Planning for the Summits began when a multi-disciplinary Vision Team first met in March 2009 at the University of California in San Francisco at an exploratory meeting to discuss barriers to choice of birth site in the United States. Sandra Janoff, founder of the Future Search Network, facilitated the meeting. The Future Search model was unanimously endorsed for the Summit process. The Vision Team identified nine key stakeholder task forces who would represent the spectrum of maternity care at the Summit.
Over the following two years the Vision Team secured funding and began the process to choose delegates representing the stakeholder task forces. Delegate nomination was a meticulous, intentional, and iterative process with many rounds of vetting, internally and externally. The evidence on the most effective use of the Future Search process provides guidelines for this process. From an extensive list of highly qualified individuals, invitation and alternates lists were refined by multidisciplinary subcommittees chaired by the vision team members who were most familiar with certain stakeholder task forces. Each subcommittee went through a process which focussed on achieving first a balance of perspectives (pro, con, neutral) in the whole room, as well as balance of ethnicities, gender, age, geography across the country. Finally, delegates were prioritized for their known ability to authentically engage in dialogue regardless of their affiliations, or expressed stance on this subject.