Kansas City Consensus
PO Box 10252
Kansas City MO 64171
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 5315078
Mission Statement
Consensus puts the "public" in public policy. It provides the neutral space, research and processes necessary to improve public policy decision-making by giving the public a voice. Consensus, building on a distinguished history as a catalyst for progress, has grown into a social venture with an array of tools at its disposal. Each of those tools -- among them deliberative forums, task forces, surveys, focus groups, future search conferences, and customized public meetings -- are designed to improve decision-making by providing effective ways to engage the public. Consensus makes an impact by:
  1. Providing access for civic leaders and legislators to the distinct point of view of the public
  2. Creating action that leads to progress, including new laws, new and improved programs, and shifts in allocation of resources
  3. Developing new leaders with a regional rather than parochial point of view
  4. Strengthening the civic fabric by providing opportunities for diverse citizens to learn from and work with one another.
CEO/Executive Director Jennifer Wilding
Board Chair Steve McCue
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired nonprofit executive
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1983
Former Names
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement
Consensus puts the "public" in public policy. It provides the neutral space, research and processes necessary to improve public policy decision-making by giving the public a voice. Consensus, building on a distinguished history as a catalyst for progress, has grown into a social venture with an array of tools at its disposal. Each of those tools -- among them deliberative forums, task forces, surveys, focus groups, future search conferences, and customized public meetings -- are designed to improve decision-making by providing effective ways to engage the public. Consensus makes an impact by:
  1. Providing access for civic leaders and legislators to the distinct point of view of the public
  2. Creating action that leads to progress, including new laws, new and improved programs, and shifts in allocation of resources
  3. Developing new leaders with a regional rather than parochial point of view
  4. Strengthening the civic fabric by providing opportunities for diverse citizens to learn from and work with one another.
Background Statement Since 1983, Consensus has used a variety of methods to fulfill its mission of putting the public in public policy. The community created Consensus because major bond issues were defeated at the polls despite the support of political and civic leaders. Representatives of civic and leadership groups felt the region needed an organization that could bring citizens together to address issues. They modeled Consensus on the Citizens League of Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN. Task forces: Early on, Consensus’s primary tool was the citizen task force. The organization has convened citizens to study 16 issues, among them minority business development, neighborhood safety, solid waste management, urban redevelopment, and child care. Perhaps the best known dealt with regional funding for culture and recreation. Consensus, after ten years of effort, helped pass the enabling legislation in Missouri and Kansas that allowed the bi-state tax used to renovate Union Station. In 2002, Consensus restructured task forces so that citizens are engaged after findings are done. Since then, Consensus has released white papers on literacy and on structure and governance of libraries. Visioning: From 1990-1992, Consensus conducted a regional visioning project called COMPASS that engaged thousands of citizens in identifying a vision for the future, that of a place where we measure our success by the quality of our children’s future. In 1993, Consensus became the first organization to convene a community-wide future search process, which identified what metro Kansas City could do to achieve the vision. Program incubation: Consensus served as an incubator for projects that future search participants said were needed, such as the Promise Project and Kids Voting, which it later moved to other nonprofit organizations. Deliberation: In 2003, the Kauffman Foundation asked Consensus to serve as the home for its KC Forums project. Since then, Consensus has moved onto the national stage through partnerships with MacNeil/Lehrer Productions and the Kettering Foundation, as well as engaging citizens in local issues and global issues. Also in 2003, Consensus created a business plan for earned income. This led to three major out-of-town projects and work with many local clients. In 2010, Consensus formed c/three Consensus consulting, the social enterprise arm that returns a 10% administrative fee to Consensus that underwrites the organization's civic work.
Impact Statement

Our top five accomplishments in 2014-2015 are:

  1. As project director of Creating Community Solutions-KC, have made substantial progress to put the community’s action plan into action. The action plan was developed at one of the largest ever public engagement events, and is intended to improve mental health with a focus on young adults. The team hired conveners and formed five action teams to conduct research and develop fundable proposals, and we have assisted
  2. Worked with the CCS national team to identify national opportunities and help them reach out to national elected leaders 
  3. Worked with the Mid-Continent Public Library to identify local issues, train library staff as moderators, and developed original deliberative discussion guides
  4. Continued to implement our Civility Project by recruiting nominees and selecting winners of Civility Awards (for taking the high road in public life) and provided free assistance to Mayor Holland in KCK for his listening tour to find out how local residents would spend a $12 million windfall
  5. Completed a successful audit, recruited a CPA to serve as co-treasurer, and worked on beefing up internal systems.

