We’re happy to announce that our president, Rich Endicott, has joined the board of The Sandra Day O’Connor Institute. While many recognize the name of this esteemed, retired Supreme Court Justice and Arizona leader, you may not know much about the institute she founded.
Judge O’Conner was the nation’s first female appointed supreme court justice and has touched the lives of all Americans with the supreme court decisions she made. She is an Arizona and a national icon.
The focus of her institute is to “solve many important social, economic and political problems through civil discussion and civic action.” The institute is “Non-partisan, objective, fact based, centrist, inclusive, collaborative, civil.”
Her Honor and her staff concentrate on building relationships and collaborating throughout the state and nation to find solutions that can be instituted and/or replicated by other organizations and communities, and even governments.
“The Justice has a vision that encourages a civil discussion on important topics facing Americans,” says Rich. “In a constitutional democracy, productive civic engagement requires knowledge of the history, principles and foundations of our American democracy.”
The O’Conner Institute, through a number of different forums, is creating the opportunity for young children, teenagers and adults to engage in open discussion on American democracy and the foundation that fuels it – the Constitution.
“It is difficult to not be attracted and want to help an organization that has the forward-looking vision demonstrated by the O’Conner Institute,” says Rich. “Over the course of a few months, I met with the Justice and several members of the Institute’s board and was immediately engaged. It was an easy decision for me to join the board and help this great team of people move forward the Justice’s vision.”
The institute’s specific programs include:
- America Theater
- Camp O’Connor
- Civic Collaboratory
- Civic Salons
- Issues & Answers Forum
- Debate Society
- Scholarship & Internships
- Millennial Council
America Theater offers screenings and discussions of films related to U.S. history and democracy to enlighten and educate the audience.
Camp O’Connor Honors Arizona’s entry into the union as the 48th state by selecting 48 middle school students to participate in a week-long summer camp. Campers learn more about civic issues and participate in leadership development training. Click here↗ to see the list of schools represented at Camp O’Connor this summer.
For organizations in need of collaborative problem solving Civic Collaboratory brings together stakeholders to engage in discussion and work toward identifying creative solutions.
Civic Salons are intimate gatherings to hear engaging speakers address a variety of social, economic and political issues.
Issues & Answers Forum is free to the public. The Institute presents “balanced, fact-based information to educate citizens on critical issues or ballot initiatives, featuring credentialed panelists representing various perspectives, together with a non-partisan moderator.”
While Debate Societies and clubs used to be a mainstay of the public education system, they are no longer as common. To help fill this void, high school students can look to the Institute for proper debate instruction, techniques and practice. Students have the chance to debate competitively in front of public office holder judges.
Scholarships & Internships – Each year an O’Connor Scholar is selected from gifted law students at Arizona State University to receive a scholarship. Exceptional high school and college students can also apply for a one- or two-semester scholarship with the O’Connor Institute designed around the student but also aligned with the objectives of the Institute.
A focus group of accomplished individuals aged 18-35 created Millennial Council, which is now developing an initiative to help Millennials become more civically engaged.
“I believe we can do more and be better at teaching the youth of this country what it means to be a constitutional democracy, and so many of the O’Connor Institute’s programs do this,” says Rich.
He is enthusiastic about his role as a board member to support and perpetuate all these wonderful programs and to encourage broad-based civic engagement throughout our community and beyond. To learn more about how to invest or participate in the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute, visit the website here.↗
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