In 1993, Harry Nathan Gottlieb launched a pilot with a group of young reporters to use this new thing called the “World Wide Web” to launch a new kind of journalism: one focused on exploring multiple solutions to big civic problems. Given that the internet had only become available to the public a few months earlier, that initiative was, well, a little too early.
Harry went on to start two successful interactive communication companies: Jellyvision and Jackbox Games. But Harry’s dream of finding a way for Americans to directly participate in solving big problems, not by fighting each other, but by deliberating multiple solutions together never went away.
In the summer of 2019, in a deeply polarized country, Harry interviewed scores of Americans from all walks of life and discovered that we are far more united than we think. Energized by knowing that we share many of the same goals, Unify America was launched in January of 2020 to reduce contempt, teach Americans to work together and build a diverse community to find ambitious solutions and solve our biggest problems.
How does an entrepreneur move from designing games to saving democracy? We asked Harry's teenage son, Moses, to find out.Read a Q&A with Harry
Recognize that the things we believe in and that we know may actually be wrong. Staying open to learning from the experience of others is a daily practice.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the stupidity or greed of your fellow Americans, remember those same people have also engaged in acts of compassion and generosity, but that story didn’t get reported.
Individuals and organizations can’t grow without people being honest. By doing so in a kind way, it makes it much easier to embrace truths that are sometimes hard to hear.
Go ahead, have a snack. We’ll wait. Better yet, share some.
Whether it’s connecting with other Americans outside one’s “bubble,” learning new skills or solving our collective problems, no matter how serious the purpose, the journey should be fascinating and fun.
For the last 25 years I’ve focused on making learning and decision-making delightful (as the founder of Jellyvision) and creating unique games that bring people together (as the founder of Jackbox Games).
I am now returning to an initiative I first piloted with a group of young journalists in 1993 to work toward a better way for the American democracy to solve its biggest problems. There was barely an internet then. But now we have the technology in place and a greater need than ever to find a way for Americans to come together.
I’ve spent the last 20 years helping improve the patient experience with digital health solutions as co-founder of Emmi Solutions and Analyte Health. Before that, I was a proud member of the original Jellyvision creative team and helped launch the first “You Don’t Know Jack” games. Before that….I was a Hollywood film editor. (Careers are squiggly paths, not straight lines.)
I believe that when we, as Americans, are divided into political factions, we are weakened. Unifying our country based on our shared goals and beliefs is not just a naive hope — it is critical to a strong future. Let’s do this.
Deadlocked in a heated argument over the most minor details are where I’ve found my clients for much of my career. I began my path as an attorney in litigation and eventually transitioned to employment law. My job was guiding the opposition to see my client’s point of view…and in some cases pulling my client closer to the middle ground without losing value. From a BIPOC perspective, I am keenly aware of the voices often excluded from national conversation. I vibe with Unify America’s mission to bring more people to the table. Let’s really see what’s important to most of us.
Vice President of People and Legal
Abby Ferguson is the Director of Partnerships at Unify America, a non-partisan non-profit organization on a mission to replace political fighting with problem solving. Under her leadership, Abby has overseen the growth of partner relations with higher civic organizations, statewide leadership initiatives, and higher education. Unify America’s intercollegiate programming has grown substantially since its inception in 2021. Previously, Abby has worked in political fundraising and campaigns, public affairs, and for the Illinois Senate Republican Staff.
Director of Partnerships
My career path has been a very squiggly line. I started as an attorney and then went around several curves into nonprofit leadership roles for Books & Breakfast, the Frances Willard House Museum and Archives and my local elementary school PTA. My next turn was into grassroots community organizing, and I recently completed a certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility. Throughout it all I’ve also raised four daughters (my house is currently full of teenagers.) The common theme guiding all of my work is a passionate belief that all stakeholders should have a meaningful voice in the forces that shape their lives, and it’s what’s drawn me to Unify America’s mission to participate directly and collaboratively in solving our country’s challenges.
Director of Strategy
Since I was 8 years old, I’ve been actively engaged in the United States political system. I’ve spoken at city council meetings, walked doors for candidates, and volunteered with local campaigns. After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in Cultural Anthropology, I created content for “The Lost Geographer Podcast” and was on staff at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
I grew up in a politically-divided household. My father, a retired police officer, is conservative and my mom, a graphic designer, is quite liberal. Together, they taught us that it’s possible to value shared goals and our shared humanity over a perceived difference. As our Community Organizer, I’m excited to focus my skills to welcome America’s problem solvers and consensus builders to help make our shared goals into shared solutions.
