The Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society was launched on February 16, 2011. The Dialogue elevated the Department’s engagement with civil society alongside our cooperation with bilateral partners and underscores our commitment to protecting and defending civil society around the world. The Dialogue provides a forum for cooperation with civil society and a vehicle for telling the story of our ongoing work to support and protect the freedoms of association and expression.

The launch of the Dialogue brought together a broad cross-section of civil society representatives from more than 20 countries, senior officials from the U.S. Government, and Executive Directors from prominent U.S.-based International NGOs. It also included virtual participation from thousands of civil society representatives worldwide including attendees at viewing parties hosted by 55 U.S. Embassies.

Over the last two years, the Dialogue has been carried out through a Federally chartered Advisory Committee, chaired by Dr. Tomicah Tillemann, and six thematic working groups:

  • Governance and Accountability, chaired by Robert Hormats, Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment;
  • Democracy and Human Rights, chaired by Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor;
  • Empowering Women, chaired by Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues;
  • Global Philanthropy, co-chaired by Tara Sonenshine, Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and Kris Balderston, Special Representative for Global Partnerships;
  • Religion and Foreign Policy, co-chaired by Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Maria Otero, and Joshua DuBois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships; and
  • Labor, chaired by Special Representative for International Labor Affairs Barbara Shailor.

Civil society representatives participating in the working groups have identified a series of policy proposals and forwarded them to the Secretary for action.