CIVIC INFLUENCERS Board of Directors
Elizabeth Ricci, Chair
Elizabeth (“Liz”) Ricci has been involved with Civic Influencers since early in its history and has seen the tremendous growth and impact the organization has had over time. After a career working at Procter & Gamble, as a Director of Finance and then Director of Global Ethics & Compliance, she wanted to devote more time and energy to helping Civic Influencers achieve its mission of engaging as many students as possible with full recognition of the disparities that currently exist within our voting systems and our democracy. “I grew up believing we all had a role to play in keeping our democracy strong, but I also took the access I enjoyed for granted. That can no longer be the case, and we must continue working until we can guarantee that same understanding and access for all. Our focus on the students we serve will help build a lifelong commitment to the responsibility we each share to keep our democracy strong.”
Vivian Polak, Vice Chair
“I’m a daughter of Holocaust escapees and was raised with the core beliefs that apathy and silence are unacceptable responses to injustice, that democracy is a privilege, and that voting is a civic duty. I am passionate about the data driven work that Civic Influencers is doing to co-create a movement of engaged and very diverse young people to vote, protect, expand and defend our democracy and freedoms.”
Vivian Polak is a daughter of Holocaust escapees and was raised with the core belief that apathy and silence are unacceptable responses to injustice, that democracy is a privilege, and that voting is a civic duty. A graduate of Barnard College (cum laude) and Harvard Law School, she was a partner at a NYC-based global law firm where she formed and led one of the first law firm information technology practice groups. She also re-envisioned law firm diversity, equity and inclusion to promote DEI among partners (most law firm efforts focus on entry-level associates and not on more senior lawyers) and she established a nationwide program for Fortune 500 general counsels to engage in conscious consumerism to retain diverse partners at major US law firms. Since retiring from law firm practice, Vivian has focused on social entrepreneurship and on establishing, with her wife, a charitable foundation dedicated to promoting a more level playing field by changing the systems and structures that limit opportunities for many.
Rabbi Jan R. Uhrbach, Secretary
Rabbi Uhrbach is the Director of the Block/Kolker Center for Spiritual Arts at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she teaches prayer and liturgy and recently served as Interim Dean of the Division of Religious Leadership and the Rabbinical School. She was the associate editor of Siddur Lev Shalem, the Shabbat and festival prayerbook published by the Rabbinical Assembly in 2015, having served on the editorial committee for Machzor Lev Shalem, and is currently at work as associate editor of the forthcoming prayerbook for weekdays in the same series.
Rabbi Uhrbach is also the founding Rabbi of Gesher | The Bridge Shul in Bridgehampton, and a distinguished teacher of Torah. She is a member of the Wexner Heritage faculty, and has taught and served as scholar-in-residence in many synagogues.
Rabbi Uhrbach received her ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. Prior to rabbinical school, Rabbi Uhrbach served as Law Clerk to Federal District Judge Kimba M. Wood, and was an associate and then partner of the New York law firm of Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke LLP.
Leslie Sweem Bhutani
“I am an activist. If we want our children to live in a democracy, and our girls to enjoy full equality, we must support young people’s civic education and engage them in the voting process. That shouldn’t be partisan and that’s why I believe in Civic Influencers.”
Leslie Sweem Bhutani had a career in financial services prior to becoming an activist in social justice causes. She was on the board of the League of Women Voters of Greenwich, CT and was a founding member of Connecticut Against Gun Violence. She is currently on the board of Planned Parenthood California Central Coast, the Brennan Center for Justice and the Equal Rights Amendment Coalition. She has also volunteered on committees for the Humane Society of the United States, the Children’s Aid Society, NYC, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Community Environmental Council in Santa Barbara, CA. She is an executive producer of several documentaries, most recently about environmental issues. She splits her time between New York City and Santa Barbara and is an active investor in companies that will change the world.
