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Civil Society Institute
Who We Are

The Need for Breakthrough Thinking

Many of society’s most pressing problems have been researched, debated and inadequately addressed for decades.

  • Gridlock and polarization characterize most official debates and public policy making.
  • Ideology and 'politically correct thinking' constrain thoughtful and determined problem solving.
  • Honest communication and genuine dialog are difficult to achieve. Their absence limits opportunities for breakthrough thinking.

New approaches to addressing society's most chronic problems are needed if we are ever going to break the cycle of ineffective social programs.

A Unique Approach to Addressing Society’s Problems

Insight into programs that have and have not worked in recent years has led Civil Society Institute to a unique model for addressing society's most pressing problems.

Simply stated, our approach lies in the way we serve as catalysts for change, especially in areas of critical need: global warming and global security and economic change and science policy and regenerative medicine.

In each of these areas, we seek out examples of creative thinking and activities already underway, including those of individuals, community groups, businesses and the nonprofit and public sectors. We create interactions between people, communities, government and business in order to link successful programs to groups who can use them, to eliminate obstacles to success and to encourage informed debate of the issues. We also support these efforts with strategic planning and, on occasion, funding.

We’re committed to improving society with breakthrough thinking and creative action.


Pam Solo, Founder and President, Civil Society Institute
Pam Solo began her public interest career in the 1970s by co-founding and co-directing the Rocky Flats campaign and the national Nuclear Weapons Facilities Task Force. The campaign and task force aimed to expose the local hazards of weapon production facilities as a way for local communities to begin understanding the costs of the Cold War and the arms race. Solo was one of the founders and leaders of the national Nuclear Weapon Freeze Campaign. In the 1980s Solo was the campaign director for Congresswoman Pat Schroeder and managed her Presidential exploratory campaign. Pam represented the Freeze movement internationally and helped to found Freeze Voter. She worked for the Armed Services Committee professional staff working on burden sharing. In 1992 she founded the Civil Society Institute, which she continues to direct. She is a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the author of From Protest to Policy: Beyond the Freeze to Common Security and co-author of The Promise and Politics of Stem Cell Research.

Gail Pressberg, Senior Program Officer
Gail Pressberg has focused on the Institute's leadership in the campaign for federal funding for stem cell research. In 2000 she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the first stem cell ethics review committee of the National Institutes of Health which was disbanded by President George Bush after he was elected President. She now also works on the Institute's global warming programs.

For twenty-five years she worked on Middle East development, peace and energy issues including opening the first Washington, D.C. advocacy office for Americans for Peace Now. Pressberg is a co-author (with Pam Solo) of The Promise and Politics of Stem Cell Research and has been honored with the Janet Lee Stevens Prize of the University of Pennsylvania and the Isaiah Award from Americans for Peace Now. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Foundation for Middle East Peace.

Andrea Pamfilis Camp
Andrea Camp is an advisor to the Institute and a recent Senior Fellow where her work focused on identifying emerging issues, forging new coalitions and crafting creative public policy solutions.

In addition, for the past decade, Andrea has been a consultant on communications and legislative strategies for a wide range of clients, including Lifetime Television, the International Women Media Foundation, Women Donors Network, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, Center for Policy Alternative, WomenHeart, Votes for Women 2004 Project and the Recording Industry Association of America.

Andrea was the recipient in 2000 of the Keystone Award in Women's Health Research, from the Office of Research on Women's Health of the National Institute of Health. She also sits on the Advisory Board of First Book.

Matthew Pawa
Matthew Pawa is the director of the Global Warming Litigation Project at the Institute and has represented governments, non-profit groups and small businesses in a wide range of environmental, constitutional and anti-trust cases, including class actions and individual cases. In 2001 he opened the Law Offices of Matthew F. Pawa, P.C. to provide representation in major environmental cases for government and non-profit clients. He conceived of and developed the global warming case for eight states, the City of New York and two non-profit groups that was filed in July, 2004 against five major power companies that emit large quantities of green house gases. Prior to opening his law firm, Pawa was an attorney with Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld and Toll, P.L.L.C., a leading class action law form where Mr. Pawa handled environmental and product liability cases.

Elyse Rosenblum
Elyse Rosenblum is Director of Special Projects for the Institute and a consultant on advocacy, grassroots organizing and public policy strategies on a range of issues including global warming, early childhood education, after school care, youth development and education policy and work/family issues. She has worked to develop strategies to elevate the voices of young people on global warming and staffs a working group on global warming and renewable energy issues resulting in the publication of Growing the Economy through Global Warming Solutions. Since 1998, she was worked in the public policy arena assisting foundations, non-profits and companies interested in improving laws and policies that affect children and their families.

