Laura Rockefeller Chasin

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Laura Rockefeller Chasin
Laura Spelman Rockefeller

October 11, 1936
DiedNovember 17, 2015(2015-11-17) (aged 79)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
OccupationPhilanthropist and founder of the Public Conversations Project
Known forPhilanthropy and member of the Rockefeller family
Spouse(s)James H. Case (divorced)
Richard Chasin
Parent(s)Laurance Spelman Rockefeller
Mary French

Laura Spelman Rockefeller (October 11, 1936 – November 17, 2015[1]) was an American philanthropist. She was the eldest child of Laurance Spelman Rockefeller (1910–2004) and Mary French (1910–1997), and a fourth generation member of the Rockefeller family. She has two younger sisters, Marion, Lucy Aldrich Rockefeller, and a younger brother, Laurance Spelman Rockefeller Jr.. Her patrilineal great-grandfather was Standard Oil's co-founder John D. Rockefeller[2] and her matrilineal great-grandfather was Frederick H. Billings, a president of Northern Pacific Railway. Both of her grandmothers, Mary Billings French and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, were important to the early development of YWCA USA. Chasin is known as the founder, former executive director, and former board member of the Public Conversations Project in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Early life and education[edit]

Chasin was raised in New York City. She graduated from the Brearley School in Manhattan and Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut. She received a B.A. magna cum laude in Art History from Bryn Mawr College, an M.A. in Government from Harvard University,[3][4] and an M.S.W. from Simmons College (Massachusetts) School of Social Work.[3][4] She was trained in couple and family therapy and psychodrama.[3]

Personal life[edit]

In 1956, she married James H. Case, with whom she had three children and whom she later divorced. In 1971, she married psychiatrist Richard Chasin, who had three children from prior marriages. A leader in family therapy, he was president of the American Family Therapy Academy and an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He served for 12 years as president of the Rockefeller Family Fund and was a trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Board memberships[edit]

Chasin served on the boards of the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Spelman College.[4] She also served on the boards of the Children's Defense Fund,[4] the Conflict Management Group, and the Institute for Faith and Politics, and on the steering committee of the Common Ground Network for Life and Choice. She was described as a radical centrist thinker and activist.[5]

Chasin was known as the founder,[4] former executive director, and board member of the Public Conversations Project in Watertown, Massachusetts.[6][7][8] This non-profit organization fosters constructive conversations about divisive public issues that involve clashing values, world views, and identities.[3] Public Conversations' methods are designed to dissolve stereotypes, create trust, generate fresh ideas, and promote collaboration among those who have been chronically embattled.[3] She also worked closely with No Labels[3] and the National Institute for Civil Discourse, founded after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.


  • Chasin L, Chasin R, Herzig M, Roth S, Becker C., "The Citizen Clinician: The Family Therapist In The Public Forum." AFTA Newsletter (American Family Therapy Academy). 1991; Winter:36-42.
  • Becker C, Chasin L, Chasin R, Herzig M, Roth S., "Fostering Dialogue on Abortion." PCP Website. 1992.
  • Chasin R, Herzig M, Roth S, Chasin L, Becker C, Stains R Jr., "From Diatribe To Dialogue On Divisive Public Issues: Approaches Drawn From Family Therapy." Mediation Quarterly. 1996; 13(4).
  • Chasin L, "Asking Wise Questions." PCP Website, 2001.
  • Chasin, L, "How to Break the Argument Habit," in a series of articles on polarization called "Talking with the Enemy" published in the Christian Science Monitor, October 26, 2004.
  • Chasin, L, "From Shouting Heads to Shared Concerns: An Interview with Laura Chasin," Leverage Points for a New Workplace, New World, e-newsletter of Pegasus Communications, Inc., July 18, 2006(76).
  • Chasin, L, "Civic Social Work for the 21st Century," Gestalt International Study Center e-Newsletter, Issue Number 2, 2008.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Laura Chasin Obituary". 20 November 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Released trustees agree to discuss woman president". Miami News. 23 April 1976. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "CTR October 2014 Participant Biographies". Esalen Institute - Big Sur, California. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Laura Chasin". Archived from the original on 31 July 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  5. ^ Utne, Leif (September–October 2004). "The Radical Middle". Utne Reader, issue no. 125, pp. 80–85. Includes brief interviews with Chasin and nine other writers and activists. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  6. ^ Becker C, Chasin L, Chasin R, Herzig M, Roth S, "The Public Conversation Project Focuses Dialogue On Abortion." Family Therapy News. 1992; 23(3).
  7. ^ Roth S, Chasin L, Chasin R, Becker C, Herzig M, "From Debate to Dialogue: A Facilitating Role for Family Therapists in the Public Forum." Dulwich Centre Newsletter (Australia). 1992; 2.
  8. ^ Herzig, M, Chasin, L, "Constructive Conversations about Controversial Issues: The Public Conversation Project's Nuts and Bolts Guide to Dialogue," printed by Public Conversation Project, 2005.

External links[edit]

  • Boston Globe report on Public Conversations Project: "Talking with the enemy," Sunday, Jan 28th, 2001 [1]
  • UTNE Reader, "The Radical Middle" [2]
  • Essential Partners [3]