Sheryl Carter believes that her lineage and lived experience as a Black woman inform her professional expertise as much as her education and work experience. Leading by example, her father traveled north from the South seeking a better life during the second wave of the Great Migration and made it possible for his siblings to do the same. Her grandfather, a Pullman Porter, died young because the local White hospital refused him treatment but not before instilling in his children the belief that they could accomplish whatever they put their minds to. Her great grandfather became an entrepreneur extraordinaire/philanthropist after being enslaved during childhood and made it possible for Black children in his small town to receive an education.
A champion for social justice and a community change agent, Sheryl continues the work of her ancestors by coaching, consulting and collaborating with leaders of private foundations, public sector organizations, government agencies, K-12 and post-secondary educational institutions, private non-profit companies, faith-based entities and other companies to advance racial, gender and economic equity. The Principal Consultant of The Carter Leadership Collaborative LLC, Sheryl’s areas of expertise include community engagement, teambuilding and leadership development, organizational development, and change management.
Prior to leading her own management consulting firm, Sheryl held executive management positions with the Los Angeles Unified School District, Lynwood Unified School District and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Sheryl holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University.
Monica Graham was founder and General Partner of Graham Partners, a technology-focused hedge fund based in New York from 1996 to 2010. Since 2010, she has acted in an advisory role to the organization. Monica began her career at Oppenheimer & Co. before working at Drexel Burnham Lambert. She then worked as an analyst at Sloate, Weisman, Murray & Company. Monica then founded her own consulting firm, Graham Investment Advisors, which advised hedge funds, before founding Graham Partners. Since leaving Graham Partners as General Partner, Monica has founded and run the Graham Family Foundation. She and her brother, John Graham, have teamed up to bring a family love of tennis to all that participate at Hampton Racquet in East Hampton.
“Recent elections have demonstrated that young people play a critical role in shaping the future of the country. As a result, I think that it is important to empower the youth to become engaged in voting and to make sure that they recognize their impact. Therefore, I truly believe in the Civic Influencers mission of empowering the youth to make their voices heard.”
Jason Lightning was born and raised in Harlem, New York, and graduated from high school at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in 2011. After Fieldston, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in History from Yale University in 2015. During undergrad, he spent much of his time working with organizations affiliated with the Afro-American Cultural Center, including serving as the Vice President of the Black Student Alliance at Yale and the Financial Chair for the Black Solidarity Conference. He also played on the club basketball team that won the National Championship in 2014. Jason received his MBA from the Yale School of Management in 2017 as part of the Silver Scholars program, which enables students to enroll in the School of Management directly out of undergrad. Since 2017, he has worked at Goldman Sachs in the Asset and Wealth Management division. Currently, Jason is a credit analyst on the High Yield & Leveraged Loan team and he was promoted to Vice President in December 2021. In addition to his daily responsibilities, he has supported many of the firm’s diversity & inclusion initiatives such as being on the working group for the Goldman Sachs Market Madness: HBCU Possibilities program. Jason was selected to Business Insider’s 2022 Rising Stars on Wall Street list. Outside of work, he enjoys playing basketball, attending comedy shows, and traveling.
“I am a voting rights lawyer, and in March 2021 I argued before the United States Supreme Court that ‘more voting restrictions have been enacted over the last decade than at any point since the end of Jim Crow. And that the 3 months since the 2020 Presidential election had seen an even greater uptick in proposed voting restrictions, many aimed squarely at the minority groups whose participation Congress intended to protect.’ We now have 425 voter suppression bills in 49 states already this year, 33 of them have become law in 19 states.
I believe the work of Civic Influencers to organize young people (and particularly young people of color), and give them the tools to advocate and remove voter suppression barriers, is a vital component in our fight to save our democracy.”
Bruce V. Spiva has tried cases, conducted arbitrations, and argued appeals in areas of law ranging from congressional redistricting, civil rights, and First Amendment, to antitrust and securities. Bruce has an active political law trial practice, having tried 12 redistricting and voting rights cases in the past six years, and several others earlier in his career.
“I believe a crucial ingredient in the lasting success of our democracy is to make voting easy and uncomplicated, especially for young people and those who are marginalized. Our voting system is outdated, outmoded and ridiculously complicated, which prevents young people from voting and weakens our democracy. As a software engineer and founder of a tech startup, I am passionate about software solutions to problems. But I also believe in the need to engage with people face-to-face. Civic Influencers uses data-driven organizing to bridge the gap between technology and community, and to make voting more accessible. I think it’s going to have an enormous impact on young people and their ability to influence democracy.”