Our five goals for 2016 are:

  1. Find funders and implementers for each piece of the community’s action plan for mental health
  2. Continue to engage the public on mental health issues through the Text, Talk, Act system
  3. Begin implementing “Common Grounds,” a collaborative project with KCPT Public Television
  4. Add one major and two smaller consulting clients, including one out-of-town client
  5. Reorganize the way we track organizational finances so the data is more helpful for project management.


Needs Statement

Our top five needs are:


  1. $50,000 in 2016 funding for Creating Community Solutions. Our goal this year is to find funders and implementing organizations to get the community’s action plan for mental health fully established. Funds will allow us to do that, engage young adults through Text, Talk, Act, and provide transportation for planning team members.
  2. Funders and organizations that want to take on elements of the community’s action plan for mental health. The plan will engage schools, nonprofits, churches and others in improving mental health.
  3. $8,500 to cover annual fixed costs. (Consensus is a virtual nonprofit, with no office, so fixed costs are low.)
  4. Organizations, governments and businesses who need useful information about what their customers and constituents are thinking. Consensus works with clients in metro Kansas City and around the U.S. to get decision-makers the actionable information they need.

Board members who can connect us with the community and who are willing to attend meetings and help with projects.
Service Categories
Citizen Participation
Alliances & Advocacy
Research Institutes & Public Policy Analysis
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County
MO - Clay County
MO - Platte County
KS - Wyandotte County
KS - Johnson County
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement I was drawn to Consensus by its mission of including people who will be affected by policies early on, while those policies are being formed. I’m an attorney and work with clients who need governmental approval of their projects. I have found that the earlier that neighbors and stakeholders are involved, the healthier the results. I advise clients to talk with the people affected and discover their concerns early on rather than waiting until the end and telling people what they’re going to do. That’s a localized way of looking at it; Consensus does the same thing on much more global policy issues, with the same kind of positive results. Consensus is designed to be proactive, to conduct research and engage citizens on the front end, before a service is delivered or a policy is created or changed. There is an important relationship between Consensus and the governments and nonprofits that deliver services. The more people are cognizant of the value of involving people on the front end, the more they will appreciate what Consensus is trying to accomplish. Our biggest challenge is showing people who are interested in policy development the value of neutral, open-minded research on the front end. Our politics have gotten so sophisticated in messaging, imaging and marketing that there’s almost a disincentive to supporters to allowing the public to have early input because it might expose weaknesses in the idea. The flip side is, the earlier that image and marketing takes over, the less developed any policy is. This creates a greater likelihood that an initiative will fail, which is not always the lesson that policymakers take from the failure. Our community probably thinks of this organization as Kansas City Consensus, which is something to be proud of because we’ve made a contribution to this region. What people may not recognize is how much the organization is appreciated outside of metro Kansas City. We’re known elsewhere as Consensus, not Kansas City Consensus, because of what we have the capacity to do rather than where we do it. Because of our work with libraries and with national efforts like By the People and NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, we have received significant national appreciation.
Description Consensus improves public policy by engaging citizens in deliberative action planning. In 2013, our capacity for large-scale engagement led organizers of Creating Community Solutions (the national dialogue on mental health) to chose KC as one of six lead cities. Our ability to develop discussion guides, engage skilled facilitators, and produce meaningful results is valued by community and clients. In 2003, the Kauffman Foundation chose Consensus as the home for a deliberative project. Very quickly, we became a national presence, working with the Kettering Foundation, AmericaSpeaks, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions and others. We have attracted local co-sponsors including the Truman Presidential Library, the Kansas City Public, Mid-Continent and Johnson County libraries, elected and other leaders. Deliberation uses balanced information and asks citizens to consider different ways of approaching an issue. It helps people move past wishful thinking and work across boundaries to find solutions.
Program Budget $9,000.00
Category Public, Society Benefit, General/Other Citizen Participation Programs
Population Served General/Unspecified, Adults, General/Unspecified
Short-Term Success Short-term successes focus on citizen and elected official attitudes: 1. Citizens know more about the issue, 2. Citizens better understand other points of view, 3. Citizens are more likely to take action. 4. The results of the forums have a significant impact on the thinking of elected officials.
Long-Term Success Long-term success means fundamental changes in how public policy decisions are made in metro Kansas City. Those outcomes include: 1. Citizens move past wishful thinking and denial to make the hard choices that are inherent in public policy; 2. Policymakers seek citizen involvement early on, before decisions have been made; and 3. Initiatives are successful at the polls as a result of deliberative citizen involvement in decision making. The end result is a new collaboration between citizens and policymakers that results in a more thoughtful civil society and renewed respect for one another.
Program Success Monitored By We administered evaluations after most forums during our first five years. We have also conducted surveys of past By the People participants and of elected officials who received forum reports. When we conduct deliberative projects for clients, such as the Scott County Libraries Together project, we track action that results.
