Pearce Godwin

Founder & CEO of Listen First Project

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I was on an overnight bus ride across Africa after spending six months in Uganda with an international relief 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. Emboldened by the resonance of such a simple idea, I launched Listen First Project to encourage conversations towards increased respect and understanding. But Listen First Project and the Listen First movement are so much bigger than me. I'm deeply thankful for the dozens of other leaders who have come alongside—and the thousands who have signed our pledge—to rebuild civil discourse one conversation at a time. Thanks for joining us!

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Pearce Godwin is Founder & CEO of Listen First Project, founder of the Listen First Coalition, and leader of the Listen First movement to rebuild civil discourse in America. Pearce studied public policy, economics and business at Duke University and is currently pursuing an MBA at UNC-Chapel Hill. He spent five years working in Washington, DC—in the U.S. Senate and as a national political consultant conducting voter market and messaging analysis for presidential and statewide campaigns. Before moving home to North Carolina, Pearce spent six months in Uganda, Africa where he wrote It’s Time to Listen. That simple message has now reached millions of readers, attracted thousands of Listen First Pledge signers, and launched the Listen First movement to restore relationships, build bridges, and mend the frayed fabric of society one pledge and one conversation at a time. In August 2017, Pearce left his marketing job—fully committing to change the world with Listen First. "Often we hear that one person can change the world but dismiss it as a utopian idea. Pearce is doing just that." 

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