Frank Smith
Frank Smith was a Senior Fellow at the Civil Society Institute. He has been involved in political, public policy and philanthropic issues throughout his career. Previously he served as Assistant to the Director at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, as a Deputy Director of the Field Foundation in New York, a Partner in Technical Development Corporation and as an Assistant District Attorney in Boston. He also worked on a number of political campaigns including two Presidential elections. Frank is co-author of a recent book on the healthcare system including Making a Killing: The HMOs and the Threat to Your Health, and writes a monthly newsletter on American public policy and politics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Boston College Law School.

Corinne Whitlatch
Corinne Whitlatch is the Director of the Civil Society Institute's Washington program. She was recently the Executive Director of Churches for Middle East Peace, a coalition of twenty national Christian organizations in Washington D.C. whose aim it is to advocate for United States policies toward the Middle East that are both just and would provide security for the United States and the region. Recently she was honored by the United Nations Association in Washington for her work on human rights with its Louis B. Sohn award. Corinne is from Des Moines Iowa where she worked on a number of political campaigns and on advocacy issues for a number of Iowa non-profit organizations.

The Hastings Group
The Hastings Group serves as CSI's strategic partner in communication strategy.

Now in its 17th year of operation, The Hastings Group (THG) is a full-service consulting firm that specializes in issues management and lobbying, coalition outreach, public relations, Web projects and branding/advertising. THG works primarily with initially low visibility "white hat" clients that require aggressive and innovative strategies to raise the profile of themselves and their issues. The hallmark of The Hastings Group is an aggressive approach to low-cost/high-impact campaigns that catapult its clients and their issues into a place of greater prominence and influence on policymaking and in other realms. Unlike larger consulting firms that use senior members to pitch clients and then hand off the work to junior staff members, THG achieves superior results by involving senior partners and other seasoned staffers in all aspects of its work for clients.

In addition to the Civil Society Institute, past and present clients of The Hastings Group are AARP, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), The Workforce Alliance, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, the Center for Responsible Lending, Calvert Group, the New York Association of Training and Education Programs, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, Opportunity Finance Network, the Nonprofit Finance Fund, Navajo Nation, the National Association of Attorneys General, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the North American Securities Administrators Association, Environmental Integrity Project, Ceres, and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation.

Key members of The Hastings Group include:

Senior Partner Scott Edward Stapf oversees all PR/Web/advertising work of The Hastings Group. Stapf is a former journalist who has served as director of media relations for two national trade associations in Washington, D.C. He has participated in and/or organized media campaigns in 49 of the 50 states. Op-ed pieces written by Stapf have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, USA Today and dozens of other publications. In 1986, a Washington Post "Style" section profile described him as a "Washington whiz kid". The Post story concluded: "Stapf is something of a PR prodigy ... with the shrewd instincts and almost inhuman self-control of a natural." The newsletter PR Broadcasting has described Stapf as "one of the most highly respected public relations people in Washington."

Senior Partner Maureen Thompson heads up the lobbying and coalition management work of The Hastings Group. With more than 23 years of experience in the lobbying/coalition field, Thompson is a rare breed in lobbying circles in that she is equally at "home" at the federal and state levels. In addition to working regularly with major committees and subcommittees in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, Thompson has collaborated on initiatives with state government officials in nearly all 50 states. She has worked closely with a wide range of groups representing the interests of women and children, working families, consumers, the elderly, and others and has managed several large coalitions. She has assisted Congressional committees in the organization of dozens of hearings and has drafted testimony for scores of Congressional hearings. Thompson also has extensive experience working with the White House and with Executive Branch departments and agencies.

THG Senior Associate Ailis Aaron Wolf joined The Hastings Group after working at The Washington Post Writers Group, where she collaborated with syndicated editorial columnists and editors at over 400 newspapers across the United States. Prior to her stint at the Post, Aaron worked at Gillis and Associates where, among other responsibilities, she handled public affairs work for the Consumer Federation of America on a wide range of issues. She is a member of the National Press Club.

THG Senior Program/Web Manager Victor Beltran is a seasoned IT professional with over eight years of experience in Web site production and information technology services. Prior to joining The Hastings Group, Beltran worked for a Fortune 100 IT services company as part of the business development team in Colombia and Venezuela, helping customers understand and apply new information technology solutions. Beltran has a BS degree in Computer Science from the Universidad de Los Andes and an MBA degree from the Robert H. School of Business at the University of Maryland. Beltran's knowledge of, and hands-on experience with programming languages and web development programs include: ColdFusion, PHP, HTML, DHTML, XML, ASP, JavaScript, CSS, Fireworks, Photoshop and DreamweaverMX. He also has extensive experience with the following operating systems, servers, and email systems: Windows 2000 (server), Windows 95/98/XP, Linux, ColdFusion Server, and Imail.

For further information, questions or feedback, contact us at:

Civil Society Institute
59 Parsons Street
Newton, MA 02465

Phone: 617.928.3408
Fax: 617.969.9585