Dr. Peter T. Coleman

Depolarizing America: Ending Toxic Polarization

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Should we be aiming for unity and ending toxic polarization? A top expert on conflict resolution weighs in.

When Joe Biden became president he wanted to bring Americans together, to forge unity. But maybe unity isn’t what we should aim for. Our guest this week says instead of focusing on that elusive goal, Americans need to concentrate on what’s damaging all of us: toxic polarization.

In this episode we look at what toxic polarization is and how to end it, person by person.

Peter Coleman has advised the Biden administration on how to detoxify America. He is a mediator and psychologist who specializes in conflict resolution. A professor of psychology and education at Columbia University, he is the author of the forthcoming book, The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization.

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Ep. 27-Depolarizing-America-Ending-Toxic-Polarization

Dr. Peter T. Coleman

Dr. Peter T. Coleman is a professor of psychology and education at Columbia University who studies polarizing, intractable conflict and sustainable peace, and whose next book titled, The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization will be released by Columbia University Press on June 1, 2021.

Dr. Coleman is a renowned expert on constructive conflict resolution and sustainable peace. His current research focuses on conflict intelligence and systemic wisdom as meta-competencies for navigating conflict constructively across all levels (from families to companies to communities to nations), and includes projects on adaptive negotiation and mediation dynamics, cross-cultural adaptivity, optimality dynamics in conflict, justice, and polarization, multicultural conflict, intractable conflict, and sustainable peace. Learn more.

 

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Manu Meel and Jessica Carpenter

Depolarizing America: Bridging Divides on Campus

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With American democracy in crisis, can college students save the day?

There is concern that American democracy is in crisis. For college students it can be frightening to consider the prospects for a better tomorrow. But addressing the problems in our political system will require the next generation to be more engaged and less polarized.

BridgeUSA was formed by college students to tackle the crisis head-on, with campus-based chapters at colleges around the country. This non-profit group hosts discussions and events, champions ideological diversity, teaches constructive engagement and aims to promote a solution-oriented political culture. BridgeUSA’s chief goal is to develop a new generation of political leaders who value empathy and the common good.

Our podcast guests are Manu Meel, a recent graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Chief Executive Officer of BridgeUSA, and Jessica Carpenter, a senior at Arizona State University, who runs brand management and communications at BridgeUSA.

Jessica Carpenter

Jessica Carpenter is the Marketing Director at BridgeUSA. She is a senior at Arizona State University studying journalism and political science. She is also a member of the BridgeUSA chapter where she works on social media and event planning. Growing up in a one-way political leaning household, Jessica found Bridge as an answer to understanding both sides of the political spectrum. She is passionate about finding solutions and understanding what motivates people to action.

Manu Meel

Manu Meel is passionate about empowering and elevating the impact of young people. Currently, Manu serves as the CEO of BridgeUSA, a national organization that is investing in the future of democracy. Through his work, Manu has contributed to several news outlets, advanced pro-democracy efforts nationally, and led the policy operation for a Baltimore mayoral candidate. In the past, Manu worked as an associate at the venture capital firm Amplo and at the Department of State as a political analyst in counterterrorism. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other media platforms.

 

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: Betsy Wright Hawkings Tamera Luzzatto

Depolarizing America: Finding Common Ground in Congress

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With Congress rigidly divided, what can Washington insiders teach us about bipartisanship?

By almost any measure, Congress is much more rigidly divided along partisan lines than it was 30 years ago. Politicians run nationalized campaigns, not local ones, and frequently demonize the other side.

We examine ways to find common ground among lawmakers and those who work on Capitol Hill, with two deeply experienced Washington insiders.

Betsy Wright Hawkings served as Chief of Staff for four Republican members of Congress over 25 years and helped build bipartisan coalitions on a range of vital issues. She is now Managing Partner of Article One Advisors, a consulting firm focused on giving organizations strategic advice on how Congress functions.

Tamera Luzzatto served as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Chief of Staff in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2009. Before that, she was on the staff of Democratic Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV for 15 years. Today, she is Senior Vice President of Government Relations at Pew Charitable Trusts.