Examples of Program Success Participant evaluations from five forums found: 74% of participant had a better understanding of the issue and how it might be addressed; 65% better understood other points of view; 66% were more likely to take action. A survey of elected officials who received forum reports had a 10% rate of return. The survey showed that the reports had a significant impact on the thinking of 63% of elected officials who returned surveys. Sixty-three percent also said that the forum reports helped them understand what their constituents were thinking. An anecdote: KC Forums conducted a forum on Americans’ role in the world just days after the start of the war in Iraq. At the end, one participant said that he served in the defense department under the first President Bush. He said that, while group members had different viewpoints, they’d had a thoughtful, respectful conversation. He said it was his first experience being listened to respectfully by people who disagreed with him.
Consensus members watched in dismay as the health care town hall meetings just drove Americans further apart. We believed that what happened wasn't a people problem, it was a process problem. Using an antiquated "public hearing" process was entirely wrong for the task. That led us to wonder how local residents would like high-conflict issues to be handled. The c/three Consensus consulting team has conducted a dozen focus groups with everyone from Mainstream Coalition to the Tea Party to find out. Consensus worked with Nick Haines to hold a public forum on civility that drew 130 people and was broadcast 10/28. In the future, we will take the focus group findings to elected leaders and others to find out how public involvement might be transformed. We will work to make those changes real by holding a class on building civility into public meetings, as well as by educating elected officials in how to run a public meeting. So far, all work on this has been pro bono.
Program Budget $36,000.00
Category Public, Society Benefit, General/Other Citizen Participation Programs
Population Served General/Unspecified, General/Unspecified, General/Unspecified
Short-Term Success
1. Consensus understands how citizens want to be involved in public issues, based on 20 focus groups with people from across the political spectrum.
2. Elected officials understand  how citizens want to be involved in public issues, based on Consensus conversations with them.
3. Consensus understands how elected officials would be willing to change the process to accommodate citizens.
4. 50 persons per year complete a class on how to build more civility into public meetings, and 60% report using at least one new method.
5. 40 elected officials per year complete a class on how to deal with high-conflict public meetings, and 60% report using at least one new method.
Long-Term Success
Long-term success for The Civility Project would be for our local, state and federal governments to engage citizens in a way that actually solves problems. Public meetings would be less intimidating but more demanding in many ways, as citizens would be asked to listen to one another and work together with elected officials to come to agreement. Citizens would expect to do more than just say "here's what I want," and would welcome the opportunity for a thoughtful, sometimes passionate, discussion with others. Metro Kansas City would lead the nation in its ability to convene people across boundaries of political ideology, race/ethnicity and class while always holding to standards of civility. Elected officials would be proficient at process and would understand how to deal with conflict productively.
Program Success Monitored By
Evaluations of participants in training for elected officials and on civility.
Conversations with elected officials and others with whom we share focus group results.
Conversations among the Consensus board and c/three team.
Examples of Program Success
The project is still fairly young, but we do have two notable successes.
1. We have been able to fill 20 focus groups with people eager to talk with us about civility in the public square. Among the groups, the KCMO Youth Commission, Mainstream Coalition, Tea Party, Coffee Party, KC Fair Tax, Sue Shear Institute, and others.
2. 130 individuals gave up a Sunday afternoon to attend a panel discussion about civility that was conducted with KCPT Public Television. Panelists included Congressman Cleaver, talk-show host Chris Stigall, former elected officials Lana Oleen and Ronnie Metsker, and the Missouri Tea Party chair Reed Chambers. KCPT found the topic important enough to tape it for broadcast.
3. Our Civility Awards are drawing an increasing number of nominees, and we are entering our fourth year of highlighting people and groups who take the high road in public life. 
Description The White House launched Creating Community Solutions in 2013 to encourage action to improve mental health, especially among young people. Consensus led the charge to have KC selected as one of the lead cities. Our co-sponsors locally are Mayor Sly James and Mayor Mark Holland, and we have 16 local funders. Since 2013, we have held an all-day, massive public engagement event that included more than 300 participants and dozens of volunteers. More than half of participants had personal experience with mental health challenges. We have worked with a planning team to develop an action plan based on the results, hired conveners and organized action teams to flesh out the action plan. In addition, as project director of CCS-KC, Consensus has been the liaison with national organizers, helping to identify national opportunities and assist with advocacy. In 2016, a critical year, CCS-KC will work to get the community's action plan paired up with funders and implementing organizations.  
Category Public, Society Benefit, General/Other Citizen Participation Programs
Population Served People/Families with of People with Psychological Disabilities, ,
Short-Term Success By the end of 2016, every action item in the community's mental health plan will have a funder and an implementing agency or organization. As a result, 80% of people who participated in the 2013 public engagement event will report that they are satisfied with the outcome.
Long-Term Success In the future, every child will be taught about mental health in school, just like they're taught about physical health. Teachers, cafeteria workers and janitors who are trained and willing to help will be visible to young people who need them. 70% of transition-age young adults with mental health challenges will be prepared to navigate a successful, independent life. Consumers of mental health services will have a seat at the table of every board or agency where decisions are made about services. 
Program Success Monitored By We have used evaluations to measure how people felt about the 2013 event and a follow up event in 2014. We will measure the number of action items that are funded and implemented to determine success.
Examples of Program Success A funder who attended the 2013 event said that she would always remember the voices of the people at her table who shared their own experiences. Creating Community Solutions-KC was the first time many people had heard directly from consumers. It was so successful that our major funder, the Health Care Foundation, hired Consensus to produce a similar event the following year as part of its 10-year strategic planning effort.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Jennifer Wilding
Term Start Jan 2004

