About the Davenport Institute


Publication: 2012-11-25



Name:Owen Ambur


Name:Davenport Institute


Since our founding as a multi-partisan and non-profit organization in 2005, The Davenport Institute (formerly Common Sense California) has worked to engage the citizens of this state in the policy decisions that affect our everyday lives. It is our firm belief that, in today's world of easy access to information, and easy connectivity to others, California's municipal and education leaders are seeking ways to involve the residents of their communities in the important issues they confront. Done legitimately, this new kind of leadership produces better, more creative policy solutions and better, more engaged citizens committed to the hard work of self-governance.


  • Citizens of the State of California

  • Davenport Institute Administration and Fellows

  • Pete PetersonExecutive Director -- Pete Peterson was the first executive director of 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. He developed the organization's annual Public Engagement Grant Program, which has provided over $200,000.00 in grants over the last several years to municipalities and special districts across California. Peterson has also consulted on several of these "participatory planning" and "participatory budgeting" projects in cities ranging from Salinas to Palmdale. Peterson has co-created and currently co-facilitates the training seminar, "Public Engagement: The Vital Leadership Skill in Difficult Times" - a program offered to California leaders from city planners to regional officials. To date over 350 city, county, school district, and nonprofit officials have attended these seminars. He has written extensively on public engagement for an array of print and online journals, and since 2008 has co-authored the California Civic Health Index. Peterson earned his BA in history from George Washington University, and an MPP from Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy. He was also a public affairs fellow at The Hoover Institution in 2006.

  • Ashley TrimResearch Coordinator -- Ashley Trim has worked in public policy at the local, state and national level, for both governments and non-profit organizations. As communications specialist for the City of Lancaster, CA, she worked with various city departments on public engagement and information efforts. This experience established her interest in the public engagement process, while also providing insight and understanding into the challenges and fears facing local government officials who wish to engage their residents. Trim has a BA in Government from Patrick Henry College and an MPP from the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. After receiving her Master's degree, she spent a year teaching in a low-performing public school, an experience which reinvigorated her interest in the potential of public engagement to address some of our most pressing public issues - particularly at the local level. She currently serves as Senior Editor of the Davenport Institute's four blogs and writes about public engagement issues for local and online news organizations. Trim also coordinates Davenport's training seminars and events, and works with Pete Peterson on the Institute's research and engagement projects.

  • Ed EverettSenior Fellow, Civic Engagement Practice -- Ed Everett served as been co-chair of Common Sense California's City/Regional Task Force from 2008-2010 and now serves on the Davenport Institute Advisory Council. He helped develop and co-facilitate the organization's training programs in public participation. Everett is a nationally-known speaker on issues related to public participation and community-building. He is the recently-retired city manager of Redwood City, where he held the position since 1992. Prior to that, he served as city manager of Belmont, assistant county manager for Washoe County, Nevada, and program analyst/fire chief for the City of Palo Alto. After obtaining a degree in economics from the University of California, Davis, and a graduate degree in urban affairs from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School, Everett gained valuable experience during several years as a VISTA volunteer. While overseeing what some call the renaissance of Redwood City, he focused a great deal of research and study on the concept of "community building" - what makes a real community.

  • David B. SmithSenior Fellow, National Civic Engagement -- David B. Smith recently stepped down after five years of service as the Executive Director of the Congressionally chartered National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) where he helped craft the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, expand America's Civic Health Index to include over 25 state and local reports, create the Civic Data Challenge, launch The Civic 50 with Bloomberg Businessweek, and publish reports on civic education, service learning, and proving the correlation between civic engagement and unemployment rates. Prior to joining NCoC, David founded and directed, a national organization that works with over 200,000 young adults to improve democracy by investing in Millennial led solutions. He has been honored with awards including the Independent Sector's "American Express NGEN Fellowship", YouthVote Coalition's "30 under 30" and the International Youth Foundation's "YouthActionNet Fellowship" for social entrepreneurship. He has been featured in many magazines, blogs and newspapers, including the New York Times, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Miami Herald, Huffington Post, NPR's Marketplace and CSPAN. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Political Science. While at Cal, he taught a class on National Youth Policy and researched the causes and possible solutions to the "Youth Civic Engagement Crisis in America." David is the Vice chair of the Board of Directors for the Corps Network and serves on the Advisory Board of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the Bipartisan Policy Center's Democracy Project, the Concord Coalition, Reimagining Service Council, and on the Steering Committee of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools.

