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Civil Discourse - Not Civil War

In today's polarized society, engaging in meaningful and respectful dialogue can often feel like an insurmountable challenge. "Civil Discourse-Not Civil War" is a forum dedicated to understanding the importance of civil discourse and providing participants with the tools and techniques to engage in constructive conversations across ideological divides.
Panelists include:  


  • Dick J. Batchelor, political consultant and author of "Building Bridges in Toxic Political Times"
  • Dr. Joel C. Hunter, chair of the "The Pledge of Central Florida" campaign
  • Stephanie Murphy, former U.S. Rep. who served Congressional Dist. 7 for six years
  • Dr. Haley Winston, Dir. of UCF offices of Civil Discourse & Engagement and Public Policy Events
  • Moderator Teresa Jacobs, chair of the Orange County Public School Board
America is on the edge as the Nov. 5 election draws closer. Despite pleas for unity, recent historic events have divided voters even further. So how do we begin to bridge that widening gap? A panel of influential Central Florida leaders will address these timely questions in the Aug. 14 Hot Topics session “Civil Discourse — Not Civil War.”

Doors open at the Winter Park Events Center at 11:00 a.m. for a buffet lunch, and the panel discussion starts at 11:45 a.m. at 1050 W. Morse Blvd. in Winter Park. The program ends at 1 p.m. Tickets are $30 for League members, $37 non-members.
The Aug. 14 Hot Topics will examine civil discourse — what it means, and how to use it. Among questions to be discussed:
  • How should we talk with people who hold very different points of view?
  • What leads to political violence?  Is it inevitable or avoidable?
  • How do you dial back the rhetoric and turn off the outrage machine?
  • How can we build more bridges instead of walls?
  • If things don't go the way we like on Nov. 5, how do we get back to work to make our communities better?



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Dick Batchelor
Dick Batchelor

Dick J. Batchelor is founder and president of the Dick Batchelor Management Group Inc., a consulting firm specializing in business development, strategic governmental affairs and public policy issues management. Batchelor is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives and has five decades of political experience.

Batchelor has been named one of “The 50 Most Powerful People” by Orlando Magazine (2004 to 2011), the 2002 “Central Floridian of the Year” (The Orlando Sentinel), the 2002 “Businessman of the Year” (Orlando Business Journal, November 2002) and the 2008 and 2009 “Best Corporate Citizen” (Orlando Magazine).

In the Florida House, he served as chairman of the Auditing Committee, the Health and Rehabilitative Services Committee and the House Energy Committee. He was also chairman of four subcommittees and is the recipient of more than 50 awards for his legislative service. Dick Batchelor is a longtime Orlando resident and received degrees from the University of Central Florida and Valencia Community College.

He currently serves on several boards, including the Florida Children's Hospital Board (Chair), Florida Hospital Foundation Board (Chair), the First Amendment Foundation, the Central Florida Urban League Board of Directors, Florida's Children First and the Florida Tuskegee Airmen Board. Since 1981, he has served as honorary chairman of the Dick Batchelor Run for the Children, an annual 5K race that raises funds (over $1 million to date) to treat abused children.

In 2010, Dick was awarded The Chiles Advocacy Award presented by United Way of Florida for his “Integrity, Dedication, and Commitment to Improving the Lives of Florida's Children and Families.”

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Dr. Joel Hunter
Dr. Joel Hunter

Dr. Joel C. Hunter is a nationally and internationally known advocate for the poor, the marginalized and those dealing with disabilities. He served a three-year term as the chairman of Central Florida’s Commission on Homelessness.

After 32 years as the senior pastor of Northland Church’s congregation of 20,000, he spent five years leading a nonprofit in networking with churches and local charities to locate available resources and benefit the struggling in our community. Orlando Magazine highlighted his efforts and named him as the No. 1 most powerful voice for philanthropy and community engagement and listed him among “Orlando’s 50 Most Powerful” six years in a row.


Approaching today’s challenges in a biblical and balanced manner, Dr. Hunter is neither partisan nor politically oriented, but often relates to public officials in a pastoral role; he served as a spiritual advisor to President Obama during his eight years in office.


Dr. Hunter has served in leadership roles of the World Evangelical Alliance, serving more than 600 million evangelicals, and the National Association of Evangelicals, serving more than 40 denominations and thousands of churches.


Currently, he is the pastor of community benefit at Action Church, a multi-site congregation based in Winter Park. His one-minute daily devotionals can be heard worldwide on Z88 radio. He is the chairman of The Pledge of Central Florida campaign, a call to action for residents of Central Florida who are tired of hateful discourse and want to create a safe and inclusive community for all. The pledge asks residents to commit to treating all people with kindness and respect, especially those with whom they disagree. To learn more:

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Stephanie Murphy
Stephanie Murphy

Stephanie Murphy served as the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 7th congressional district from 2017-2023. The Democrat defeated incumbent Republican John Mica in 2016 in an upset victory.

Murphy became the first Vietnamese-American woman and the first Vietnamese-American Democrat to be elected to Congress. In 2018, Murphy was named to the Ways and Means Committee.

A co-chair of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, Murphy announced in 2021 that she would not seek re-election the following year. Florida’s Republican governor and Legislature redrew the 7th district so that it leaned more conservative.

Murphy was one of seven Democrats that Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed to the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. Murphy spent the last 18 months as a member of the

committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

She was born in 1978 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam before leaving the country with her family in 1979. She grew up in northern Virginia and attended the College of William & Mary and Georgetown


Murphy also worked as a national security specialist at the U.S. Department of Defense, an executive at Sungate Capital and a business professor at Rollins College.

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Dr. Haley Winston
Dr. Haley Winston

Dr. Haley Winston is a dedicated educator and community leader with over 12 years of experience at the University of Central Florida (UCF). She currently serves as the Director of the offices of Civil Discourse and Engagement (CDE) and Public Policy Events (PPE) within the Ginsburg Center for Inclusion and Community Engagement.

Dr. Winston has a strong academic background, having conducted scholarly research on peer-to-peer civic discussions, and she has played a pivotal role in bringing National Issues Forums (NIFI) deliberative

dialogues to UCF. She also works with the Multicultural Student Center and LGBTQ+ Student Support Services.

She received both her bachelor’s degree in Art History and a master’s degree in Educational & Counseling Psychology with a focus in College Student Personnel from the University of Louisville. She received her doctorate in Education and Policy Studies at UCF.

Dr. Winston teaches student success and leadership courses. She has had experience working with volunteering, civic engagement, academic advising, new student orientation, homecoming programming,

fraternity and sorority affairs, parent engagement and first-generation college student retention.

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Moderator: Teresa Jacobs
Moderator: Teresa Jacobs

A long-time Central Florida leader, Teresa Jacobs was elected chair of the Orange County School Board in November 2018. She previously served two terms as Orange County mayor (2010-2018) and two terms as an Orange County commissioner (2000-2008).

A native of South Florida, Jacobs graduated cum laude from Florida State University with a degree in economics and enjoyed a nine-year career in banking before entering public office.

She has served on the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Central Florida Expressway Authority, Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission, LYNX Board of Directors and MetroPlan Orlando.

A long-time community volunteer, Jacobs was actively involved in PTA and School Advisory Councils at her children's schools. She was also a member of the OCPS Impact Fee Committee and is a member of West Orange Chamber of Commerce, President of Orange County Homeowners Association Alliance and Florida Association of Counties and a member of the East Central Planning Council.


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