“It all starts with a conversation,” says Michele Holt-Shannon, newly-named director of New Hampshire Listens.
During the past eight years, New Hampshire Listens has hosted more than 100 community conversations to address complex issues affecting the everyday lives of New Hampshire communities and residents. The topics of these conversations vary from clean water to community police relations to early childhood education, all aimed at helping neighborhoods and towns across New Hampshire find solutions for their communities.
Today, New Hampshire Listens continues to evolve as former co-director Holt-Shannon becomes director while fellow former co-director Bruce Mallory assumes the role of senior advisor.
“Launching New Hampshire Listens with Michele and other colleagues in 2009 has led me to the most satisfying and challenging work of my life. I’ve learned so much from our community partners and from the national network of academics and practitioners in the field of deliberative democracy. I am honored that Michele will lead New Hampshire Listens, and I look forward to working with her in my new role,” Mallory says.
Moving forward, New Hampshire Listens will continue to design and facilitate dialogues and support local organizations to bring people together to increase understanding, solve problems and grow civic participation. Future work will also include research in civic health that will contribute to strengthening public policies. A statewide network of facilitators and fellows will ensure that the mission of New Hampshire Listens is reinforced and sustained.
“Our mission is to help people talk and act together to create communities that work for everyone," Holt-Shannon says. "We are proud of our ability to help people hear and be heard regardless of politics or identity.”