Originally shared as part of a goodbye message to the NCDD network.
Twenty years ago, I had the great pleasure to meet the wonderful Sandy Heierbacher and the enormous fortune to have her become part of my world. For the past two decades, we endeavored to live a very different kind of life, which led to the formation of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation and the opportunity to meet thousands of amazing innovators all dedicated to the idea that important things can happen if you encourage people to talk to one another.
However, twelve years working side-by-side on the same project in the same space can take a toll on any relationship. When you wake up one day and realize your personal life has been consumed by your professional life, it’s easy to see it’s time for something new. Sandy has chosen to follow her own dreams to live a city life and work more directly with our community, moving NCDD’s main office into space provided by the Public Conversation Project in Boston, MA.
I have decided to return to my roots as a writer, illustrator and educator, beginning again here in the valleys and ridges of Pennsylvania where I was born and spent many years of my life exploring trails and crawling through caves. It has been my dream since childhood to write and illustrate books. I have boxes and bins full of ideas and drawings, journals full of sketches and a portfolio of finished artwork waiting to be paired with a clever turn of phrase. With the advent of new publishing mediums, it is an amazing time to return to these dreams.
I’m very proud of the work I did as Sandy’s partner with NCDD. Our books represent the best work I’ve ever done; our events, the most challenging (not to mention the most fun); and the people I’ve had the opportunity to work with have been some of the most inspiring human beings I have ever met. But our organization is Sandy’s personal legend — not mine.
It’s time for me to search for my own.
Although I plan to continue as an ambassador of sorts in my role as NCDD’s co-founder, I will step down as creative director this summer. Starting this fall, I will be splitting my time between my own creative work and offering my skills and experience to the greater engagement community (and beyond).