Ari Weinstein studied Computer Science at MIT, but dropped out to start Workflow, a tech company in San Francisco. In 2016, Ari and took a break from building Workflow to start VotePlz, a 501(c)3 non-profit aiming to engage young people to vote in the 2016 election. Subsequently, Ari continued to build his company, which was acquired by Apple in 2017. Ari believes deeply in the power of civically-engaged young people, and is excited to use his experience with technology to contribute to the very crucial, data-driven work that Civic Influencers is doing.
Charles Whitaker is Dean and professor at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, where he previously served as the Helen Gurley Brown Professor, Associate Dean of Journalism, and a member of the faculty since 1992. Whitaker, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Medill, is the first alumnus to serve as dean of the school. Before joining the Medill faculty, Whitaker was a senior editor at Ebony magazine, where he covered a wide range of cultural, social, and political issues and events on four continents, including two U.S. presidential campaigns and the installation of the first black members of the British Parliament. Whitaker has led a prolific journalism career, working with institutions such as the Miami Herald and the Louisville (Ky.) Times, and contributing articles to the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Magazine, Jet Magazine, Essence Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Saturday Evening Post, Chicago Parent magazine, and Folio, the magazine of the magazine industry. Among Whitaker’s many notable roles and endeavors, he has authored four statistical analyses of the hiring of women and minorities in the magazine industry, co-directed Project Masthead (a program designed to encourage students of color to consider careers in the magazine industry), advised on diversity issues for the Magazine Publishers of America. He serves on the board of directors for numerous professional organizations, including the American Society of Magazine Editors, the Center for Public Integrity the Prison Journalism Project, The Evanston RoundTable, and Block Club Chicago.
CIVIC INFLUENCERS BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE
The Civic Influencers Blue Ribbon Committee meets twice a year to engage our youth Civic Influencers and our Staff, to reflect on the strategy, implementation, challenges and successes of the Tipping Point Index (TPI) scorecard and Student Voting Heat Maps. The Committee is carefully selected to promote cross-pollinated thinking through a diversity of backgrounds and industries, to enrich our intersectional pro democracy movement of young people. The Committee is made up of distinguished professionals deeply committed to protecting and expanding democracy for young people. They are creatives, scientists, technologists, business and NGO leaders, and media and political gurus.
*All Board Members serve on the Blue Ribbon Committee.
Richard Albert, Professor of World Constitutions and Director of Constitutional Studies at the University of Texas at Austin
Richard Albert is Professor of World Constitutions and Director of Constitutional Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He has published over twenty books on democratic reform and constitutional values, including Constitutional Amendments: Making, Breaking, and Changing Constitutions (Oxford University Press 2019). A graduate of Yale, Oxford and Harvard, he is Co-President of the International Society of Public Law and the founding director of the International Forum on the Future of Constitutionalism.
Rachel Bitecofer, Ph.D., Political Strategist
Rachel Bitecofer is a political strategist currently working with StrikePAC, a pro-democracy group. Regularly featured in outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC, Rachel’s spirited style of data-based political analysis turns complex concepts and wonky data into digestible, entertaining narratives political novices not only can follow, but will enjoy.
Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, Professor of Journalism in the Communication Department at Columbia College Chicago
Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin (she/her/hers) is a Professor of Journalism in the Communication Department at Columbia College Chicago and the creator of Columbia Votes, a program that brings systematic, 50-state voting and voter education to Columbia College Chicago students. Sharon’s research focuses on how magazine fact-checking practices are changing in the digital age, and on the influence of 20th century magazines on American culture. Her research into 20th century magazines has been published in the Handbook of Magazine Studies (Wiley, 2020) and Curating Culture: How 20th Century Magazines Influenced America (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021). Sharon was co-organizer of the Mapping the Magazine 5, an international conference in Chicago in July 2018, Mapping the Magazine 6, held virtually from Portugal in 2020, and the forthcoming Mapping the Magazine 7, which will be held in Des Moines. More at https://www.bloyd-peshkin.com/
Ralph C. Dawson, Lawyer, Labor and Employment
Ralph C. Dawson is a native of Charleston, South Carolina, where he grew up as one of 12 children. At Yale he became a campus leader, participating in the establishment of the first African-American Studies Major at a leading American institution, the Founding of the Afro-American Cultural Center, and as a leader of the Black Student Alliance during the tumultuous period known as “May Day 1970,” during a major murder trial involving the Black Panther Party and a series of protests against the Vietnam War. Ralph graduated from Columbia University School of Law in 1976, having served as an Editor of its Human Rights Law Review. Ralph has practiced law for 44 years and is a Retired Partner and Of Counsel to the international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright (formerly Fulbright & Jaworski). He specialized in labor and employment law, and a broad range of civil litigation, handling matters in courts and administrative agencies throughout the United States. Ralph has been recognized perennially by his peers as a “Super Lawyer,” and has held leadership positions in important committees of Bar, such as the Disciplinary Committee of the First Judicial Department in New York City. He also serves as the judicially appointed Receiver to preserve and distribute the recovered assets of Ascot Partners, one of the largest feeder funds involved in the Madoff Ponzi Scheme. Ralph is politically active, serving as a senior advisor to the Howard Dean for President Campaign and working on Dean’s election as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). He assisted in the implementation of Dean’s acclaimed “50 State Strategy,” was a Super Delegate to the Democratic National Convention and served as Chair of the African-American Leadership Council of the DNC. As a member of the DNC’s Rules and By-Laws Committee, Ralph played a prominent role in resolving disputes over the effect of primaries held in Florida and Michigan. He has appeared on numerous programs such as the Lehrer News Hour, the CBS Evening News and MSNBC. Ralph and his family live in New Rochelle.
Antoinette Ellis-Williams, Chair and Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies, New Jersey City University
Dr. Antoinette Ellis-Williams (she/her/hers) is Chair and Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at New Jersey City University. She is a published author and black feminist scholar. Her one woman play Scarf Diaries premiered at NJPAC in 2017 and at the Reg E. Gaines 2021 Downtown Urban Art Festival in NYC which won Best Play. Antoinette’s documentary Lee Hagan: Connecting Generations (2016) won best short documentary at the Newark Black Film Festival. Her TedX Talk Finding Justice in the Land of the Free (2015) tried to unpack her immigrant status in America. Antionette is a published author. Some of her writings include Burn: Phase I Origins and Activism Installation Chapbook (2021); Chasing Sunsets of Brick Seas: Healing A’int Easy; Writings of Newark Teens (2019) (Editor); Womb of Violet: An Anthology (2019) Introduction and Contributor; Womb of Violet II Contributor (2021), Black Gardenias: A Collection of Poems, Stories & Sayings From a Woman’s Heart (2014). She has presented at many conferences and seminars, among them the WEB. DuBois Scholars at Princeton University, 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women of the United Nations & The Zonta CSW, Cornell University, Harvard University, Seton Hall University, National Women’s Studies Association Annual Conference; New Jersey Project, Leadership Newark, Association of Black Cultural Centers, The Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leadership at Rutgers University, New Jersey Black Issues Convention, and Harlem Book Fair, to name a few. She has exhibited at Newark Museum, Art in the Atrium, Long Beach Island Foundation’s 23rd Annual National Juried Exhibition, (Juror); Lanka Tattersall, Curator of Drawings and Prints at MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art; Akwaaba Gallery, Newark, NJ; Studio Montclair Gallery, Broad Steps Open-Air Gallery, Corner of Bloomfield Ave. & Broad Street, Bloomfield NJ; ART150 Gallery, Jersey City, NJ; Prizm Art Fair, Miami, Florida, to name a few. Antoinette serves on the board of trustees of New Jersey Institute of Social Justice, and Women@NJPAC. She is a licensed minister. Antoinette earned her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Urban and Regional Planning at Cornell University. More at https://www.antoinetteelliswilliams.com/