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Ep. 25-Depolarizing-America:-Finding-Common-Ground-in-Congress

Betsy Wright Hawkings

Betsy Wright Hawkings served as Chief of Staff to four Republican House members over 25 years, including Congressman Christopher Shays, helping to develop coalitions to pass cross-partisan legislation like the Congressional Accountability Act, the 9-11 Commission, and legislation to implement its recommendations. The founding Managing Director of Democracy Fund’s Governance Program, she now heads Article One Advisors, providing support to entrepreneurial organizations seeking to foster dialogue across the ideological spectrum; promote more effective congressional systems, processes, and procedures; develop innovative programs to deepen leadership development for members of Congress and staff, and reduce incentives for hyper-partisanship and gridlock in government.

Tamera Luzzatto

Tamera Luzzatto is Senior Vice President of Government Relations at The Pew Charitable Trusts. She ensures that Pew’s wide range of nonpartisan policy work at the state, federal and international levels is effectively and accurately communicated to policymakers. She also oversees Pew’s distinguished advisors program.

Luzzatto served as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Chief of Staff in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2009. Before that, Luzzatto was on the staff of Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia for 15 years, beginning as a legislative aide handling health care and other issues, then serving as legislative director and chief of staff. She was Sen. Rockefeller’s primary liaison to two major advisory panels that he chaired, the National Commission on Children, and the Pepper Commission on health care.

Luzzatto began her career working for ACTION, the umbrella agency for the Peace Corps, VISTA, and other federal service programs. With nearly three decades of experience in politics and government, she speaks regularly about Congress and public policy to academic institutions and other organizations throughout the country.

She currently chairs the board of the Washington Bach Consort, an acclaimed baroque choral group. She also serves on the Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery Advisory Committee and the personnel committee of the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church. In addition, she is a member of the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., and the Federal City Council.

Luzzatto earned a bachelor of arts degree in government from Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude.

The Case for Black Lives Matter: Hawk Newsome

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As the Black Lives Matter movement grows, are there opportunities for common ground and solutions?

“All lives will matter when Black lives matter,” says our guest, Hawk Newsome, in this passionate, challenging, and fascinating podcast episode.

The co-founder and Chair of Black Lives Matter Greater New York answers the skeptics and makes the case for a movement that has grown in scale and significance since widespread protests erupted last summer after the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

A devout Christian who has spent much of his life campaigning for racial and social justice, Hawk Newsome, discusses his views on love versus violence, systemic racism, and how he reached out to Trump supporters during a tense rally in Washington in 2017. The conversation transcends the simple designations of left and right and seeks to find meaningful solutions that respond to the realities faced by people and communities. This conversation is part of our podcast series that builds on the case for finding common ground.

Read more about Hawk Newsome and how he spends his weekends in this New York Times article.

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Ep. 24-The-Case-for-Black-Lives-Matter-Hawk-Newsome

Hawk Newsome

Hawk Newsome is a former candidate for New York City Council, a cast member on Cop Watch America on BET, and a political activist working at the forefront of the New Civil Rights Movement who has dedicated his adult life to the betterment of his community and our nation as a whole. Mr. Newsome previously served as Special Projects Coordinator at the Bronx County Office of the District Attorney, partnering with tenants’ associations and social service organizations throughout the Bronx. He is co-founder and Chairperson of Black Lives Matter Greater New York.

Depolarizing America: Building Consensus Step-by-Step

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These political veterans disagree on many issues…but agree that now is the time for bridge building. Here’s why.

Kelly Johnston and Rob Fersh disagree strongly on many issues, and voted differently in the 2020 presidential election. But they are friends and “agree on major steps that must be taken for the nation to heed President-elect Biden’s welcome call for us to come together.”

Both believe that constructive steps must be taken to help build trust among Democrats and Republicans, despite deep polarization and a firm resistance to bipartisanship from both ends of the political spectrum. They encourage open dialogue between sectors and interest groups whose views diverge in an effort to deal with divisive political discourse.

Read more from Johnstone & Fersh in an op-ed for The Hill: “We agree on almost nothing except how to solve problems across the political divide.”

Rob Fersh founded Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, and previously worked for Democrats on the staffs of three congressional committees. Kelly Johnston, also a founding board member of Convergence, is a committed Republican and former Secretary of the U.S. Senate. In this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground produced in partnership with Convergence, we talk with both Fersh and Johnston about bridge building and why this work is so urgently needed in an era of political gridlock.

Click here for bonus audio: Rob Fersh describes the process at Convergence.

