THE PATH TO NATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE
Founded in 1997 by government law and policy expert, Harry Pozycki, who has
served as its full-time leader ever since, The Citizens Campaign attracted other civic leaders,
most notably Derek Bok, president of Harvard University (1971 – 1991). With the credibility
provided by President Bok, who served on the board of The Citizens Campaign for several years,
Harry assembled a team of volunteer experts–former city mayors, school board administrators,
municipal attorneys and other experts with a record of getting things done on the local level.
This team, called The Citizens Campaign’s Law & Policy Task Force, chaired by Gary Stein, chief of
policy for New Jersey Governor Tom Kean (1982 – 1990), works on a volunteer basis to support
citizens, trained in No-Blame Problem Solving©, to adapt successful, cost-effective solutions from
other communities for adoption in their own towns and cities.
CITIZEN EMPOWERMENT LAWS
In its early years, the Task Force worked with Harry to develop citizen empowerment
laws, including the Nation’s strongest Pay-to-Play reform laws to reduce the political dominance
of big money; the Open Public Records Act, which gave citizens access to the details and costs
of current government policies; the Citizen Service Act, which opened the doors for citizens to
appointed positions on local government boards and commissions; and the Party Democracy
Act, which required political parties to adopt constitutions empowering grass roots party
It soon became clear that the publicity around the adoption of these laws was not enough to
inform citizens of their new powers, so The Citizens Campaign began to hold public forums, which
started with gatherings of 50 to 100 people, and soon ballooned to conferences of well over a
thousand citizens for a single event.
CITIZEN EMPOWERMENT EDUCATION
Realizing that the demand was greater than a small non-profit could handle,
Harry wrote THE CITIZENS MANUAL, a text to inform citizens of these new powers, and The Citizens
Campaign partnered with the University of Pennsylvania to develop a course, based on THE
CITIZENS MANUAL, that could be taught at educational institutions beginning with public high
The course was praised by teachers and leaders in the education community, and successfully
piloted in several high schools, but while the impact was much broader given this public education based
approach, it was limited by the fact that the course was offered as an elective that didn’t reach
all students. Undeterred, The Citizens Campaign began working with Political Science teachers
to find a way to transform the course into a set of teaching tools that could be embedded in
mandatory social studies courses for all students.
The full course was then upgraded for use in colleges and successfully piloted at Rutgers University
and Providence College, among others. To expand further the impact of its citizen empowerment
training, The Citizens Campaign developed a curriculum of online video classes for the general
The combination of the mandatory high school instruction, the college course, and the online
video class curriculum, provided a cost-effective approach to broad citizen empowerment
education. What’s more, citizens who received this leadership training went on to gain adoption
of hundreds of local laws that improved their communities.
CITIZEN LEADERSHIP SERVICE
The lessons were learned – broad citizen empowerment education was possible
with a proven, cost-effective strategy, and more importantly, empowerment produced “citizen
leadership.” This was an exciting discovery, but it too had a limitation: the majority of the citizens
who became successful leaders, gaining adoption of laws to improve their communities, withdrew
to their personal lives, satisfied that they had made a contribution.
The challenge now was to find a way that empowered citizens could continue their public service
beyond an initial successful experience. To address this, The Citizens Campaign developed Civic
Trusts– non-partisan, local civic associations comprised of a few dozen “citizen leaders” who come
together in monthly Solution Sessions to search for successful policies at work in other communities
and propose them for adoption in their own. These “Civic Trustees” serve for a term of one to three
years, after which they are term limited, and make room for new citizen leaders. Civic Trusts were
successfully piloted in several cities and proved sustainable.
Initially, Civic Trustees who choose their own issues, were heavily supported by the Law & Policy
Task Force in the development and presentation of their solutions, but the goal of expanding
Trusts across the Country had to be addressed. To this end, Harry Pozycki, with support from
the Law & Policy Task Force, developed a step-by-step, No-Blame Problem Solving© Guide, for
use by Trustees, that was based on best practices of successful practitioners in researching and
implementing evidence-based, cost-effective solutions.
Importantly, the Guide also required that solutions “benefit the community as a whole” and
incorporated a NO-BLAME approach to solutions development and advocacy. This practical, No-
Blame Problem Solving© Guide not only gives Trustees the power to tackle their chosen issues
with little or no coaching, it creates a NO-BLAME environment that attracts and maintains Civic
Trustee service. The blame game that dominates our current political culture is rejected by Civic
Trustees who now pledge to leave their communities and country better than they found them
without pointing fingers or assigning blame. All that remains is an environment of service and
A PIPELINE OF PRINCIPLED LEADERS
AND PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS
The Citizens Campaign realized it now had the materials to produce a pipeline of
principled leaders and practical solutions — cost-effective high school, college and online citizen
leadership training, coupled with attractive, community based public service opportunities in Civic
Trusts. Encouraged by this result, The Citizens Campaign produced CITIZEN POWER, a citizen
leadership training text that introduces the Art of No-Blame Problem Solving and Civic Trustee
service, for use in all 50 states.
Then, it all came together. The citizen leadership training tools, text, and Civic Trusts began
to attract the support of national organizations. First, the NFL Alumni Association offered a
partnership to promote The Citizens Campaign’s efforts. Next, local and national community
college associations provided platforms for introducing the Campaign’s citizen leadership training
and service programs to community college presidents across the Country. Soon thereafter,
Rutgers University Press published CITIZEN POWER and agreed to make it available for free
to community colleges. And perhaps, most significantly, Rogers Smith, then president of the
American Political Science Association, threw his whole weight behind a national program in
which The Citizens Campaign would offer the citizen leadership training tools, including the text
CITIZEN POWER, and its facilitation of Civic Trusts, to all 1,081 community colleges in the Country–
effectively creating a new National Public Service.
A NEW NATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE
The Citizens Campaign’s goal is now in sight.The tools for educating all
Americans to the fullness of their political power are here. The Civic Trusts have been successfully
tested and are sustainable. The strategy of embedding these leadership training and service
opportunities in community colleges’ undergraduate courses and continuing education programs,
and the ability to give newly skilled leaders the opportunity for on-campus public service, provide
the vital components for a new National Public Service.
Now, The Citizens Campaign is perfecting a ‘Citizen Power Portal’ that will largely automate and
make universally accessible, the teacher and professor training and support, and the facilitation
of Civic Trusts on a national basis. It is also building a list, with full contact information, of all
community college political science professors in the Country, so that it can offer its training tools
and on-campus Trustee service to them directly and efficiently.
The result will be a National Public Service Program that unlike past ones is:
citizen driven, community based, cost effective, and most importantly, one that will
produce a nationwide pipeline of principled leaders and practical solutions, giving
America the capacity to tackle the problems of the 21st century.