Public Agenda
Will Friedman, Ph.D. President

Will Friedman joined Public Agenda in 1994, became associate director of research in 1996, and was the founding director of our public engagement department in 1997. On January 1, 2011, he became president of Public Agenda, succeeding Ruth A. Wooden.

Dr. Friedman has overseen Public Agenda's steady and expanding stream of work aimed at helping communities and states build capacity to tackle tough issues in more inclusive, deliberative and collaborative ways. In 2007, he established Public Agenda's Center for Advances in Public Engagement (now the Yankelovich Center for Public Engagement), which conducts action research to assess impacts and improve practice.

Dr. Friedman is the author or co-author of numerous publications including "Reframing Framing," "Transforming Public Life: A Decade of Public Engagement in Bridgeport, CT," "Deliberative Democracy and the Problem of Scope," "Deliberative Democracy and the Problem of Power" and "From Employee Engagement to Civic Engagement: Exploring Connections between Workplace and Community Democracy." He is also the co-editor, with Public Agenda chairman and co-founder Daniel Yankelovich, of the book, Toward Wiser Public Judgment, published in February 2011 by Vanderbilt University Press. He serves on the executive committee of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, and has led sessions at the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation Conference, Independent Sector Annual Conference, and Social Equity Leadership Conference, and many other conferences.

Previously, Dr. Friedman was senior vice president for policy studies at the Work in America Institute, where he directed research and special projects on workplace issues. He was also an adjunct lecturer in political science at Lehman College, a research fellow at the Samuels Center for State and Local Politics, and a practitioner in the field of counseling psychology. He holds a Ph.D. in political science with specializations in political psychology and American politics.

Areas of expertise: public opinion research, public and stakeholder engagement, deliberative democracy, political science, political psychology, convening design, facilitation, training, nonprofit leadership and management

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Blog Entries

09/2016 Reinventing Economic and Political Opportunity

03/2016 Wanted: A Vision that Unites and Engages America

02/2016 To Revive the American Dream, Work Locally, Work Smart, Work Together

02/2016 We Are Less Divided than We Look

05/2014 Welcome to "Rebooting Democracy"


04/2016 Flying Below the Radar: Making Local Progress in Spite of National Dysfunct...

03/2016 Only Authentic Community Engagement and Empowerment Can Begin to Restore Fl...

01/2016 Is All This Polling Even Good for Democracy?

07/2015 South Australia: Innovators in Democracy and Public Engagement

07/2014 Less Divided than We Look

06/2014 A Divided Nation?

05/2014 Colleges Should Help Would-Be Students Make Responsible Choices

11/2013 Choosing a College

10/2013 NYC Experiments in Civic Inclusion

06/2013 Revitalizing Democracy, Community by Community

06/2013 Parents need help, not shame, in school involvement

05/2013 Failure to Compromise: Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

01/2013 Post-Sandy New York: A Model for Collaboration in Problem Solving

12/2012 Lessons Learned From High-Poverty, High-Achieving Schools