I’ve spent my academic and professional career leading and supporting projects that help improve how we think, relate, and solve problems across differences. I’ve published graduate research on improving deliberation design, led Gnomi, a news app that used A.I. to grade media bias, and worked across the political bridge-building field with organizations like AllSides, Listen First Project, Bridge Alliance, and Braver Angels.
At Unify America, I get to dedicate my passion for improving collective decision-making and contribute to a vision of 21st century policymaking that empowers and inspires citizens to work together and solve our shared problems.
Director of Deliberation Research
Creative & Strategic Advisor
As a Fashion Business & Economics grad who’s always had a passion for exploring my interests, I’ve worked in various industries, including Fashion, Finance, and Nonprofits. Using my experience of sales, numbers, and helping others led me to start my own online platform- The Broke Ambitionist, where I help ambitious young adults achieve their financial and personal goals. I also spend a part of my time freelancing as a financial consultant for a nonprofit based in my hometown of Queens, NY.
I’m eager to be a part of Unify America and join a growing environment where people can listen to each other and come together for a common goal no matter their political background, religious belief, or any other affiliations.
I love to experience new places and learn from people with different backgrounds. I grew up in rural Vermont, home to maple syrup and Town Meeting Day. I moved across the country to attend college in Portland, Oregon, where I voted in my first presidential election via mail-in ballot. After college, I spent four years in Barcelona, teaching English and earning a Master’s Degree in Public Policy. I’ve lived in Seattle for over a decade now, working in technology and advocating for prison and immigration reform.
Each place I’ve lived has expanded my horizons. Living in Spain, I experienced a country where health care was accessible by all, regardless of health insurance or immigration status. This experience shaped my vision of a just and equitable society and allowed me to reflect on what I could do to contribute. Today, I get to combine my love for software development with my passion for working with people to move our society forward toward common goals.
Senior Software Engineer
I’ve spent my career building marketing strategies and co-creating communities through storytelling. I’ve led and worked alongside teams responsible for social media, content creation, advertising, public relations, and communications.
After a stint as a strategic management consultant and a creative magazine leader, I co-founded an Ohio-based marketing agency in 2017, focused on amplifying people and organizations on a mission.
My family roots are in the deep red of South Georgia. I started my career in the very blue Boston, and, today, my home is in purple Ohio. I’m thrilled to work with you, website bio reader, and prove that our different political colors and perspectives won’t make us weaker—they’ll make us stronger.
Vice President of Marketing
All my life I’ve loved “making stuff”. Growing up, a lot of the stuff I made was notoriously useless: wallets made from scraps of felt, a portrait of ‘Physically-Fit Santa’, a putt-putt golf course no one wanted to play. But there was joy in making them.
‘Making stuff’ took a new form for me while studying at Amherst College, where I majored in Film and Media Studies. After graduating in 2019 I went to HOLLYWOOD, and (very) slowly started making my way up the ladder: learning on the sets of music videos, commercials, and short films. And then a global pandemic hit, so I made my way home to Connecticut, where I created videos for nonprofits dedicated to social justice.
Finally, it seems, I can put my ‘making’ to good use. I can set up a camera, try to tell a story, and, if I’m lucky, share it with you. Because those small, hopeful steps towards a kinder world? There’s joy in making them too.
Creative & Video Producer
Before joining Unify America, I served as Chief Creative Officer for Jellyvision, whose software helps millions of Americans make better decisions about their employer-provided benefits. It was no small task, given that most people would rather chew tree bark than think about health insurance.
Getting people to pay attention to complex topics like “medical benefits” and “saving democracy” is hard. Even when people want to get smarter or make a difference, life doesn’t always make it easy. Everybody’s busy, and Netflix and TikTok aren’t going to watch themselves. I’m interested in creating entertaining and unique new ways for people to spend time with their fellow Americans, learn a little something, and become better equipped to help keep our country intact.
Chief Creative Director
I’ve devoted my career to researching and using communication to promote political engagement and collaborative problem solving. I completed my graduate education in communication at the Pennsylvania State University. For the last decade, I’ve served at Wabash College as a professor and the founding Director of Wabash Democracy and Public Discourse, a program devoted to designing and facilitating public deliberation events in local communities. I’ve partnered with communities across the Midwest and organizations like Indiana Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Kettering Foundation to host deliberations and produce positive change.