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Ep. 23- Depolarizing America: Building Consensus

Rob Fersh

Rob Fersh is a Senior Advisor and the Founder of Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, a non-profit organization founded in 2009 to promote consensus solutions to issues of domestic and international importance. Immediately prior, Rob served as the United States country director for Search for Common Ground, an international conflict resolution organization. While at SFCG, he directed national policy consensus projects on health care coverage for the uninsured and U.S.-Muslim relations.

In the 1986-98 period, Rob served as president of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a leading NGO working to alleviate hunger in the United States. Rob also served on the staffs of three Congressional committees, working for U.S. Representative Leon Panetta and for Senators Patrick Leahy and Edmund Muskie. While a Congressional staff member and at FRAC, he was deeply involved in shepherding passage of bipartisan legislation to reduce hunger in the United States. Rob has held additional positions in the federal executive branch and non-profit sector. He was a 1994 recipient of the Prudential Foundation Prize for Non-Profit Leadership. Rob holds a law degree from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, where he has served as a guest lecturer and co-instructor of a course on collaborative decision making and public policy. He is married, has four children, and two grandchildren.

Kelly Johnston

Kelly Johnston retired from the Campbell Soup Company in October 2018 after a 16-year career as Vice President-Government Affairs. Previously, Kelly spent nearly 25 years in Washington, DC in several leadership positions within the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, politics, and the trade association world. He was Executive Vice President for Government Affairs and Communications at the National Food Processors’ Association (NFPA), serving as the organization’s chief government affairs and communications officer for nearly 6 years.

From 1995 to 1997, he was the Secretary of the US Senate, the Senate’s chief legislative, financial and administrative officer. Kelly has also served as Staff Director of the Senate Republican Policy Committee; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in the U.S. Department of Transportation; and chief of staff or press secretary to three Members of Congress.

Kelly remains active in the non-profit community. He is a founding board member of the Bonnie and Bill Stubblefield Institute for Civil Political Communication at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV. He also currently serves on the board of Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC), which is dedicated to helping employers educate their employees on public policy issues of importance to their jobs. He is a former chairman of the Canadian American Business Council and former co-chair of the Congressional Management Foundation. He blogs on public policy issues, history, and politics at Against the Grain.

A native of Oklahoma, Kelly earned his B.A. degree in Communications in 1976 from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, where he has been named to the Alumni Hall of Fame. He attended Georgetown University’s Graduate School of Demography in Washington, D.C. He has guest lectured on politics, government, lobbying and communications at several universities, including Yale University, the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University, Shepherd University, and Burlington County College in New Jersey.

He and his wife, Adrienne, live in Arlington, Virginia. They have two sons.

Tania Israel - common ground

Depolarizing America: What Can We All Do?

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Finding common ground is more vital than ever. How can we reach across deep divides?

The important task of finding common ground in American politics became much more difficult and vital in the wake of the traumatic violence and mayhem at the U.S. Capitol. While most Americans viewed the pro-Trump crowd as thugs, many thought of them as patriots.

This podcast is the first in a new series that deals with the issue of polarization. We speak with professor Tania Israel, author of Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work. Dr. Israel is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and past-President of the Society of Counseling Psychology.

We discuss practical, concrete steps listeners can take to conduct meaningful conversations that reach across deep divisions. “One of the things I recommend is being curious. Try to find out more about what’s behind what somebody says,” she tells us. Join us as we examine the means and methods for de-polarizing America.

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Ep. 22- Depolarizing America

Tania Israel

Tania Israel is a Professor in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Israel teaches about helping skills, leadership, and community collaboration, among other things. She has facilitated educational programs and difficult dialogues about a range of topics, including abortion, law enforcement, religion, and sexual orientation. Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work (APA, 2020) grew out of Dr. Israel’s skill-building workshop that she developed and delivered to hundreds of participants following the 2016 election. It draws on her strengths as a psychologist and community organizer to prepare people to engage in dialogue across political lines. Dr. Israel’s honors include 2019 Congressional Woman of the Year (CA 24th District), Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Award for Excellence in Mental Health from the California Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, and Emerging Leader Award from the APA Committee on Women in Psychology. To learn more, visit taniaisrael.com or connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.

The Art of Compromise and Pragmatism

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In a fractured and anxious moment, what can we learn from “The Man Who Ran Washington”?

James Baker was at the center of American political power for three decades. His resume is exceedingly impressive — Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and White House Chief of Staff twice. Baker’s accomplishments were far-reaching — he helped end the cold war, reunify Germany, assemble the international coalition to fight the Gulf War, negotiate the rewriting of the U.S. tax code, and run five presidential campaigns.

