October 4th, 2018
5:30 to 7:30PM

Western Illinois University - RIVERFRONT ROOM 103 & 104


How has public discourse on critical topics come to be so combative and is a return to civility possible? Join us in this TEDxSalon Series event in a conversation on the tenor of public discourse, from multiple perspectives, and its evolution over the years. Moderated by WIU Assistant Dean, Dr. Jim Rabchuk, our speakers will explore the ways we lead a charge toward more civil exchanges in the public square. An all speaker panel will follow the presentations. Audience interaction and participation encouraged.


  • Stephanie Villinski, Deputy Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism
  • Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse
  • Matt Christensen, Executive Editor of the Quad-City Times
  • Jazmin Newton-Butt, Attorney and President of LULAC

Stephanie Villinski
Civility In Our Discourse: A Legal Perspective

With incivility on the rise in our country, the words of the famous quote, “If you want peace, work for justice” have never been truer. A healthy civil democracy must include access to justice for all and not just for those who can afford it. Otherwise, instability in families and communities will increase and we put ourselves at risk of incivility becoming our new normal.

Stephanie Villinski is the Deputy Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. The Commission focuses on promoting increased civility and inclusion within the legal profession. As Deputy Director, Stephanie supports the Commission’s mentoring, education, and law school programs and is responsible for operational systems of the Commission. Stephanie regularly writes and speaks about the importance of civility to the profession and the rule of law. Prior to joining the Commission, Stephanie was a legal aid attorney at LAF and content director at Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) where she worked to address access to justice issues. With a particular interest in the connection between civility and health and wellness, Stephanie seeks to promote a healthier, more rewarding professional life for lawyers and by extension, better service to their clients.

Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer
Incivility and Political Dysfunction: What Can We Do About It?

Learn through data about how the American people feel about the current political climate in our country, including a brief look at the structural causes that have created the current situation, and most important the signs of hope from all across the country - what we the people are doing about our current degraded political and public discourse.


Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer is the Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, an organization that works to reduce political dysfunction and incivility in our political system. As a leader in the field of deliberative democracy, she works to restore our democracy to reflect the intended vision of our founding fathers.

Dr. Lukensmeyer previously served as Founder and President of AmericaSpeaks, an award-winning nonprofit organization that promoted nonpartisan initiatives to engage citizens and leaders through the development of innovative public policy tools and strategies. During her tenure, AmericaSpeaks engaged more than 200,000 people and hosted events across all 50 states and throughout the world. Dr. Lukensmeyer formerly served as Consultant to the White House Chief of Staff from 1993-94 and on the National Performance Review where she steered internal management and oversaw government-wide reforms. She was the Chief of Staff to Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste from 1986-91, becoming the first woman to serve in this capacity. She earned her PhD in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University and has completed postgraduate training at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland.

Matt Christensen
Civility and the Media

A quick look at the role media has played in civility since the rise of newspapers, with insight into how that role is changing and what journalists are doing to raise the level of dialogue.

Quad-City Times Executive Editor Matt Christensen is an East Moline native and graduate of Iowa State University. He has worked his entire career for Davenport-based Lee Enterprises, taking over the Times and Argus-Dispatch in March. Christensen serves on the board of directors for Associated Press Media Editors.

Jazmin Newton-Butt
Civility: A Matter of Perception

“Act like a lady.”  Attorney and Community Leader, Jazmin E. Newton-Butt presents a compelling case for the double standard of civility in today’s society and further explores the effects of cultural layers on perceived civility.  She discusses why civility is viewed through a biased lens and offers suggestions on how to equalize the notions of civility among gender and cultural backgrounds.

Ms. Newton-Butt is an Attorney and Partner with Barbara K. Wallace, P.L.C. where she licensed to practice law in Illinois and Iowa.  Her primary areas of practice include family law, criminal defense, OWI/DUI and Traffic defense, and plaintiff’s personal injury.  Ms. Newton-Butt received her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Iowa in 2010 and graduated Cum Laude in May 2013 from Northern Illinois University College of Law.  Ms. Newton-Butt was the first in her family to graduate high school, college and law school.  She is also bi-lingual and fluent in both English and Spanish.  Ms. Newton-Butt is married and has three children.  

Although much of her spare time outside of the courtroom and office is spent raising her three children, she enjoys volunteering. Ms. Newton-Butt is heavily involved in the community and many non-profit organizations.  She routinely attends many charitable events and is a committed member of several organizations.  Currently, Ms. Newton-Butt is the President of the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council #10, Parliamentarian of the Iowa LULAC, Commissioner for the Davenport Affirmative Action Commission, a Commissioner on the Bi-State Regional Commission, President Elect for the American Association of University Women local chapter, Board Director for the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, Board Director for the Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber, Committee Member of the Empowering Latina Leadership Alliance (ELLA), and member of the Davenport Citizens Advisory Panel.


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