Jennifer Wilding served as a full-time staff person for Kansas City Consensus from 1986-1998 and 2000-2003, when Consensus staff moved to a contract rather than full-time basis. She has directed the organization since 2003, and led the shift from a traditional, philanthropically funded nonprofit organization to an entrepreneurial nonprofit partially supported by its work for clients. Her career is built upon the belief that people should be engaged in decisions that affect them, and that they should expect to do the hard work required to have a meaningful voice. She has extensive experience engaging the public for Consensus and for clients here and around the U.S. She has a national profile through her involvement with Creating Community Solutions, the MacNeil/Lehrer Productions “By the People” project, with the Kettering Foundation and AmericaSpeaks, and through work on youth empowerment. She has conducted many public policy studies. Her most recent, the white paper, "Making Book: Gambling on the Future of Our Libraries," received national recognition, including articles in American Libraries and Public Library Quarterly, and selection for an OCLC recommended reading list. Wilding has directed major studies for libraries in the Davenport, IA, area, and in Portland, OR. She has conducted future search conferences for libraries in Bloomington, IN, and around Washington State. She was one convener for an eight-state project led by the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, who asked her to represent all conveners at the Institute’s annual meeting. She has served as project director for two large-scale 21st Century Town Meetings, which engage hundreds using technology and small group discussion to develop an action plan, and she has served in other capacities for three other such meetings. She has offered pro bono assistance to four elected bodies, helping them move from ineffective, old-style public hearings to effective small-group-based engagements. 


Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start
Compensation Last Year
Former CEOs
Ginger G Bohachick Jan 1999 - Jan 2003
Charles Delgado Jan 1994 - Jan 1999
Paid Full-Time Staff 0
Volunteers 45
Retention Rate 0%
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation No
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation No
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency N/A
Non-Management Formal Evaluation No
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency N/A
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Under Development
Management Succession Plan No
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy No
Whistleblower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy Yes

  • Consensus is the backbone agency for Creating Community Solutions-KC. The planning team includes reps from funders (Jackson County Mental Health Fund, United Way of GKC), providers (Wyandot Inc., Crittenton, Swope, Truman), universities (UMKC, KU), schools (KCSD and East High School, Nat’l Assoc. of School Psychologists), consumers, families, and mayors’ offices.  
  • One core collaborative partner is KCPT Public Television. Consensus worked with KCPT as a co-convener for four MacNeil/Lehrer Productions’ “By the People” events. Consensus has worked with KCPT to produce filmed forums on topics like civility in the public square. KCPT films those events for broadcast. In 2016, Consensus and KCPT will launch “Common Grounds,” filmed focus groups on topics with a range of participants.
  • Libraries are often partners. We contract with Mid-Continent for deliberative forums, and in the past have had projects with the KCMO and JoCo libraries.
  • We have an extensive network. In 2009 the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer hired us to recruit 120 diverse citizens for the first ever citizen conversation with the Federal Reserve chair. NewsHour filmed the event for national broadcast, and both Lehrer and Gwen Ifill acknowledged Consensus on-air.


