2017 Annual Conference on Citizenship Focuses on the Opiate Epidemic

Blog Category: 

  • ncoc panel
  • Bill Muse
  • issue advisory

Bill Muse, President Emeritus for the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), participated in the 2017 Annual Conference on Citizenship, October 19-20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Muse was one of the panelists enlisted to respond to a keynote address by Sam Quinones about the opiate epidemic, and he shared information about the recently released NIFI issue advisory, What Should We Do About the Opioid Epidemic?

The following information from the conference agenda describes more about the keynote speech and the panel discussion that followed: 

Keynote Address 8:15 AM

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic

Sam Quinones, a journalist, former LA Times reporter, storyteller, and author of three acclaimed books of narrative nonfiction including


Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic

Opiate addiction has devastated hundreds of cities, small towns, and suburbs across America. Dreamland is the riveting story of how that happened. Named after a sprawling swimming pool in a blue-collar town of Portsmouth, Ohio, Dreamland is the story of colliding interests and unwitting victims, and the corrosion of a once-thriving community. Sam Quinones chronicles the story of life in Portsmouth—a reflection of many other American communities—from devastation to the beginning steps toward recovery. And at the end of a multi-year research effort, he has come to believe that the “antidote to heroin is community.”


Dreamland Response 9:00 AM

A panel responds to Mr. Quinones’ presentation by providing positive examples of actions that are being taken to repair the civic fabric of communities.

• Moderator: Margaret Talbot, Staff Writer, The New Yorker, author of The Addicts Next Door


• Panelists: Deidra Lewis-Robertson, Director of Operation H.O.P.E. (Helping Our Pupils Excel), Community Renewal International; Mary Hyde, Director of Research and Evaluation, Corporation for National and Community Service; William Muse, President Emeritus, National Issues Forums Institute; Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic

About 300 people attended the conference that was described on the events webpage:

The 2017 Annual Conference took an honest look at a number of challenges facing our communities today—from a dearth of civic learning, to the raging opiate epidemic, to the persistent opportunity gap confronting our nation’s youth in marginalized communities. Collectively, conference participants considered what it will take to repair the civic fabric of our communities, begin closing the opportunity gap, and focus on civic learning to support both. Going forward, work will focus on tangible ways philanthropy and other leaders can support and invest in civic learning and civic health as mechanisms to influence equity and opportunity outcomes.