Democracy Cafe is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit that strives to come to a greater understanding of the nature and future of democracy, and to influence its nature and future through such signature endeavors as Constitution Cafe and Socrates Cafe (and more to come) that cultivate thoughtfulness, inventive and imaginative reasonableness and inclusiveness in an age of polarization.

We aim to expand the public debate around the globe about the possibilities for democratic governance and civic participation, and hold that genuine self-determination and enfranchisement hinges on continual participation and input of all citizens, including our children and youth.

A big part of the way we expand this debate is by changing the nature of how we go about debating. To that end, we promote a unique form of empathic civil discourse -- of a sort that cultivates those ‘dialogue virtues’ needed in order to foment far more inclusive civic discourse.  In our view, civil-mindedness must be a springboard to greater civic-mindedness, and so we aim to inspire people of all walks of life to come together and discover uncommon common ground, so that over time an entire citizenry is inspired and equipped to contribute to democratic vibrancy on both local and global scales.


Christopher Phillips, PhD, Founder/Executive Director ( )

James M. Burke, PhD, Director, Performance Management Group, Virginia Commonwealth University

Sam Fairchild, Chief Executive Officer and Director, Optiwind Corporation; President, the Tadpole Group; Director and CEO of Trailblazer Resources, Inc.

Cecilia Chapa Vargas, MEd, Secretary/Treasurer

Bobbie G. DeLeon, EdD, Defense Acquisitions University

Stephen Duncombe, PhD, Associate Professor, New York University, Gallatin School

David Blacker, PhD, Professor, School of Education, University of Delaware

Linda Pierce, MBA, Performance Management Group, Virginia Commonwealth University

Dr. Andrew Murphy, Associate Professor of Political Science, and Director, Walt Whitman Center for the Culture and Politics and Democracy, Rutgers University


Dr. Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School, Director of Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics, Author of 'Republic Lost'

Dr. Cornel West, Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice, Union Theological Seminary, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University, Author of 'Democracy Matters' and 'Race Matters.'

Dr. Damon Horowitz, In-House Philosopher at Google, Professor at Columbia University,  (

Julie Silverbrook, Executive Director, ConSource

Mike Li, Philosopher, Walter Kaufmann scholar (

Thaddeus Russell, historian, scholar, essayist, author of 'A Renegade History of the United States'

Howard Steven Friedman, leading statistician and health economist for the United Nations, author of ‘The Measure of a Nation’

Brian Austin, Detective, SWAT cop, Founder of Cops for Labor, Madison, WI

Stewart Harris, Professor of Law, Host, ‘Your Weekly Constitutional’

Christopher Martin, PhD,University of British Columbia, Specialist in Discourse Ethics

FOUNDING SPONSORS ($5,000 or more)

Wolfgang Somary, Banker, Author, and Poet

The Whitman Institute

Cal Humanities

If you’d like to support our mission, please follow the link below:

Contributions are tax deductible.


“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government - except all the others that have been tried.” -- Winston Churchill