Panel discussion: Bridging our differences in a divided world

A local group of community activists known as “Compassionate St Augustine” has informed Historic City News that they will host a moderated panel to discuss how to bridge differences between people of differing beliefs.

Caren Goldman, executive director of Compassionate St Augustine, says that the panel discussion, titled, “Both Sides Now: Bridging Our Differences in A Divided World”, will be grounded in civil discourse with Republicans, Democrats, and those who cross party lines from around St Johns County.

“At its core, this discussion is an invitation to have the courage and compassion to thoughtfully examine what it really means to agree to disagree, respect the Golden Rule, talk to – and not about – others, and finally choose to mutually explore helpful ways to address issues that concern and impact all citizens,” Goldman said.

This event is free and all are welcome and encouraged to attend on Wednesday, January 18th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Willie Galimore Center, located at 399 Riberia Street in St Augustine.

Frank Denton, retired editor of the Florida Times Union, will moderate the panel. Denton spent 50 years as a journalist, 30 of those years as a leading editor. Now Denton is Editor-at-Large where he remains responsible for the TU editorial page, continues as a columnist, and provides oversight for community initiatives begun during his editorship from 2008 to 2016. He is also the VP of Journalism for Morris Communications, parent company of the Florida Times-Union. Denton is a native of Texas and current resident of Jacksonville. He holds a BA from the University of Texas, MS from Columbia University, and both an MBA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Current panelists (in alphabetical order):

  • Ron Brown, J.D., has dedicated more than 27 years to public law and local government – a career founded on the provisions of practical innovation and legal solutions while often under intense public scrutiny. After serving eight years as attorney for the City of St. Augustine Ron retired in 2014. Currently, he provides legal services through his private practices in Palatka and St. Augustine and serves as legal counsel for the St Johns River State College District Board of Trustees. Ron earned his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Florida. He continues to serve the community as the board director of the ARC of the St. Johns and as chairman of the St. Johns River State College Foundation Board.
  • Jerry Cameron has worked in public service for decades as the police chief of Irmo, SC and Fernandina Beach, FL and as City Manager of Fernandina. More recently, he has spent over ten years as Assistant County Manager of St. Johns County. Those experiences, combined with two decades in private-sector management, have informed and broadened his view of how the fabric of our community is woven together. Jerry serves on the board of the United Way of Saint Johns County and the Community Leadership Council. Additionally, he has been honored for his community work and leadership from the Nassau County NAACP, The Maria Jefferson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Executive Staff of the City of Saint Augustine, the St. Johns County Veterans Council, and from EPIC Behavioral Health Care.
  • Deltra Long, a lifelong resident of St. Augustine who grew up in the historic Lincolnville neighborhood, is a retired guidance counselor from the St. Johns County School District. She and her sister Alice were two of four students to integrate St. Augustine High School in the 1960s. She has a BA from the University of West Florida, MA from University of South Florida and her Doctor of Law degree from the Florida Coastal School of Law. In 1992, Deltra was one of the founding board members of Habitat for Humanity. Her broad community involvement includes serving as a former chairperson and current vice chairperson of the St. Augustine Planning and Zoning Board. Additionally, she serves other boards including the Community Hospice Advisory Board Council; Community Leadership Council, and the board of the St. Augustine High School/Ketterlinus Alumni Association. She is also a member of Rotary of St. Augustine, Inc.; the City’s Accountability Group; the St. Johns County NAACP, and St. Paul AME.
  • Kris Phillips is President of Phillips Broadcasting, LLC which owns Newstalk 102.1 WFOY and 96.5 WAOC radio stations in St. Augustine. WFOY has served St Augustine for almost 80 years. Kris’ earlier career included being an on-air television reporter in Little Rock, KATV; the producer of documentaries for Arkansas Public Television, and the moderator of Arkansas Week, a statewide public affairs program on legislative and political issues. Additionally, she served as Communications Director of a U.S. Senate Committee under U.S. Senator David Pryor and was the host of Secure Retirement, a nationally syndicated radio show focusing on senior issues. Currently, Kris is a board member of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce and the ARC of the St. Johns. Community involvement includes work with the American Cancer Society, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, Haven Horse Ranch, and the United Way.
  • Rev. Ron Rawls is beginning his tenth year as Pastor of the Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in St. Augustine since 2007. He holds a BA in religion from the University of Florida and has been in the ministry since 1994. A passionate community advocate, Rev. Rawls is known for speaking out at St. Augustine City Commission meetings on behalf of his community and is a contributor to the St. Augustine Record. Currently he is president of the St. Paul Development Center (Lead the Way Daycare Center), Chair of the Steering Committee of the West Augustine Community Redevelopment Agency, and a member of the St. Augustine Rotary Club, and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
  • Lynn Waugh Straughan is the owner/CEO of LWS Grant Consulting and a St. Augustine resident since 2000. Over the last 35 years she has worked in the social service industry and locally was the founding Executive Director for both Kids Bridge Family Visitation Center and the Cyprian Center for Expressive Arts. Currently, she serves as the Board President of Kids Bridge. Lynn received her BA in Sociology from Mercer University. In 2002 she was honored as the St. Johns County School District Volunteer of the Year for her work as PTO President at Ketterlinus Elementary School. Additionally, she has served on non-profit boards including the Junior Service League of St. Augustine, The St Augustine Community School of Performing Arts, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Lift Up Lincolnville Farmers Market.

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