About America in One Room

America in One Room (A1R) is a historic gathering of 500 American voters who will participate in a nonpartisan discussion about the major issues of the 2020 presidential election. The participants—our citizen-delegates—are carefully selected to form an accurate, representative sample of the entire American electorate in all its political, cultural, and demographic diversity.

Over the course of the event, the delegates will learn about the issues; deliberate amongst themselves in a thoughtful, civil, and substantive fashion; and have town-hall discussions directly with presidential candidates. Their views on the issues and the relative merits of the candidates will be documented and shared with the public, candidates, and policymakers, giving a clearer, more balanced, and more informed idea of the political landscape heading into the election.

A1R is organized as a Deliberative Poll®, under the supervision of the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University.

The participants are selected using stratified random sampling, with survey work conducted by the NORC at the University of Chicago. A1R will be managed and produced in collaboration with By the People Productions and is a Helena Project. For press inquiries, please contact A1R@sunshinesachs.com.

Delegates will receive an honorarium, and A1R organizers will pay travel expenses and meals of the delegates during the event.

Advisory Committee

Bruce Ackerman

Bruce Ackerman is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale, and the author of nineteen books in political philosophy, constitutional law, and public policy. He is a Commander of the French Order of Merit, and a member of the American Law Institute and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The American Philosophical Society has awarded him the Henry Phillips Prize for lifetime achievement in Jurisprudence, especially noting his exploration of the great turning points in American constitutional history in his three volume series, We the People. His scholarship has had a global impact as he has been named a “Leading Global Thinker” by Foreign Policy magazine, and has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Trieste, Italy, for his contributions to comparative constitutional law.

Kristen Clarke

Kristen Clarke, President & Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, leads one of the country’s most important national civil rights organizations in the pursuit of equal justice for all. Under her leadership, the organization has been at the forefront of some of the nation’s biggest racial justice problems today. The Lawyers’ Committee seeks to promote fair housing, voting rights, educational opportunity, criminal justice, judicial diversity and more. Clarke formerly served as the head of the Civil Rights Bureau for the New York State Attorney General’s Office, where she led broad civil rights enforcement on matters including criminal justice, education and housing discrimination, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, gender inequality, and LGBT issues. Kristen received her A.B. from Harvard University and her J.D. from Columbia Law School.

Norman Bradburn

Norman M. Bradburn is a Senior Fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago which is an objective non-partisan research institution, and serves as the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the faculties of the University of Chicago’s Harris School, Department of Psychology, Booth School of Business, and the College. A social psychologist, Bradburn has been at the forefront in developing theory and practice in the field of sample survey research. He has focused on assessing the psychological well-being and quality of life, particularly through the use of large-scale sample surveys and non-sampling errors in sample surveys. He currently co-directs the Humanities Indicators project at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was Principal Investigator of the Cultural Infrastructure in the United States project.

Irasema Coronado

Irasema Coronado is the Director of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University, the only doctoral program for border studies in the US. Raised in Nogales, Arizona, she has spent over 25 years studying cross-border resource management, water rights and environmental policies, in addition to immigration, asylum and deportation in the Arizona-Sonora region. Previously, she was a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), where she held the Kruszewski Family Endowed Professorship. She is co-author of the book titled “Fronteras No Mas: Toward Social Justice at the U.S.-Mexico Border” and several academic bodies of work revolving around border studies. Coronado also currently serves as an associate provost at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Lanhee J. Chen

Lanhee J. Chen, Ph.D. is the David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Director of Domestic Policy Studies and Lecturer in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University. He is also a Senior Counselor at the Brunswick Group, a global business advisory firm, and an Operating Partner at New Road Capital Partners, a private equity firm, where he helps to direct healthcare investments for the firm’s investment fund. A veteran of several high-profile political campaigns, Chen has worked in politics, government, the private sector, and academia. He has advised numerous major campaigns, including four presidential efforts. In 2012, he served as Governor Mitt Romney’s chief policy adviser, and developed the campaign’s domestic and foreign policy.

