The Mathews Center will host its annual Civic Institute on August 21st, 2020. The event will be held entirely online. The theme of this year’s event is Common Bonds: Collective Purpose and Civic Resilience in Uncertain Times.

Dr. David Mathews, President and C.E.O. of the Kettering Foundation, will deliver a (pre-recorded) keynote address drawing on his experiences at the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare—where he served as Secretary during the Swine Flu outbreak of 1976.

Our first digital-only Civic Institute will explore strategies deployed by individuals and communities as they respond and adapt to the challenges posed by a global epidemic. Community leaders across Alabama will showcase the innovative ways in which they have resisted social isolation by forging new connections with their fellow citizens and by exploring alternative perspectives uncovered through local historical research. This three-hour event (9:00am – 12:00pm CST) will be packed with the same quality thoughtful discussions and meaningful connections that you have come to expect from us each year.

  • 9:00 am – Opening Remarks by Cristin Brawner
  • 9:05 am – Pre-Recorded Keynote by Dr. David Mathews
  • 10:00 am – Short Talks with Panelists
    • Terrance Smith, Director of the Mayor’s Innovation Team in Mobile will discuss how his city is adapting to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
    • Margaret Morton of SAFE Sylacauga will discuss a new community resilience initiative with Laura Strickland (Director of the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce) and Brigadier General Robert Holmes (retired).
    • Dr. John Giggie of the University of Alabama’s Summersell Center and students from Tuscaloosa’s Central High School will discuss The History of Us, a year-long course created to help students explore the African American history of their own community. Dr. Giggie co-taught the course with his graduate teaching assistant, Ms. Margaret Lawson, who will join the panel alongside students from the course.
  • 11:15 am – Breakout Discussions: Rebuilding, Recovering, and Reimagining Our Future
  • 11:50 am – Closing Remarks


Because the event will be offered entirely online this year, registration will be free of charge! If you are able, we ask that you consider making a donation to the Jean O’Connor-Snyder Fund here. One-hundred percent of your donation goes directly to support the JOIP internship program, which provides immersive civic learning opportunities for college students to research deliberative practices and asset-based approaches for working with Alabamians in community-based projects. Those who donate $25 or more will receive a DMC care package full of our latest resources and a special gift!

Register Now