A Note of Reflection from David Fairman

David Fairman

After 19 years helping to lead CBI, I’m now stepping out of my Managing Director role. For me, it’s a moment of intense gratitude, and an opportunity to reflect on CBI’s trajectory over the years. There are so any people to thank, and I’d like to do so by recalling some of the tremendous work done across CBI’s history.

Despite the extraordinary moment of ‘policycrisis’ that we, the country, and the world are living through, CBI is working well and doing good work in the world. The moment seems well suited for me to step out of management.

CBI’s future will require continuing to develop the next generation of Senior Mediators across areas of practice. We’ll also need to innovate both in our approaches to facilitation (especially with regard to meeting technologies) and in the emerging issue areas that our country and the world are likely to face, from the potential collapse of home insurance markets due to climate damage to AI-enabled public decision-making, which could dramatically enhance or undermine equitable stakeholder engagement and collaboration. In a country that’s deeply polarized and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, we also must continue to manage differences of view on inclusion and equity among conveners and stakeholders.

There may be other, even more significant challenges ahead for all of us, but my crystal ball is too cloudy to make them out. Still, I’m eager, in my ongoing capacity as a practitioner and organizational contributor, to support whatever direction CBI decides to go. For myself, I look forward to not thinking about many management issues that I’ve thought a great deal about for more than 20 years, and devoting more energy to practice in collaboration with others at CBI.

That said, I’ve had the opportunity to work with managers and leaders at many organizations, and I feel lucky every day that I’ve had those roles at CBI. It hasn’t always been smooth or pretty, but it has been a place where we’ve practiced collaborative leadership with full commitment. The people who’ve come together as staff, management, and Board have created a remarkably positive culture, with real friendships and a high level of mutual trust and respect. Given the landscape around us, that strikes me as quite an accomplishment—and we did it all together.