Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Executive Director, National Institute for Civil Discourse


Dr. Lukensmeyer previously served as Founder and President of AmericaSpeaks, an award-winning nonprofit organization based in Washington D.C. that promotes nonpartisan initiatives to engage citizens and leaders through the development of innovative public policy tools and strategies. During her tenure, AmericaSpeaks has engaged more than 165,000 people and has hosted events across all 50 states and throughout the world. Dr. Lukensmeyer formerly served as Consultant to the White House Chief of Staff from 1993-94 and on the National Performance Review where she steered internal management and oversaw government-wide reforms. She was the Chief of Staff to Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste from 1986-91, becoming the first woman to serve in this capacity. She earned her PhD in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University and has completed postgraduate training at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland.



Jane Prescott-Smith, Managing Director

Jane Prescott-Smith is the Managing Director of the National Institute of Civil Discourse. She is a fourteen-year veteran of the University of Arizona, serving previously in director positions at the Steele Children's Research Center and at the Eller College of Management. Prior to joining the University of Arizona, she was Director of Corporate Relations for Northwestern University. Before beginning her academic career, Ms. Prescott-Smith was a marketing manager at Kraft Foods and a buyer for Macy's and Federated Department Stores. Ms. Prescott-Smith holds an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School and a BS in Economics from Stanford University.

Ms. Prescott-Smith was the Institute’s first  and only employee during the first year of its existence. “I find the start-up phase of any organization exhilarating,” she says.  “In this instance, it was especially gratifying to be part of an effort to strengthen the public conversations around which our country has been built.”  


Ted Celeste, Next Generation

Former State Representative Ted Celeste has been contracted part-time to lead Next Generation, a project of the National Institute for Civil Discourse in partnership with the Council of State Governments. His goal is to inspire and support state legislators who want to promote greater understanding and better decision-making. As part of a bi-partisan team, Celeste has facilitated training for the CSG Midwest Regional Conference and the Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Nebraska Legislatures. He has also presented at the CSG BILLD leadership program in Madison, and the National CSG annual meeting in Kansas City.

Celeste served in the Ohio Legislature from 2007-2012. Known for working effectively “across the aisle” whether he was in the majority or the minority, he has lived his belief in respectful dialogue. One of the only candidates for state office who insisted on running a positive campaign, he won each of his 3 races with a comfortable majority in a swing district.  He was recognized for his emphasis on civil dialogue with the John Glenn Public Policy Institute’s Outstanding Public Service Award in 2011. Celeste lives in Columbus, Ohio, is married and has two daughters and 3 grandchildren.


Shane Christensen, Senior Associate

Shane Christensen comes to the National Institute for Civil Discourse as a Senior Associate contractor during his one year leave of absence from the Foreign Service. While at the Foreign Service, he represented the United States in the UAE, Afghanistan, Liberia, and Mexico.  He also served as chief of staff to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in New York from 2007-08, and was a teaching fellow at Columbia University from 2009-10.  Most recently, he advised on international economic and internet policy issues at the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France.   

A Californian native, he holds a B.A. in Political Science from U.C. Berkeley and Master’s degrees from Cambridge University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar, and Harvard’s Kennedy School, where he was a Presidential Scholar.  Shane is also a freelance travel writer and has published guides on destinations in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.   

Shane's efforts at the National Institute for Civil Discourse are focused in part on improving the ability of members of Congress and state legislatures -- where polarization and gridlock threaten democratic governance -- to solve problems rather than just point fingers.  He has taken a leave of absence from government to do this important work.  Says Shane, "At a time when international observers see the political dysfunction in Washington and wonder about America's continued ability to lead, I wanted to come home to work alongside others committed to restoring and protecting our democracy." 

Ann-Eve Cunningham, Director of Development

Ann-Eve Cunningham is the Director of Development for the National Institute for Civil Discourse, having joined the Institute in February of 2012.  With nearly two decades of experience leading successful development programs nationally, she came to the University of Arizona to direct fundraising programs at Dr. Andrew Weil’s Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and Arizona Public Media. Ann-Eve also previously served as Regional Executive Director and Director of Planned Giving at the American Red Cross, and Executive Director of Gilda’s Club Delaware Valley. She is accomplished in all aspects of fund development including major gifts, planned giving, capital campaigns and annual giving. 
Ann-Eve holds a BA in Communication from the University of Arizona.  She is also an accomplished photographer with prints of her work in private collections internationally.

Eric Diters, Assistant to the Executive Director

photoEric Diters currently serves as Executive Assistant to Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer at the National Institute for Civil Discourse. Eric was a staff member at AmericaSpeaks for several years, where he served as an assistant to Dr. Lukensmeyer. His duties included managing Carolyn’s schedule and a vast range of other responsibilities, including supporting AmericaSpeaks fundraising efforts.  Eric started in grassroots organizing as a field manager with US PIRG and the Human Rights Campaign. After exploring his interest in history with a stint at the U.S. Army Center of Military History, he returned to fundraising, first interning with a fundraising consultant at the Ashmead Group and later joining Senator Mark Warner’s 2008 campaign. 

Eric grew up in upstate New York. He graduated from The George Washington University with a degree in International Affairs.

Raquel Goodrich, Online Engagement Manager

Raquel Goodrich is the Online Engagement Manager for the National Institute for Civil Discourse, having joined the Institute in May of 2013.  Raquel manages the Institute's websites and social media programs, and assists with the overall communications strategy. She came from the Udall Foundation's U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, where she worked to integrate collaborative technologies into conflict resolution processes and provided training to conflict resolution practitioners on the use of collaborative technology. She is experienced in meeting facilitation and conflict resolution processes.

Raquel holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Maine and a Bachelor of Social Sciences from Unity College.
Raquel came to the Institute to help provide online platforms where Americans can engage in civil discourse around the issues that are most important to them. Recognizing a lack of safe spaces in the online environment, she utilizes collaborative technology and best practices to encourage people to take responsibility of their democracy.

Peter Michaels, Communications Director

Peter Michaels is the Communications Director for the National Institute for Civil Discourse. With 30-plus years of news management and programming experience, his career includes writing, producing, creating, long-form programming and management of producers, reporters and writers at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. and at NBC in New York. He holds a BA in English from St. Bernard College in Cullman, Alabama.


Robin Stryker, Research Director

Robin is Professor of Sociology, Affiliated Professor of Law and Affiliated Professor of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona. She received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she attended Yale Law School.  She came to the UA in 2008 from the University of Minnesota.  Robin is a previous recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, has been a Visiting Professor at the EHESS (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences) in Paris, and a Jean Monnet Fellow at the Robert Schumann Center of the European University Institute, in Florence. In her almost 30 year academic career, she has won many awards for research and teaching, has received numerous grants from the National Science Foundation, and regularly publishes in leading social science journals, among them the American Sociological Review and the American Journal of Sociology, Sociological Methods and Research, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, and Law & Social Inquiry.  In addition to her work on politics, media and civility for the NICD, Robin writes on theory and methods, and conducts research on organizations and institutional change, comparative social policy, law, politics and inequality, and human rights.