ON THE AGENDA | JULY 28TH, 2016 | Public Agenda

Donor Profile: Lisa Belsky

Public Agenda is fortunate to have committed and engaged donors, and we are truly appreciative of their support. Our goal is to build a community of supporters dedicated to strengthening the democratic process and finding workable solutions to our most pressing national and local concerns.

Lisa Belsky (center) and family

Each month we will highlight a donor and share with you why they support Public Agenda. Meet Lisa Belsky. Lisa is a longtime donor to Public Agenda. Lisa's mother was Deborah Wadsworth, a former president, board member and board chair of Public Agenda. Deborah cared very deeply about Public Agenda and shared that passion with Lisa.

In Deborah's honor, the was created. The fund is designed to identify and address concerns determined by a particular community and create a collaborative nonpartisan space to develop solutions. Lisa is honoring Deborah's legacy as a second-generation Public Agenda supporter.

Will Friedman, President

How did you become familiar with Public Agenda and its work?

My mother, Deborah Wadsworth, introduced me to Public Agenda and its work in the early 1980s. I quickly became an admirer of its mission and programming. A few years later, as a freshman in college with a desire to contribute in the civil sector, I lobbied Public Agenda for an internship and worked for several successive summers, predominantly as a research assistant.

In your view, what are Public Agenda's most important impacts on society?

Public Agenda's fundamental belief that a well-informed electorate can and must be an active participant in our democracy resonates deeply with me and helped launch a 30-year career in community development. That belief is as strong today as it was when Dan Yankelovich and Cyrus Vance founded it. Public Agenda has been an important driver of citizen engagement on a full complement of domestic policy issues from its health care initiative, to its work with the Department of Education and leading thinkers in education policy from around the country, to its efforts to promote and make community college available to all. Most recently, a Wadsworth-funded initiative is partnering with WNYC to help tristate residents engage in respectful dialogue about the issues that most affect our region. I'm excited to watch as that program unfolds.

Is there a particular area of Public Agenda's work that you connect with or think is particularly important?

The community development sector mirrors Public Agenda in one critical sense: it understands that the challenges in communities across the country are complex and interwoven. My work in that field has taken me deeply into the critical connections between housing, education, health care, community facilities and services, afterschool programming, and most importantly public safety, violence reduction and helping people successfully transition home from prison. I've spent decades helping create meaningful and mutually respectful partnerships between police departments and citizen-led nonprofit organizations that build community and lower crime rates -- difficult but vital work that has been informed in many ways by Public Agenda's engagement strategies.

Why do you personally support Public Agenda and why is it important for others to support Public Agenda as well?

My affection for and loyalty to Public Agenda are profound, substantive and personal. Foundations, corporations and individuals alike that understand the importance of developing an engaged and well-informed citizenry must invest in the work Public Agenda does. They -- we -- must step up to and stay at the plate. Far too often in America our conversations are contentious. Public Agenda works tirelessly to help untangle complex challenges, engage people in discussions that help us become better and more informed about the things that matter most to us in our daily lives, and participate in the policy process at both the local and national levels. I urge past supporters and new friends to join me in making an ongoing commitment to its vital work.

To join Lisa in supporting Public Agenda you can make a donation online by clicking here or by mail at Public Agenda, 6 East 39th Street, 9th Fl., Attn: Development Department, New York, NY 10016-0112.


Comment on this article.

Recent Blogs


Public Agenda knows what it takes to fuel progress on critical issues.
We need your support to keep things moving!

Join the Community


Take Action