October 4th, 2018
Western Illinois University - RIVERFRONT ROOM 103 & 104


How has public discourse on critical topics come to be so combative and is a return to civility possible? Join us in a TEDxSalon in a conversation on the tenor of public discourse, from multiple perspectives, and its evolution over the years. Moderated by WIU Assistant Dean, Dr. Jim Rabchuk, our speakers will explore the ways we lead a charge toward more civil exchanges in the public square. An all speaker panel will follow the presentations. Audience interaction and participation encouraged.


  • Stephanie Villinski, Director of the Illinois Civility Commission
  • Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse
  • Matt Christiansen, Editor of the Quad City Times
  • Cody Hootman, Director of Pridefest
  • Jazmin Newton-Butt, President of LULAC
  • Jeff VenHuizen, Police Chief of the City of Rock Island

Stephanie Villinski

Stephanie Villinski is the Deputy Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. The Commission focuses on promoting increased civility and inclusion within the legal profession. As Deputy Director, Stephanie supports the Commission’s mentoring, education, and law school programs and is responsible for operational systems of the Commission. Stephanie regularly writes and speaks about the importance of civility to the profession and the rule of law. Prior to joining the Commission, Stephanie was a legal aid attorney at LAF and content director at Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) where she worked to address access to justice issues. With a particular interest in the connection between civility and health and wellness, Stephanie seeks to promote a healthier, more rewarding professional life for lawyers and by extension, better service to their clients.

Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer
Incivility and political dysfunction: what can we do about it

Presentation Overview

Learn through data about how the American people feel about the current political climate in our country, including a brief look at the structural causes that have created the current situation, and most important the signs of hope from all across the country - what we the people are doing about our current degraded political and public discourse.


Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer is the Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, an organization that works to reduce political dysfunction and incivility in our political system. As a leader in the field of deliberative democracy, she works to restore our democracy to reflect the intended vision of our founding fathers.

Dr. Lukensmeyer previously served as Founder and President of AmericaSpeaks, an award-winning nonprofit organization that promoted nonpartisan initiatives to engage citizens and leaders through the development of innovative public policy tools and strategies. During her tenure, AmericaSpeaks engaged more than 200,000 people and hosted events across all 50 states and throughout the world. Dr. Lukensmeyer formerly served as Consultant to the White House Chief of Staff from 1993-94 and on the National Performance Review where she steered internal management and oversaw government-wide reforms. She was the Chief of Staff to Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste from 1986-91, becoming the first woman to serve in this capacity. She earned her PhD in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University and has completed postgraduate training at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland.

Matt Christensen
Executive Director, Quad-City Times

Presentation Overview
A quick look at the role media has played in civility since the rise of newspapers, with insight into how that role is changing and what journalists are doing to raise the level of dialogue.

Quad-City Times Executive Editor Matt Christensen is an East Moline native and graduate of Iowa State University. He has worked his entire career for Davenport-based Lee Enterprises, taking over the Times and Argus-Dispatch in March. Christensen serves on the board of directors for Associated Press Media Editors.

Jazmin Newton-Butt
Attorney and President of LULAC

Ms. Newton-Butt is an Attorney and Partner with Barbara K. Wallace, P.L.C. where she licensed to practice law in Illinois and Iowa.  Her primary areas of practice include family law, criminal defense, OWI/DUI and Traffic defense, and plaintiff’s personal injury.  Ms. Newton-Butt received her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Iowa in 2010 and graduated Cum Laude in May 2013 from Northern Illinois University College of Law.  Ms. Newton-Butt was the first in her family to graduate high school, college and law school.  She is also bi-lingual and fluent in both English and Spanish.  Ms. Newton-Butt is married and has three children.  

Although much of her spare time outside of the courtroom and office is spent raising her three children, she enjoys volunteering. Ms. Newton-Butt is heavily involved in the community and many non-profit organizations.  She routinely attends many charitable events and is a committed member of several organizations.  Currently, Ms. Newton-Butt is the President of the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council #10, Parliamentarian of the Iowa LULAC, Commissioner for the Davenport Affirmative Action Commission, a Commissioner on the Bi-State Regional Commission, President Elect for the American Association of University Women local chapter, Board Director for the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, Board Director for the Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber, Committee Member of the Empowering Latina Leadership Alliance (ELLA), and member of the Davenport Citizens Advisory Panel.


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