Quite simply he was “The Man Who Ran Washington,” which is the name of the highly-praised new book co-authored by our guests, New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker (no relation) and his wife, Susan Glasser, staff correspondent for The New Yorker.

In this episode, we discuss how Washington has become a more angry, anxious place in recent years, Baker’s steely pragmatism and remarkably successful approach to power and governance – an approach that stands in stark contrast to the fierce tribalism that led to violence in our Capitol this week – and why the art of compromise is crucial to almost any negotiation between powerful rivals.

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Ep. 21- The Art of Compromise

Peter Baker & Susan Glasser

Peter Baker and Susan Glasser are longtime Washington journalists who have written about the intersection of politics and the world. Baker is chief White House correspondent for The New York Times and an MSNBC political analyst. He has covered four presidents and is author or co-author of six books, including Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House. Glasser is a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of the weekly “Letter from Trump’s Washington” as well as a global affairs analyst for CNN. She previously was the editor of POLITICO and editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine.

Episode 20 - Let's Find Common Ground Podcast

2020 Special Moments: Our Search for Common Ground

Episode 20 - Let's Find Common Ground Podcast

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In a year marked by crisis, we look back at remarkable moments of hope, collaboration and healing.

From the tragedy and disruption of COVID-19 through impassioned pleas for racial justice heard across the country, to the deep divisions in our politics, 2020 was a year like no other.

In the first year of our “Let’s Find Common Ground” podcast, we’ve enjoyed a mix of thoughtful, personal and surprising conversations about some of the most important topics of our time. We revisit a few of the most memorable and special moments in this year-end episode.

Among the highlights: Houston’s Chief of Police Art Acevedo, and New York City civil rights activist and mayoral candidate, Maya Wiley, discuss ways to find common ground on police reform. Eva Botkin-Kowacki of The Christian Science Monitor talks about how environmental activists and farmers use different language to discuss the threat of a changing climate. Republican Brian Fitzpatrick and Democrat Abigail Spanberger reveal how they work together to pass laws and find solutions to controversial issues in a dysfunctional Congress.

We also listen to remarkable insights from an inter-racial couple, Errol and Tina Toulon, about their marriage and the story of Jordan Blashek and Chris Haugh, two young men with different political backgrounds who took a cross-country road trip across an ideologically divided nation  to explore an important question – how far apart are we really?

Join us for our special moments of 2020 in the search for Common Ground.

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Ep. 20- Special Moments

In This Together: Climate Change

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After years of warring narratives, can conservatives and activists find common ground on climate change?

For decades, environmental activists have cast themselves as defenders of the planet against greedy, profit-hungry corporations. At the same time, many conservatives have ridiculed the science of climate change and warned against the economic fallout from the Green New Deal and similar initiatives.

In this podcast, we explore a new narrative with two environmental campaigners. Bill Shireman and Trammell Crow are authors of the new book In This Together: How Republicans, Democrats, Capitalists and Activists Are Uniting to Tackle Climate Change and More.

Bill Shireman is President of the non-profit Future 500, which brings together people of all points of view to discuss environmental reform. He teaches leadership and negotiations at UC Berkeley Haas Business School, and is a founding member of BridgeUSA.

Business leader and developer Trammell Crow is the President of the Crow Family Foundation. He is a founder of Texas Business for Clean Air and a member of the Clean Capitalist Leadership Council.

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Ep. 19-In This Together

Bill Shireman

Bill Shireman is a recidivist social entrepreneur, environmental policy innovator, and rare San Francisco Republican-in-plain-site. He brings together people who love to hate each other – capitalists, activists, conservatives, and progressives, among others.

As President of the non-profit Future 500, he invites Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network (RAN), ExxonMobil, Mitsubishi and other corporate and environmental leaders to slip into bed together to create, among other healthy offspring, the world’s first corporate supply chain standards for sustainable forestry (between Mitsubishi, RAN, and then 400 other companies), the most effective beverage container recycling program (the California CRV deposit system and its progeny), and the 2008 agreement by both Greenpeace and Exxon-Mobil to support precisely the same federal tax on carbon, which went absolutely nowhere.

So others can take up where he eventually leaves off, he teaches leadership and negotiations at the UC Berkeley Haas Business School, and serves as a surrogate founding father of BridgeUSA, where young progressives, conservatives, libertarians, and independents all register decline-to-hate, and engage in democracy by listening, speaking, learning, teaching, and then solving problems together.

