CommUnity Conference 2022

Civic Health in Wisconsin and Beyond

April 28th, 2022 | Madison, WI

The Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies (“The CommNS”) thanks everyone who joined us for this year’s CommUnity Conference: Civic Health in Wisconsin and Beyond! Co-hosted by the Civic Health of Wisconsin Initiative, this day-long conference brought together expert speakers, nonprofit professionals, students, scholars, and community members for a day of dialogue and learning on civic engagement.

Check out the session information below for more details about the events and speakers!

 

Stay Engaged

The next CommUnity Conference will be held in Fall 2023. More details — including theme, keynotes, and sessions — will be listed on this page as available.

Until then, check out our Events page for up-to-date information on CommUniversity sessions, CommUnity conversations, and other opportunities to learn, share, and grow.

Watch the recordings

Remarks from Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and Superintendant of Public Instruction Jill Underly

Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly, provided opening remarks about the importance of civic health and civic education for all in Wisconsin.

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Morning Plenary Fishbowl | Civic Engagement Efforts, Challenges, and Wins of BIPOC, Youth, and Historically Disenfranchised Groups in Wisconsin

The P.O.W.E.R Collective facilitated a fishbowl discussion with leaders of some of Wisconsin’s civic engagement efforts focused on BIPOC, youth, and other historically disenfranchised groups.

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Welcome and Land Acknowledgement

Dr. Brian McInnes, Faculty Fellow at the CommNS and Leola R. Culver Professor in Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the School of Human Ecology, delivered the land acknowledgment.

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National Keynote Presentation | Dr. Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat is an expert commentator on fascism, authoritarian leaders, and propaganda — and the threats these present to democracies today.

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Regional Keynote Presentation | Arvind Gopalratnam

Arvind Gopalratnam oversees the Milwaukee Bucks’ initiatives and collaborations with community partners, focusing on youth education, economic empowerment, criminal justice reform, and community health and wellness.

Watch the recording

Expert Flash Talks

This session included expert flash talks from across UW-Madison on key themes in the current civic health of Wisconsin.

Watch the recording

Session Information

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Morning Warm-Up World Café

During the World Café, attendees participated in facilitated small group discussions on civic health topics.

Remarks from Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and Superintendant of Public Instruction Jill Underly

Watch the recording

The two ex-officio members of our Civic Health of Wisconsin Steering Committee, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly, provided opening temarks about the importance of Civic Health and Civic Education for all in Wisconsin.

Morning Sessions

Civic Health Education Initiatives: Strengthening Civics Education in Wisconsin

Organized by the co-founders of the Wisconsin Civic Learning Coalition:

David Olson, Director of Education at Retro Report

Kate Ulman, Instructor of Education at Northland College

Wisconsin is one of only 7 states that does not require students to take a civics or government class to graduate from high school. Watch a panel of social studies teachers and students to explore why civics education is important, how it is connected to civic health, and what opportunities there are to strengthen civic education in Wisconsin. This session involved a short panel discussion and facilitated small group deliberation about policies to support civics education.

Voting Access and Local Government

Moderated by Bonnie Chang, Municipal Clerk II, Voter Outreach Coordinator, City of Madison

Sara Bruckman, President of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Assocation and Deputy Clerk/Treasurer of the Village of Fox Point

Diane Coenen, City Clerk, City of Oconomowoc

Michael Haas, Madison City Attorney

Nick Ramos, Esq., Wisconsin Voter ID Coalition Coordinator, VoteRiders

Rachel Rodriguez, Elections Management Specialist, Dane County Clerk’s Office

Whiplash. That’s what it has been like to work on elections recently in Wisconsin.  Local governments are on the front line of providing voting access and are subject to the courts and the Legislature.

Learn more about the process of putting on an election. It’s not just about showing up on election day. You’ll also hear about lessons learned over the last couple of years.

Morning Plenary Fishbowl

Civic Engagement Efforts, Challenges, and Wins of BIPOC, Youth, and Historically Disenfranchised Groups in Wisconsin

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Hosted by Mike Davis, P.O.W.E.R Collective and Dr. Carolina Sarmiento, Assistant Professor of Civil Society and Community Studies at UW-Madison.

