National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) Elects Four New Directors

Blog Category: 

  • Kim Pearce
  • John (Jay) Theis
  • Kara Lindaman
  • Lisa Strahley

At its December, 2016 meeting, the National Issues Forums Institute voted to appoint four new directors who will each serve a three-year term, beginning in May, 2017. The four new directors include Kara Lindaman, Kim Pearce, Lisa Strahley, and John (Jay) Theis. Outgoing directors include Barbara Brown, Doug Garnar, Gregg Kaufman, and Gail Leftwich-Kitch.

More about the new directors:

  Kara Lindaman

Kara Lindaman is a professor of political science/public administration at Winona State University. Earning her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, she primarily teaches courses in public administration in the fields of public service, public budgeting and finance, and public policy. Since 2009 she coordinates the American Democracy Project, through initiatives as Economic Inequality, Civic Health, Campus Votes Project, and deliberative polling.  She also serves as the NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative for Winona State University. Through her work with the Kettering Foundation, she has focused on democratic deliberation in finding common ground across differences. Her primary interest is empowering students as citizens to be active in their communities.


    Kim Pearce

Kimberly Pearce is a retired Professor of Communication at De Anza College where she taught for more than 25 years. She is a cofounder of two non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations, the Public Dialogue Consortium and the CMM Institute for Personal and Social Evolution.  These organizations are dedicated to co-creating better patterns of communication in private and public settings to help us achieve more compassionate, humane, and mindful social worlds.  Additionally, the CMM Institute is the supporter, promoter, and connector of all things related to the communication theory, the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM).

Kim’s commitments as a practitioner and researcher involve the connections among Buberian dialogue, adult transformational learning, interpersonal neuroscience, and the Coordinated Management of Meaning theory as leverages for creating more inclusive, compassionate, and reflexive ways of being and acting in a globalized, postmodern world. She has authored two books, Compassionate Communicating and Public Engagement and Civic Maturity, a book of illustrated poetry, Nine Lives, as well as coauthoring, along with Barnett Pearce and Jesse Sostrin, CMM Solutions. Additionally, she has written and co-authored a number of book chapters and articles. Her work as a practitioner has included a number of projects in the United States, as well as in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, England, France, Greece, and Ireland.  Her current passion is helping very young children develop mindful and compassionate communication skills and practices to enable them to be effective global citizens in the 21st Century.

       Lisa Strahley

Professor Lisa Strahley, Coordinator of the Civic Engagement Center and Chair of Early Childhood & Teacher Education at SUNY Broome Community College, has dedicated her career to exposing students to experiential learning as a means of educating and empowering students to be active participants in a democratic society.

Lisa has been an educator for over two decades. During her tenure at SUNY Broome, she has taught in her department, served as Professional Development Coordinator and campus delegate for the Faculty Council of Community Colleges. As civic engagement coordinator, Lisa has been involved in multiple civic roles and initiatives including: chairing the Civic Engagement Board, acting as the campus coordinator for The Democracy Commitment, serving on a national steering committee for Teacher Education and Civic Engagement, developing a Public Achievement program with local school districts; and facilitating National Issues Forums deliberations both on campus and in the local community.  

Professor Strahley has led various civic engagement workshops and trainings across the country including the following national conferences:

  • Multinational Symposium on Civic Education sponsored by the Kettering Foundation
  • American Democracy Project/The Democracy Commitment Annual Conference (ADP/TDC),
  • Community College National Center for Community Engagement (CCNCCE),
  • National Association Community College Teacher Education Program Conference (NACCTEP), and
  • The League for Innovation. 

Professor Strahley also works with the Kettering Foundation and the National Issues Forums Institute to develop and foster civic learning. Professor Strahley received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SUNY Cortland in Elementary Education (N-6) and Reading Specialist (K-12).  She has also completed training through The Academy for Leadership and Development and Center’s for Public Life.

In her spare time, Lisa enjoys spending time with her husband and four children.

       John (Jay) Theis

Dr. John J. Theis is the Director of the Center for Civic Engagement for the Lone Star College System and professor of Political Science on the Kingwood Campus. He also serves as the Chair of the Steering Committee of The Democracy Commitment. He has been involved in civic engagement work for over 20 years, started the LSC-Kingwood Public Achievement program in 2010, and was one of the founders of the Kingwood College Center for Civic Engagement. He has recently been named to head up a system-level civic engagement initiative across the six Lone Star College system campuses by the Chancellor, Dr. Steve Head. Dr. Theis holds his PhD from the University of Arizona and among his publications are “The Institutionalization of The American Presidency: 1924-1992,” coauthored with Lynn Ragsdale, and “Political Science, Civic Engagement, and the Wicked Problems of Democracy.” He has received numerous awards and honors including being nominated for the E.E. Schattschneider Award for Best Dissertation published in the field of American politics (American Political Science Association), Professor of the Year, Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, Innovator of the Year, and The John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Award. Dr. Theis grew up in South Korea as the son of Methodist missionaries. He has two beautiful daughters, Samantha and Angela, and a new granddaughter, Harper.