Our History

We exist because of a public-spirited citizen from Minneapolis named Ned Crosby. Born into a prominent family, Ned earned a Ph.D. in political science in the 1970s and found his life’s work: promoting healthy democracy in America.

In 1974, Ned founded a think tank called the Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes. Named in honor of Thomas Jefferson, who believed that the American people are the ultimate source of power in our democracy – and that they will make the right decisions if they’re educated on the issues. The Jefferson Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

Ned developed the Citizens Jury, a unique and unbiased process for bringing forth the informed voice of the people. In a Citizens Jury, a randomly selected group of citizens is given an intensive education on a selected topic, and then asked to come up with recommended actions.

For nearly 40 years, the Jefferson Center has used its Citizens Jury process to determine the voice of the people on topics ranging from health care to groundwater pollution to property taxes.

In 2003, Ned founded a partner organization, Promoting Healthy Democracy, to take a more active role in holding politicians accountable to the people. In 2012, Promoting Healthy Democracy changed its name to Jefferson Action, emphasizing its mission of spurring real action in our democratic processes. Using the Citizens Jury method, Jefferson Action holds Citizens Election Forums to develop specific policy recommendations and ensure that politicians and candidates respond to the important issues their constituents have identified. Jefferson Action is a 501(c)(4) non-profit.