Civic engagement

From immigration to education, mental health to the economy, local elections to national policy, members of every community take part in challenging conversations. Administrators, policymakers and advocates are tasked with improving their communities and strengthening our democracy - but too often, they get stuck in the trenches of polarization, talking past one another instead of with one another.

Dialogue offers a proven skillset for civic leaders and constituents across sectors to engage constructively with their community, create a shared vision, and communicate effectively across differences with poise, purpose, and intention.


The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, Arkansas
In 2017, the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute (WRI) in Conway County, Arkansas, hired Essential Partners to offer two days of facilitation training to their program officers. The following week, the Arkansas Agriculture Secretary reached out to WRI to...
The city of Oberlin, Ohio, faced a daunting municipal challenge: deciding whether to renovate four dilapidated school buildings, or to replace them with a single, modern, costly edifice. Risks and rewards were present for both options, and the...
Over the past 25 years, New Hampshire has seen an influx of immigrants and refugees, new communities seeking to integrate alongside long-established immigrant populations. Cities like Manchester experienced especially notable demographic shifts, and...

Select client list

  • Aspen Institute
  • American Counseling Association
  • Center for Policy Alternatives
  • Center for Relationships
  • Centro de Colboracion Civica
  • Community Dispute Settlement Center
  • Council of State Governments
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Ford Foundation
  • Johnson Foundation Center for Law and Social Policy
  • Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
  • National Conference of State Legislatures
  • National Legal Aid and Defenders Association
  • National Patient Safety FOundation
  • Poynter Institute
  • Psychologists for Social Responsibility
  • Ruth Mott Foundation
  • Union of Concerned Scientsts
  • Welcoming America
  • Winthrop Rockefeller Institute
  • There was a remarkable change in the way we were able to communicate with one another following the facilitated conversations.

    Bill Scott, MA Department of Mental Health Project Director for the Alternatives to Restraint and Seclusion Grant
  • What surprised me was how much you could transform a relationship during a three-hour conversation.

    Nicki Glasser, Policy Coordinator for the Transformation Center
  • The thing that always feels like magic to me - and I’ve used it in several meetings that I’ve had since - is how the practitioners start by setting out pacts or agreements.

    Kate Cell, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • It's put a light over my head to think...anything is possible

    Molly Froelich, CDSC
  • “I’ve gained not only confidence but tools. I have an ability to talk in a way that’s active, instead of lecturing. I’m engaging people more. I’ve added think-write-speak to so many things I do, into a whole lot of different places. I’m more confident in dealing with people who aren’t following the communication agreements. The Essential Partners training was worth every penny.”

    Kim Davidson, Oberlin College Ombudsman and Ohio Civic Engagement Incubator alumna