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. 

The Paul J. Aicher Foundation has an endowment of approximately $6 million, the annual income from which is devoted to supporting our own operating projects. The Foundation also receives generous support from the Aicher Family Foundation.  

Everyday Democracy is the primary project of The Paul J. Aicher Foundation. Additional support for the work of the Center and the Foundation derives from contracts, grants, and in-kind support from other foundations 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

Diana Johnson, Board Chair 
Art Consultant. Retired Senior Vice President and City Executive, US Trust-Bank of America, Providence, R.I., and former museum curator and director

V. Duncan Johnson, Esq., Treasurer
Of Counsel, Edwards Wildman & Palmer, Providence, R.I.

Susan Graseck, Secretary
Director, The Choices Program, and Senior Fellow, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, Providence, R.I.

Sheri Brady, Trustee
Senior Associate for Strategic Partnerships, Aspen Forum for Community Solutions, Washington, D.C.

Archon Fung, Trustee
Acting Dean and Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Peter Levine, Trustee
Director, Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University, Medford, Mass.

Bruce L. Mallory, Trustee
Professor of Education, and Director of The Carsey Institute, University of New Hampshire. Also Director, NH Listens, Durham, N.H.

Jock McClellan, Trustee
Professor Emeritus, Quinebaug Valley Community College, Danielson, Conn.

Miles Rapoport, Trustee
President, Common Cause, Washington, D.C.

Selena Singletary, Trustee
Community leader. Formerly, Director of Department of Human Relations, Housing and Neighborhood Services, Springfield, Ohio

Susan Stroud, Trustee
Executive Director, Innovations in Civic Participation, Washington, D.C.

Lori Villarosa, Trustee
Executive Director, Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, Washington, D.C.


Additional Officer of the Foundation

Martha McCoy
President, The Paul J. Aicher Foundation
Executive Director, Everyday Democracy

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Our ultimate goal is to create positive community change that includes everyone, and we believe that our tools, advice, and resources will help foster that kind of change. Whether you’re grappling with a divisive community issue, or simply want to include residents’ voices in city government, the dialogue to change program can help community members take action and make their voice heard.