Will Friedman Named President of Public Agenda


NEW YORK -- Will Friedman has been named to succeed Ruth A. Wooden as president of Public Agenda, the Board of Directors announced today.

Dr. Friedman, currently chief operating officer, will become President effective January 1, 2011. Ms. Wooden, who has served as President since August 2003, will become Senior Counselor to the organization.

“The board is extremely pleased to have someone with Will’s expertise and management talent in place to step up and become President of Public Agenda. This assures that the organization will have knowledgeable and experienced leadership at the helm and a seamless transition upon Ruth’s retirement,” said Dan Yankelovich, Public Agenda’s Chairman and Co-Founder. “We are deeply grateful to Ruth for her commitment and leadership for the past seven years and look forward to working closely with her in the future.”

Dr. Friedman has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Public Agenda since 2009. He has been affiliated with the organization since 1994, was named Associate Director of Research in 1996, and in 1997 founded Public Agenda’s Public Engagement Department. In 2000 he left Public Agenda to become Senior Vice President for Research and Policy Studies at the Work in America Institute. There, he directed research on innovative workplace practices, including high-performance teamwork, work-life balance strategies, career ladders for low-wage workers and the relationship between employee engagement and public life.

In 2003 Dr. Friedman returned to Public Agenda as Senior Vice President and Director of Public Engagement, where he has overseen an expanding portfolio of community-based work across the country. "Will and I have worked together closely since 2003. He has the skills and qualities to successfully lead Public Agenda into the future and I’m delighted that he has agreed to take on the challenge," Ms. Wooden said.

In 2006 Dr. Friedman led the establishment of the Center for Advances in Public Engagement (CAPE) at Public Agenda, which is at the forefront of efforts to research, develop and disseminate new insights and best practices that help improve the quality of American public life and encourage citizen-centered politics. “Will has built the public engagement function at Public Agenda into a wonderful complement to our research capacity and a source of significant growth for the organization. He has established one of the most highly-regarded teams of practitioners and thought leaders in that field,” said Lloyd Morrisett, Chairman of the Executive Committee and retired President of the Markle Foundation.

“I am deeply honored by the Board’s confidence in me and look forward to working with my talented colleagues at Public Agenda in a new role,” Dr. Friedman said. “Our challenge is to build upon the tradition of excellence the organization has established, and to use these tough economic times to sharpen our thinking about the pivotal contributions Public Agenda can make to help the nation overcome gridlock and achieve meaningful, pragmatic solutions to the serious problems we face.”

Dr. Friedman received his doctorate in political science from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, specializing in American politics and political psychology. In addition to his position as Senior Vice President at Work in America Institute, he has been an adjunct lecturer in political science at Lehman College, a research fellow at the Samuels Center for State and Local Politics, an independent research consultant and a practitioner in the field of counseling psychology. He 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 Dan Yankelovich, of the upcoming book, Toward Wiser Public Judgment, to be published in February 2011 by Vanderbilt University Press.

Will is married to Kathleen Friedman, a social worker affiliated with New York-Presbyterian Medical Center, who founded the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at New York Hospital in White Plains. They have two grown children, Nick and Hallie. Will is also a dedicated basketball player who refuses to cede to age or bad ankles, and an amateur musician who has been intermittently jamming with the same group of friends for over thirty years.

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