#71 – Fostering Connection & Community with Purpose (In this Current Crisis and Beyond)

with Jenn Graham, Founder & CEO of Civic Dinners


Jenn Graham was recently named a “2020 World-Changing Woman in Conscious Business” by Conscious Company Media and Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “2019 Small Business Person of the Year – Rising Star.”

She is also a Civic Innovation Fellow and Startup Runway winner. With a 15-year track record in combining her business and design-thinking background with her personal passion for community engagement—her goal is and always has been to help communities build empathy and raise awareness, understanding, and collective action around critical issues as they attempt to live more sustainably. This is what led her to found and become the CEO of Civic Dinners, a social enterprise dedicated to helping people transform dinner tables into forums for positive social change.

We are currently living a new COVID-19 reality, where in-person communication is discouraged, and a phrase that no one had ever heard before, “social distancing,” is now commonplace. However, meaningful conversations can be had in any format, and that is what Civic Dinners is striving to communicate to the world as a key strategy for social change

Once the conversation topic is established, it’s up to the host to determine the style of the dinner, be it a potluck (we are all excited to be able to attend those again), or in times like these, a happy hour held around a virtual dinner table (find out more about hosting your own virtual happy hour with civic dinners).

Learning more about what it truly takes to connect and have discussions with others around important issues and questions is a crucial step in understanding what it will take to influence meaningful change in the world

If you are currently struggling to build engagement around challenges that are important to you, then this episode will be perfect for you, as getting connected with Civic Dinners may provide you with valuable guidance. 

In this episode, we chat with Jenn about how she & Civic Dinners have pivoted their approach during this crisis, what has led to the Civic Dinners’ worldwide success, and Jenn’s evolving understanding of what is needed in order to increase civic engagement and foster community.

Want more episodes on companies with innovative ideas to create change? Listen to:

CEO & Founder Jenn Graham sits down with  David Rubinger on Atlanta Business Chronicle’s BIZ tv

“We are up against this tribal instinct of right or wrong. There is no middle ground. Or you think one way or the other. The way to really slice through that is to tell stories that touch people at an emotional level and really capture people’s hearts, and then change their minds.” -Jenn Graham

Topics Discussed: 

  • The story and meaning behind Civic Dinners
  • How She and the company are addressing and adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • What’s led to Civic Dinners’ momentum and success, having over 1,500 dinners hosted, from New Zealand to Atlanta, and many cities in between since launch.
  • Lessons and insights she has learned over the years on successfully fostering civic engagement and community 

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