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David Fleischer | Director of Leadership Lab | Community Activist
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Prejudice is on the rise. Isn’t it? If so, then speaker David Fleischer is doing the impossible: reducing prejudice by knocking on strangers’ doors and offering them the opportunity to form new opinions. The effect is tangible—real, data-verified change. And he’ll teach you how to make it happen, too. 

As Director of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Leadership LAB, Fleisher’s carefully honed method of “deep canvassing” delivered the first empirically tested and proven method where a single conversation decreases prejudice in a long-lasting way. Developed after the shocking 2008 win for Prop 8, which made gay marriage illegal in the state of California, Fleischer was motivated to figure out why, in this seemingly open-minded state, people voted against gay and lesbian people who wanted to marry. To find out, he and the Leadership LAB organizers and volunteers went to the neighborhoods where they had lost the worst; 15,000 one-on-one conversations later, they had learned several universally actionable pieces of information. The first: “people want to reflect on an issue, even if they’ve already made up their mind about it,” he says.


“What we’ve learned … is that a broad swath of voters are actually open to changing their mind. And that’s exciting, because it offers the possibility that we could get past the current paralysis on a wide variety of controversial issues.”

— David Fleischer in The New York Times

In his powerful and heartfelt talks, Fleischer discusses more than how deep canvassing, as reported on in a landmark Science study, has empirically reduced prejudice in 1 out of every 10 people who participate. He will show you how you can take the principles of his work with Leadership LAB into your business, organization, association, and classroom—anywhere you feel that opinions, prejudices, or assumptions are at odds with each other, inhibiting growth, creativity, and productivity. The answer, says Fleischer, begins with much better listening. With his trademark warmth and clarity, he will guide you through his own tried-and-true methods, prototyped and hard-tested with the Leadership LAB, so that you can too can learn to change minds, one conversation at a time.


Prior to founding the LAB, Fleischer created and ran the premier political training programs in the LGBTQ+ community, first for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and Foundation (now the LGBTQ Victory Fund, 1993-1998) and then for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (now the National LGBTQ Task Force, 1999-2006).  He also authored “The Prop 8 Report,” a comprehensive evaluation of the pivotal 2008 campaign in California.  He has done political organizing in a wide range of cities and states, including but not limited to LGBTQ communities and communities of faith, for 37 years.  Fleischer received his B.A. from Rice University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.


Speech Topics

Social Justice
Lessons from Deep Canvassing Reducing Prejudice 10 Minutes at a Time
When the state of California passed a bill that denied gay citizens the right to marry, many would’ve been discouraged. But David Fleischer was motivated to find out more about the people who voted for Prop 8 in such a famously progressive state. His mass mobilized effort with Leadership LAB, which conducted 15,000 conversations across the counties, delivered several pieces of universally applicable facts. In this warm and wise talk, Fleischer teaches audiences the method he refined for empirically reducing prejudice, first around gay marriage, and now around transgender rights. He’ll explain why people welcome the opportunity to reflect on an issue, even if they’ve already “made up their mind” about it, and how 10 minutes of intentional conversation can generate that. Persuasion is not as simple as delivering a message, he says. You have to create a two-way dialogue, and Fleischer will show you how.
Corporate Culture
Taking the Time to Listen How Much Are You Really Hearing?
The reasons most employees quit—particularly the reasons that valued employees quit—have to do with matters within the control of employers. In this talk, David Fleischer adapts what he learned in the field to the conversations we have in the office (and in email, and on conference calls). The best way to retain your employees is to understand what they’re thinking. Then you can recognize concerns when they arise, nip problems in the bud, and get ongoing feedback about how you’re doing as a boss. In this practical keynote, Fleischer will provide you with a system by which you can assess your listening skills, determining both strengths and weaknesses. From their, he will coach you towards a more fruitful, positive, and reciprocal mode of dialogue, with employees, peers, managers, and clients.