Professor Shireman is a prolific author who has written nearly as many books as he has sold. His latest book, In This Together: How Republicans, Democrats, Capitalists, and Activists Are Uniting to Tackle Climate Change and More, was published on July 4, 2020. He has three children ranging in age from 13 to 29, none of whom plan to follow in his footsteps. They are making their own. He loves his wife Aileen Ichikawa, who seems to love him back, despite it all.

Trammell S. Crow

Trammell S. Crow is the President of the Crow Family Foundation which operates and manages the Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art as well as the Trammell Crow European Sculpture Garden. Mr. Crow is the son of Trammell Crow, founder of the Trammell Crow Company, and his wife, Margaret.

After graduating from Yale University, Mr. Crow began his career doing warehouse leasing in Denver and then transferred to Houston to develop residential subdivisions and subsequently, to lease retail space. He returned to Dallas to join the development team of the Anatole Hotel, and later worked at the Dallas Market Center when it expanded by more than 2 million square feet. By 1985, he developed the Dallas Communications Complex, the Studios at Las Colinas, INFOMART and the Dallas/Fort Worth Teleport. From 1986 to 1993, Mr. Crow was the Chief Executive Officer of Trammell Crow International.

Mr. Crow is a member of the Board of Directors of the Crow Collection of Asian Art and is actively involved in Thanksgiving Square, a multi-denominational center for the promotion of gratitude and religious tolerance.

Mr. Crow is also a founder of Texas Business for Clean Air, an organization of prominent business leaders throughout Texas who are committed to matters that affect air quality in the state. He is also a member of the Clean Capitalist Leadership Council. The Council offers a transpartisan fellowship of leading clean capitalists, free market and conservation donors, and green conservatives, focused on smart policy innovation.

As the founder of EarthX (formerly known as Earth Day Texas), Mr. Crow has created the largest annual exposition and forum showcasing the latest initiatives, discoveries, research, innovations, policies and corporate practices serving to re-shape a more sustainable future.

With a focus on inspiring environmental leadership across sectors and party lines, Mr. Crow serves on the board of directors for ConservAmerica and is a co-founder of Texas Business for Clean Air and Texans for Clean Water. He is also a long-term supporter of the Texas Conservation Alliance, the Nature Conservancy of Texas, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, Log Cabin Republicans and the League of Conservation Voters. His philanthropy benefits various nonprofit organizations that are active in family planning, education, the environment, community initiatives and political causes.

Same Family – Different Politics

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It’s a uniquely tumultuous holiday season. Can we find common ground with family members with different politics?

In this time of deep and sometimes bitter political division, how do we talk to family members who don’t view the world the way that we do?

In the next episode of the “Let’s Find Common Ground” podcast, we explore the challenges and opportunities faced by many families, especially as they come together during the holidays. Our guests are Becca Kearl, a Joe Biden supporter, and her mom, Robbie Lawler, who went for Donald Trump.

Becca is a Managing Partner at the non-profit group, Living Room Conversations. She is a founding member of the Utah Dialogue Practice Network. Becca is also fully engaged in the non-profit venture of raising five kids with her husband in Provo, Utah.

Robbie Lawler is a mother of six and was named National Mother of Young Children in 1996. She has received awards for community projects she worked on and most recently was an events coordinator for the Law School at Brigham Young University. She lives with her husband in Alpine, Utah.

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Ep. 18- Same Family Different Politics

Becca Kearl

Becca Kearl is a Managing Partner at Living Room Conversations. At her core, she believes in the power of dialogue around difficult topics to strengthen communities locally and nationally and finds a way to weave it into all her non-profit efforts. She is a founding member of the Utah Dialogue Practice Network and has designed and led healthy dialogue practices in high schools, universities, civic organizations, faith communities, and communities at large. When she’s not doing community work, Becca is fully engaged in the non-profit venture of raising 5 kids with her husband in Provo, Utah.

Robbie Lawler

Robbie Lawler is a fantastic mother of six, in fact, she was the National Mother of Young Children in 1996. She has been highly involved and awarded for her various community projects throughout her life and had a women-centric radio show before podcasts were cool. Robbie most recently was the events coordinator for the Law School at Brigham Young University and will take on planning events that inspire her. She is currently enjoying semi-retirement and travels extensively when pandemics don’t hold her back. She and her husband live in Alpine, Utah.