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NC Leadership Forum at Duke

Building a Bridge to Better Engagement

A Playbook: Building Constructive Engagement Among State and Local Policy Leaders

Duke Students Hear, Discuss Both Sides of Gun Policy

May 1, 2023 – Duke Today

Events sponsored by Duke Center and N.C. Leadership Forum look to help students build bridges

In hope of deepening understanding of different views about mitigating gun violence in North Carolina and its disproportionate impact on communities of color, Duke students presented research last week at an event co-hosted last week by Duke’s Center for Firearms Law and the North Carolina Leadership Forum.  Continue Reading

Building trust across the aisle

By SEN. JIM BURGIN and REP. ASHTON CLEMMONS – Apr 21, 2023 – The Daily Record

In early March, we were part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers who proposed five bills together to address early childhood care in North Carolina. While there are many issues where we disagree strongly, we knew it was important to work together on an issue that is affecting families, young children, and the workforce of our state.  Continue Reading

How to overcome partisan political divides this Thanksgiving Holiday

By Ray Starling and Abdullah Antepli – November 20, 2021 – Fayetteville Observer

Have you ever listened to someone you disagreed with and realized they actually had some sensible things to say? We each had that humbling experience many times over the past year while considering North Carolina’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the North Carolina Leadership Forum. Continue Reading

A Bipartisan Review of North Carolina’s Pandemic Response

September 29, 2021 – Duke Today

During the spring of 2020, state leaders and organizations across North Carolina hurried to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, while North Carolinians’ responses to the pandemic became increasingly polarized.The 34 participants in the 2020 NCLF cohort included members of the General Assembly, state and local officials, and leaders of nonprofit, philanthropic and business organizations representing a range of ideologies, professional experiences, and regional perspectives. Continue Reading


24 North Carolina Leadership Forum alumni elected; NCLF wraps 2020 sessions on NC COVID response

November 19, 2020 – NCLF Brief

This November, as an astounding 75% of North Carolinians cast ballots this fall in competitive elections for federal, state, and local offices, Duke University’s North Carolina Leadership Forum was completing its 2020 series of sessions designed to foster constructive engagement across political differences. The Forum also congratulates the 24 NCLF alumni from the program’s four years of programming who were elected or re-elected to office. Continue Reading

State Leaders Convene in Duke Program to Find Common Ground on COVID Response

September 19, 2020 – Duke Today Article

When some 30 leaders from the political, business, and non-profit sectors in the state convened online recently to discuss the many COVID-19-related challenges facing North Carolina, the diverse group didn’t have much difficulty identifying shared concerns. Finding consensus on solutions was a greater challenge. Continue Reading

Sen. Deanna Ballard and Rep. Ashton Clemmons: Even in Crisis, teachers work to spread hope

April 18, 2020 – Winston-Salem Journal

In the fog of a pandemic, look no further than your local educators who are spreading hope and light through the valley of this crisis. Our educational leaders continue to make an impact in the midst of these uncertain times. Whether it is parading by a student’s home in their car to feel connected or coordinating online meetings so students can interact with classmates, they’re leading the charge to stay connected while being physically apart. Continue Reading

Bridging Divides Through Bipartisan Dialogue

March 11, 2020 – Duke Today Article

Since 2017, the North Carolina Leadership Forum at Duke University has brought together more than 125 business, public policy and non-profit leaders from around the state in an effort to encourage constructive engagement across party lines and other perspectives. An example of Duke’s efforts to forge partnerships for the benefit of our region, the program has successfully cultivated participants’ commitment to cross-partisan dialogue and to an improved policymaking environment for North Carolina. Continue Reading

Having the Difficult Conversations

By Robert Kinlaw – July 11, 2019 – Duke Today Article

It’s easy to claim that the left and right sides of our political spectrum are hopelessly divided. Taking action to create understanding between the two is harder. Leslie Winner and John Hood hope to do just that. They’re co-chairs of the NC Leadership Forum. During a presentation on the forum at Bridge, Hood said the idea was born from a desire to create more constructive, civil, and trusting conversations between those who are politically at odds. Continue Reading

To Improve Our Politics, Start with Leaders

By John Hood – August 3, 2018 – National Review Article

In this current moment of stark polarization, swaggering incivility, and self-congratulatory fury, do the Left and the Right agree on anything? Yes, as it happens. They agree that our politics has become a seemingly endless shoving match in the backseat of America’s careening station wagon. Alas, that’s where the consensus ends. “They started it!” each side shouts indignantly as they push and punch. Continue Reading

Why are you reading this column? The answer matters.

