The People

From across the country, individuals and organizations, have come together to create momentum in helping to rebuild American democracy. From the editors and authors of Democracy Unchained, to the conversation partners in our episodic series, to our partner and supporter organizations, we have come together to acknowledge that we must rebuild our politics and government for all the people.

Contributing Writers & Conversation Partners

Van Jones
CNN political contributor and host of the Van Jones Show

Van Jones is a U.S. media personality, the founder of multiple social enterprises and a world-class change maker. A three-time NY Times bestselling author, Van hosts two shows on CNN: “The Van Jones Show” and “The Redemption Project.” He is the host of CNN’s “Incarceration, Inc.” podcast series. In 2013-2014, Van was a co-host of CNN CROSSFIRE, along with Newt Gingrich; he later hosted a special event series on CNN called “The Messy Truth.” He is the co-founder of Magic Labs Media LLC, a producer of the WEBBY Award-winning Messy Truth digital series. Van’s life mission is to close prison doors and open doors of opportunity. He has been a leader in the fight for criminal justice reform for more than 25 years. To achieve his goals, Van co-founded a series of social enterprises, including: Ella Baker Center for Human Rights,,, Rebuild The Dream and the Dream Corps. The Dream Corps houses three social impact initiatives: #YesWeCode, Green For All and #cut50. Today, Van is the CEO of the REFORM Alliance, an initiative founded by Jay-Z, Meek Mill and six billionaires to transform the criminal justice system.

In 2018, Van and #cut50 led the winning campaign to pass the FIRST STEP Act — a bipartisan federal bill that the New York Times called the most substantial breakthrough in criminal justice in a generation. This was not Van’s first history-making legislative victory: a decade earlier, Van was the primary champion of the Green Jobs Act of 2007. In 2009, he worked as the green jobs advisor to the Obama White House. Van has won numerous awards, including: the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leader” designation; Rolling Stone’s 2012 “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done”; TIME’s 2009 “100 Most Influential People in The World”; the 2010 NAACP Image Award and; a 2017 WEBBY special achievement award. Born in Jackson, Tennessee, Van lives in New York City and Los Angeles. He is a proud father of two sons. In 2017, Van signed a management deal with Roc Nation, becoming the first political commentator in their family. In 1990, he earned a B.S. in communication and political science from the University of Tennessee at Martin. In 1993, Van earned a degree from Yale Law School.

Jill Lepore
writer for The New Yorker, and author of These Truths: A History of the United States

Jill Lepore, a staff writer, has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2005. Her books include “The Name of War,” which won the Bancroft Prize; “New York Burning,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history; “Book of Ages,” a finalist for the National Book Award; and “The Secret History of Wonder Woman;” and the international bestseller, “These Truths: A History of the United States.” Later this year, she will publish her fourteenth book, “If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future.” Lepore received her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale in 1995 and is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University.

David Brooks
New York Times columnist

David Brooks became an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times in September 2003. His column appears every Tuesday and Friday. He is currently a commentator on “PBS NewsHour,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He is the author of “Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There” and “On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense.” In March 2011 he came out with his third book, “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement,” which was a No. 1 New York Times best seller. Mr. Brooks also teaches at Yale University, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Sally Yates
Former Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates is a partner in King & Spalding’s Special Matters & Government Investigations practice. Sally’s deep experience, leadership and wide-ranging background provide clients with seasoned judgment in difficult times. Her practice focuses on counseling clients in complex and sensitive matters, including government enforcement and regulatory matters, congressional investigations, compliance, corporate governance and crisis management. Drawing upon her nearly three decades at the Department of Justice, she specializes in internal and independent investigations for public and private organizations and boards.

As the second-highest ranking official at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and as Acting Attorney General, Sally was responsible for all of DOJ’s 113,000 employees including all prosecutorial, litigating, and national security components. She also was responsible for all U.S. Attorney’s offices and law enforcement agencies and the Bureau of Prisons. Sally oversaw DOJ’s most significant matters and was instrumental in setting DOJ’s enforcement priorities and initiatives.

