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Toni Boucher Completes Training to Advance Civil Discourse in State Legislatures

Report by Paula Antolini, May 14, 2019, 11:59PM EDT

Group of bipartisan legislators now ready to guide other lawmakers around the country

TUCSON, AZ. – Next Generation, a program of the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD), trained former State Senator Toni Boucher of Connecticut to become a facilitator for the “Building Trust through Civil Discourse” workshop. The workshop aims to improve civil discourse and find common ground among state legislators around the country.  Next Generation invites a select handful of current or former state legislators each year who volunteer their time to help foster civility and bipartisan collaboration around the country.

Boucher was one of a select group of other lawmakers who represented eight different states from both political parties. She has become a facilitator for the workshop where the main mission is to provide legislators with an opportunity to improve the level of civil discourse in their state’s legislature and empower them to work more effectively across the aisle. It’s an energizing, legislator-led program that aims to improve a culture where discourse and collaboration typify public policy development.

“I would like to thank the National Institute for Civil Discourse for their invitation to join them in their effort to promote bipartisan policy development through respectful civil discourse in legislatures around the country. I believe that this is sorely needed given the current political environment we are experiencing.   Meeting with legislative leaders from North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Utah, Oklahoma and other New England states provided an outstanding opportunity to build relationships, share mutual experiences and learn the special facilitation techniques that could help to advance bipartisan policy making. The objective is to better a state and its citizens by improving dialogue among elected officials from all sides of the political aisle. I look forward to working with my new colleagues in states around the country to help bring positive behavioral change in our political interactions.” says Boucher

In order to become a facilitator, the person must be a current or former legislator who is passionate about improving the civic culture in states nationwide and committed to working across the aisle. Becoming a facilitator provides state legislators with a chance to effect change in their states and nationwide“It has been a sincere pleasure working with Toni Boucher during her time in at the Facilitator Training. Communities are demanding public servants who can work together and be role models for future generations. Toni’s passion for civil discourse and commitment to listen first is obvious,” said Ted Celeste, Next Generation Director of State Programs at NICD.

Next Generation now has 48 facilitators ready to guide state legislators through a civil discourse workshop. Workshops have already taken place in 16 states with over 1,000 state legislators participating in at least one.  State and local leaders and other interested organizations who are interested in  bringing a workshop to their state should visit NxtGenUSA.org for additional details and contact information.

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Next Generation is a program directed by Ted Celeste, a former Ohio State Representative, with the goal of creating and strengthening relationships across the aisle through mutual trust based on effective communication. Next Generation is housed at NICD, which works to address incivility and political dysfunction in American democracy by promoting structural and behavior change.

Informed by research, the National Institute for Civil Discourse programs are designed to create safe spaces for elected officials, the public, and the media to engage different voices respectfully and take responsibility for the quality of our public discourse and democratic institutions. Learn more at nicd.arizona.edu.