About the Paul J. Aicher Foundation

The mission of The Paul J. Aicher Foundation is to advance deliberative democracy and improve the quality of public life in the United States.  

Founded in 1982, The Paul J. Aicher Foundation is chartered as an operating foundation. This means that instead of making grants, we achieve our mission by developing ideas and programs and making them available to the widest possible audience. 

Everyday Democracy is the primary project of The Paul J. Aicher Foundation, which was established with a $6 million endowment. The work of Everyday Democracy is made possible by endowment income, contracts, grants, and generous contributions from individuals and partner organizations.


About Paul J. Aicher

Paul J. AicherThe Paul J. Aicher Foundation is a product of the creative energies, vision, and commitment of Paul J. Aicher. Mr. Aicher, who died in 2002, left the legacy of a powerful vision for a democracy that is alive with the participation and voice of all its people.

Mr. Aicher was a businessman and philanthropist who played a leading role in advancing the idea and practice of civic dialogue on critical social issues in the United States. Throughout his business career, Aicher was involved in community work that would later lead him to become a full-time philanthropist and national civic leader.

In 1982, Mr. Aicher sold his business and established the Topsfield Foundation, Inc., based in Pomfret, Conn., to enhance civic engagement and improve the quality of public life in the United States. His vision of respectful, inclusive, productive citizen dialogue as a regular practice of democracy led Aicher to create Everyday Democracy as the Study Circles Resource Center in 1989.

No one who knew Paul Aicher will forget his zest for life, for nature, for birds, for flying his airplane, for sparring about ideas, for creative achievement, for teasing, for caring for people, for his love for family and friends, and for his ability to reach out and take risks. But even those who never had the privilege of knowing him have been affected by his generosity and vision.

In 2004, the Board of Trustees changed the name of the Topsfield Foundation, Inc. to The Paul J. Aicher Foundation.


The Paul J. Aicher Foundation Board of Directors

Miles Rapoport, Board Chair 
Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School 

Bruce L. Mallory, Vice Chair 
Senior Advisor, Co-Founder and past Co-Director, New Hampshire Listens; Professor Emeritus of Education, Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire 

Susan Stroud, Vice Chair 
Senior Fellow , Honey W Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, The George Washington University 

Ted Augustinos, Treasurer and Secretary 
Partner, Locke Lord LLP 

Jamiel L. Alexander, Trustee 
Senior Fellow, The Aspen Institute, Forum For Community Solutions. CEO, E5 Enterprise 

Sheri Brady, Trustee 
Vice President, Strategy and Program, Children's Defense Fund

Archon Fung, Trustee 
Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government, Harvard Kennedy School; Co-director, Transparency Policy Project; Faculty Director, Democracy Programs, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School 

Susan Graseck, Trustee 
Director (retired), The Choices Program, Brown University, Providence, R.I. 

Gillian Howell, Trustee 
Head of Client Advisory Solutions, Foundation Source

Diana Johnson, Trustee 
Former board chair Paul J. Aicher Foundation. Retired Senior Vice President and City Executive at Bank of America; former director and curator positions at Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University. 

Peter Levine, Trustee 
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, 
Tufts University 

Eduardo Martinez, Trustee 
Founder/Lead Facilitator, Meridian Strategies LLC 
Revitalization Specialist in Organization and Leadership Development, New Mexico Main Street Program 

Selena Singletary, Trustee 
Director (retired), Department of Neighborhood Services, Springfield, Ohio 

Connecticut Civic Ambassadors are everyday people who care about and engage others in their communities by creating opportunities for civic participation that strengthens our state’s "civic health."

Dialogue to Change

Our ultimate goal is to create positive community change that includes everyone, and our tools, advice, and resources foster that kind of change. Whether you’re grappling with a divisive community issue, or simply want to include residents’ voices in city government, Everyday Democracy's Dialogue to Change process, using a racial equity lens, can help.