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NC Leadership Forum: Restoring a Culture of Healthy Policymaking in North Carolina

The sixth annual forum will focus on state revenues

Agroup photo of the Western NC regional cohort on adequate housing in Asheville, May 2022
A group photo of the Western N.C. regional cohort on adequate housing in Asheville, May 2022

The NC Leadership Forum at Duke (NCLF) convened this past Thursday its sixth annual statewide cohort of state and local leaders who will come together four times over the next year to address important questions regarding state revenue and how we fund state and local government in North Carolina.

The NC Leadership Forum seeks to strengthen democracy and restore a culture of healthy policy making by working with state and local policy leaders across the political, nonprofit and business sectors. The goal of the program is to build the skills and relationships that leaders need to work constructively with across partisan and ideological divides.

NCLF alumni have reported that relationships formed through NCLF have helped support bi-partisan legislative initiatives in the last few years, and that NCLF discussions have provided a foundation for more effective advocacy.

“This year, we hope to build upon our successes and continue to develop North Carolina’s capacity to be a model for a different approach to politics in the future,” said NCLF Director Deborah Goldstein.

Nicole Dozier, NC Justice Center, Senator Sydney Batch, and former Secretary Mandy Cohen at the NCLF Healthcare Cohort meeting in Fall 2021. This year’s cohort includes several state legislators from both sides of the aisle, the state treasurer, secretary of revenue, president of Piedmont Community College, several local county and city leaders, and numerous business leaders and nonprofit advocates.

During their two-day session on campus Thursday and Friday, participants got know each other and shared concerns raised in their communities regarding state revenue. Duke President Vincent Price and Professor Frank Bruni addressed the group.

The cohort’s subsequent three sessions will take place around the state, with a concluding meeting at Duke. Participants will explore where they have similar values and where their values are in conflict, brainstorm ideas to address the concerns that have been raised, and consider the tradeoffs between various proposed actions.

Unlike many civic engagement programs, NCLF encourages participants to spend the most time talking about why they disagree, showing that leaders can preserve their political loyalties and still successfully engage with each other across partisan lines to address key issues.

Last year NCLF hosted a statewide cohort that focused on health care and also expanded its programming beyond its annual statewide cohort with a pilot test of two regional programs focused on housing challenges in western North Carolina and the Triad. NCLF will again host regional programs on housing in other parts of the state in spring 2023.