Pearce Godwin

Founder & CEO of Listen First Project

"Pearce is the national voice for bridging divides." "He has achieved breakthrough into mainstream consciousness." "We often hear that one person can change the world but dismiss it as a utopian idea; Pearce is doing just that." "If bridging divides has a heart, it's in Pearce."

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I was on an overnight bus ride across Africa after spending six months in Uganda with an international development organization. I had left Washington, DC to gain a fresh perspective on life, and I did. I was so looking forward to returning home but was deeply troubled by news that my beloved North Carolina had been gripped by the same rancor and vitriol that I’d left behind in Washington. Unable to sleep, I wrote It's Time to Listen. That message jumped over the ocean and was printed in dozens of major newspapers across the United States from the Miami Herald to the Oklahoman. Emboldened by the resonance of such a simple idea, we launched Listen First Project to encourage conversations that bridge divides. I'm deeply thankful for the ~250 partner organizations who have joined the #ListenFirst movement as well as the thousands who have signed the Listen First Pledge. Together, we will mend the frayed fabric of America by bridging divides one conversation at a time. Thanks for joining us!



Pearce Godwin—“the national voice for bridging divides”—is Founder & CEO of Listen First Project, Executive Director of National Conversation Project, and leader of the #ListenFirst Coalition of ~250 partner organizations. He catalyzes the #ListenFirst movement to mend the frayed fabric of America by bridging divides one conversation at a time. Pearce graduated from Duke University and received an MBA from UNC-Chapel Hill. He spent five years working in Washington, DC—in the U.S. Senate and as a national political consultant for presidential and statewide campaigns. Before moving home to North Carolina in 2013, Pearce spent six months in Uganda, Africa where he wrote It’s Time to Listen. That message—printed in dozens of papers across the United States—launched Listen First Project and led thousands to sign the Listen First Pledge—“I will listen first to understand.” In 2017, as division turned to violence across the country, Pearce left his marketing job, fully committing to turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division with the #ListenFirst message. In 2018, Pearce helped create the first National Week of Conversation and hosted the kickoff event, Listen First in Charlottesville. Pearce then launched the overarching, collaborative movement platform National Conversation Project, which scales the #ListenFirst movement by promoting annual National Weeks of Conversation, #ListenFirst Fridays, conversations on major issues toward common ground solutions, Rapid Response Conversations on urgent topics, locally-focused #ListenFirst movements, and any conversation inviting people of all stripes to revitalize America together. This burgeoning movement has already reached millions of people with the #ListenFirst message—5 million during National Week of Conversation 2019 alone as 100+ organizations have adopted the common #ListenFirst message for mainstream scale. The movement has been recognized by journalists at CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, USA Today, the Associated Press, and the New York Times as Pearce has spoken about the #ListenFirst mission on national television and to live audiences around the world.

Pearce discusses National Week of Conversation 2019 on MSNBC.

Pearce shares the #ListenFirst message at the Annual Conference on Citizenship.

Early supporters of Listen First Project invite the nation and world to #ListenFirst.

Resolve to Listen First (The Hill)

In a column shared by thousands, Pearce encourages a fractured nation that each person who sets aside interpersonal conflict for conversation and pledges to listen first tips the scales toward a new direction.


Colleges, the First Amendment isn't protection from offensive speech (The Hill)

Pearce discusses experiencing intolerance of listening at a campus protest and the alternative view of the First Amendment now precluding listening first at schools.


Listen First Reflections on the Tragedy in Charlottesville

Pearce shared the Listen First perspective on the violent clash in Charlottesville in the days following the tragedy, with several posts on the Listen First Blog:

When Southern Conservatives & San Francisco Liberals Listened First (Huffington Post)

Pearce describes Listen First Conversations that challenged the caricatures of Americans from opposite corners of the nation


Senator Tillis' Scare and the Collapse of Civility in America (Charlotte Observer)

Pearce calls out political vitriol that spewed following Senator Tillis' collapse during a 5k run


Listen First, Vote Second 2016 (many publications)

 Pearce calls on Americans to rise above the vitriol of the 2016 presidential campaign, one conversation at a time


Guns: More or Less, a Polarized Issue (many publications)

Pearce shares facts around gun violence and looks for common ground on the divisive issue


Tolerance and Understanding Lacking in Gay Marriage Discussion (many publications)

Pearce on the most polarizing social issue of the 21st century 


Listen First, Vote Second 2014 (many publications)

Pearce on the most salient case of our failure to listen -- politics


It's Time to Listen (many publications)

The commentary Pearce wrote on an overnight bus ride across Africa that launched Listen First Project