Conversation Project Leaders Wanted

New leader applications are due February 9.

Emily Garrick

Oregon Humanities is looking for people who want to get people talking, listening, and connecting to one another.

Read the full position description below, then submit an application online for each topic you wish to propose. The deadline to apply is February 9, 2018.

Click here for the application.

To learn more about becoming a Conversation Project leader, listen or watch the webinar we hosted on January 17, 2018. As part of the webinar, current OH facilitators share what it's like to lead Conversation Project programs. Visit our online catalog to see the topics currently offered.

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 conversation they lead. 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 one-day training on May 18, 2018. Programs in the upcoming catalog will be available from September 1, 2018 through August 31, 2019.

Leaders are also encouraged to take part in professional development opportunities, which could include additional training 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 between participants (rather than a lecture or presentation);

  • connect ideas to participants’ lives and their local communities;

  • ask provocative questions that challenge participants; and

  • share our core values, which include equity, justice, empathy, and respect.

Experience facilitating conversations is not required, but a strong desire to learn and get people talking with one another is. We encourage applications from people with diverse backgrounds, particularly those from historically underrepresented groups, especially from people who live in/are from rural areas, and multilingual candidates.

What are good Conversation Project topics?

Conversation leaders propose their own program topic(s). We are looking for leaders who want to explore questions that are timely, challenging, relevant, and align with Oregon Humanities’ vision. As part of your application process, we’ll ask you to begin to hone in on a 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 our online application by February 9, 2018. If you would like to propose more than one question or topic, please submit a separate application for each.

Based on an initial application review, we will select candidates for virtual or in-person (in Portland) interviews, which will be held in March 2018. As part of the interview, each candidate will be asked to lead a sample conversation and come prepared with one question or prompt to get a discussion started. The purpose is not to present a polished program, but to give us a feel for how you approach leading a conversation. Individuals selected to be Conversation Project leaders are required to attend a facilitator training on May 18, 2018, 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 (503) 241-0543, ext.124, or email


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