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Making Conversation A Discussion with Author Fred Dust

Thursday, February 4, 2021, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Making Conversation at Grace Farms

Join Grace Farms Foundation, UConn Department of Public Policy, and Leadership Greater Hartford for a virtual discussion with Fred Dust, former Senior Partner and Global Managing Director at the acclaimed design firm IDEO, about his book, Making Conversation. Mr. Dust will be joined by Dr. Mark Overmyer-Velázquez, Professor of History & Latinx American Studies and Director of the Hartford Campus of the University of Connecticut.


“We all know that leading conversations between groups who don’t see eye to eye is challenging. We’ve needed a road map for making these conversations productive and solutions-oriented, and now we have one in Making Conversation.”

—Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global


Conversations are one of the most fundamental means of communicating we have as humans. At their best, conversations are unconstrained, authentic and open—two or more people sharing thoughts and ideas in a way that bridges our individual experiences, achieves a common goal. At their worst, they foster misunderstanding, frustration, and obscure our real intentions.

In his practice as a designer, Fred Dust began to approach conversations differently. After years of trying to broker communication between colleagues and clients, he came to believe there had to be a way to design conversation itself with intention and purpose, while retaining its artful and playful qualities. Making Conversation codifies what he learned and outlines the four elements essential to successful exchanges: Commitment, Creative Listening, Clarity, and Context. Learn how these four elements, taken together, form a set of resources anyone can use to be more deliberate and purposeful in making conversations work, and examine how we can come together to tackle difficult topics and bridge our individual experiences to achieve better communication.


Click here to purchase Making Conversation


About Fred Dust

Fred Dust is the founder of Making Conversation, LLC and works at the intersection of business, society and creativity. As a designer, author, educator, consultant, trustee, and advisor to social and business leaders, he is one of the world’s most original thinkers, applying the craft and optimism of human-centered design to the intractable challenges we face today. Using the methodology in his forthcoming book Making Conversation, he has been working as the Senior Dialogue Designer with The Rockefeller Foundation to explore the future of pressing global needs; and with The Einhorn Collaborative and other foundations to host constructive dialogue with leaders ranging from David Brooks, Reverend Jenn Bailey, and Vivek Murthy to rebuild human connection in a climate of widespread polarization, cynicism and disruption. He is also proud to be faculty at the Esalen Institute.

As a former Global Managing Partner at the acclaimed international design firm IDEO, Fred works with leaders and change agents to unlock the creative potential of business, government, education, and philanthropic organizations.


About Mark Overmyer-Velázquez

Dr. Mark Overmyer-Velázquez is the Campus Director of the University Connecticut-Hartford and Professor of History and Latinx Studies. He oversees the university’s newest regional campus and works with colleagues and Hartford partners to build bridges between academic and city communities to support collaborative, engaged learning and research. Dr. Overmyer-Velázquez earned his Ph.D. at Yale University in Latin America and U.S. Latino history and has dedicated his publishing, teaching, and community activism to those intersecting fields. He has been a Fulbright scholar and visiting lecturer at universities in Mexico, Chile, and China and recently was Research Professor at the School of Human Rights and Political Science at the University of Jordan, Amman. The first Latinx elected official in West Hartford, he currently serves on a number of Boards of Directors in the Hartford region. In 2019, he received the Vision Award in Social Justice from the Charter Oak Cultural Center. He keeps his commitment to the arts by playing keyboard in the UConn faculty band, Blues without Borders.


More Praise for Making Conversation

“Fred Dust has helped some of the world’s most powerful people have more productive conversations, and reading this book feels like being engaged in a direct conversation with him. Drawing on his fascinating experiences as a senior leader at IDEO, his design thinking expertise, and his architecture background, he offers actionable advice on how we can all stop talking past each other.”

— Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals and host of the TED podcast WorkLife


“This book offers guidance for having the most productive and engaged conversations as we move forward in a world that desperately needs them. Smart, grounded in deep experience, and immediately useful for our moment, Dust’s book insists on this: Have the conversations that count.”

— Sherry Turkle, professor of the social studies of science and technology, MIT, and author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age


“Improving the state of the world depends on conversations that bridge divides, create solutions, and drive action. The stakes are high for having the best conversations possible, but we leave conversation to instinct, not technique. The foundation has been working with the practices of Fred’s book since the early days of 2020. Fred has continuously helped us craft more effective conversations with his easy-to-apply practices. This brilliant book is required reading for anyone who talks to anyone.”

— Zia Khan, senior vice president for innovation at the Rockefeller Foundation


“I greatly appreciate Fred’s keen intellect and, frankly, just the fun of working with him. His book on how to rethink the hardest conversations in the world personally captures what it is like to work alongside a person who I now consider a friend.”

— Jonathan McBride, former director of the presidential personnel office under Barack Obama


“While I’ve been fortunate to see Fred’s work on conversation and dialogue firsthand, I was moved to see how much of his practice connects back to things from his childhood: Storytelling from his grandparents. Listening from his mother. It’s clear he’s been doing this work his entire life.”

— Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen


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Thursday, February 4, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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