Vermont Press Releases

Orton Family Foundation trustee keynotes community engagement seminar

News Release — Orton Family Foundation
August 3, 2017

Leslie Wright
[email protected]


SHELBURNE, Vt. (August 3, 2017)—Orton Family Foundation Trustee Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, a leading expert on civil discourse, is the keynote speaker at an upcoming seminar on community engagement.

Lukensmeyer’s talk, entitled “Incivility and Political Dysfunction: how did we get here and what can we do?,” will be featured as part of a day-long seminar on strengthening communities through getting residents more civically involved and keeping the conversation civil. The event, hosted by The Community Institute, will be held on September 14 in Brunswick, Maine.

“Towns cannot thrive without thoughtful and open discourse among residents. Now more than ever, communities need to consider how we move beyond the incivility and divisiveness that characterizes much communication today and learn to listen to one another and understand how to communicate with others who have different views,” said Lukensmeyer.

Lukensmeyer is executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse and founder of AmericaSpeaks, which developed and facilitated deliberative methods such as the 21st Century Town Hall Meeting and focused on creating opportunities for residents to impact decision-making and encourage public officials to make informed, lasting decisions.

Faculty members for the day-long seminar include Orton Family Foundation Senior Associate Sara Lightner and Associate Caitlyn Davison, who will both present workshops on community engagement tools and techniques that are integral to the Orton Family Foundation’s community development model, Community Heart & Soul®.

The Community Institute is designed to be of special interest to town managers and planners, economic development boards and directors, local, regional and state leaders, community organizations, developers, Realtors, chambers of commerce and anyone with an interest in building healthy, strong communities and economies with a special focus on community engagement.

“Communities are facing challenges from all sides, from how to be responsive to residents, to how to bring in new well-paying jobs, to attracting a younger work force, to accommodating the needs of an aging community,” said Jane Lafleur, event organizer and principal of JB Lafleur Consulting. “The challenge is facing these obstacles and opportunities without offending our neighbors, reaching a stalemate or building walls between each other.”

Event sponsors include the Orton Family Foundation, Maine Development Foundation and Lift360. Registration is $100, with an early bird rate of $85 before September 1. Register on-line at

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