our team

Living Room Conversations has incredible support from people who advise, champion, and partner with us. Our champions help connect Living Room Conversations with people and organizations who can use our model, our partners organize and cohost conversations, and our advisory board provides guidance.

core team

Becca Kearl

Executive Director
Becca is all about communities coming together over conversation and values discovering the diverse experiences and beliefs of those around her. She specializes in large-scale community dialogue on pressing social issues and has designed and led healthy dialogue practices in high schools, universities, civic organizations, faith communities, and in her own family and community at large. She is an avid book reader, lover of foreign languages, and passionate about supporting women and families. She lives in Utah with her husband and five children.

Joan Blades

Joan Blades is a co-founder of Living Room Conversations, an open source effort to rebuild respectful discourse across ideological, cultural and party lines while embracing our shared values. When we care about each other, we work to find ways to meet each other’s core needs. Joan is also a co-founder of MomsRising.org and MoveOn.org. She is the co-author of The Custom-Fit Workplace, winner of a Nautilus book award in 2011, and The Motherhood Manifesto, which won the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize in 2007. A mediator (attorney) by training and inclination, she is a nature lover, artist, and true believer in the power of citizens and our need to rebuild respectful civil discourse while embracing our core shared values. Joan lives in the California bay area.

Chelsea Rowles

Managing Partner
Chelsea graduated from the University of Minnesota with a MA in Educational Psychology: Learning & Cognition, and a minor in Program Evaluation. She has a passion for process improvement, and likes to help programs run smoothly and as effortlessly as possible. She currently spends most of her free time running after her two kids and also enjoys making paper art and eating good food. With her partner Robert and their daughter & son, Chelsea lives in Minnesota.

Anaïs Maseda

Belonging & Inclusion Partner
Anaïs is a mother, a multidisciplinary artist, a social justice educator, full spectrum doula, and a keeper of the Earth. She is devoted to utilizing her art mediums as a way to inspire a deep, authentic connection to ourselves, each other, our children, and the Earth. Anaïs has a B.A. in psychology and sociology, along with 10+ years of experience teaching, mentoring, and providing enrichment services to children, youth, and young adults, ages 2 - 25. She mentors youth in supporting and nurturing their development and full humanity, which includes prioritizing mental-emotional health and balance, addressing harmful and traumatic programming perpetuated via societal institutions, and engendering safe spaces for unlimited self-exploration and discovery through conversation.

Stewart Fletcher

Social Media Manager
Stewart is a political science major at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. He has always been passionate about bringing people together and bridging any perceived divides in our communities. As the middle of ten kids, he has had lots of experience being a mediator. In his role at Living Room Conversations, he is able to help the organization reach a wider audience and thus, continue to connect all types of people together.

Leah Spitzer

Administrative Support Partner
Leah has a Bachelor’s in Education from Florida State University, but found her passion as a dog trainer and behaviorist with a speciality in puppies and behavior rehabilitation. Leah’s background also includes executive administrative tasks and work in the financial industry. Most recently, Leah worked as Volunteer Coordinator and Administrative Support for Coffee Party USA. Leah insists she is retired, but it doesn’t seem to stick. Leah still enjoys the occasional work with an untrained dog, but these days, her focus is on finding ways to connect with our human neighbors and friends on tough issues and she is excited to be supporting the work of Living room conversations.

Cassidy Weaver

Community Engagement and Research Partner
Cassidy recently graduated from Brigham Young University with a master's in Public Health. She discovered LRC through a project run by her university's public health department. She is passionate about providing healthcare to those often overlooked and underserved in her community. She has recognized that a crucial component of overall health is positive communication skills and the ability to disagree with others while maintaining relationships. This is one of the many reasons she loves being a member of the LRC team. She is an avid runner, baker, and TV show watcher. She lives in Utah with her husband and their rescue pup, Ruthie.

Annie Caplan

Community Engagement Partner
Annie is an educator, community organizer, former librarian, and lifelong learner. After leading community conversations through the American Library Association's Libraries Transforming Communities initiative, she was inspired to help other librarians create safe spaces where members of their communities could engage in respectful and meaningful dialogue with one another. Annie loves connecting people and witnessing what can unfold when human beings come together and share their stories. She aims to foster inclusive and accessible environments where folks feel comfortable showing up as their most authentic selves. Annie makes it a daily practice to try to see the divine in everyone and everything. She can generally be found walking in the woods, singing and dancing, gardening, or enjoying a cup of tea with a good book.

Krystle Ciesielski

Youth Engagement Partner
Krystle, an educator and perpetual learner, has devoted nearly a decade to working with students in both Cleveland Metro Schools and Oklahoma City Public Schools. In these dynamic, urban settings, Krystle applied a diverse array of trauma-informed practices, actively engaging in continuous education to deepen her comprehension of the impact of trauma on both young individuals and educators alike. She passionately believes in the significance of empowering youth to have a voice in our society. Krystle holds a B.A in Humanities from Ursuline College, an M.S. in Education from Johns Hopkins University, and an Ed.M in Leadership from Columbia University. With a warm dedication to fostering a supportive learning environment, Krystle stands firm in her belief that empowering youth is a crucial aspect of building a more inclusive and responsive society.

advisory board

Mary Gaylord

Former Managing Partner, Living Room Conversations
Mary has worked as a community mediator, victim-offender reconciliation specialist, and facilitator of bullying prevention programming for school-aged children. She is the product of a Midwestern upbringing, and a family where each of the seven members occupy a different spot on the political spectrum. Mary served as Managing Partner for Living Room Conversations for years. A chronic idealist, Mary has a strong passion for supporting individuals and organizations that endeavor to make our world a better place. Mary enjoys living near the mountains, hiking, skiing, mountain-biking, camping, and hanging out with friends and family. Mary lives in Boulder, CO.

