Solving Social Challenges Through Collaboration

This past week, I was fortunate enough to participate in Convergence Center for Policy Resolution’s leadership council meeting in Washington, DC.  It was a truly uplifting and inspirational day of conversation.

Founded in 2009, Convergence is a non-profit organization that uses mediation skills (respectful dialogue and listening for the most part) to build trust, identify solutions, and form alliances between people with very diverse views on critical national issues. Through proactive, nonpartisan engagement of influential individuals and organizations, they seek to create new pathways to move our country and society forward. On issue after issue, they engage an extraordinary network of people – business leaders, policy practitioners, non-profit executives, formerly elected officials, think-tank experts, academics, and community leaders –  by shifting the focus from winning the debate to collectively seeking solutions. Then, they empower and support unlikely alliances to create change at the local, state, and national levels.

The most obvious and timely example of their work is the Health Reform Roundtable, a group of ten nationally recognized experts and advocates on healthcare who represent diverse viewpoints in the healthcare debate.  This group has been meeting since March, and in August, they issued proposals for Congressional action on health reform that has been credited with helping to shift the mindset on Capitol Hill toward bipartisan solutions.

Just imagine what we could accomplish if more of our issues were resolved through collective collaboration.

Other Convergence projects include:

Economic Mobility and Poverty

Bringing people together to catalyze meaningful policy, programmatic, and private sector changes to help more people experience upward economic mobility through work.

Federal Budget Process Reform

Designing a new framework for the budget process to help the country move beyond the current stalemates.

K-12 Education

Seeking to accelerate the growth and impact of the learner-centered education movement in the United States. This initiative of Convergence, called Education Reimagined, has quickly become a respected national voice on educational change. Diverse educational stakeholders including the National Education Association, Google, and educational consulting company KnowledgeWorks, among others, credit Education Reimagined’s vision statement as an important influence in their work.

Long-Term Care

Financing Collaborative – Recommended a series of public and private efforts that address the urgent, unmet need for financing care for elderly and disabled Americans.

Nutrition and Wellness

Explored cross-sector approaches to improve American diets in order to reduce obesity, diabetes, and other nutrition-related problems. PNW members worked with the National Association of Convenience Stores over a two-year period to market healthier food choices to consumers nationwide.

U.S.-Pakistan Leaders Forum

Provided a platform for leaders from both countries to build new relationships that create value and can serve as a strong “shock absorber” for the tensions that arise in official ties.  As a result of their participation, participants from UC Davis and the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad developed a USAID funded $17-million dollar initiative called the U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security at both universities.

For more information on Convergence and their projects, visit www. http://www.convergencepolicy.org

Susan Franson Edwards co-founded Edwards Mediation Academy with Bruce Edwards in 2014 in an effort to deliver the highest quality mediation training to a worldwide audience.