Michelle Francis, Intellectual Property Lawyer
Michelle Francis (she/her/hers) is an experienced intellectual property lawyer with a unique perspective on how IP converges with business strategy to generate value and revenue-generating opportunities. Starting as a litigator in law firms, Michelle then worked in-house handling global IP enforcement for 20th Century Fox Film Corporation (LA), and in 2001, she joined the General Counsel’s office of News Corp (NY) where she expanded and lead the global IP practice, charged with business strategy, management and protection the IP assets of News Corp and its operating/JV companies. Since 2009, under Michelle’s leadership, The Francis Company partners with businesses and organizations of all sizes in consumer products/services, media, technology, fitness, publishing, fashion, beverage, human resource development, and social entrepreneurship, uniting IP development/management and monetization with business strategy to create a competitive advantage and increase consumer recognition and market share, while ensuring cost-efficient exploitation of the IP assets and related the operations. More at https://thefranciscompany.com/
Marybeth Gasman, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair in Education, a Distinguished Professor, and the Associate Dean for Research in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University
Marybeth Gasman (she/her/hers) is the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair in Education, a Distinguished Professor, and the Associate Dean for Research in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. She also serves as the Executive Director of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity & Justice and the Executive Director of the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Marybeth is the Chair of the Rutgers University, New Brunswick Faculty Council. Prior to joining the faculty at Rutgers, Marybeth was the Judy & Howard Berkowitz Endowed Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her areas of expertise include the history of American higher education, Minority Serving Institutions (with an emphasis on Historically Black Colleges and Universities), racism and diversity, fundraising and philanthropy, and higher education leadership. She is the author or editor of 30 books, including Educating a Diverse Nation (Harvard University Press, 2015 with Clif Conrad), Envisioning Black Colleges (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007), Making Black Scientists (Harvard University Press, 2019 with Thai-Huy Nguyen), and her forthcoming book Doing the Right Thing: How to End Systemic Racism in Faculty Hiring (Princeton University, 2022). Marybeth has written over 250 peer-reviewed articles, scholarly essays, and book chapters. She has penned over 450 opinion articles for the nation’s newspapers and magazines and is ranked by Education Week as one of the most influential education scholars in the nation. Marybeth has raised over $23 million in grant funding to support her research and that of her students, mentees, and Minority Serving Institution partners. She has served on the board of trustees of The College Board as well as historically Black colleges – Paul Quinn College, Morris Brown College, and St. Augustine College. She considers her proudest accomplishment to be receiving the University of Pennsylvania’s Provost Award for Distinguished Ph.D. Teaching and Mentoring, serving as the dissertation chair for over 80 doctoral students. More at https://cmsi.gse.rutgers.edu/content/marybeth-gasman
Tyler Hallmark, Program Associate, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Tyler Hallmark (he/him/his), Ph.D., is a first-generation college graduate, former Pell recipient, a Gates Millennium Scholar, and a proud citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. He previously served as a Graduate Research Associate with the Center for Minority Serving Institutions, where he oversaw efforts to understand the role of Minority-serving Institutions and students of color in U.S. elections. Tyler’s work has identified college campuses that may have significant impacts in U.S. elections, furthered understanding of the barriers facing college students across the country, and advocating for policy changes to increase voter access nationwide. Presently, Tyler serves as a Program Associate with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, where he helps oversee the Foundation’s grantmaking to effectively advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM higher education. More at https://sloan.org/
Theresa Hernandez, Assistant Director, First Generation Office and Live-In Fellow at Dartmouth College
As a queer Black Caribbean-Latinx woman and first-generation college graduate, Theresa (she/ella) prides herself at having a personal understanding of the importance of fostering connection and engagement. She has committed her career and life to building strong communities, developing anti-racist consciousness and courage, and creating opportunities for societal transformation and growth. Following her time as an educator and strategist in public schools, Theresa pivoted into work that centered civic and social impact and community in higher education. Her goal is to provide space, care, advocacy, and leadership opportunities for underrepresented peoples. Theresa’s work’s mission is centered in connecting visionaries from many disciplines and backgrounds who are inspired to create change.