Eleanor Smeal

As Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and former President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Eleanor Smeal has led efforts for the economic, political, and social equality and empowerment of women worldwide for over four decades. She has been an activist leader in the passage of landmark legislation, such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Equal Credit Act, Civil Rights Restoration Act, Violence Against Women Act, and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. Smeal also led the fight for the U.S. ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (from 1977-1982). Never giving up the dream of constitutional equality for women, Smeal is currently helping to spearhead the renewal of efforts to pass the ERA.

Luis Fraga

Luis Ricardo Fraga is the Rev. Donald P. McNeill, C.S.C., Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership, Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor of Political Science, Director of the Institute for Latino Studies, and Fellow at the Institute for Educational Initiatives at the University of Notre Dame. He has been on the faculty at the University of Washington, Stanford University, and the University of Oklahoma. He is a native of Corpus Christi, Texas. In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed him to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence For Hispanics, where he also served as co-chair of the Postsecondary Education Subcommittee. In 2011, Hispanic Business named him one of its “100 Influentials” in the U.S. In 2013, Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn appointed him co-chair of the Immigrant Voting Rights Task Force.

Bill Galston

William A. Galston holds the Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program, where he serves as a Senior Fellow. Prior to January 2006, he was the Saul Stern Professor and Acting Dean at the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, and founding director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). Galston was Deputy Assistant to President Clinton for Domestic Policy from 1993 to 1995. Galston is the author of nine books and more than 100 articles in the fields of political theory, public policy, and American politics. A winner of the American Political Science Association’s Hubert H. Humphrey Award, Galston was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004.

Alexandra Rojas

Alexandra Rojas is currently the Executive Director at Justice Democrats. She was part of the original team that recruited and helped elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In the last months of the election, she helped run the texting, calling, and volunteer recruitment programs that facilitated Ocasio’s historic election victory. Prior to this she was a part of the Bernie 2016 campaign’s national distributed organizing team, helping to create and run the volunteer-led “barnstorm” program. In her role as national digital field manager, she was instrumental in launching over 800 volunteer-led organizing meetings that helped significantly scale the voter contact capacity of Bernie 2016 phone banking and canvassing efforts.

Benjamin Ginsberg

Benjamin L. Ginsberg is an American lawyer and partner at Jones Day. Ben Ginsberg is a nationally known political law advocate with 30 years experience representing participants in the political process. Ben joined Jones Day in 2014. In 2012 and 2008, he served as national counsel to the Romney for President campaign. Prior to that, he worked at Patton Boggs, LLP where he represented political parties, political campaigns, candidates, members of Congress and state legislatures, governors, corporations, trade associations, and businesses participating in the political process. His clients include political parties, political campaigns, candidates, members of Congress and state legislatures, governors, corporations, PACs, donors, and individuals.

Peter Goldmark

Peter Goldmark currently works as an independent consultant in the areas of environmental policy, international affairs, and social change. He directed the Climate and Air program for Environmental Defense from 2003 through 2010. Prior to joining Environmental Defense, he was Chairman and CEO of the International Herald Tribune. His public service was highlighted by his tenure as Budget Director for the State of New York from 1975-1977, where he orchestrated the rescue of both New York state and City from a budget crisis. He also served as the Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from 1977 to 1984. He served as president of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1988 to 1997, encouraging its involvement in education and environmental issues, particularly as they related to energy.

Jane Mansbridge

Jane Mansbridge, Charles F. Adams Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, is the author of Beyond Adversary Democracy (on deliberation in a New England town meeting and participatory workplace) and Why We Lost the ERA (on the public deliberations over the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution), as well as editor/co-editor of Beyond Self-Interest, Feminism, Oppositional Consciousness, Deliberative Systems, and Political Negotiation. She was president of the American Political Science Association 2012-13, and was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994 and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 2014. She was awarded the international Skytte Prize in 2018. Her current work includes democratic deliberation, everyday activism, and the public understanding of free-rider problems.

