The Participants

The Saguaro Seminar was composed of 33 accomplished thinkers and doers who serve as a catalyst in determining the kinds of changes and strategies necessary to increasingly connect Americans with their communities and community institutions. Most of the Seminar participants are practitioners who come from diverse backgrounds, professions, and parts of the country. All of them are individuals who: believe that building civic connectedness among Americans in their communities is essential to their success (regardless of their profession); have taken significant actions to try to accomplish this; plan to stay vitally active in the field of civic engagement and are likely to play a major role five years from now in the sustained debate about how to connect Americans with their communities; and are exceptionally insightful about what has worked and failed and why this is so.


Rev. Bliss Browne founded Imagine Chicago, an intergenerational initiative that cultivates hope and civic commitment among the people of Chicago. She is an ordained Episcopal priest, and was formerly a corporate banker and Division Head at the First National Bank of Chicago.

Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell is Senior Pastor at the Windsor Village-St. John's United Methodist Churches (in Houston), which he built into a 10,000 member church from an original base of 25. His 120 church-affiliated ministries include a bookstore, community center, food pantry, drug abuse program, juvenile delinquency program, support groups, and a 24-hour crisis nursery center. A former Wall Street banker, his much acclaimed “Power Center” will soon provide 105,000 square feet for community housing, corporate offices and job training.

E.J. Dionne is a Washington Post columnist currently at the Brookings Institution, investigating how government fosters or reduces social capital. He authored the best-selling book Why Americans Hate Politics, which focused on the relationship between politics and broader public values, and They Only Look Dead: Why Progressives Will Dominate The Next Political Era.

Carolyn Doggett is the Executive Director of the California Teachers Association, the largest state union in California. Mobilizing extensive grassroots networks, she spearheaded CTA’s opposition to state propositions that would have ended affirmative action and denied services to illegal immigrants. She has been an active proponent of using schools as community centers.

Lew Feldstein is co-Chair of the Saguaro Seminar and former President of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the principal source of venture capital for New Hampshire’s nonprofit community. Feldstein worked with the civil rights movements in Mississippi, and served for seven years as a senior staff member in the administration of New York City mayor John Lindsay.

Chris Gates is co-Chair of the Saguaro Seminar and President of the National Civic League in Denver. He has been involved in a host of civic rebuilding efforts, including serving as director of the Alliance for National Renewal, a two year old initiative of over 180 national and local organizations designed to revitalize America by renewing her communities.

Stephen Goldsmith is Professor of the Practice of Public Management at John F. Kennedy School of Government and Chairman of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation's Faculty Advisory Committee. He served as mayor of Indianapolis from 1992 until 1999, and is a management consultant with Lockheed Martin IMS and a Special Advisor to President George W. Bush on faith-based and not-for-profit initiatives. He was chief domestic policy advisor to Bush's presidential campaign and was district attorney for Marion County, Indiana, from 1979 until 1990. Goldsmith also is Chair of the Corporation for National Service and of the Manhattan Institute's Center for Civic Innovation. While he was mayor, Indianapolis received an Innovations in American Government Award for its competitive bidding initiative and launched the Front Porch Alliance initiative to strengthen local social infrastructure (churches, neighborhoods, and families).

Henry Izumizaki is the Chief Strategist for the Urban Strategies Council (a community-builder in Oakland), experimenting with Beacon Schools, and using youth to develop community development plans through “youth mapping”. He is the Director of Eureka Communities in the Bay Area, which fosters innovation and leadership in the non-profit sector. Formerly he was actively involved in working on the systemic change program for the Oakland Public Schools, and was a streetworker, community organizer, and farm worker.

Vanessa Kirsch is the founder and CEO of New Profit, an “action tank” that fosters the development of a “New Profit” sector, combining for-profit accountability and entrepreneurship with non-profits’ focus on social mission and goals. Previously Kirsch founded Public Allies, a successful effort that utilizes young and diverse teams to revitalize community-based non-profits through national service.

