Mr. Davis is an R&B & blues musician, author and band leader. As an African-American he has engaged and befriended many members of the Ku Klux Klan over the last three decades and has helped dozens of KKK members leave the organization. Davis has summed up his advice as: “Establish dialogue. When two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting.”
Mr. Picciolini is an award-winning television producer, public speaker, author and reformed violent extremist. His life’s work bears witness to an ongoing and profound need to atone for his past and to make something positive out of his time on earth. In 2009, Christian co-founded Life After Hate, a nonprofit dedicated to helping others counter racism and violent extremism.
Dr. Gonzales is a psychologist, leader and trainer in nonviolent communication. NVC assumes that we are all compassionate beings and that violence, whether verbal or physical, is a learned behavior. NVC leads to greater authenticity in communication, increased understanding, deepening connection and conflict resolution.
Family and Friends
After learning from those who teach empathetic connection, director Jon Vander Pol will meet with family and friends with whom he has fiercely clashed over politics and culture. These relationships have been deeply strained by vehement disagreements over the last few years. This is where the real journey of madness to forgiveness and understanding takes place.
Dr. Chenowith is an author and professor who co-wrote Why Civil Resistance Works. In her research, she discovered that over half of nonviolent revolutions in the 20th century were successful while only a quarter of the violent revolutions were. Her research also indicates that nonviolent revolutions promote democracy while violent ones end up promoting more tyranny.
Mrs. Phelps-Roper is a social media activist who works to overcome divisions and hatred between religious and political divides. Formerly a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, which her father Fred founded, she left the church in 2012. She credits Twitter interactions with people who showed her love and empathy with helping her leave the hate group.
Mr. Pavlovitz is a pastor and author who has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration. He’s challenged people of faith to live out the teachings of Jesus in a very literal way, “That we should love and embrace all people. These are my personal convictions as a father, husband, pastor, Christian and as a member of humanity.”
Mr. Gerzon is an author, leadership expert, and convener of cross-party conversations. His work focuses on how to help people who vehemently disagree have productive conversations. Having worked in both the private and public sectors, his current focus is to have a positive, transformative impact in the aftermath of the 2016 election.