American Bar Association President Deborah Enix-Ross participated on July 13 in a Civics Engagement Forum hosted by Nationwide at its Columbus, Ohio, headquarters. The event, produced in conjunction with the ABA Cornerstones of Democracy Commission, highlighted the importance of civics knowledge and education.
The event showcased the partnership between Nationwide and the ABA to promote civility and civics in the community and follows the mission of the commission to engage the business community in promoting the three C’s – civics, civility and collaboration.
Enix-Ross kicked off the event with a “fireside chat” with Nationwide Chief Legal Officer Mark Howard. She explained the genesis of her initiative, saying that before she became ABA president, her non-lawyer friends would constantly ask her questions that she realized were mainly about the rule of law and our government and how it works and does not work. That led her to the idea of civics, civility and collaboration.
She stressed that collaboration meant “working across industries, across fields and across professions. We need lawyers, we need journalists, we need academics, we need the business community, we need faith leaders. All of us working together to promote those 3 Cs.”
Howard explained Nationwide’s Civic Action Program, which has been in existence for 45 years. The program exposes employees to the voting process and to the issues involved in elections in a nonpartisan fashion. He said that Nationwide’s commitment to civics education made the partnership with the ABA and its Cornerstones Commission logical.
Enix-Ross also emphasized the importance of state and local bar associations in the process of spreading awareness of civics education and mentioned the $200,000 grant the commission received from the American Arbitration Association - ICDR Foundation. The grant supports collaboration with state, local and affinity bars to develop programming that fosters community dialogue, improves understanding of the rule of law and helps to restore confidence in our democratic processes.
The program also included educational videos produced by Nationwide explaining the Electoral College and how a bill becomes law. Another prerecorded panel featured two members of the Congressional Civility and Respect Caucus – Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and Rep. Mike Carey (R-OH) – discussing how respect and civility can exist in politics.
The program was rounded out by panel discussions featuring former U.S. Congressman Pat Tiberi, former Mayor of Columbus Michael Coleman, Ohio State Bar Association CEO and Corporate Secretary Mary Amos Augsburger, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and a group of Ohio election officials, which explored leading by example to promote civility, election integrity and the ins and outs of Ohio elections, including the hotly contested Aug. 8 special election concerning how the Ohio constitution is amended.