Pete Peterson is a leading national speaker and writer on issues related to civic participation, and the use of technology to make government more responsive and transparent. He was the first executive director of the bi-partisan organization, Common Sense California, which in 2010 joined with the Davenport Institute at the School of Public Policy to become the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership. In 2008, he developed the organization’s annual Public Engagement Grant Program, which has provided over $500,000.00 in grants over the last several years to dozens of municipal governments across California. Peterson has also consulted on several of these projects with local governments, and has directly facilitated public meetings.
Peterson has co-created and currently co-facilitates the training seminar, “Public Engagement: The Vital Leadership Skill in Difficult Times” a program that has been attended by over 2,000 municipal officials, and he also co-created and co-facilitates the seminar, “Gov 2.0: What Public Officials Need to Know.”
In 2017, SPP launched a new initiative titled the “American Project: On the Future of Conservatism”, which is co-directed by Dean Peterson and Rich Tafel. The “Project” is a unique effort to gather scholars and activists from a variety points on the conservative spectrum to deliberate over, write about, and discuss the future of the conservative movement.
Peterson writes widely on public engagement for a variety major news outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as numerous blogs. He has also helped write several survey-based reports on the subject, including “Testing the Waters: California’s Local Officials Experiment with New Ways to Engage the Public” (in collaboration with the League of California Cities), and the “California Civic Health Index” (in collaboration with the National Conference on Citizenship). He contributed the chapter, “Place As Pragmatic Policy” to the edited volume, Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America (New Atlantis Books, 2014), and the chapter “Do-It Ourselves Citizenship” in the volume, Localism in the Mass Age (Wipf & Stock, 2018).
Pete has been a public affairs fellow at The Hoover Institution, and he serves on the Leadership Councils of the Public Policy Institute of California and California Forward, and on the boards of the Homeland Security Advisory Council and the Da Vinci Charter Schools.
Peterson was the Republican candidate for California Secretary of State in 2014.