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Public Policy Facilitation

Our past projects speak to our qualifications, experience, approach, and ability to maintain neutrality. ICM has provided situation/conflict assessment, facilitation, mediation, visioning, organizational development, community outreach, press relations, and final reports as noted below. Conflict resolution processes require a clear definition of what constitutes “success.”  Despite best efforts and quality situational/conflict assessments, even the best-designed process has to be adjusted in “real time” once the project is up and running. There is usually a crisis of confidence during the initial stages that needs to be managed promptly and respectfully. We are particularly adept at solving such crises and charting a new course with the fully informed consent of the sponsors and stakeholders.


Sample Public Policy Projects:

ICMresolutions has facilitated projects involving a) work, stakeholder and tribal groups (Gorge Air/Tribes,) b) Emergency Management (Unreinforced Masonry Buildings,) Workforce Development (Construction Trades, Training, Apprentices, Support Services, and Credentialing,) Housing Insecurity (Shelters and Service Hubs,) Health Policy (Scope of Practice and Prescription Drugs,) and Education (Charter Schools.) 

Below is a representative, but not exhaustive, list of some of ICM’s projects of local, regional or state-wide significance.

City of Portland Civil Rights


Mercury Rule Fiscal Impact AC

Oregon’s Coordinated Care Organizations

Refugee Disability Services of Oregon

Climate Smart/Sustainable Communities

Hawthorne BLVD Business Assn. Summit

ODOT Rose Quarter Covers (ICA Team)

Oregon’s Environmental Claims Mediation

Transmission Lines Across Wetlands

Columbia River Gorge Air Quality

Hispanic Chamber Leadership

Oregon Dairy Air Quality

Oregon’s Foreclosure Avoidance

Trial/Appellate Court Mediation Programs

Dental Scope of Practice

I-5 NE Quadrant Plan

Oregon Health Authority Rulemaking

OSB Attorney Fee Mediation

Tribal Governments

Exempt Ground Water Well Policy WG

Master/Strategic Planning

Oregon Judicial Dept. Guardianships

Refugee Disability Services of Oregon

West Hayden Island Annexation



Highlighted Projects: 

Airport Futures: Charting a Course for PDX and Community Advisory Committee: Airport Futures was a collaborative effort between the City of Portland (City), Port of Portland (Port), and the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan community to create an integrated long-range development plan for Portland International Airport (PDX). The three-year process reinforced Portland’s planning legacy, PDX’s reputation as one of the premier airports in the country, and incorporated principles of sustainability and livability. Subsequently, the partners created an ongoing Citizen Advisory Committee, which Sam also  facilitated.

Air Quality Strategy – Columbia River Gorge:  Forest Service, EPA, Gorge Commission, Tribes, Oregon and Washington, several counties, numerous special interests, and the public are involved. This was a highly political and budget constrained, technical/scientific project with underlying political issues. Sam facilitated the redesign process of the technical study in the shadow of competing politics, priorities, perception and turf issues, while simultaneously keeping stakeholders and the public informed.

Bi-State Governors’ I-5 Task Force and Subsequent Interstate Bridge Replacement (IBR) project: The I-5 Partnership brought together Washington and Oregon citizens. Governors Locke and Kitzhaber appointed a 28-person, bi-state Task Force of community, business and elected representatives to develop a multi-modal, “Recommended Strategic Plan for the I-5 Corridor” between I-84 in Oregon and I-205 in Washington. The process was engineering-intense, policy-conflicted, and political in nature. It involved several technical sub-committees, numerous technical consultants, and required the facilitation/mediation of communications between governmental agencies whose interests were not always neatly aligned. ICM also assisted with public involvement. “WTS Project of the Year.”  Subsequently, we facilitated a community work group for the current project.

CRSO: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration, as co-lead agencies, prepared the Columbia River System Operations (CRSO) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires federal agencies to review and disclose the environmental effects of taking an action. The action referred to in the EIS was a multi-faceted approach to system operations, maintenance, and configuration of the 14 federal dam and reservoir projects in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, called the Columbia River System (CRS.)

URM: The Portland City Council adopted a resolution directing staff to develop mandatory retrofit requirements for critical buildings, schools, and public assembly spaces like community centers. It convened a working group to develop recommendations for standards, financing options, and timelines for a mandatory seismic retrofit program for other commercial URM buildings. Council also directed the group to develop recommendations for standards, financing options, and timelines for a mandatory seismic retrofit program for URM buildings owned by nonprofits.