Core Values Award for project of the year - given to Creating Community SolutionsInternational Association for Public Participation2014
Finalist, Ash Award for Public Participation - Creating Community SolutionsHarvard's Kennedy School2015
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? No
CEO Comments


Consensus operates as a nonprofit consulting firm, with no office and contract staff members. It’s not the traditional arrangement, but it has worked remarkably well for Consensus since it began using this model in 2003. It means funders don’t pay for what we don’t need, and we can be nimble and innovative.


We seek philanthropic, corporate and other funding for some civic projects, such as Creating Community Solutions-KC (we raised $105,000 in two weeks, and a total of $195,000 in a couple of months). With other civic projects, such as The Civility Project and Common Grounds with KCPT, Consensus team takes them on because they are important to our mission and because they keep Consensus in the public eye.


While we have spent hundreds of hours on The Civility Project, it’s a calculated risk. We believed the project would get attention, and it has as evidenced by the 130+ persons who attended the October 3 panel discussion and by KCPT’s willingness to partner with us. We also believed it would allow us to perform a public service, which it has. We’ve been invited to present our findings at the Dole Institute and at the American Society of Public Administration. Our Civility Awards are receiving more and more nominations, and the breakfast is well-attended. We have developed and presented a class to elected officials, city managers, neighborhood leaders and many other on how to engage people well. And we’ve done pro bono consulting for municipalities that want to try newer, more effective engagement methods. We are, bit by bit, building understanding of what the people really can do and how to build positive new methods of engagement.


We charge our clients an admin fee that helps cover Consensus hard costs. And, of course, the hourly fees help underwrite my volunteer time with Consensus.


I am not paid for my work with the board. Luckily, I have board members who are willing to jump in and assist with accounting, social marketing and other responsibilities.


Board Chair
Board Chair Steve McCue
Company Affiliation Retired nonprofit executive
Term June 2015 to June 2017
Email stevemccue@sbcglobal.net
Board Members
Rose Marie Bell Retired senior academic advisor
Therese Bigelow Retired
Rebecca Brown St. Luke's Hospital
Bruce Contess Retired special agent with FBI
Deletta Dean KCMO Neighborhood and Community Services Dept.
Jeff Ehrlich Ph.D.Park University
Jennifer Elliott Responsive Center for Psychology and Learning
Mustafaa J.S. El-Scari Administration of Children and Families
Drew Kloeppel Overland Park Heating and Cooling, Inc.
Vince LaTona LaTona Architects
Steve McCue Retired nonprofit executive
Charles Renner Husch & Eppenberger, LLC
Jan Simon Retired director of community education
Jennifer Thomas Turner High School
Julia Vargas Ph.D.Rockhurst University
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 3
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 11
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 7
Female 8
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 75%
Written Board Selection Criteria? No
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 75%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 80%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 12
Standing Committees
CEO Comments In the last couple of years, Consensus has beefed up its board recruitment and given board members more substantial roles to play in the organization. We have added a co-treasurer who is an accountant, we have added a committee focused on the Civility Awards event that is led by a board member and includes community members, and we have just started a new nominating committee. We have maintained connections with long-term board members at the same time we have benefited from adding new members. Serving on the Consensus board is an honor, and the opportunity to remain on the board is earned through meeting attendance and helping with the work of the organization. Board members are expected to pull their weight, and almost all meet or exceed expectations.
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2015
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2015
Projected Revenue $73,000
Projected Expenses $100,000
Audit Documents
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2014, 2013:  Financial data reported using IRS Form 990.
  • Foundations/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201420132012
Program Expense$200,771$132,132--
Administration Expense$7,768$8,825--
Fundraising Expense$0$1,689--
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.931.60--
Program Expense/Total Expenses96%93%--
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%1%--
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201420132012
Total Assets$76,473$90,496--
Current Assets$76,473$90,496--
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0--
Current Liabilities$644$0--
Total Net Assets$75,829$90,496--
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities118.75----
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%--
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201420132012
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountHealthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City $151,123Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City $50,000--
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount --Bromley Trust $35,000--
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount --Hall Family Foundation $20,000--
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Name Kansas City Consensus
Address PO Box 10252
Kansas City, MO 64171
Primary Phone (816) 5315078
CEO/Executive Director Jennifer Wilding
Board Chair Steve McCue
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired nonprofit executive
Year of Incorporation 1983
Former Names