Amanda Kathryn Hydro

Founding Partner, Living Room Conversations
A Founding Partner of Living Room Conversations, Amanda is passionate about creating spaces that invite individuals to show up as they are and be appreciated for their unique skills and experiences while learning, growing, and co-creating in community. She has spent more than 3 decades facilitating the discovery of uncommon common ground and fueling innovation and transformation around the world in partnership with business leaders, elected officials, academic thought leaders, philanthropists, and social changemakers. Amanda lives in the NYC metropolitan area with her husband and their three children. She loves to run, enjoy the great outdoors, read, dance and go on adventures with friends and family.

Michael D. Ostrolenk

Social Entrepreneur
Michael is a leading expert on transpartisan public policy and has convened policy initiatives in the areas of transparency, privacy, defense, foreign policy and national security. He cofounded and serves as national director of the Liberty Coalition, a transpartisan coalition of groups working to protect civil liberties, privacy and transparency. A radio host and public speaker, Michael has written articles for publications ranging from USA Today to the American Conservative. He is the program director and master coach for SEALFIT‘s Unbeatable Mind Academy, a world-class leadership and personal development training program created by Navy SEALs.

John Steiner

Transpartisan Networker and Leader
John says, "Living Room Conversations is slowly and carefully reweaving the torn fabric of our American democracy one conversational strand at a time. If we can’t talk to each other with civility, respect, and dignity, then we certainly can’t work together at any level of our society to solve the profound and daunting challenges we face. Living Room Conversations becomes a template for our citizens and leaders alike."

Monica Silva-Gutierrez

Non­‐profit Consultant
Monica specializes in business strategy, fundraising, donor relations and sustainability for non-profit organizations such as the Democracy Fund, United Cerebral Palsy of North Bay and Center for Environmental Health. She helped Lawrence Lessig’s Change Congress increase its fundraising revenue from $500,000 in the first year to almost $4 million in year three. In the early 1990s, she worked on the Clinton/Gore campaign and served in various capacities in the first Clinton administration.

Justine Lee

Justine is the former executive director of Living Room Conversations and founder of Make America Dinner Again. She is currently the Programs Director of the Asian American Arts Alliance. Her bridge-building work has been featured on NPR, The New York Times, and CBS Evening News. Justine is also a trained audio journalist and has produced stories for Narrative.ly, Apex Express, a weekly radio show featuring stories of Asians and Asian Americans, and KALW, San Francisco’s oldest public radio station. She has deepened her roots as a NYC transplant by serving as a poll worker and as a member of the Advisory Committee for WE ACT, a leading environmental justice group based in Harlem.

Pearce Godwin

Founder, Listen First & National Conversation Project
Pearce is the founder, president and CEO of Listen First Project and founder of The Listening Coalition. Pearce studied public policy, economics and marketing at Duke University and is getting an MBA at UNC-Chapel Hill. He spent five years working in Washington, DC in the U.S. Senate and as a political consultant. Before moving home to North Carolina, Pearce spent six months in Uganda, Africa where he wrote It’s Time to Listen. That simple message has now reached millions of readers, attracted thousands of pledge signers, and launched the global Listen First movement.

Debilyn Molineaux

Co-Founder & Executive Director,
Bridge Alliance
Debilyn Molineaux co-founded the Bridge Alliance to harness the exponentially growing field of organizations into a “game changing” movement that shifts the underlying dynamics of power, politics, and participation in our country. She works with the staff, board members and other leaders of Bridge Alliance members in advancing the common mission of all 80+ organizations. In addition to Bridge Alliance, she co-founded Living Room Conversations and the National Conversation Project. Debilyn continues to bring her insight to entities seeking to grow their participation and efficacy.

Serena Witherspoon

Serena studies at University of California at Hastings College of the Law. She also works at Phillips Black, a nonprofit public interest law practice doing death penalty defense work. Before going into law Serena spent years hosting and participating in Living Room Conversations to exchange ideas with and get to know people outside of her own political bubble. She carries the principles of communication and bridging the divide, central to the LRC model, with her now as she devotes her time to criminal justice reform and prison abolition.

Lauren Snow

Lauren Snow served as Creative Director for Living Room Conversations for nearly five years. Lauren led Living Room Conversation's rebrand in 2017, and afterwards managed the production of designs for web, social, and print media until stepping into the world of genre illustration and fine art full time in 2022. During her time at Living Room Conversations, she enjoyed working with all team members to hone and shape the visual language that best represented the mission of Living Room Conversations to the world.

our champions