Pete Peterson

Pete Peterson is the dean of the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy. He is a leading national speaker and writer on issues related to civic participation, and the use of technology to make government more responsive and transparent. He was the first executive director of the bipartisan organization, Common Sense California, which in 2010 joined with the Davenport Institute at the School of Public Policy to become the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership. In 2008, he developed the organization’s annual Public Engagement Grant Program, which has provided over $500,000.00 in grants over the last several years to dozens of municipal governments across California. Peterson has also consulted on several of these projects with local governments, and has directly facilitated public meetings.

Bob Shrum

Robert M. Shrum is the Director of the Center for the Political Future, the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics at USC Dornsife, and is also Director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics. He has a storied career as an author and campaign adviser to Democratic candidates. A longtime political consultant, he was senior strategist in the 2004 Kerry for president campaign and in the 2000 Gore for president campaign. He also advised President Bill Clinton during his second term in office. Domestically, his other clients included Edward Kennedy, Joe Biden, and John Glenn and Barbara Mikulski in their Senate campaigns. Overseas, his clients have included Ehud Barak in his campaign for Prime Minister of Israel, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, President Andres Pastrana of Colombia, and the Fianna Fail in Ireland

Katherine Spillar

Katherine Spillar is the Executive Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation and the Feminist Majority. As one of the founders, Spillar has been a driving force in executing the organizations’ diverse programs securing women’s rights domestically and globally since its inception in 1987. As the Executive Editor of Ms. magazine, Spillar oversees the editorial content of the magazine and website, as well as the magazine’s program to expand its use in women’s studies and other college courses as a teaching text. Under her oversight, Ms. has increased its investigative reporting. She played an instrumental role in the FMF’s landmark 1994 Supreme Court case upholding the use of buffer zones to protect clinics, Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, and continues to oversee the Foundation’s litigation efforts to stop violent extremists.

The Center for Deliberative Democracy

The Center for Deliberative Democracy, housed in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, is devoted to research about democracy and public opinion obtained through Deliberative Polling®.

The Center’s Director, Jim S. Fishkin, holds the Janet M. Peck Chair in International Communication at Stanford University, where he is Professor of Communication, Professor of Political Science (by courtesy) and Director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy.

His work focuses on deliberative democracy and democratic theory in books such as Democracy When the People Are Thinking (Oxford 2018), When the People Speak (Oxford 2009), Deliberation Day (Yale 2004 with Bruce Ackerman) and Democracy and Deliberation (Yale 1991). He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has also been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and a Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge. Fishkin was educated at Yale and Cambridge. He holds both a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Cambridge.

Fishkin first proposed Deliberative Polling® as a method of public consultation in 1988. It has since been applied in more than 28 countries around the world in more than 108 projects on all inhabited continents. Please see five Deliberative Poll® case studies below. 


Helena is a new type of institution that seeks to address critical societal problems. Helena’s first project, “Factory in the Sky,” supported the construction of the first commercial carbon capture factory by the Swiss company Climeworks, which is now operating in 15 countries globally. Its second project, “Shield,” catalyzed state and federal action to help protect the North American electrical grid from threats due to solar storms and cyber-attack, including a 2019 Presidential Executive Order. Helena operates its projects with a small group of leaders it calls “Helena Members.” They include Nobel Laureates, Academy Award winners, Four-Star Generals, Olympic athletes, NGO leaders, technology entrepreneurs, explorers and more.

By the People Productions

By the People Productions (BTP) is an independent and nonpartisan broadcast and event management company that produces civic engagement projects and related documentaries.  By the People’s mission is to develop and produce civic engagement events and related broadcasts that bring informed citizen discussion to the public square. Originally a unit of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and the PBS NewsHour, By the People became an independent organization in 2015. From its inception in 1996 By the People has worked closely with the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University on local, state-wide and national Deliberative Poll projects and broadcasts on a broad array of policy issues ranging from national security to healthcare.  BTP is based in Washington DC.