Joni Lee, vice chancellor for university affairs at UA Little Rock, has been selected for the inaugural class of a new nonprofit dedicated to bridging political divides.
Gen. Wesley Clark, a native of Little Rock, is the founder of Renew America Together. Lee is one of 30 people around the country who will participate in Renew America Together’s first Civility Leadership Institute. The program aims to engage a diverse set of political thinkers over a six-month program.
“I’m honored to have been selected to participate in the inaugural class of the institute,” Lee said. “I very much hope to learn tools to promote civil discourse and consensus building around key policy areas affecting the university but also our communities in general.”
The institute’s first participants will gain insights about themselves and others and build leadership skills that will enable them to better communicate across the political spectrum. Participants will also apply what they learn to real-life situations where the consequences of their leadership matter.
“These diverse individuals from across the country represent different backgrounds, beliefs, and demographic profiles,” Gen. Clark said. “We are encouraged that they recognize we need to work towards a more civil future and that they are hoping to help in this process by using the tools they will learn from our program.”
Participants will meet once a month virtually for six months and participate in 12 months of follow-up. Each month, they will work through a curriculum of national speakers and strengthen their relationships through civil discourse. Graduates will receive certifications in VitalSmart Crucial Conversations and TypeCoach Influence Training. The first institute will finish on Dec. 17, 2021.
“The class is an amazing mix of people from all sectors, parties, demographics and experiences,” Lee said. “I expect to learn so much from hearing that range of perspectives. This is such important work to me. We are living in the most polarized environment I’ve ever known for our country. It’s critical that we find ways to move past words to action in rebuilding America’s civility. And I think the institute will help create intentional approaches for that rebuilding.”