After more than a decade of domestic and international conflict resolution trainings, Mark Gerzon wanted to share what he had learned about the best practices for dealing with divisive issues and partisan politics. In 2006, in collaboration with Harvard Business Review Press, he published Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders Transform Differences Into Opportunities. His comprehensive overview defines the skills that can spark breakthrough innovation among even the most contentious, polarized stakeholders both in the United States and (through several translated editions) in countries around the world. Despite progress in many segments of society, however, hyper-polarization in American politics worsened. Determined to highlight the heroic work of scores of organizations that were already tackling almost every aspect of this dangerous problem, Mark joined with a wide range of colleagues — Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Libertarians — to launch The Bridge Alliance (bridgealliance.us).
This network of diverse, powerful organizations is working together to create a “third narrative” in American political culture: Americans Working Together. For the last thirty years, Mark has also served as president of Mediators Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to incubating projects that promote mutual understanding and the common good. The Foundation served as an institutional incubator for a wide variety of projects that are now pioneers in the transpartisan field, including the Bridge Alliance, and also helped convene many of the issue dialogues described in this book. For more information about the Foundation or to support its work, please go to mediatorsfoundation.org. Mark lives with his wife, the educator and author Melissa Michaels, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. He is the father of three sons, and the grandfather of seven.