Carol Lamm provides financial skills to non-profits. She previously directed Program Development for the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Kentuckian Appalachia. She innovated by building the civic engagement of community residents through entrepreneurship training, local education-promotion, local government accountability initiatives, and sustainable development.

Liz Lerman founded the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976. LLDE travels to communities and spends months listening to residents’ stories, turning their salient themes into dances that are performed for the community by both community and troupe members. In most communities where LLDE has succeeded, an ongoing dance effort has been left behind. Lerman received a MacArthur 'genius' grant in 2002 for her achievements and advancements in the field of modern dance.

Jake Mascotte retired in 2001 as president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. He is the former chairman and chief executive officer of the Continental Corporation, an insurance holding company. He is an attorney, a certified public accountant and a chartered life underwriter. He is currently chairman of the board of Workforce Investment Company Inc., a non-profit syndicator of welfare-to-work tax credits, and was the chairman of the board of LISC, a major national funding agency for community development. He currently serves on various non-profit boards.

Barack Obama is the 44th and current President of the United States. Obama previously served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois from January 2005 until he resigned after his election to the presidency in November 2008. Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. He worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Obama served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he ran for United States Senate in 2004. During the campaign, several events brought him to national attention, such as his victory in the March 2004 Democratic primary election for the United States Senator from Illinois as well as his prime-time televised keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. He won election to the U.S. Senate in November 2004. Prior to the U.S. Senate, he served in the Illinois State Senate and was a civil rights attorney at Davis, Miner, Barnhill and Galland, specializing in employment discrimination, fair housing and voting rights litigation. In 1992, Obama served as Illinois director of Project Vote!, an effort that registered over 100,000 new voters; prior to that he was a community organizer in Chicago.

Peter Pierce, III is the President of the First Bethany Bancorp, a holding company of First Bethany Bank & Trust, N.A., a small, family-owned, community-focused bank in Oklahoma City. He has been a leader in Oklahoma 2000, an effort to develop broader solutions to problems facing the Oklahoma City region. He has held municipal elective office, organized transitional housing for homeless families, and been involved in numerous local non-profit and faith-based organizations.

Ralph Reed was the Executive Director of the Christian Coalition, the most successful effort of the past 30 years to build a broad, nation-wide, grassroots, civics and religious organization. Prior to this, he built the College Republican National Committee and Students for America. He left the Christian Coalition to launch Century Strategies to use grassroots organization and insight to advise Republican gubernatorial, congressional and presidential candidates.

Kris Rondeau led the successful drive to establish the Harvard University Union of Clerical and Technical Workers. She is considered one of the most effective union organizers of clerical and university employees and led winning union drives at the universities of Illinois, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. Her union vision focuses on the role that the workplace can play in developing effective networks of social trust and support.

Juan Sepulveda directs San Antonio's The Common Enterprise, which develops programs to bring San Antonians together around issues of common concern, encouraging them to form friendships across their differences. He also worked with the late Willie Velasquez on the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project. He is currently an advisor to Bill Bradley.

Robert Sexton is the Executive Director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence in Kentucky. The Committee directed one of the largest-ever grassroots campaigns that trained and involved citizens in issues of education reform.

Lewis “Harry” Spence was, in 1992, the court-ordered receiver of Chelsea, where he saw the benefits and costs of strong ethnic community. He is now the “COO” of the NYC Board of Education. He formerly ran the Boston Housing Authority from 1980-84, and also was a vice president in private real estate development for the Beacon Companies of Boston.

George Stephanopoulos was the Communications Director and Senior Advisor for Policy in the first Clinton Administration. He led efforts to encourage dialogue with voters on issues of public concern in New Hampshire living rooms and town forums. He is now a visiting professor at Columbia University and a regular commentator on ABC News. He is interested in the role television can play in sparking new forms of civic engagement.