  • Michael WarderSenior Fellow -- Michael Warder is a vice chancellor at Pepperdine University. Prior to coming to Pepperdine, Warder was executive director of the Southern California Children's Scholarship Fund (2001-05); vice president for development at The Claremont Institute based in California (1995-01); executive vice president of The Rockford Institute in Illinois (1985-95); executive vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington DC (1983-84); and director of administration at the Heritage Foundation (1980-83). He has written newspaper columns on a variety of topics for hundreds of newspapers including: Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Union Tribune, and many others. While in Illinois, Warder was a weekly commentator for WNIJ, the NPR affiliate for Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. He won four Silver Dome Awards for his commentaries. He has appeared as a guest on a wide variety of television and radio programs including: O'Reilly Factor and Hannity and Colmes on Fox, Politically Incorrect on ABC, Fox News, Chicago Tonight on WTTW, Life & Times and Frontline on KCET, CBS Network news, and many others. Warder created, produced, and hosted a weekly public affairs television program, Stateline Newsmakers. He has traveled broadly and led delegations to the former Soviet Union, the Baltic States, London, Hong Kong, Jerusalem, Rome, and China. Listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World, Warder is a member of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Council for National Policy, Philadelphia Society, and the Board of Directors of the Americanism Educational League. He is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in political science.

  • Steven FratesDirector of Research -- Steven Frates is the author of numerous studies and reports on state and local government finance and public policy issues. His research has addressed areas ranging from public education system finances to municipal government expenditure patterns. He is often quoted in the media and has written columns for the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, and other newspapers. Frates has served on the California State Constitutional Revision Commission, the Technical Advisory Commission of the State Solid Waste Management Board, and the Technical Advisory Group of the State Storm Water Runoff Program. In June 2004, Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar appointed Frates to the California Performance Review Commission. Frates received his B.A. from Claremont McKenna College, and his MPA and PhD from the University of Southern California. He has taught graduate level courses in government finance, public policy and public administration at the University of Colorado, the University of Southern California, California State University Fullerton, and San Diego State University. He currently teaches graduate courses in public policy analysis and government finance at the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University. Prior to his current appointment as director of research at the Davenport Institute, Frates was a Senior Fellow at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College. He has also been an assistant to the city manager for the City of Fullerton, California, executive director of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, and a high school teacher instructing students in civics, economics, mathematics, and history. In addition to his responsibilities at Pepperdine University, Frates is president of the Center for Government Analysis.

  • Davenport Institute Advisory Council

  • Jim KeeneDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- City Manager, City of Palo Alto

  • Rick Bishop,Davenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- Executive Director, Western Riverside Council of Governments (COG)

  • Rod GouldDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- City Manager, City of Santa Monica

  • Bev PerryDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- Former Mayor, City of Brea

  • Susan SherryDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- Executive Director, Center for Collaborative Governance at Sacramento State University

  • David SmithDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- Executive Director, National Conference on Citizenship

  • Fred DiazDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- City Manager, City of Fremont

  • Matt BronsonDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- Assistant City Manager, City of San Mateo

  • Tim O'DonnellDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- City Manger, City of Brea

  • Dennis DonohueDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- Mayor, City of Salinas

  • Ken HampianDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- City Manager (retired), City of San Luis Obispo

  • Terry AmslerDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- Executive Director, Institute for Local Government (League of California Cities)

  • Rich RamirezDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- City Manager. City of American Canyon

  • Mike ParnessDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- City Manager, City of Napa

  • Tony Eulo,Davenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- Program Administrator, City of Morgan Hill

  • Mark LinderDavenport Institute Advisory Council Member -- Director of Parks & Recreation, City of Cupertino

  • Pepperdine University School of Public Policy

  • Matt Leighninger"The Davenport Institute is a very unusual and exciting organization because it is helping civic innovators inspire, support, and learn from one another on a state-wide basis. This is an ambitious and much-needed role... By connecting local civic experiments, fostering new ones, and looking for new ways to connect citizen voices with state-level policymaking, the Davenport Institute has taken a leading role in the field of democratic governance." - Matt Leighninger, Executive Director, Deliberative Democracy Consortium (Washington, DC) and author of The Next Form of Democracy (2007), a national study of civic engagement.

  • Civic Innovators

  • James Irvine Foundation's California Democracy ProgramCurrent or Past Funder --

  • W.K. Kellogg FoundationCurrent or Past Funder --

  • William & Flora Hewlett FoundationCurrent or Past Funder --

  • The Whitman InstituteCurrent or Past Funder --

  • Concerned CaliforniansCurrent or Past Funders