Lamonte Moore, Organizing Director, LIT (Leaders Igniting Transformation)

Jerome Dillard, Executive Director, EXPO (EX-incarcerated People Organizing)

Tommy Molina, Coalitions Organizer, Voces de la Frontera

Angela Lang, Executive Director, BLOC (Black Leaders Organizing for Communities)

Guy Reiter, Executive Director, Menīkānaehkem

Bryant Waupoose, Menīkānaehkem

The P.O.W.E.R Collective facilitated a fishbowl discussion with leaders of some of Wisconsin’s civic engagement efforts specifically focused on BIPOC, youth, and other historically disenfranchised groups in Wisconsin. This session contemplated the historic challenges to these groups’ participation, highlighted current and recent efforts in Wisconsin communities, and addressed ongoing challenges to access and participation.

Welcome and Land Acknowledgement

Watch the recording

Dr. Brian McInnes, Faculty Fellow at the CommNS and Leola R. Culver Professor in Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the School of Human Ecology, delivered the land acknowledgment. Brian has a deep interest in the preservation of Indigenous cultures and languages and is an accomplished speaker, presenter, and writer in English and Anishinaabemowin. Sounding Thunder: The Stories of Francis Pegahmagabow is one of his many contributions to Indigenous scholarship.

National Keynote Presentation | Dr. Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Dr. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University

Watch the recording

Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat is an expert commentator on fascism, authoritarian leaders, and propaganda — and the threats these present to democracies today. Author of the #1 Amazon bestseller Strongmen and over 100 op-eds and essays in CNN, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post, she brings historical perspective to her analyses of current events. Her insight into the authoritarian playbook has made her an expert source for television, radio, podcasts, and online events around the globe.

Regional Keynote Presentation | Arvind Gopalratnam

Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

Arvind Gopalratnam, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility with the Milwaukee Bucks

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As the only Indian-American social responsibility leader in the NBA, Arvind Gopalratnam oversees the Milwaukee Bucks’ initiatives and collaborations with community partners, focusing on youth education, economic empowerment, criminal justice reform, and community health and wellness. Arvind spoke on the importance of civic participation and his role with the team in creating a positive impact on communities across Wisconsin.

Afternoon Sessions

Corporate Social Responsibility

Cindy Howley, Director-Kohler Stewardship, Kohler Co.

Ranell Washington, Strategic Partnerships Advisor-Milwaukee Initiative, American Family Insurance

Juli Aulik, Director of Community Relations, UW Health

Alex Shade, Director-Corporate Social Responsibility, CUNA Mutual Group

With the recent findings of the Edelman Trust Barometer report showing business as the “most-trusted” and only “ethical and competent” institution, the public is both relying on and holding organizations accountable to being the stewards of our communities, our people, and our democracy. With rampant misinformation, skepticism, and polarization in our country; leaders are navigating their civic and social responsibilities with an increased lens on the unique role they play and the consequences of broken systems on our overall community health and well-being. These Wisconsin-based organizations as discussed how they use community involvement, civic engagement, and political participation to influence and improve their community’s civic health.

Civic Health and News Media in Wisconsin

Moderated by Joy Cardin

Dee J. Hall, Managing Editor, Wisconsin Watch

Tamia Fowlkes, Andrew Goodman Ambassador and Journalist

Eric Greiling, Chief Development Officer, PBS Wisconsin and Executive Director, Friends of PBS Wisconsin

David Dahmer, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Madison 365

Join Joy Cardin, retired Wisconsin Public Radio host, with a panel of local news media professionals as we explore the role of traditional and social media, local media sources, and newsrooms in the quest for Civic Health. Learn from local experts about the impact of industry changes on the informational landscape, the reliability of information sources in a changing world, and the impact of local news media in building connected, better informed communities.

Co-Create Facilitated Workshop

What Civic Health Efforts, Challenges, and Opportunities are YOU Seeing in Your Communities? What Do They Need to Thrive?

There are lots of great efforts for improving Civic Health in your communities. What are they? What challenges do they face and what do they need to thrive? How can social sector organizations, civic leaders, and community members come together to do more of what’s working and build on our strengths? Co-Create, an initiative within the UW-Madison Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies, hosted this interactive session and create a report on feedback collected to inform future Civic Health efforts across Wisconsin.

Check back here to read the report, when available.

Expert Flash Talks

Watch the recording

This session included expert flash talks from across UW-Madison on key themes in the current civic health of Wisconsin.