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Kelley Packer
John Unger

Packer and Unger are eager to expand civil discourse workshops to state legislators around the country

Washington D.C. —  Next Generation Director Brent Hill is pleased to announce that former Representative Kelley Packer (R-ID) and Senator John Unger (D-WV) have accepted his invitation to serve as the Co-Chairs of the National Network of State Legislators Committed to Civil Governance. Kelley and John will lead the Network which consists of hundreds of current and former state legislators who are passionate about improving civil discourse and bipartisan relationships in state legislatures around the country.

“This is a year of transition in many ways: the current pandemic is going to require significant innovation in the content and delivery of our “Building Trust through Civil Discourse” workshops to state legislators around the country,” says Brent Hill, Director of Next Generation at the National Institute for Civil Discourse. “Kelley and John each bring exceptional experience, model civility in their states, and are enthusiastic to provide ideas and leadership.”

The National Network members are current and former state legislators who are committed to civility, working across the aisle, and taking action that will bring real change. The National Network provides members with support, skill-building resources, and a community with which to share ideas and questions.

Kelley served three terms from 2013-2018 in the Idaho House of Representatives before Governor Little appointed her to head the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses.  She left that post earlier this year and took a position as the Executive Director of the Association of Idaho Cities. Consequently, she has experience in the legislative and executive branches of government, as well as at the local level. She has practical ideas on how Next Generation can expand its curriculum to local government officials who may become state elected officials one day.

John has been serving in the West Virginia Senate since 1998. Also, he is currently the pastor at three historic Harpers Ferry Civil War churches:  St. John Lutheran Church, Camp Hill – Wesley United Methodist Church, and the priest of St. John’s Episcopal Church. He has innovative ideas on how the program can foster stronger legislative relationships and mentoring, improve its curriculum, and adapt it to a virtual format.

“Kelley and John have been active facilitators for Next Generation and already have innovative ideas on how we can improve our program and adapt it to a virtual format,” Keith Allred, Executive Director of NICD, explained. “We’re grateful they’ve agreed to help us advance civility in state legislatures around the country.”

Due to term limits, Next Generation says a heartfelt ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ to outgoing chairs and former state representatives Denise Driehaus (D-OH) and Roger Katz (R-ME). During their two-year term, Denise and Roger helped train countless current and former legislators to become workshop facilitators, designed and facilitated several National Network Summits, and were instrumental in bringing workshops to several states.

“We are extremely grateful to Denise and Roger for leading our National Network and being strong ambassadors for civil discourse in state legislatures,” Hill shares. “They’re the epitome of compassion in every instance. Our program is in a strong place due to their commitment and efforts.”

Kelley and John begin their term on January 1, 2021. “We are really excited to work with these two enthusiastic co-chairs. 2021 should be a great year in many ways,” says Hill.


Although most Network members have participated in a Next Generation “Building Trust through Civil Discourse” workshop, some have joined with the purpose of bringing these important resources to their state legislature. If you are a current or former legislator and are passionate about changing the culture of American politics or joining the National Network of State Legislators Committed to Civil Governance, please visit

Download the press release