In her independent venture as a consultant (to educational institutions, businesses and other organizations) in diversity, equity, and inclusion, Theresa employs intentional activities, discussions, and dialogue among stakeholders in order to uncover and transform structural and institutional culture in areas of race, racism, implicit bias, allyship and patterns of dominance. Growing from her belief that changed people can change systems, Theresa innovates the process which requires an intersectional approach and demonstration of her commitment to promoting cultural, social, and systematic adjustment that seeks authentic action and change. Her belief is that when stakeholders, leaders and teams can operate in more thoughtful and empathetic ways, we (as a society) can begin to inspire our organizations to achieve goals and love what they do, rather than ‘force’ our way to growth and development. Theresa currently serves as the Assistant Director of the newly formed First Generation Office and is a Live-In Fellow at Dartmouth College. Theresa is set to begin her PhD studies in Educational Leadership & Policy next fall of 2022.
Dennis R. Holmes, MD., Breast Surgeon
Dennis R. Holmes (he/him/his), M.D. is a dedicated breast surgeon specializing in the surgical treatment of breast cancer and non-cancerous breast conditions. He completed his medical education at Tulane University School of Medicine, surgical residency in general surgery at the University of San Francisco, and a fellowship in breast surgery at the University of Southern California. Dennis is a board-certified Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and recently held the position of Program Chair of the 20th Annual National Meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. He currently serves as medical director of the Breast Program at Adventist Health Glendale in Glendale, California. As a breast surgeon and clinical researcher, Dennis has dedicated his career to breast cancer treatment innovation to reduce the burden of breast cancer care, including pioneering research in intraoperative radiotherapy, cryoablation, and intraoperative margin assessment. He has also been a leader in the field of oncoplastic surgery. In addition to maintaining a surgical practice, Dennis serves as founder and CEO of Auth Express, Inc., a company dedicated to improving the efficiency of cancer care. More at https://doctors.adventisthealth.org/provider/Dennis+R+Holmes/1339451
Chantilly Jaggernauth, Vice President of Data Visualization and Training, Lovelytics
Chantilly Jaggernauth (she/her/hers) has a mission to empower corporations and individuals through the use of data visualizations and data analytics. She is a two-year Tableau Zen Master who specializes in data visualization, data analytics, design, and training. Currently, Chantilly is the Vice President of Data Visualization and Training at Lovelytics based in Arlington, Virginia. Prior to joining Lovelytics, Chantilly worked for Johnson and Johnson and Comcast. In addition to her day job, Chantilly is the founder and CEO of the non-profit organization Millennials and Data (#MAD). Through #MAD, she works to bridge the data literacy and analytical skills gap by training, mentoring, and preparing millennials to enter a data- driven global environment. More at https://lovelytics.com/
Cameron Koffman, Community Activist
Cameron Koffman (he/him/his) is a community leader and voting rights advocate from the East Side of Manhattan. He currently serves as the Campaign Manager for a New York City Council Campaign in District 5 (East Harlem and the Upper East Side). In 2020, he ran for New York State Assembly as a Democrat to represent part of Manhattan. During that campaign, he won a historic case at the New York State First Department Appeals Court establishing precedent that protected the rights of recent college graduates to run for office in New York State. Since then, he has been assisting other young candidates running for office and fighting for expanded ballot access across New York.
Cameron graduated from Yale University in 2019, where he earned a degree in ethics, politics, and economics. Cameron is an active member of his local community by leading multiple congregational groups at Temple Emanu-El, pioneering many initiatives as the Director of Community Engagement for the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association, and serving on the Board of Trustees at the Allen-Stevenson School.
Peter Levine, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life
Peter Levine (he/him/his) is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life. He graduated from Yale in 1989 with a degree in philosophy. He studied philosophy at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, receiving his doctorate in 1992. Before coming to Tufts in 2008, he worked for Common Cause, the Institute for Philosophy & Public Policy at University of Maryland, and the National Commission for Civic Renewal and helped to found and then led CIRCLE, The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, which is now part of Tisch College.
