Common Ground Committee Hosts John Kerry, Condoleezza Rice for Forum on America’s Foreign Policy

Former Secretaries of State seek to find consensus on nation’s role in the world

March 19, 2019, at the university of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center

South Bend, IN, February 15, 2019 – Today, Common Ground Committee(CGC), a nonprofit organization devoted to improving public discourse in politics, announced its tenth public forum, which will bring together former Secretaries of State John Kerry (Democrat) and Condoleezza Rice (Republican). The forum,titled “Finding Common Ground on America’s Role in the World,” will be held on March 19, 2019, at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. The program will start at 7:00 PM and be moderated by Howard LaFranchi, Diplomacy Correspondent for CGC’s media partner, The Christian Science Monitor.

The event is cosponsored by BridgeND, a chapter of BridgeUSA, a student-organized and managed nonprofit organization that advocates for constructive, responsible political discussion on college campuses across the country. Faculty-led cosponsoring organizations are Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy and the Notre Dame International Security Center (NDISC).

With many studies and surveys showing that the U.S. population has become more politically divided, civil discourse has taken a hit. According to a recent poll by Marist, nearly 80 percent of Americans are concerned that the lack of civility in politics will lead to violence. With the country increasingly divided on party lines, Kerry and Rice, Secretaries of State for the Barack Obama and George W. Bush administrations, respectively, will offer a model for civil public discourse as they look to find common ground on America’s role in the world.

Kerry and Rice pursued vastly different strategies as Secretaries of State but have also praised each other’s efforts pursuing peace between Israel and Palestine. In 2014, then Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled the official portrait of former Secretary Rice – a Notre Dame alumna – at a White House ceremony that the Associated Press called “a rare display of bipartisan civility.” The event is anticipated to be a passionate, yet respectful discussion as these two top US diplomats debate current hotspots and the state of America’s foreign affairs.

Since 2009, Common Ground Committee has held nine forums during which over 200 points of consensus have been reached. For example, former DNC and RNC chairs Donna Brazile and Michael Steele recently agreed that voting districts should be drawn by citizens’ commissions, not politicians. Previous forum topics have included race, taxes, and economic opportunity in the Trump era. The March 19 event will be the first forum since 2011 that focuses on foreign policy.

“At Common Ground Committee, we are focused on bringing light, not heat to public discourse. The nation needs to see people with different views work together on issues without compromising their fundamental principles,” said Bruce Bond, CGC’s Co-Founder and CEO. “Secretaries Rice and Kerry have consistently represented the country’s better instincts on discourse. Despite working for administrations that had very different views on foreign policy, attendees can look forward to a robust but civil conversation between these two leaders as they provide insight and find common ground on America’s role in the world.”

“BridgeND was founded on the belief that democracy depends on the ability to engage with opposing viewpoints in a civil manner,” said Christian McGrew, former President of BridgeND and Executive Board, BridgeUSA. “Secretaries Kerry and Rice are both exemplars of this mission, and BridgeND is thrilled to bring these two distinguished speakers to Notre Dame’s campus to demonstrate the possibilities of constructive discourse. We anticipate a lively and enlightening discussion on America’s role in the world.”

The event is free and open to the public. Tickets will be available starting Tuesday, February 19 at 8:00 AM at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center website or in person. For any ticket-related questions, please call the Ticket Office at 574-631-2800.


Common Ground Committee
Common Ground Committee (CGC) ( is a non-partisan, citizen-led organization that inspires action on polarizing issues by bringing prominent leaders with opposing views together in public forums to find common ground. Since its founding in 2009, CGC has held nine forums featuring 26 panelists who have reached over 200 points of consensus. Panelists have included such notables as Michael Steele, Donna Brazile, Barney Frank and Larry Kudlow, exploring issues ranging from race and income inequality to taxes and entitlements. Common Ground Committee partners with the widely respected Christian Science Monitor to moderate its forums. Free of political agenda and financial influence, CGC has a singular focus on bringing light, not heat, to public discourse.

BridgeUSA believes good governance starts with constructive political discussion. The organization works with America’s future leaders on college campuses to foster spaces wherein a diverse range of ideas can engage one another through the practice of responsible discourse. BridgeUSA has chapters at colleges across the country, including University of Notre Dame.

The University of Notre Dame
Founded in 1842, the University of Notre Dame is a private, nonprofit Catholic university. One of America’s leading undergraduate teaching institutions, Notre Dame also has been at the forefront in research and scholarship. The aerodynamics of glider flight, the transmission of wireless messages, and the formulae for synthetic rubber were pioneered at the University. Today researchers are achieving breakthroughs in astrophysics, radiation chemistry, environmental sciences, tropical disease transmission, peace studies, cancer, robotics, and nanoelectronics.

Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy
The mission of the Francis and Kathleen Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy is to examine politics and policy making in the United States—leaving Notre Dame’s distinctive imprint on the study of American democracy. With a grounding in Notre Dame’s Catholic mission, the Center facilitates research on the critical issues facing America’s democratic system, and encourages Notre Dame’s students to be engaged in both civic and political life.

Notre Dame International Security Center
The Notre Dame International Security Center was established in 2008 to provide a forum where leading scholars in national security studies from Notre Dame and elsewhere could come together to explore some of the most pressing issues in national security policy. The center is directed by Professor Michael Desch.

John Kerry
John Kerry was Secretary of State for the Obama Administration from 2013-2017. A member of the Democratic party, he was elected as Senator of Massachusetts in 1985, serving in that position for 28 years.

Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice is a political scientist and diplomat. She served as National Security Advisor during George W. Bush’s first term before being named Secretary of State in 2005. Rice received her master’s degree in political science from University of Notre Dame.

Zach Halper