Cindy McCain to Address Annual Conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue as Keynote Speaker

Keynote speaker Cindy McCain.

Philanthropist and businesswoman Cindy McCain will be the featured guest at the 9th annual Conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue, which will be held online October 7 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

McCain, widow of the late-Senator John McCain, serves as chair of the board of trustees at the McCain Institute for International Leadership. The McCain Institute last year launched the #ActsOfCivility campaign, and Acts of Civility will be this year’s conference theme.

The conference is presented by the Institute for Civil Civic Engagement, a partnership between San Diego City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges, and the University of San Diego. The highlight is a live, 25-minute interview of McCain by conference organizer Carl Luna, a professor of political science at San Diego Mesa College who also serves as director at the Institute for Civil Civic Engagement. The interview will be followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer period with questions submitted by the viewing audience.

“The conversation will focus on rebuilding civility during a contentious, polarized and increasingly uncivil 2020 election year,” Luna said. “We can passionately disagree about politics and how best to pursue the common good, but we should not demonize and hate the other side. #ActsOfCivility is an initiative aimed at stemming a democracy-eroding tide of incivility one person, one engagement, one act at a time.”

In addition to attracting an anticipated large regional and national virtual audience, the program is being made available to San Diego Community College (SDCCD) and USD students and middle and high school social studies classes across the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). “Teaching civility to our students is part of our mission, and more important now than ever before in [American] history,” said SDUSD Superintendent Marten.

Initially scheduled for April 8 at USD’s Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, the rescheduled October 7 program is being condensed to approximately two hours and is set to start at 10:30 a.m. with welcomes from SDCCD Chancellor Constance M. Carroll, USD President James Harris, and Marten. San Diego Union-Tribune Editor and Publisher Jeff Light will provide the introduction to the interview with McCain. KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo, SDCCD Board of Trustees President Maria Nieto Senour and San Diego City Employees’ Retirement Association representative Trudy Sopp will provide closing remarks and reflect on how to carry the conversation forward.

The October 7 program will also include a tribute to the late-Rev. George Walker Smith, who helped spearhead Restoring Respect. The Institute for Civil Civic Engagement aims to encourage, promote, and increase civility in civic discourse. It evolved from Restoring Respect, an initiative led by a consortium of groups and organizations that include the SDCCD, USD, the Catfish Club, and others.

The 9th annual Conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue is sponsored by the San Diego Community College District; USD and its College of Arts and Sciences; the Institute for Civil Civic Engagement; the City of San Diego Retired Employees’ Association; and San Diego Gas & Electric. Media partners are KPBS and The San Diego Union Tribune. The conference is supported by the League of Women Voters North County; the League of Women Voters San Diego, and the SDUSD.

The conference’s “virtual doors” will open at 10:20 a.m. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to register through the Institute for Civil Civic Engagement’s webpage.