Concerned Citizens Defending Democracy (CCDD) is a network of citizens from several parts of the country concerned with the state of democracy and race relations in our nation. We began meeting in early 2020, initially with a focus on free and fair elections. We were just beginning to explore website development, clarify our mission and recruit members when COVID-19 struck. As happened with much of society at that time, our activities came to a full stop.
However, after the murder of George Floyd laid bare the urgent need for active citizen involvement in civic life, our commitment to action was reinforced even in the face of COVID. We determined that strengthening our democracy and promoting racial justice and reconciliation are the twin pillars of our work, and that inclusion, a core value of our nation, needs to be emphasized and reinforced.
THE BRIDGES INSTITUTE
CCDD has become a project of The Bridges Institute (Bridges), an 11-year-old nonprofit that historically has worked to strengthen African governance and democracy through global partnerships with the U.S., the European Union and the global Diaspora.
Building on the extensive experience of some of the CCDD members, we adopted Bridges’ “watch” methodology. One of the Bridges’ most successful programs has been the creation of a "watch" when an African democracy is in trouble. After the 2012 coup in Mali, non-profits, businesspersons, Malians, civil society groups -- all stakeholders -- met, assessed the situation, determined what the “watch” group could contribute to resolving the crisis and what resources we could bring to bear, and agreed on criteria for the restoration of democracy, success and the watch's conclusion.
The Mali Watch has lasted nine years, building strong enduring partnerships with local groups and stressing the importance of sustained citizen engagement in restoring a failed democracy. The government of Mali has just awarded Bridges’ founder, Vivian Lowery Derryck, the Knight of the National Order of Mali Medal in recognition of Bridges’ work to further Mali’s democracy.
Since our U.S. democracy is at a crossroads, the watch methodology seemed appropriate to our context. In addition, since the rest of the world is watching how the U.S. is navigating multiple challenges to our democracy, CCDD will be able to share its work with civil society and citizens groups in other countries.
2013 Mali Presidential Election
Mali Watch ended after its goal was met:
the restoration of democratic governance with territorial integrity.
WHO WE ARE
Our network of some 40 concerned citizens includes highly experienced and committed civic innovators and actors including senior business and nonprofit executives, attorneys, artists, peace activists, faith leaders, specialists in community dialogue, educators, and international development experts.
CCDD members include the founder of a highly successful get-out-the-vote network that reached hundreds of thousands of women in the last election; past leaders of two national nuclear arms control and peace groups; the past chair of one of the most successful global networks of peace organizations; former high level Federal officials (Surgeon General of the Navy; a NASA Administrator; an Assistant Secretary of State); faith leaders from the Presbyterian Church (USA); leaders of community dialogues in Colorado, Ohio and North Carolina; and scholar activists (e.g., senior fellows at Harvard). Over the years, group members have been responsible for a number of proposals that have resulted in new Federal action, including legislation.
Our work on inclusion has been seen in an editorial in Florida during the 2020 election, and in position papers placed at high levels at both national campaigns last year.
We understand that we cannot have a true, inclusive democracy without both strengthening our democratic institutions and promoting racial justice and reconciliation.
HON. VIVIAN LOWERY DERRYCK
Founder and President Emerita, The Bridges Institute
Former Assistant Administrator for Africa, USAID
Former President, African-American Institute
Distinguished Fellow, The Stimson Center
Founder, USAID's Office of Evaluation
Former Senior Advisor: UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO and UN ECA
EDMUND COOKE JR.
Board Secretary and Counsel, The Bridges Institute
Managing Partner, Cooke Chevalier, PLLC
Former Counsel to committees of the U.S. House of Representatives
President, Fine Art Realty and FineArtRealty.com
Member, Association of Fundraising Professionals
Chairman, Millennium Arts Salon
REV. PAT JACKSON
Co-Executive Director, Interwoven Congregations
Parish Associate, Bethesda Presbyterian Church
Board Member, The Bridges Institute
President Emeritus of Private Foundation
Former Senior Corporate Executive
Founding President, Every Woman Vote 2020
Advisor, Coalition for Women's Appointments
President, Mulhauser and Associates