Lauren Gabbard, an AmeriCorps VISTA member with Kentucky Campus Compact, is the 2017 recipient of the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award. She is developing an understanding of deliberative democracy and plans to moderate four forums in 2017. She is also helping to build the capacity for a statewide democratic deliberation movement in Kentucky, called the Kentucky Network for Public Life. Read on to learn more about Lauren and her plans.
Lauren Gabbard is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Kentucky Campus Compact. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from Northern Kentucky University. Lauren’s dedication to community, justice, and diversity motivated her to serve with AmeriCorps, where she is currently working on a statewide democratic deliberation movement called the Kentucky Network for Public Life.
Lauren developed a passion for democratic deliberation after attending the 2016 West Virginia Civic Life Institute. As a young leader and activist, she connected with the idea of engaging community members to have conversations and take active roles in shaping their future together. As a queer woman, Lauren especially values the way dialogue can be used to discuss issues within oppressed communities and with the wider community to build relationships.
As the recipient of the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Fund award, Lauren plans to moderate four dialogues in the coming months. She is partnering with Dr. Tracy Lu, of the University of Kentucky, and her Hospitality and Event Management students to host the first three “What’s Next, Kentucky?” conversations. Members of the campus and community will meet to discuss Kentucky’s future, considering three main questions: Where are we now? Where do we want to go? How are we going to get there? Lauren also plans to moderate a National Issues Forum at Northern Kentucky University this spring. These conversations are all part of the statewide initiative to support dialogue and deliberation, the Kentucky Network for Public Life.
If you’d like more information about the Kentucky Network for Public Life or “What’s Next, Kentucky?” you can reach Lauren at Lauren.Gabbard@kycompact.org.