Author Biography

Matt Leighninger is the Vice President for Public Engagement and Director of the Yankelovich Center at Public Agenda. Public Agenda is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate divisive, complex issues and work together to find solutions. Over the last twenty years, Matt has worked with public engagement efforts in over 100 communities, in 40 states and four Canadian provinces. His first book, The Next Form of Democracy, is a firsthand account of the wave of democratic innovation that emerged in the 1990s and 2000s. His second, Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy, co-authored with Tina Nabatchi, was released by Wiley-Blackwell in 2015.


This essay offers a response to the special issue essays. It highlights key ideas from the articles and reflects on lessons that town meetings have for our contemporary public engagement.