Trained as a moral/political philosopher, Levine has spent most of his career conducting applied empirical research and organizing professional efforts related to civic life in the United States, including sustained work on civic education, voting rights, public deliberation, and social movements. In the domain of civic education, Levine was a co-organizer and co-author of The Civic Mission of Schools (2003), The College, Career & Citizenship Framework for State Social Studies Standards (2013) and The Educating for American Democracy Roadmap (2021). The first two are the sources of the “six promising practices” and the notion of “taking informed action” that are widely found in state and local policies and curricula. The last was released in 2021 and is receiving prominent attention. Levine is the author of eight books, including most recently We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: The Promise of Civic Renewal in America (Oxford University Press, 2013) and What Should We Do? A Theory of Civic Life (Oxford University Press 2022). He has served on the boards or steering committees of such civic organizations as AmericaSpeaks, Street Law Inc., the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, Discovering Justice, the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, the American Bar Association’s Committee for Public Education, the Paul J. Aicher Foundation, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium. More at https://tischcollege.tufts.edu/people/faculty/peter-levine
Jim Margard CFA (he/him) is a retired investment manager and teacher, residing in Washington State. He is on the Board of Councillors of the Carter Center, and serves on the Boards and finance committees of several non-profit organizations in the North West. A native of New Mexico, he received a Masters degree in Spanish from NYU and an MBA from the University of New Mexico. A Chartered Financial Analyst, he is currently a student of, and proponent of environmental, social and governance (ESG) endeavors in corporate management and investment activities. Primary interests include Native American studies, music and culture, and exploring the natural world.
Bill McClain, Co-founder Clean & Prosperous America
Bill has led domestic and international marketing for several major brands, including Clarisonic (acquired by L’Oreal) and Sonicare (acquired by Philips). He co-founded Clean & Prosperous America to amplify the voices of young voters. Bill currently teaches Global Business Strategy and Marketing at the University of Washington, and advises several companies. He earned his BS at West Virginia Wesleyan College and his MBA at the University of Pittsburgh.
Michael Peshkin, Allen K. and Johnnie Cordell Breed Senior Professor of Design, Northwestern University’s School of Engineering
Michael Peshkin (he/him/his) is the Allen K. and Johnnie Cordell Breed Senior Professor of Design, in Northwestern University’s school of engineering. In 2008 he started what became Northwestern’s record-setting student voting program, on the principles of talking to every student one-on-one, and assuring voting options on-campus or back home. A third principle, institutionalizing the program to every-year, was accomplished by Northwestern’s Center for Civic Engagement. Peshkin has founded four spin-off companies, and is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. More at https://peshkin.mech.northwestern.edu/
Nadya Ramsaroop, Licensed Psychologist
Nadya Ramsaroop (she/her/hers) is a licensed psychologist in the state of California and her corporate consulting practice focuses on leadership development with a special interest in navigating transitions, growth and creating and curating healthy cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas, a Doctorate from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center School of Biomedical Sciences and a Post-Doctoral fellowship from Stanford University all in the specialty area of applied psychology. She is currently a board member for CGRS which provides legal representation, education and policy activism for immigration, refugee and asylum work and she is a board representative for Parent Coalition to enhance parent education in San Francisco. Nadya has been engaging her time and resources towards progressive causes and movements throughout her life and especially in the past 10 years. As an immigrant herself who has lived in three countries, Nadya has a deep appreciation for the value of a healthy functioning democracy and the necessary civic engagement needed for it to thrive. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two dynamic daughters who add immeasurable meaning to her life and push her to walk her talk on a daily basis. She loves to travel, read, soak in the wonder of the ocean and the stars and chat with anyone willing to engage. “For our family, we have realized it’s quite simple; all the issues we care about hinge upon mobilizing voting, protecting voting rights and preserving our democracy. With a winnable and strategic focus on young voters, Civic Influencers not only meaningfully impacts current election cycles, but it creates a scalable path forward for non-partisan and fully inclusive civic engagement. Now more than ever, this work is vital to bolster and ensure we will always have a thriving and healthy democracy.”
