Founding Forward Democracy labs



FFDL logoWe are living in an important moment in history. Recent years have been marked by seemingly impenetrable divides and a trend toward a less and less civil civic society. At times, it can seem that the very definition of what it means to be an American is in dispute. For students of history, the questions before us today are eerily similar to those tackled by our founding fathers. While we are not starting from scratch as our founding fathers were, we again must take a good hard look at ourselves and how we want to live and work together as Americans.

  • Regarding our civic society in general, what are our hopes and dreams for our future? How can we come together, even in small ways to move closer to those hopes and dreams?Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 10.34.40 AM
  • Regarding our roles as citizens, how can and should our voices be heard in a meaningful way?
  • Regarding our racial and ethnic diversity, how do we sort through and heal from past and present divides to form a more functionalsociety?
  • Regarding the tensions that flow from our mutual desires for both liberty and security, how do we improve the way law enforcement and our communities, especially communities of color, interrelate and interact?
  • Regarding the new and various ways we receive and share information, how do we ensure that the material we use to make public decisions is filled with actual facts and data, not opinion or propaganda?

These are not questions just for politicians and policy wonks and scholars; they are questions for each and every one of us as Americans. It is time for the people to come together and deliberate thoughtfully across a myriad of apparent divides. However we answer these questions, our mutual public decisions must also lead to action. Luckily, action is also not just the domain of public officials, ordinary citizens can take the smallest of actions, and together, we can make a big difference.


Founding Forward Democracy Labs offer safe space to deliberate, build civic leadership skills and take action across existing divides – between government and the communities they serve, private and non-profit organizations and their clients/customers and among community members themselves. This takes place in four phases carried out over only a few months in workshops and community check-ins.

  1. Connect: Interactive experiences connect Lab members to see, hear and learn about each other as unique human beings.  “Connect” re-defines the problem to be addressed and produces a set of guidelines for interaction and decision-making used over the rest of the process.
  2. Dream: Lab members engage in individual and group dreaming about how they would like to see the future.
  3. Design: Lab members brainstorm individual and group actions they can take to realize their dreams and goals. Ideas are prioritized and projects selected with an “I/we can” orientation to push even small actions forward.
  4. Try: Lab members work together to implement their projects.  After completion, Lab Members re-convene for reflection on successes and challenges; to share learning from both process and project work and to craft any desired next steps or strategies for sharing results and learning with the broader community.


Contact co-founders Meagan Picard or Rob Jones for a free initial consultation.


Founding Forward Democracy Labs co-founders:

Meagan_Picard2-2Meagan Picard brings approximately 20 years of experience in public policy development, including community engagement, facilitation, strategic planning, community development and performance assessment and reporting. Her experience working with state and local governments, community organizations and engaged community members spans ten states from Washington State to Pennsylvania. Together with the communities and organizations she serves, she has achieved remarkable results, from enabling highly divided communities to work together toward common goals to building highly effective partnerships to develop and implement strategic plans.

Meagan is a master in designing action-oriented community dialogue processes and facilitating them to successful outcomes. She specializes in working with diverse communities, facilitating dialogue to bridge divides and inspiring collective action toward a community’s common cause. She is an experienced Community Heart & Soul™ coach, having trained and coached communities around the country through various aspects of this process.

She believes community resiliency is born from communities that really know themselves and invest in themselves. As such, she works to build local capacity to do aspects of the services she provides. One way she does this is through training local volunteers to facilitate community conversations. She integrates this service into projects whenever appropriate and offers it as a stand-alone training for any community looking to build local capacity in this way.

Meagan originally hails from Washington State and is currently located in Denver, CO. She holds a bachelor of arts degree and master’s in public administration from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.


Rob_websiteRob Jones is the Founder and Principal of Many Rivers, LLC, a Consulting and Coaching practice designed to create lasting impact for clients. As a facilitator, trainer, consultant and coach, Rob has focused on questions of race, culture and organizational health for over 30 years.

Rob has also traveled many rivers in his lifetime. His journey began as a student leader in the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980’s, where he developed a clear racial equity and community engagement focus. He has run a diversity/youth leadership training organization, worked in community development, children’s health and as a Southern Africa policy advocate where he met one of his lifelong heroes, Nelson Mandela!

Rob has worked in public and private sector settings to frame conversations and help clients craft inclusion and management strategies. Whether facilitating corporate dialogs for the Science Museum of Virginia’s “Race: Are We So Different?” exhibit or working directly with at-risk youth and their families, Rob brings a strong, yet very respectful voice to his projects.

Rob brings a passion for understanding systems and for helping people make meaningful connections to each other and their projects. An ENTJ on the Myers Briggs, and Enneagram 8, Rob is strategically focused and able to provide direct and indirect leadership as needed. He is especially skilled at helping groups move through the “tough conversations” that create space for breakthroughs. An African American male who doesn’t always “look the part,” Rob has a unique ability to surface and bring clarity to many different perspectives.


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