Samar Ali named co-chair of national unity project | January 2021

Millions of Conversations CEO to help lead Vanderbilt University effort

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Millions of Conversations Founding President and CEO Samar S. Ali will serve as co-chair of the newly launched Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy, a national, non-partisan effort designed to heal societal divisions through honest dialogue and empirical analysis generated by the university.

Ali will serve alongside fellow co-chairs former Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian Jon Meacham. Ali said the project will lay the foundation to unite Americans around a common commitment to living together as one country where truth and accountability sustain peace and belonging.

“Now more than ever, Americans need to find common ground. We are living in a time of extreme polarization, economic and social inequality, and uncertainty around our democracy. This project based in our heartland can help Americans reach a common understanding of the facts about our country and democracy,” Ali said.

Ali recently joined the faculty of Vanderbilt University as a research professor in political science and law. With expertise ranging from international counsel on national security and cybersecurity law, conflict mediation, economic development, community organizing, and civil rights advocacy, Ali is uniquely positioned to facilitate a swift and effective national response to the dire needs of our country.

“At a time when the urgency of the political moment calls for action, the Project on Unity and American Democracy will function as a non-partisan hub of original scholarly content that will inform thinking and reframe public discourse around polarization, race, religion, democratic principles, artistic expression, and more,” Ali said.

The project debuted last Thursday with a virtual event featuring Jon Meacham and Al Gore, the 45th vice president of the United States, in discussion on the importance of evidence and reason in political discourse. Meacham then examined the project’s first case study of evidence-based policymaking in a conversation with Condoleezza Rice, the 66th Secretary of State, discussing her experience securing bipartisan support for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Access the recording and read a summary of the event here.

To learn more about the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy, visit www.vanderbilt.edu/unity.

Discussing Biden’s top tasks, Ali spoke to USA Today on behalf of the Vanderbilt project, read here.


About Millions of Conversations:

Millions of Conversations is a nonprofit organization that seeks to unite Americans around common values for a shared future through productive dialogue. The organization seeks to change existing narratives that marginalize and politicize “the other.” Starting with the predominating narrative about Muslim-Americans, its focus is on eliminating stigma in all its forms. By transcending divides, Millions of Conversations disrupt cycles of hate, combat misinformation, and challenge harmful stereotypes. The organization engages energetic voices at the grassroots level to reach people across America.

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