Nicholas Roman Lewis, Entertainment Attorney
Nicholas Roman Lewis (he/him/his) is a creative entrepreneur on a mission to ignite the creative energy in everyone. As an entertainment attorney and creative strategist, Nicholas has represented clients on Broadway negotiating contracts for productions including Ain’t Too Proud, The Band’s Visit, Something’s Rotten, and Wicked among others; and the development of several books, including the award winning Ghetto Nation, A Love Noire, Darker Still, and Impolite Conversations. As Senior Director for Shared Interest & Identity Groups at the Yale Alumni Association, Nicholas engages alumni groups globally with strategic planning and high level event execution. He has worked with alumni organizations launching mission driven initiatives throughout the United States and internationally in Hong Kong, London, Berlin, Paris, Venice, Dubai, Qatar, Beirut, and Ghana. In 2014 he founded Revolutionary Daydreams™, a platform dedicated to spotlighting the work of creatives around the globe and is currently working on a docuseries and short form programming. More at https://revolutionarydaydreams.com/
Mateo Romero, Contemporary Cochiti Pueblo Artist
Mateo Romero was born and raised in Berkeley, California. Although his cultural background is an urban one, through his father Santiago Romero and his connection to their Southern Keresan Cochiti people, this experience includes much of the Rio Grande Pueblo world as well. Mateo attended Dartmouth College and studied with acclaimed artists Ben Frank Moss and Varujan Boghosian. He received an MFA in printmaking from the University of New Mexico. Mateo is an award-winning artist who has exhibited internationally in Canada and in the United States. He is currently a Dubin Fellow in painting at the School of American Research in Santa Fe, NM, and paints in his studio in Santa Fe and lives in Pojoaque Pueblo with his wife, Melissa, and their children Erik, Povi, and Rain.
Reggie Van Lee, Partner and Chief Transformation Officer at the Carlyle Group
Van Lee is Partner and Chief Transformation Officer at the Carlyle Group, helping ensure that the firm is maximizing its market competitiveness, driving growth and operating most effectively and efficiently as an institution. Before joining Carlyle, he spent 32 years at Booz Allen Hamilton, where, before he retired as Executive Vice President, he led numerous business units across multiple industries. Prior to Booz Allen, he served as a research engineer with Exxon’s production research company. Reggie is a member of the board of directors of Fortitude Re, Gallup Inc, Deep Labs, OmniSpeech, the Women’s Venture Capital Fund II, National CARES Mentoring Movement, the Coalition of African Americans in the Performing Arts, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Blair House Restoration Fund, Studio Museum in Harlem, the Public Theater, and the Juilliard School. He serves as the Chair of the Washington DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser. He also is a co-Chair of the Motown Museum’s National Legacy Council. Formerly, he served as Chair of the board of Washington Performing Arts and Vice Chair of the board of the Washington Ballet. He was named one of the top 25 consultants in the world by Consulting Magazine, selected as a Washington Minority Business Leader by the Washington Business Journal and named Black Engineer of the Year by Black Engineer magazine. He holds both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from MIT and an MBA from Harvard University.
Phill Wilson, Founder, Black AIDS Institute
Phill Wilson is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University. He is an activist who founded the Black AIDS Institute in 1999. The Black AIDS Institute is the only national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on Black people. They work to stop the AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals. In 2010, Phill was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Council on HIV/AIDS. Prior to founding the Institute, Phill served as the AIDS coordinator for the City of Los Angeles, the Director of Policy and Planning at AIDS Project Los Angeles, co-chair of the Los Angeles County HIV Advisory Committee and was an appointee to the HRSA AIDS Advisory Committee. He has been involved in the founding of a number of AIDS service LGBTQ, and civil rights organizations, including the National Black Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum, National Task Force on AIDS Prevention, Chris Brownlie Hospice, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the National Minority AIDS Council, the Los Angeles Gay Men of Color Consortium and the CAEAR Coalition. Phill currently serves as the director of Artists and Activists for Health Equity and the executive producer of the Annual Dance For Life Festival in Los Angeles. He is the owner of Wilson Unlimited Consulting which focuses on organizational development, DEI, succession planning, and executive coaching. He currently resides in Los Angeles.