Public Agenda Announces New President Andrew Seligsohn
June 28, 2021
Seligsohn’s leadership in civic engagement, higher education to advance Public Agenda’s mission to strengthen democracy and expand opportunity for all Americans.
June 26, 2021, New York—Public Agenda is pleased to announce new president Andrew Seligsohn, who will take the reins on August 23, 2021. Seligsohn is currently president of Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities dedicated to the public purposes of higher education.
“Millions of Americans see a growing chasm between the world around them and our aspiration to be a country in which everyone has an equal opportunity to shape the future of their communities,” says Seligsohn. “Public Agenda has a special role to play in supporting the emerging movement for democratic renewal by connecting research about what changes will make a difference to practical efforts to build a better country. I could not be more thrilled to lead Public Agenda in this work at this decisive moment. With its committed board, first-rate staff, long standing relationships with partners and supporters, and deep history of research and engagement on issues that matter, Public Agenda is positioned to make a key contribution to building a democracy that matches our ideals. I cannot imagine a more worthy challenge.”
In selecting Seligsohn for the role, the Board of Directors highlighted his vast leadership experience and expertise in the fields of higher education and civic engagement. “The work of Public Agenda is more important than ever as American democracy faces daunting challenges,” said Public Agenda Board Chair Betty Sue Flowers. “Andrew brings strategic leadership, informed passion, and a commitment to nonpartisanship that will enhance our ability to discover hidden common ground, elevate public discourse, and strengthen democracy.” Interim co-president Matt Leighninger agrees, “Andrew’s proven leadership skills, strategic direction of Campus Compact, and his work to span the worlds of higher education and civic engagement make him a wonderful fit for Public Agenda.”
Karen Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream, a national organization dedicated to improving success for all students, agrees. “Andrew’s expertise and Public Agenda’s mission is an ideal partnership to make great progress on both,” says Stout, who also serves as vice-chair of the Campus Compact Board. “Having served with Andrew as a member of the Campus Compact Board of Directors for the past six years and also working with Public Agenda, one of ATD’s long-time partners, I am certain that Andrew’s unique blend of leadership and scholarship will be a huge asset to Public Agenda.”
Seligsohn joins Public Agenda at a time of high growth and relevance, as the organization is preparing to release findings from its new Hidden Common Ground survey. The report is part of Public Agenda’s ongoing series of Yankelovich Democracy Monitor surveys. It focuses on how Americans see their roles in strengthening our democracy, with the goal of providing a nonpartisan path toward greater engagement across the political spectrum. Hidden Common Ground 2021 is supported by partners and collaborators the Kettering Foundation, the Charles Koch Institute and the Civic Health Project.
As president of Campus Compact, Seligsohn has focused on student civic leadership, professional development for college and university faculty and staff, and comprehensive campus planning for civic action. Before joining Campus Compact in 2014, Seligsohn served as Associate Chancellor for Civic Engagement and Strategic Planning at Rutgers-Camden and Director of Civic Engagement Learning at Princeton. He also taught at those institutions, as well as at Macalester, St. Olaf, and Hartwick Colleges.
“Andrew’s expertise on civic engagement and higher education, combined with Public Agenda’s mission, is an ideal way to bring the organization’s issues to the forefront,” says Peter Levine, associate dean and professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Tufts University. “Like Public Agenda, Andrew’s work appeals to a broad, nonpartisan audience, and he will be a huge asset to Public Agenda.”
Seligsohn has published articles and chapters on higher education engagement, student political engagement, constitutional law, political theory, and urban politics. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in modern intellectual history from Williams College.
Public Agenda is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to creating a stronger, more inclusive, more participatory democracy for everyone. Through research and public engagement programs with local and national impact, we focus on raising up the voices of the public, bridging divides to facilitate progress, and strengthening relationships between institutions and the people they serve. Founded in 1975 by the social scientist and public opinion expert Dan Yankelovich and former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Public Agenda works on diverse critical public issues, including health, education, environmental resilience, and civic engagement.
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