My experience hosting deliberations has taught me that when we come together, listen to one another, and consider new possibilities, we can find solutions that we never thought possible. Democracy requires all of us and everyone’s voice matters. It takes hard work, but I’m confident that we, the people, can move forward and unify towards a better future.
Executive Vice President of Deliberation
In my chosen carrier path, I have worn a few different hats: Musician, Audio Engineer, Graphic Designer, Motion Designer, Web & Software Developer. (Research, express, draft, and build!) Behind all of these mediums is a long list of creators/contributors whose work not only inspires me towards becoming masterful in my own professional endeavors but also, to appreciate and learn from the gift of the ‘why’: To share the moment when inspiration hits. That ripple of influence shaping character and culture towards a better version of itself.
This fundamental attribute has been one of the main cruxes of influence in my professional and personal life to inspire, create and build stuff with others. To seize a moment and carry the torch so others may find the ‘gift’ as well.
I feel honored to be able to work with the unique, talented and dedicated team of Unify America and also, the opportunity to contribute towards its mission to bring people with polarizing beliefs together, and work with one another, to solve our greatest challenges by showing them how much more they are alike than different.
Front End Developer
What began as a passion for drawing as a kid grew into a full-blown obsession for design as a teenager. I taught myself the Adobe suite at 14, and then joined my high school’s Graphic Communications career tech program to begin designing for the local community. So, it was only natural from there that I would move on to major in the business of advertising art.
As a Marketing Coordinator, I am focused on building brand awareness, generating conversions, and growing revenue. More importantly, as a young Gen Z adult trying to navigate the after-effects of a global pandemic, I am an empathetic friend to a frustrated society. Being born and raised in the swing state of Ohio has gifted me opportunities to form a well-rounded perspective on the political issues that divide our nation. I am proud to be a bipartisan voice in a mission to help bridge the political miscommunication gap.
What makes me tick? Getting the job done! How, you may ask? Through relationships and teamwork! Throughout my career I am most proud of the relationships I have built with colleagues, clients, partners, students, educators, board members and donors. My recent background is in marketing and recruiting students for academic programs in the Washington, DC area. When I believe in something I am at my best engaging folks and spreading the good word whether it's through digital marketing or old-fashioned word of mouth. Mission-driven work is my jam!
In recent years my views have been marginalized as they have been for many others and I have steadily made an ascent away from the epicenter of political mudslinging and now reside comfortably in the country replacing policos with cows for neighbors. And then along came Unify America like a beacon of light. As Engagement Manager, I am so excited to get back out there and play a part in ensuring everyone’s voice is heard. No matter what!
I’ve always been a person to speak up and especially for myself. I love having discussions where I can genuinely express my feelings and be heard. I’m probably what one would consider as a person who thinks everywhere but in the box.
My employment ventures originally started in Administration for over fifteen years. I transitioned to Healthcare and obtained my Nursing and Pharmacy Technician and licenses due to my love for the Geriatric community. My passion to bring individuals who’s had traumatic/life - changing experiences the best empathic care that would make them feel strengthened and whole again. I wanted them to not only know but feel through my care that the preservation of their quality of life was just as important to me as it was to them. They were my “Gems” of life.
At Unify America, I’m able to be a seed that has been planted in a world that’s about to change like never before. The vision for all citizens peacefully problem-solving to make the world a better place. I love it and l’m thrilled to be on board!
Unify America’s mission to find practical solutions to challenging issues resonates deeply with my personal beliefs. I’ve volunteered often since high school and am grateful for all the amazing opportunities I’ve had to help my community.
In recruiting, I prioritize diversity and inclusion in all areas, which means I’m constantly listening to feedback and looking for education opportunities. I’ve recruited for a wide range of roles from entry-level to executive and love the opportunities to talk with applicants from all different backgrounds and viewpoints.
My goal is to support our community and potential team members with good follow-through and realistic communications about the opportunities and challenges each role presents. I treasure each of my interactions and want all our applicants to have an experience that exceeds their expectations.I am excited to join Unify America and recruit talented people to help strengthen our mission!”
Recruiter & Community Builder
I have fond memories from my early, formative years of conversations with my father about ethics, faith, and God. He was partly an educator with a Ph.D. in world religions and partly a Protestant minister. He encouraged the asking of big questions without ever insisting on rigid beliefs. This enhanced my natural curiosity to explore complex issues without clear answers.
