Conversation Project Leaders Wanted

Get people talking, listening, and connecting to one another in their communities

Photo by Matthew Grimes

Oregon Humanities conversation leaders are people from all backgrounds and levels of experience who want to facilitate conversations to get people talking, listening, and connecting to one another in their communities. 

We are not currently accepting applications for facilitators. If you’re interested in hearing about opportunities to be a Conversation Project leader, sign up to receive our enewsletter. We’ll send information about upcoming events and opportunities, including Conversation Project, once a month. 


What is the Conversation Project?

The Conversation Project brings Oregonians together to talk—across differences, beliefs, and backgrounds—about important and challenging issues and ideas. Our goal with this program is to connect people to ideas and to each other, not to push an agenda or arrive at consensus. We believe in the power of people in rooms listening, learning, and struggling together. It works like this: a local nonprofit, community group, or business applies to host a Conversation Project program from our catalog on a topic of interest to their community. An Oregon Humanities leader goes to that community to facilitate a ninety-minute conversation.

Leaders are trained by Oregon Humanities and receive a $250 honorarium, as well as mileage reimbursement and a meal stipend, for each program. Leaders can anticipate leading four to eight conversations per year. Although they are not required to accommodate every request, leaders should be willing to travel throughout Oregon's thirty-six counties year-round. Leaders are expected to work with us on the design of their program and to take part in a training on June 9, 2017. Programs in the upcoming catalog will be available from September 1, 2017 through August 31, 2018.

Leaders are also encouraged to take part in professional development opportunities, which could include additional training, attending a facilitator round-table meeting, or participating in other Conversation Project discussions.


What are we looking for in a Conversation Project leader?

We are looking for people who can do the following:

  • lead open and lively conversations that happen primarily between participants (rather than a lecture or presentation);
  • connect ideas to participants' lives and local communities;
  • ask provocative questions that challenge participants to think critically without advocating for a particular perspective;
  • share our core values, which include equity, justice, empathy, and respect; and
  • propose and design a program on a specific topic.

Experience facilitating conversations is not required, but a strong desire to learn and grow—whatever that means for you—is. We are interested in offering Conversation Project programs in languages other than English and encourage multilingual leaders to apply. We encourage applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds, particularly those from historically underrepresented groups, whose professional and personal experiences will help us work toward our vision of an Oregon that invites diverse perspectives, explores challenging questions, and strives for just communities.

Whether you are an experienced facilitator or just eager to learn, have a deep knowledge of one subject area or a broad interest in many, the Conversation Project is an opportunity to explore ideas, hone your skills, and connect with Oregonians across the state to talk about issues and ideas that are important to you.


What are good Conversation Project topics?

Conversation leaders propose their own program topic(s) based on their knowledge, experience, and passion. We are looking for leaders who want to explore questions that are timely, challenging, and relevant. Program topics should align with Oregon Humanities' vision. As part of your application process, we'll ask you to propose a specific topic or question you are interested in exploring, but we don't expect you to come to us with a fully formed program. We'll work with you on developing your program as part of the training required to become a Conversation Project leader.


How to apply

To apply, please complete the application below and submit your résumé (two pages max). If you would like to propose more than one question or topic, please submit a separate application for each.

If you missed our webinar on February 1, 2017, about the application process and what it's like to be a Conversation Project leader, you can view a recording here.

Based on an initial application review, we will select candidates for virtual or in-person (in Portland) interviews, which will be held in March and April 2017. As part of the interview, each candidate will be asked to introduce themselves and their topic as they would in a public conversation and come prepared with one question or prompt they might use to get a discussion started. The purpose is not to present a polished program, but to give us a feel for your relationship to the topic and how you approach leading a conversation. Individuals selected to be Conversation Project leaders are required to attend a facilitator training and program orientation on June 9, 2017, for which Oregon Humanities will provide an honorarium and cover travel costs.

The best way to learn about the Conversation Project is to participate in one. We encourage you to visit our online calendar to see if there are events scheduled near you. If you have questions about Conversation Project or the application process, please contact Oregon Humanities' Partnership and Training Manager Rachel Bernstein at (800) 735-0543, ext.124, or email


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