By John Hood – June 18, 2018 – The News & Observer

In this current moment of stark polarization, swaggering incivility, and self-congratulatory fury, do the Left and the Right agree on anything? Yes, as it happens. They agree that our politics has become a seemingly endless shoving match in the backseat of America’s careening station wagon. Alas, that’s where the consensus ends. “They started it!” each side shouts indignantly as they push and punch. Continue Reading

How facts, values divide us

By John Hood – April 18, 2018 – The Robesonian

The United States spends more on health care than any other industrialized country but doesn’t get better results, as measured by average life expectancy. Have you heard this claim before? Did you respond with agreement or skepticism? In recent years, I’ve devoted much study and practice to exploring why we disagree so vociferously about public issues. My goal hasn’t been to eliminate political disputes. That would be impossible and silly. Indeed, I’ve spent most of my career arguing about public policy. I’m not going to stop advocating my views and trying to influence governmental decisions. Continue Reading

Building political bridges to make progress in N.C.

By Leslie Winner and John Hood – April 22, 2017 – The Charlotte Observer

In this era of political polarization, the worst kind of conversations are those that never happen. Labor union leaders and left-leaning policy analysts have few opportunities for candid, substantive conversations with business leaders or Republican lawmakers. Conservative defenders of traditional values rarely have in-depth discussions with progressive politicians. People from different political poles get their news and commentary from different media outlets; online, they live in different social-media cocoons. As a result, they have more opportunities to fight than find common ground, or even common humanity. Continue Reading

Political opposites try listening to each other

By Rob Christensen – April 21, 2017 – The News & Observer

For the past year, some of North Carolina’s leading Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, left-wingers and right-wingers, tried something different. They talked to each other. And I don’t mean they trolled each other on the internet, calling each other pinkos or knuckle-draggers. Under the auspices of Duke University, 30 leaders met five times for all-day sessions featuring civil conversations about how to help more North Carolinians earn enough to support their families. Continue Reading

Case Study: The NC Leadership Forum

April 11, 2017 – Sanford School @ Duke SoundCloud Podcast

There’s a project happening now in North Carolina in which people from across the state who have very different political views are meeting on a regular basis. The idea is this: if we can build relationships between people with differing political views, can mutual understanding – or even solutions – be far behind? 

Episode features John Hood, President of the John William Pope Foundation and Leslie Winner, attorney and former Executive Director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

So a liberal and a conservative walk into a bar…

By Taylor Batten – June 4, 2016 – The Charlotte Observer

Conservative Art Pope and liberal Rick Glazier walk into a bar… This is no joke. Pope, Glazier and some of North Carolina’s other most prominent liberals and conservatives are breaking bread together, trying to find something that has been elusive in recent years: a shred of common ground. These 35 leaders in business, politics, philanthropy, education, law and other areas are investing their time to test whether bipartisan ideas and civil discourse between Republicans and Democrats really are dead. It’s called the North Carolina Leadership Forum, and it’s just ramping up. Continue Reading

New Effort to Find Political Common Ground in N.C.

May 27, 2016 – Sanford School @ Duke SoundCloud Podcast

North Carolina’s contentious political climate is making national headlines. But there’s a new effort to get people with differing political viewpoints talking civilly to each other. It’s called the N.C. Leadership Forum. Participants are meeting throughout 2016 to consider the question: How can we enable more North Carolinians to earn enough to support their families?

In this interview, participants John Hood, president of the John William Pope Foundation and Leslie Winner, former executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and a former state legislator, talk about the challenges they’ve found in the effort, and their hopes for its success. They are joined by Frederick “Fritz” Mayer, director of POLIS: The Center for Politics, Leadership, Innovation and Service at the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy. Sanford’s Dean Kelly Brownell moderates the conversation.

Leaders must engage in civil dialogue

By Leslie Winner and Charles B. Neely Jr. – April 7, 2016 – The News & Observer

Is the chasm between political parties so wide that there’s no chance they can work together? Maybe not. We both served in the North Carolina General Assembly during the 1990s. Chuck, a conservative Republican, was in the majority party in the House, and Leslie, a progressive Democrat, was in the majority party in the Senate. While serving, we each learned the importance of listening to people with different life experiences than our own. Continue Reading

Diverse Group Gathers at Duke for First NC Leadership Forum

March 9, 2016 – Sanford School of Public Policy Article

Thirty-four civic, business and political leaders from across North Carolina gathered last week at the inaugural North Carolina Leadership Forum (NCLF), a new initiative aimed at bridging partisan and ideological divides in North Carolina. The forum hosted by Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy is the first of a four planned discussions about challenges facing both workers and employers. In a daylong, private dialogue, participants addressed the question, “How can we enable more North Carolinians to earn enough to support their families?” Continue Reading