Press Release

ADL and Partners Launch Initiative to Combat Extremism in Cities Across the U.S.

New York, NY, August 15, 2018 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), along with a diverse group of partners, today launched “Communities Overcoming Extremism: The After Charlottesville Project.” This national capacity-building project is focused on empowering communities with tools to combat the dramatic rise in extremism, intolerance, and political violence cities and communities have seen in the year since the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last August.

“Extremists continue to spread hate and incite violence in our schools, in our communities, online, using every platform at their disposal,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “To fight back against those who brought their message of hate to Charlottesville, we now seek to marshal all of our community resources, from city hall to corporate boardrooms to community organizations, in order to equip every community in America with the necessary skills to reduce community intergroup tensions and overcome any hate and extremist event.”

ADL is working in tandem with Center for American Progress, The Fetzer Institute, The Aspen Institute’s Justice & Society Program, Charles Koch Institute, Hope Not Hate, and the National Immigration Forum.  Sharif Azami, Program Officer at the Fetzer Institute, provided further insight into the project’s potential impact stating that “[t]his initiative will not only seek methodologies for how cities across America can be better prepared to respond to hate crime and violence, but will also invite conversations around bridge building and healing.”

The initiative will showcase the power of diverse public and private sector coalitions and help build localized capacity to enhance the ability of communities and cities across America to respond and prevent violent extremist events like Charlottesville from happening in the future.

“Our great nation must be fully equipped to overcome hate, political violence and extremism,” said former Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer, Chair of the Communities Overcoming Extremism Advisory Board. “I am committed to sharing learning from last year's events in Charlottesville as part of this national effort, bringing together key public and private leaders, and a diverse range of partner organizations around the country, who will work together to increase our collective capacity to stand up against hate." 

Two summits, fall 2018 at Washington University in St. Louis and spring 2019 in California’s Bay area, already promise such public and private sector leaders as former Missouri U.S. Senator John Danforth, U.S. Conference of Mayors President Steve Benjamin of Columbia, SC, Gold Star parent Khizr Khan, New York Times columnist Peter Wehner, and constitutional law Professors John Inazu of Washington University and A.E. Dick Howard of the University of Virginia.

 “This important project will bring leaders together across the nation to share victories and setbacks in our work against hate, so that we can heal and move forward collectively as a country,” said Pastor Alvin Edwards, leader of Charlottesville’s largest African American Baptist Church and former Charlottesville Mayor.

In addition, the project will launch a podcast channel with interviews of public and private sector leaders on their ideas about advancing tolerance and reconciliation while fighting against extremism. At the conclusion of the project in August 2019, a policy report will be released outlining lessons learned and guidance on how the nation can best confront and overcome extremism.

 “We’re proud to join our partner organizations in convening researchers, educators, community leaders, and rights activists to understand the tools needed to foster a culture where people help rather than harm one another,” said Sarah Ruger, Charles Koch Institute Director of Free Expression.  “The question of how we see past differences and respect the dignity of every individual benefits from open and courageous exploration.”

            See below for the current and in formation list of advisory board members. More information is available on the Communities Overcoming Extremism web page at


Advisory Board:

  • Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant Professor and Chair of the Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University
  • Sharif Azami, Fetzer Institute
  • The Hon. Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, SC
  • The Hon. Andy Berke, Mayor, Chattanooga, TN
  • Leslie Greene Bowman, President and CEO, Thomas Jefferson Foundation
  • Susan Bro, President, Heather Heyer Foundation
  • Meryl Chertoff, The Aspen Institute, Justice & Society Program
  • Joshua Dubois, President and CEO, Values Partnerships
  • The Hon. Dr. Alvin Edwards, former Mayor and Pastor, First African Zion Baptist Church, Charlottesville
  • The Hon. Jorge Elorza, Mayor, Providence, RI
  • The Hon. Greg Fischer, Mayor, Louisville, KY
  • Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director, Anti-Defamation League
  • Wade Henderson, former President and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • A.E. Dick Howard, White Burkett Miller Professor, University of Virginia School of Law
  • John Inazu, Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law & Religion and Professor of Political Science, Washington University
  • Sarah Kenny, former Student Council President, University of Virginia
  • Khizr Khan, Esq., Gold Star Parent
  • Frederick M. Lawrence, Secretary and CEO, The Phi Bate Kappa Society, Distinguished Lecturer in Law, Georgetown Law Center
  • Mary B. McCord, Senior Litigator and Visiting Professor of Law, Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law Center
  • Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum
  • The Hon. LF Payne, former Congressman and former Chair, McGuire Woods Consulting, LLC
  • Sarah Ruger, Director, Free Expression, Charles Koch Institute
  • The Hon. Mike Signer, Chair, Mayor of Charlottesville, 2016-2018
  • Anne-Marie Slaughter, President & CEO, New America
  • Peter Wehner, Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center and New York Times columnist