We're volunteers uniting America one conversation at a time.

Our Story

Our story begins in 2016 with two groups starting independently of one another — on opposite coasts of the United States. Coincidentally, both founders chose the same name “Crossing Party Lines.” Their shared vision led them to create a volunteer platform to unite Americans through warm and engaging conversations.

Lisa Swallow, an author and educator living in Portland, Oregon, was inspired by political conversations with a cousin to design simple process for engaging in respectful conversations about politics of the day.

Kareem Abdelsadek, a management consultant living in New York City, was driven by a sense of civic duty to apply his skills to uniting America through conversations among people from all walks of life.

Prompted by a time of unprecedented political polarization, these two visionaries, their energetic team of volunteers, and over 3,000 CPLs members are uniting America one conversation at a time.

Our Volunteers

Behind each of our meaningful cross-party-line interactions, there is a team of committed volunteers:

  • Facilitating conversations
  • Running Zoom
  • Researching topics
  • Designing this website
  • More!
volunteer team

Our Leadership Team

Crossing Party Lines is led by a small group of individuals who are passionate about exploring our unique and shared values as a national community.

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    Lisa Swallow

    Co-founder and Executive Director

    “Being American isn’t about race, religion, or political views. It’s about believing in America and doing our part to make democracy work. It begins with the skills and capacity to talk to one another, explore issues from all angles, and respect every American’s needs.”

    Lisa is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Crossing Party Lines. She manages the day-to-day operations of the organization while facilitating conversations and developing and delivering workshops that teach members to share their perspectives in constructive ways, listen with an open and curious mind, and appreciate the insights multiple perspectives provide. 

    Lisa is a  graduate of UC Santa Cruz and holds a B.A. in Information Science. During her 30+ years as a technical communicator she was known for leadership and innovation and going deep into the subjects she writes about.  She holds a patent for her work in microlithography and is published in professional journals, magazines, and on the web.

    Lisa proposes we look to our Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln to understand that diversity of political perspectives in America is one of our country’s core strengths. Lisa’s books, No One Was Listening and Yes You Can Talk Politics, offer inspiration and support for anyone interested in learning her process for civil, respectful conversation  and the scientifically-based skills that support it.

    You can learn more about Lisa at www.LisaKSwallow.com.


    Kareem Abdelsadek

    Co-founder and Chairman of the Board

    “We have lost the emphasis on humanity in our national discourse. Through Crossing Party Lines, we get back to the basics of listening to understand the humanity behind all of our perspectives. We provide a window into the truth behind our politics, our people, our relationships, and our country. Once we start truly understanding one another, the potential for what we can accomplish collectively is limitless.”

    Kareem is the Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Crossing Party Lines. He also leads Crossing Party Lines at the grassroots level by facilitating conversations in his hometown of New York City. Kareem believes the secret sauce for creating a world of love comes from the building blocks we use to create rich and meaningful personal relationships. “Persistent open dialogue that allows for disagreements gives us all an opportunity to grow together.” 

    A senior manager for Deloitte Consulting, Kareem leads large scale transformation efforts in the federal government’s civilian sector and has delivered 15+ projects resulting in lasting change, improving organizational culture while furthering mission objectives. Kareem serves on a highly-selective Managers Advisory Council to the Deloitte CEO. He is published in “Deloitte Insights” on how to leverage industry leading methods, including building cross-functional teams to transform large programs and companies for the better. 

    Kareem is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with degrees of a B.S. in Information Science and Technology and a B.A. in Philosophy. He is committed to continuous learning, and a member of the Bleeker and IVY professional networks.


    Jessica Brazier

    Board Member

    “I fundamentally believe that if we give ourselves enough time to listen to each other and just for a moment open our hearts and understand where the other is coming from, America would be a much more peaceful and joyful place to live.”

    Jessica’s professional experiences span various sectors, including Deloitte Consulting’s Government & Public Services Practice, where she helped leaders of major federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) navigate bureaucratic barriers through strategic communications, learning, and change management techniques, and the Pittsburgh Board of Education, where she coordinated workforce acquisition and engagement efforts for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Empowering Effective Teachers” urban education reform initiative. She has also worked with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, CBS Network, CARE USA, and various radio stations and newspapers. Jessica earned  B.A. degrees in Communications and English from Oakwood University, and M.S. in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University. 

    Jessica’s work at Crossing Party Lines and beyond is founded on an “intellectual curiosity to understand our diverse world” and “empathy to widen her circle of compassion.” 

    Judy Branch

    Board Member

    “Valuing our humanity means that the dignity, creativity and needs of every individual is embraced by themselves as well as others.”

    Judy feels that her experiences with Crossing Party Lines programs and people have been transformative.  She is better able to acknowledge her past, enjoy the present and embrace possibilities that will lead to a stronger American democracy and full cultural equality for women.
    Judy Branch is a graduate of the University of Vermont with an Ed.D. in public policy and education.  She holds a M.S. in Child Development and Family Relations from the University of Arizona, Tucson and a B.S. in Home Economics from North Texas University in Denton.  Judy offers 31 years of experience as an adult educator with VT Cooperative Extension.  She directed a Head Start Center in Madison, Wisconsin and ran a federally funded Day Care Center in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois.
    Judy was elected to the board in June, 2023 with the goal of creating financial ability to expand the success of Crossing Party Lines.

