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Pepperdine | School of Public Policy

Davenport Institute Hosts Second Annual State of Public Engagement Virtual Conference

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On July 20, 2022, the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy hosted the second annual State of Public Engagement virtual conference titled "Back to the Future—Where are we Now Post-Pandemic(ish)?" More than 100 participants tuned in for a robust conversation on what public engagement in local government looks like today following the challenges of the last two years. The conversation focused on the various modalities for public engagement, best practices in determining the right fit for your community, and what it takes to maintain flexibility. 

Joy Langford, director of division one of the Water Replenishment Board, opened the conference with an overview of the current climate of public engagement. She discussed the external factors impacting and influencing the work of local government every day. A Los Angeles native with more than 15 years of experience as a public private partnership liaison, Langford emphasized the importance of making public engagement more accessible to community members with services like childcare and virtual participation options. 

Natalie Hernandez, director of climate planning and resilience for Climate Resolve, followed Langford and turned the conversation toward case studies in public engagement that put the theory into practice. A Long Beach native and community leader with more than 10 years of experience supporting healthy and sustainable neighborhoods, Hernandez emphasized the importance of varied engagement and showed our audience valuable online tools that they can use to collect feedback from participants.

Rhianna Rogers, director of the Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy, brought the conversation to a close with a discussion on the significance of digital equity as we enter a state of public engagement that continues to have a virtual component. An expert on cultural and ethnic studies, intercultural competencies, and diversity education, Rogers highlighted issues in the space of digital equity and offered guidance on how to implement digital engagement in your own community. 

Participants had the opportunity to listen and learn from three different speakers from different fields on the topic of public engagement and interact with their peers on best practices going forward. This annual event hosted by the Davenport Institute was in partnership with the following public engagement organizations: TheP2 Club, Institute for Local Government, Engaging Local Government Leaders, and CitizenLab.