRule2020.org, and NICDResearch.org. He also assists with video production and graphic design.

Jason brings over 20 years of experience in development and design. He has a wide range of familiarity with different web platforms and technologies. He has worked with varying businesses and organizations in both the private, nonprofit and public sectors. Jason has created and managed over a 100 sites that range in both scale and function. He aligns tightly with NICDs purpose and objectives, and is passionate about helping this organization successfully make a difference.

Jason graduated with a degree from BYU Idaho. Jason and his wife Sheri have 5 children ranging in age from 21 to 5 (Talia, Braden, Cooper, Finley, and Gracie). They are active in their church and enjoy supporting and coaching their kids in sports, music, and life.

Director of Congressional Engagement and Strategic Initiatives

Steele Parkerson

Steele Parkerson is the Director of Congressional Engagement and Strategic Initiatives.

She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Summa Cum Laude with a double major in Diplomatic history and International Relations. Her honors thesis in International Relations, The Paradox of International Aid: A Case for Democratic Aid Theory focused on strengthening democracy through coordination between nations. While in university, Steele served her class as the Vice President of External Affairs, President of Alpha Phi, President of Best Buddies and studied abroad at the University of Oxford.

Steele’s work experience includes being an AmeriCorps Member in Ketchikan, Alaska; Center of High Impact Philanthropy in Philadelphia; Crossroads Foundation in Hong Kong; and the African Community Learning Program in Philadelphia.

When Steele’s not working, she enjoys running, reading, pilates, and loves exploring art museums and painting abstracts.

Ariana Rojas
Director of Congressional Engagement and Data Analytics

Ariana Rojas

Ariana Rojas is the Director of Congressional Engagement and Data Analytics.

She graduated from The George Washington University with a Master of Arts in Political Science in 2023. She completed her undergraduate studies May 2022 at GW where she double majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice.

Prior to joining NICD, Ariana worked at Branch Politics as an Elections Reviewer, where she focused on educating voters on potential candidates for the November 2023 election. Before that, she was a Research and Communications Intern at Issue One, focusing on government transparency. She helped research 11 states and their respective county clerks and predecessors to identify the clerk turnover rate following the 2020 election.

Ariana aspires to play a role in promoting democracy in the United States and/or Latin America.

Outside of work, you can find Ariana reading at a park.

Jack Thomas
Director of Congressional Engagement and Public Policy

Jack Thomas

Jack Thomas is the Director of Congressional Engagement and Public Policy.

Jack attended William & Mary, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Economics and Public Policy, and received his Master’s of Public Policy in May of 2023. His research and professional experiences center around congressional reform and legislative procedure. Jack spent the summer of 2022 working in the House of Representatives with the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, where he conducted research to support the committee’s mission to create a more transparent, efficient, and effective congress. Jack has also worked on the legislative team of former Virginia Delegate Michael Mullin. Jack’s previous non-policy roles include bartending at fine dining restaurants and directing waterfronts at a summer camp on Lake Michigan.

Outside of the NICD, Jack enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, taking his puppy out on walks, supporting Michigan football, and playing board games with friends.