An accomplished trial lawyer and Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, Sally has tried numerous high-profile cases.

Tiokasin Ghost Horse
speaker, musician, and member of the Lakota Nation

Tiokasin Ghosthorse—a member of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation of South Dakota—is an international speaker on Peace, Indigenous and Mother Earth perspective. A survivor of the “Reign of Terror” from 1972 to 1976 on the Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River and Rosebud Lakota Reservations in South Dakota and the US Bureau of Indian Affairs Boarding and Church Missionary School systems designed to “kill the Indian and save the man,” Tiokasin has a long history of Indigenous activism and advocacy. He is a guest faculty member at Yale University’s School of Divinity, Ecology and Forestry focusing on the cosmology, diversity and perspectives on the relational/egalitarian vs. rational/hierarchal thinking processes of Western society. Tiokasin is the Founder, Host and Executive Producer of the twenty-four-year-old “First Voices Radio” (formerly “First Voices Indigenous Radio”), a one-hour live program now syndicated to seventy radio stations in the US and Canada.

A master musician and a teacher of magical, ancient and modern sounds, Tiokasin performs worldwide and has been featured at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the United Nations, as well as at many universities and concert venues. Tiokasin serves on boards of several charitable organizations dedicated to bringing non-western education to Native and non-Native children. Tiokasin describes himself as “a perfectly flawed human being” who is a Sundancer in the tradition of the Lakota Nation

David Orr
founder, State of American Democracy project and co-editor, Democracy Unchained

David W. Orr is Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics Emeritus and senior advisor to the president of Oberlin College. He is a founding editor of the journal Solutions, and founder of the Oberlin Project, a collaborative effort of the city of Oberlin, Oberlin College, and private and institutional partners to improve the resilience, prosperity, and sustainability of Oberlin. Orr is the author of eight books, including Dangerous Years: Climate Change, the Long Emergency, and the Way Forward (Yale, 2016) and Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse (Oxford, 2009) and coeditor of three others. He has authored over 200 articles, reviews, book chapters, and professional publications.

In the past 25 years, he has served as a board member or advisor to eight foundations and on the boards of many organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Currently he is a trustee of the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado and the Children and Nature Network. He has been awarded eight honorary degrees and a dozen other awards including a Lyndhurst Prize, a National Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation, and a Visionary Leadership Award from Second Nature. Orr is a frequent lecturer at colleges and universities throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. While at Oberlin, he spearheaded the effort to design, fund, and build the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, which was named by an AIA panel in 2010 as “the most important green building of the past 30 years,” and as “one of 30 milestone buildings of the twentieth century” by the U.S. Department of Energy and was instrumental in funding the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center.

Preet Bharara
Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara is an American lawyer, author, and former federal prosecutor who served as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 to 2017. He served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for five years prior to leading the Southern District. According to The New York Times, Bharara was one of the “nation’s most aggressive and outspoken prosecutors of public corruption and Wall Street crime” during his tenure. Mr. Bharara has delivered the keynote address at the commencements of Fordham Law School, Columbia Law School, Cardozo School of Law, University of California Berkeley School of Law, Pace University School of Law, New York University School of Law, and in 2014, he spoke at Harvard Law School’s Class Day ceremony. Prior to becoming the U.S. Attorney, Mr. Bharara served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts. During his tenure, he helped to lead the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation of the firing of United States Attorneys. From 2000 to 2005, Mr. Bharara served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he prosecuted a wide range of cases involving organized crime, racketeering, securities fraud, money laundering, narcotics trafficking, and other crimes. Mr. Bharara was a litigation associate in New York at Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman from 1996 to 2000 and at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher from 1993 to 1996. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with an AB in Government in 1990, and from Columbia Law School with a JD in 1993, where he was a member of the Columbia Law Review.