South Corridor/Delta Park-Lombard Workforce Diversity Discussion Group: ICMresolutions facilitated a 20-person group in a turbo-charged, highly political environment and assisted them in developing a consensus report. The group’s mission was “to identify public and private partnerships within the Portland metro area to promote the jobs that will be created by public transportation projects and to foster the development of career opportunities for women, minorities, and a low-income workforce that reflects the diversity of people within the community.”

Harbor of Hope: The Oregon Harbor of Hope (OHH) was a non-profit program aspiring to develop a multi-purpose service hub that helps unsheltered people and the chronically homeless return to healthy, productive lives in permanent housing. The public involvement centerpiece was a diverse community workgroup, whose charter was to: a) Increase public knowledge; b) Support meaningful, collaborative dialogue and engagement, development, and operations; and c) Provide a platform for ongoing dialogue between the community and OHH even after the facility opens.

Homeless Youth System: Multnomah County convened the Homeless Youth Provider Agencies, which ICMresolutions facilitated. The agencies involved included Janus Youth Programs, NAYA, New Avenues for Youth, and Outside/In. The group successfully crafted a plan for the Homeless Youth System re-design and Assertive Engagement.

Transparency Strategies For The Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: The Oregon Legislative Assembly enacted reporting provisions for pharmaceutical manufacturers and insurers and established the Task Force on the Fair Pricing of Prescription Drugs . Its charge was to develop a strategy to create transparency for drug prices in Oregon across the entire supply chain of pharmaceutical products. It also required the Task Force to include a cost-effective and enforceable solution to expose factors that impact pricing. The Task Force recommended fifteen strategies intended to increase transparency across the entire pharmaceutical supply chain.

Human Health-Related Scope of Practice Process Advisory Group: The Human Health-Related Scope of Practice Process Advisory Group (PAG) was a joint state-wide effort between over 50 human health-related stakeholders, including legislators, lobbyists, insurance companies, healthcare providers, and other interested parties. These stakeholders were convened to collaboratively address the problem of expanding or narrowing health care scopes of practice in Oregon, which define services licensed professionals may legally provide. The PAG achieved consensus in recommending a legislatively funded pilot for processing scope of practice change requests using recommended parameters. These comprehensive recommendations addressed the public health benefit, the impact on health care access, delivery, and costs, evidence-based review, patient safety risk-benefit analyses, availability of education, testing, and regulation.

Charter Schools LC 125 Work Group: ICM facilitated a bi-partisan legislative work group on charter school funding. Participants included legislators, public school administrators, public school unions, and advocates for charter schools with a goal of developing a consensus recommendation for the legislature.


The following Policy Cycle construct and the skills listed below were used during these projects.


  1. DiagramDescription automatically generatedExcellent group facilitation skills, including development and implementation of an agenda designed to achieve identified meeting goals and objectives
  2. Ability to manage projects within scope, budget, and timelines
  3. Excellent interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills
  4. Excellent project management and organizational skills
  5. Understanding of public decision-making processes
  6. Understanding of collaborative consensus-based work approaches
  7. Ability to listen and identify important concepts or ideas in dialogue and to record or summarize them accurately
  8. Ability to see all sides of complex issues and understand complexities of multi-party collaboration, while helping stakeholders find common ground
  9. Ability to relate well with the media, high level public officials, and advocates with strongly held views
  10. Knowledge of Oregon’s public records and public meetings laws


Facilitation Project Approach:

The neutral plays a key role and “fit” is critical. Objective neutrals do not impose their substantive opinions on the group, but provide process guidance and direction. We have a unique blend of substantive experience and collaborative skills to help facilitate and mediate productive outcomes. We gain trust by displaying our impartiality. We are apolitical when it comes to partisan politics. Sam listens to both Fox and CNN. He also reads the NY Times and WaPo to ensure he understands all sides of the issues. While doing so, he regularly brainstorms  ways to bring the disparate views together.

Overall, our approach is practical, focused, interactive, and high-energy. We are not “touchy-feely” or “legalistic.” We use straight talk, uncover hidden agendas, and get the job done in a timely fashion. We are especially experienced in dealing with time pressured, polarized dynamics that require creative, practical solutions.