Dorothy Stoneman founded YouthBuild, an organization that trains unemployed youth to renovate abandoned housing and develops their leadership skills. Formerly, she was a program director and community organizer in Harlem and East Harlem, developing schools, youth programs, housing programs, and coalitions designed to increase public support for community-based programs. She is one of the nation’s leading experts in youth development.

Lisa Sullivan terribly sadly died in 2001 at the age of 40. In 1998, she founded LISTEN in Washington, DC to engage poor youth and develop the next generation of leaders. She previously directed field operations for the Children's Defense Fund, where she co-founded and directed the Black Student Leadership Network. She extensively surveyed informal social networks among street youth in Washington, DC. While at Yale, she organized a city-wide voter registration and education initiative that culminated in the election of the city's first African American mayor.

James Wallis co-founded Sojourners, a faith-based community and magazine. He is an author, preacher, pastor and activist. He convened and coordinates the newly-formed coalition “Call to Renewal: Christians for a New Political Vision,” which seeks to forge a new, bipartisan, religious politics. His book, The Soul of Politics, focused on finding a moral order in policy.

Vin Weber was a Republican Congressman from Minnesota from 1980 through 1992. He co-founded Empower America, an initiative which advocates individual responsibility and accountability in economic, social and educational problems. He is currently a partner with the law firm of Clark & Weinstock. He works with former Congressman Tim Penny to involve Minnesotan citizens in deliberating on issues of civic importance.


Xavier de Souza Briggs is an assistant professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has served as planning coordinator for a comprehensive development effort in the South Bronx. He is a leading expert on the social effect of CDCs and the impact of housing mobility and desegregation on community.

John DiIulio directs the Partnership for Research on Religion and At-Risk Youth (PRRAY) at Public/Private Ventures; he is also a professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton. He is an expert on youth criminology, on ways to divert at-risk youth from lives of crime, and on the role of religious organizations in shaping the lives of youth at risk.

Amy Gutmann is President of the University of Pennsylvania. She formerly was provost and Academic Dean at Princeton University. She is an expert on deliberative democracy and in thinking about how to train high school students to be vibrant democratic citizens. She wrote Democratic Education (1987) and Liberal Equality (1980), and co-authored Democracy and Disagreement (1996) and Color Conscious (1997).

Glenn Loury is a professor of economics and director of the Institute on Race and Social Division at Boston University. He was a leader in realizing why minorities’ social capital deficits could subvert equality of opportunity. He writes broadly on social and public life, and race and inequality. He has been highly active in local community through his Christian church.

Martha Minow is a professor of law and the dean of Harvard Law School. She has written on legal divides, authoring Making all the Difference: Inclusion, Exclusion, and American Law (1990) and Not Only for Myself: Identity, Politics and Law (1997). She is a family law expert and served on Carnegie’s Task Force on Education in the Early Years. She also developed the legal narrative field and has worked with judges and other legal personnel, using fiction and their own stories, to explore interpersonal relationships in the judiciary and make them more compassionate professionals.

Mark Moore is a professor of criminal justice policy and management as well as the director of the Hauser Center for Non-Profit Organizations at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He was the Founding Chairman of the Kennedy School's Committee on Executive Programs, and served in that role for over a decade. He can plausibly be called the father of “community policing”, a term developed at a Harvard Executive Session that he directed.

Robert D. Putnam directs the Saguaro Seminar and is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. His “Bowling Alone” article and book sparked the resurgence of dialogue on issues of civic engagement in America. He is currently researching on the intersection of diversity, equality and social capital.

Paul Resnick is a professor at the University of Michigan School of Information and a nation-wide expert on the social implications of technology. He formerly conducted researched for AT&T on how to use technology to make interactions, especially through electronic media, safe, fun, and profitable and prior to graduate school was a community organizer.

William Julius Wilson is a professor of social policy at the Kennedy School of Government and an expert on urban poverty. His much-acclaimed When Work Disappears (1997) addresses the impact of declining social capital on the problems of the American urban underclass.