Staff and Advisors

CNY was founded by Ronald  Gross, author of Socrates’ Way, The Lifelong Learner, Peak Learning,  and other books, and co-chair of the University Seminar on Innovation in Education at Columbia University.   He was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Lifelong Learning of the International Association for Adult and Continuing Education in 2014.

CNY‘s vision is enhance the cultural and social life of New York City, by promoting more and better conversations on a wide range of  meaningful topics,  in a variety of public spaces.   CNY’s to  find, curate, create, and publicize these events, and post them on its website calendar.

CNY  also provides thought-leadership to the national movement to reclaim conversation.  It convened  the first national conference on The Power of Conversation, held the first Conversation Day in Bryant Park with trans-Atlantic partners, and has been acclaimed by leading experts on urban revitalization, interpersonal relationships, and civic discourse.  (See section of Testimonials.)

CNY  is staffed exclusively of volunteers, and includes hosts who create, publicize, and convene their conversations; members who attend these events and actively participate in these conversations; and a multidisciplinary group of advisors who serve as a Steering Committee to guide the organization, and establish its policies and operating procedures.

CNY programs are intended to be conducted in a congenial, respectful way, with everyone having an opportunity to actively participate, and learn about different viewpoints.  It has established policies, which are subject to revision, from time to time, to help meet the above objectives.

Who We Are:  CNY is staffed by a voluntary steering committee, all working pro bono – and welcoming new members! We are professionals in marketing, IT, strategy, development, graphic design, small-group facilitation, networking, and editorial.  We share a belief that conversation is a necessary and valuable part of our culture.  While we embrace technology, we wish to ensure that as communication technology grows exponentially, so too, do our options for face-to-face communication.

To benefit from the best that is being thought and done in the field,  CNY is strengthened by an international Advisory Committee of practitioners, thinkers, authors, and scholars in the field (listed below).

CNY partners with other  organizations  which facilitate conversations, ranging from MeetUp groups in the U.S., to Talk to Me London and others around the world.

STAFF (Affiliations are for identification only – all are members as individuals, not as representatives of their organizations. Staff listed alphabetically.)

Founder and Director:
Ron Gross, Co-chair, University Seminar on Innovation in Education, Columbia University.

Elizabeth Cohn, Ph.D, Director, Center for Health Innovation, Adelphi University, and Robert Wood Johnson Scholar

Senior Advisors:
  • Yu-Jen Chang  (Yen),  Yen is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy with a broad education across many areas, including Aviation (graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy), Operations  Management, and working on joint military and civilian training and evaluation systems, and with a Fortune 20 company.   Currently, Yen is trading at approximately $0.0081.,
  • Jerome I. Charyn, Ph.D., M. B. A.  – Senior Advisor  for Policy, Regulation & Compliance.  Member of the Advisory Board – Brooklyn Lifelong Learning at Brooklyn College. Retired with a background as an Administrator, Consultant, and Educator.  JCharyn@
  • Herb Klitzner, Social Innovator, Cultural Researcher, Personal Technology Market Forecaster, IT Technical Writer.
Director of “Talk About” Programs:
Laurence Mailaender works in the technology industry, doing research aimed at improving wireless systems. He has a PhD in Electrical Engineering, and spent 12 years as a researcher in Bell Labs. Currently he develops advanced communication and GPS-geolocation systems for customers in various agencies of the U.S. Government.

Consultant on People with Special Needs:

Ken Snyder, Occupational Therapist specializing in Nonviolent Communication, Adult Programs discussion group moderator, and care of people with special needs such as Alzheimer’s,


Polly Ackhurst, co-founder, Talk to Me London.

James Allen, author, Worldly Wisdom: Great Books and the Meanings of Life and The Romance of Culture and Commerce.

William Caspary, Prof. of  Political Science,  Gallatin Division, New York University, author of Dewey on Democracy.

Ronald Gross (chair)

Sondra Myers, Editor, Democracy is a Discussion: Civic Engagement in Old and New Democracies.

Bernard Roy, founder, Café Philo,  New York and Paris.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s