Setting the Tone

We design processes that work toward collaborative and satisfactory resolution. We believe that a sustainable solution has to be an equitable one, and we work hard to identify all the necessary stakeholders to an issue and encourage participation from all groups involved. We go to them and meet on their terms. We establish and maintain an environment where the participants can explore rather than debate issues. ICMresolutions models respect and realistic optimism that there is a solution for most every problem when people of good faith work together. We do this by ensuring all voices are heard in a respectful and transparent manner.

Our experience has proven that making sure the right parties are at the table, identifying the factual issues, and establishing a respectful and productive context for the process is key. Where possible, we spend time interviewing people ahead of a facilitated process to establish rapport and provide an opportunity to learn about their hopes, fears, interests, and reasons for participating. This allows us to discover the real issues in a private setting, and to ask who else might be affected; thus, discovering marginalized stakeholders by talking to other stakeholders. These interviews are also a place where everyone can speak their piece, making sure all voices are heard. We carefully assess who should be at the table, empower the parties to choose how they want the process to go, and remain impartial without any stake in the outcome; thus, providing the parties with the self-determination necessary to shape their own outcomes.

We are careful to describe our role, explain that we view the process as our client, not the agency paying our invoices. We pride ourselves on our impartiality, integrity, and our commitment to fairness. Because of our skills in relationship building and transparency, we earn the trust of, and maintain relationships with, sponsors, stakeholders, and parties to any controversy. We strongly believe this improves collegiality and the likelihood of an ultimate consensus and agreement.


Keeping it Light and Relevant

We use humor to dissipate tension and help groups navigate the intersection of logic and emotion where most processes are conducted. When facilitating, we use realistic agendas that mix presentation with discussion, and we do not meet unless there are clear deliverables for the group. We work hard to ensure technical information is presented in a clear and easily digestible way, so all participants truly understand; thus, improving the likelihood of an equitable and durable solution.


Decision Tools

We are adept at helping groups with diverse views clarify their objectives by creating clear agendas, keeping participants on task, breaking impasse, and documenting results. We use innovative virtual tools and our decision-making, project management, and mediation’s impasse breaking skills. Sometimes, we recommend the use of decision tree and tables.  They are very effective because they: a) Help participants navigate the “intersection of logic and emotion,” b) Provide external memory, c) Compare alternatives systematically, d) Focus on facts, e) Quantify subjective factors and risk, f) Analyze options by weighted evaluation criteria, g) Break impasses with sensitivity analyses, h) Document analysis, and i) Focus is on the problem – not the people.  Most importantly, decision tools help people come together and find equitable outcomes.  ICM’s partner, Ursina Teuscher, PhD, delivered a presentation to the International Convention of the Society for Community Psychology illustrating our framework and tools highlighting ICM’s utilities siting process in Tillamook, Oregon. https://www.teuscher-coaching.com/how-to-make-better-group-decisions-video/


Work Samples:

  1. Joint Interim Task Force on the Fair Pricing of Prescription Drugs - Report on Transparency Strategies
  2. Oregon Department of Transportation HB Diesel Contracting Rules Advisory Committee - Facilitator's Final Report 
  3. Benton County Solid Waste Assessment Report Draft


Public Policy Facilitation TestimonialsTextDescription automatically generated

Thank you for your dedication and professionalism while facilitating my Vehicle Emissions Workgroup. Your patience, hard work and commitment are deeply appreciated by my staff and me. November 30, 2005, Governor Ted Kulongoski

I really appreciate all your very hard work on projects like the Columbia Gorge visibility strategy, the Boardman mercury rule, and especially on the Dairy Task Force where you helped that group reach consensus against all odds. Your insight and expertise were essential to our success on these projects. I know you go the extra mile for the DEQ time and again, and we really appreciate your professionalism, dedication, and humor. Dick Pedersen former DEQ Director

I’d like to thank you … for your efforts regarding access management.… Development and management of a process that produced a draft rule implementing the department’s access management policies is a major accomplishment on your part. The fact that you accomplished this during a legislative session further demonstrates your expertise, perseverance, and patience…. Collaborative processes are new to ODOT, and negotiating with many interest groups, some with competing and conflicting needs, coupled with a subject as complicated and misunderstood as access management, seemed a nearly impossible feat. Skepticism does not begin to describe the feelings I had about this process at the start – and you came through for ODOT, our customers, and all Oregonians. While I do not particularly enjoy the thought of another collaborative process of this magnitude, I would welcome it much more willingly now, as a result of your work and the final results. Grace Crunican, former ODOT Director 



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