An independent news publication of
United Way of Lancaster County


What is Braver Angels?

Braver Angels volunteers pose with the featured speakers after the “Neighbor to Neighbor Forum” on early childhood education on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. From left: Braver Angels Lower Susquehanna Alliance Red Co-Chair Melissa Gizzi; state Sen. Ryan Aument; state Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El; Braver Angels National Ambassador Program Co-Chair Linda Beck; and Bravier Angels Lower Susquehanna Alliance Blue Co-Chair Nita Landis. (Photo: Tyler Wegert)

Braver Angels wants bring Americans together and restore the basic respect necessary for productive public debate and civic engagement.

Conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats — Americans with opposing political views “increasingly dislike each other,” the nonprofit says. “This growing partisan animosity is the crisis of our time and threatens our nation.”

The organization’s local chapter, Braver Angels Lower Susquehanna Alliance, was founded in January 2021, after the national organization issued a call to action following the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.

It started as a Lancaster County organization, but there was interest in it throughout the region. It now encompasses Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon and York counties as well. It has about 65 dues-paying members.

It is led by Red co-chair Melissa Gizzi, a former Capitol staffer and legislative relations professional in Harrisburg, and Blue co-chair Nita Landis, a faith-based spiritual counselor.

Gizzi said she’s seen a “huge change” in state government over the years, with polarization growing and cross-party collaboration waning.

“It’s gotten very heated,” she said. “I want to see that reduced so that people can talk to each other around the Thanksgiving table again.”

Landis said she got involved in Braver Angels because she wants her four granddaughters “to inherit a functional country.” She wants people to regain the skill of listening to understand and to stop demonizing each other.

Braver Angels was originally “Better Angels,” a nod to Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address. The name was changed due to a prior claim on it by another organization.

Events include workshops, debates and “deliberative town hall” events like Tuesday’s Neighbor to Neighbor Forum on early childhood education. Braver Angels Lower Susquehanna Alliance is planning a Depolarizing Within workshop in Mount Joy on Sept. 16, Landis said. (The national Braver Angels group is offering an online version on Oct. 15.)

The alliance is volunteer-driven and welcomes members, co-chairs Gizzi and Landis said.

“We hope more people take the time to learn about Braver Angels and take part,” Gizzi said.