Learning together how to live together and peacefully navigate our inevitable disagreements in a diverse democracy raises questions without one correct answer. The pursuit of potential answers is what drew me to Unify America’s work. Engaging in such exploration with wonderful people inside and outside our organization is energizing.
As a member of the Deliberative Democracy team, I bring a background in education, social services, and some community organizing. I aspire to use these educational and people skills to help bridge the gap between more abstract theories of democracy with real-world decision-making.
Deliberation Project Associate
I spent the first 17, and the last 6, years of my life in Montana. Growing up and living in a small town very much shaped the person I am today: open, honest, and family-oriented. Those three things are also what brought me to Unify America. I love that our mission is to make our country better for future family generations through open and honest communication!
When I’m not nerding out over books or history or politics, I love to be outdoors as much as possible. That being said, I hate the cold and winter weather I’ve been accustomed to for many years. Give me a mountain, snacks, and all of the sunshine possible!
My academic and professional pursuits have all centered around two things: people and politics. For most of my career, I’ve worked to empower people throughout the political spectrum to engage in civic issues. I started as an activist and organizer in college, majoring in Political Science. As I piled on skills and experience, I learned that though we all have political and moral differences, we tend to be on the same page on most big-picture problems our nation faces. The realization that we may one day see things from each other’s perspective and move forward has driven me toward my goals.
The mission of Unify America speaks deeply to my mission. I want to see this country become better, safer, and unified. I feel honored to work with a group that shares the same mission! Let’s make it happen!
I have spent almost 20 years in the technology and software engineering space. From employee #2 of a successful tech startup to Director of Engineering for an international nonprofit, I have experienced many organization types, built diverse and high-performing teams, and architected reliable, performant, scalable software solutions. I love using technology to make people’s lives easier and automate away the mundane so people can focus on the extraordinary.
In addition to my passion for software engineering, I love exploring the intersection of technology and government, power dynamics, and citizen engagement. My doctoral dissertation looked at social media use in the context of deliberative democracy. I have peer-reviewed work on the power dynamics of technology-influenced civic engagement from quantitative and qualitative lenses. I came to work at Unify America, so I could move beyond theory and into the practice of leveraging technology to bring the promise of scaled deliberative democracy into the real world.
Director of Software Engineering
I am a Cameroonian-born American who loves people and loves numbers. I am a certified public accountant (CPA) and I am thrilled to bring nearly a decade of accounting experience to the success of Unify America and their team. My favorite quote is “Not all of us can do great things but all of us can do small things with great love”. This quote reminds me that no matter what we do we can make a positive impact when we do it with love. My favorite hobbies are listening to podcasts and talk shows. I currently live in Sienna, Texas (#lonestarstate).
I first got involved with campus and community organizing…by accident. In 2014, I was a sophomore in college sitting in my Public Health class, and our student-run nonprofit made an announcement about several public interest campaigns they were launching. At the time, I didn’t think filling out an interest form would turn into a full-fledged career in nonprofit work.
Since that classroom announcement in 2014, I’ve organized and trained students and community members across eight states to run nonpartisan issue-based campaigns that win (and many times not so much, but made progress).
Many don’t expect me to do this type of work. Heck, I got into this work not knowing what advocacy, policy, or even making change meant.
What’s kept me grounded, despite often questioning my life choices, are people. Through relationship building and listening, we can identify shared world visions and the endless ways to work towards those visions together.
When I’m not talking about social change, you can find me in the mountains, paddle-boarding, or testing out a new recipe I found on Instagram.
You are great at figuring things out and aren’t afraid to ask questions. We’re a startup, so no two days are the same. You’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get things done.
For you, work must create meaning and impact. You want a job with other people who are driven by the mission. And you are energized by results.
You have a point of view and want to hear the point of view of others. You want to make our democracy stronger through the power of different perspectives.
Unify America is an equal opportunity employer. We value diversity in all its forms and evaluate candidates without regard to race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, veteran status, and other legally protected categories.
Most importantly, it’s critical that we represent the whole of the American ideological spectrum. There is power in our differing perspectives. You don’t get the best ideas by listening only to the people who already agree with you. We will solve our problems more effectively with greater wisdom not by fighting each other, but deliberating together toward our shared goals.
We are committed to making sure everyone who believes in our mission can participate in our mission.