    Richard C. Johnson

    Board Member

    “Dialogue should not be seen as a way to make peace; but as a habit, a virtue, a obligation, and a right.” – Paulo Freire

    Elevating human perspective, potential, and performance through connection, communication, contribution, and creative collaboration is Richard’s life mission and living legacy. His career spans from workforce and business development to the advancement of nonprofit causes dedicated to improving lives of the vulnerable and life experiences at large. Through a variety of development roles from Planner for the Upper Rio Grande Workforce Development Board to Grant Manager for the Dream Center Foundation in Los Angeles, CA, he has developed expertise in non-profit development and creative strategies of fundraising for worthy people building projects. 

    Now as CEO of Huemanity Unlimited and a John Maxwell certified life and business productivity coach, Richard designed Life Mining Mastery strategies for performance improvement of individuals, businesses, and institutions. Life Mining Mastery principles work to boost personal and professional productivity by identifying and resolving areas of Intrapersonal and interpersonal conflict, cultivating Self Love, Spiritual Wellbeing, and Resilience.

    Swati Srivastava

    Director of Visual Media

    “No problem can be solved in a society (and world) that dehumanizes ‘the other’, and no problem is too big for those who have decided to put their differences aside to meet the challenge. Acknowledging ‘the other’ as a fellow human with their own fears and hopes is always the first step.”

    Former woman in STEM now a woman in FILM, Swati Srivastava is a 1st generation immigrant and a multi award-winning writer-director & voiceover artist who has directed several short films, short documentaries, music videos and political ads. Her films have played at numerous film festivals and won several awards, including the “most important story of the year” award from CNN-India aired nationally in India at prime-time. Her political ads have been shown on national TV in the US. All of Swati’s work has social/political significance.

    Originally from India and having spent half her life in the US, Swati sees the world with a unique East meets West lens. Her three passions are her love for storytelling especially through visual media, her penchant for politics, and her heartfelt desire to be part of the solution for the most challenging problem of our times; our inability to listen to each other. Having experienced childhood trauma and complex grief, she has first-hand experience of how it is not simply a matter of “choosing” facts or logic. When the limbic system is enflamed with fear, rationality goes out the window. As a society, we are all caught in the grip of fear. It takes a lot of work to choose love & hope over fear & despair. But it’s the work we need to do – both personally and communally.  

    Swati is an avid environmentalist. She lives with her husband in a “Net-Zero Energy” house in NY that has been covered by various media including NBC for its unique features. Together they try to lead a sustainable life with a low carbon footprint.

    You can learn more about Swati at www.TiredandBeatup.com

    Don Lamar

    Director of Operations

    “We have lost the emphasis on humanity in our national discourse. Through Crossing Party Lines, we get back to the basics of listening to understand the humanity behind all of our perspectives. We provide a window into the truth behind our politics, our people, our relationships, and our country. Once we start truly understanding one another, the potential for what we can accomplish collectively is limitless.”

    Don LaMar has built his life around helping others to succeed. He grew up in Detroit, Michigan, immersed in the auto industry world, surrounded by family.

    Don’s roots in America run deep. His grandfather, a Greek immigrant, came to Detroit in the 19??s and opened <restaurant name>, one of the most beloved restaurants in Greektown.  Growing up, Don was Inspired by his uncle, who took over the family business and always fed those in need. [LS1] 

    Having worked at a homeless shelter in Minneapolis for 10 years, served as a minister for ___ more, and provided <underprivileged> youth with opportunities they may not otherwise have access to, Don brings to Crossing Party Lines a true boots-on-the-ground understanding of bridging divides.  We are lucky to have him.

    The Two Types of Depolarization

    Depolarization — the work of reducing toxic polarization — is best understood in terms of the two types of polarization that shape our interactions and perceptions in today’s politically charged climate:

    1. Affective Polarization

    Affective polarization revolves around emotions and feelings. It refers to the emotional divide between individuals or groups with differing political views. It’s about how people feel about others who hold opposing ideologies.

    • Us vs. Them: In affective polarization, people tend to see those on the other side of the political spectrum as part of an “us vs. them” mentality. Emotions like anger, fear, and distrust often come into play.
    • Emotional Reactions: When encountering someone with opposing views, affectively polarized individuals may experience heightened emotions. They might feel threatened, defensive, or even hostile.
    • Echo Chambers: Social media and personalized news feeds can exacerbate affective polarization by reinforcing existing beliefs and isolating individuals from diverse perspectives.

    2. Cognitive Polarization

    Cognitive polarization focuses on thought processes and cognitive biases. It pertains to how people think about the views of others.

    • Discounting Opposing Views: Cognitive polarization leads to a tendency to discount opposing viewpoints without critically evaluating them. People may jump to conclusions, assuming that differing opinions lack validity or logical soundness.
    • Us vs. Them (Again): Just as in affective polarization, cognitive polarization reinforces the “us vs. them” mindset. It hinders open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity.
    • Intellectual Echo Chambers: Cognitive polarization occurs when people surround themselves with like-minded sources, reinforcing their preconceptions and avoiding exposure to alternative perspectives.

    The Interplay Between Affective and Cognitive Polarization

    Affective and cognitive polarization often feed into each other. Emotional reactions (affective) influence how we process information (cognitive), and vice versa.

    Breaking the Cycle: CPL recognizes that depolarization  requires us to address both affective and cognitive aspects. Encouraging empathy and  active listening is not enough.  We must also teach critical thinking and intellectual humility if we are to truly bridge the gap.

    About Bridging

    Bridging refers to the intentional effort to reduce toxic polarization by fostering understanding, empathy, and communication between individuals or groups with differing political views. It aims to build connections and discover our shared humanity, ultimately bridging the gaps that divides people along ideological lines.