Public Agenda

Our Story

For over three decades, Public Agenda has helped diverse leaders and citizens navigate divisive, complex issues.


Public Agenda's briefing books were used by the 1976 presidential candidates during their debates.

Through nonpartisan opinion research and stakeholder engagement, we provide people with the insights and support they need to arrive at workable solutions. By doing so, we show that it is possible to make progress on critical issues regardless of our differences.

Nonpartisan and nonprofit, Public Agenda was founded by social scientist, opinion polling expert and author Daniel Yankelovich and former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance in 1975.

Over lunch one day, the two shared their frustration that the issues the public cared the most about were being ignored in the current presidential campaign. They published briefing books prepared for the 1976 presidential debates, which were used by both campaigns, and Public Agenda was born.

Since then, we have worked on a wide array of issues, including K-12 education, higher education, foreign policy, energy, and the national debt.


President Will Friedman at the National Press Club (2012).

Today, under the stewardship of current president Will Friedman, Ph.D. Public Agenda continues its long tradition of working to find a path forward on many of the difficult issues we face.

Our nonpartisan research reports and discussion starters promote civic education and help leaders understand the concerns of both the general public and specific stakeholders.

As a facilitator of thoughtful public participation in policymaking and other forms of problem solving, we often work directly with communities, government agencies, civic organizations and businesses to improve their ability to create authentic public engagement that leads to solutions.

Our think tank arm, the Center for Advances in Public Engagement (CAPE), contributes knowledge to the ever-growing field of public engagement and deliberative democracy.

We invite you to learn more about our approach, our work, where we work, our resources, and how you too can help us revitalize what Daniel Yankelovich rightly called "our national gift for problem-solving."