building a forum
for civil discourse
"Rachel was central to our ability to build a
broad communication strategy."
Dina Wolfman Baker grew up in a home with a clear expectation: Disagree agreeably.
In 2012, she set out to build on this formative value through the creation of the Bernard Wolfman Civil Discourse Project, which honored her father, a renowned legal scholar, and was rooted in the Jewish tradition of healthy debate. In partnership with Beth Sholom Congregation, she formed the idea of a public policy forum to model civil discourse. She asked Making Headlines to help attract an audience.
Together, we developed a strategic plan to ensure enough reach to change behavior. Our plan included:
Creation of an informative website with online registration;
Recruitment of media sponsors to drive awareness;
Development of print and digital promotional materials, including advertising;
Proactive media relations, including point/counterpoint thought leadership pieces by the speakers in major media;
Community engagement; and
Social media campaigns that utilized our speakers' and their organizations' networks.
The Project brought together national experts to discuss polarizing topics, such as gun ownership and healthcare, under the moderation of civic engagement expert Chris Satullo.
We partnered with our local NPR affiliate (WHYY), The Jewish Exponent and The Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as the prestigious organizations from which we drew our speakers (such as Center for American Progress and The Heritage Foundation).
Baker retired the Project in 2017; however, her prescience in recognizing the need for civility was impactful. The Project’s annual Forum grew into an anticipated event that packed a large auditorium and engaged a much larger following via social and legacy media. It could be counted upon to provide educational, actionable civil dialogue about important issues that impacted its audience.