Michael Eric Dyson
Georgetown University professor, New York Times contributing writer, and contributing editor of The New Republic

Michael Eric Dyson is currently University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. A renowned scholar, ordained Baptist minister and public intellectual, his scholarship and cultural criticism focus on race, religion, popular culture, and contemporary issues in the African American community. Dr. Dyson is the author of the 2018 book What Truth Sounds Like: Robert Kennedy, James Baldwin and Our Unfinished Conversation about Race in America, the New York Times bestsellers Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America (2017) and The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race (2016), as well as seventeen other books, including Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster, Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost its Mind, and Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur. Prior to joining the faculty at Georgetown, Dyson was the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught at the DePaul University, Columbia University, Brown University, Chicago Theological Seminary, and the University of North Carolina. Named by Ebony magazine as one of the hundred most influential Black Americans, Dyson holds a Ph.D. in Religion from Princeton University.

Tracy Sharpley-Whiting
Vanderbilt professor, scholar and author

Professor Sharpley-Whiting is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor of Humanities (AADS and French), Chair of African American and Diaspora Studies, and Director of the Callie House Center. She is the author/editor or co-editor of thirteen books. She is currently researching Men I’d Like to Have Known , a biographical study of four African diasporic figures across French historical movements. She is co-editor of the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, editor of the journal Palimpsest, one of the series editors of “Blacks in the Diaspora” (Indiana University Press, 2007-2015), and co-series editor of “Philosophy and Race” (SUNY Press). She served on the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association (2014-2018). Dr. Sharpley-Whiting, named a top 100 young leader of the African American community by The Root, teaches and researches comparative diasporic literary and cultural movements; 18th– and 19th-century French narratives; critical theory and race; and film and black popular culture. Dr. Sharpley-Whiting has testified before Congress, lectures widely nationally and internationally and has offered commentary on a range of issues for C-SPAN2, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR, CBS News and Oprah Satellite Radio. Dr. Sharpley-Whiting is also co-editor of the book, “The Speech: Race and Barack Obama’s A More Perfect Union.”

The Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas
canon theologian, Washington National Cathedral and Dean, Episcopal Divinity School at Union

The Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas is the Canon Theologian at the Cathedral. In 2017, she was named Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Kelly is considered a leader in the field of womanist theology, racial reconciliation and sexuality and the black church. Prior to joining the Cathedral and EDS, she was the Susan D. Morgan Professor of Religion at Goucher College in Baltimore. Previously, she was Associate Professor of Theology at Howard University School of Divinity (1987-2001) and Assistant Professor of Religion at Edward Waters College (1986-1987). A native of Dayton, Ohio, Dr. Douglas was one of the first 10 black women to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. She was an Associate Priest at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. for over 20 years. She holds degrees from Denison University and obtained her Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary. Her newest book is “Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God,” released in May 2015 by Orbis Books. She splits her time between New York and Washington.

The Right Rev. Marian Edgar Budde
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde began her service as Interim Dean on Jan. 1, 2016. She is the spiritual leader of 40,500 Episcopalians in 89 congregations and 20 Episcopal schools in the District of Columbia and four Maryland counties. A passionate believer in the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Budde is committed to the revitalization and growth of congregations and core ministries of the diocese, building their capacity to serve Christ’s reconciling mission in the world. Bishop Budde was consecrated as the ninth bishop of Washington in November 2011. Prior to her election, she served for 18 years as rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis. She earned a B.A. in history at the University of Rochester, N.Y, and earned both her Masters in Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Virginia Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Paul, have two adult sons, Amos and Patrick.

Jacob Hacker
Professor and Political Scientist

Jacob S. Hacker is Stanley Resor Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. A regular media commentator and policy adviser, he is the author or co-author of five books, numerous journal articles, and a wide range of popular writings on American politics and public policy. His most recent book, written with Paul Pierson, is American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper—a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and a best business book of 2016 according to the management magazine Strategy+Business. Previously, the two wrote the New York Times bestseller Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. Professor Hacker is known for his research and writings regarding health policy, especially his development of the so-called public option. He is also a member of the OECD’s High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. He was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Francis Moore Lappe
Author and Researcher

Frances Moore Lappé is the author or co-author of 19 books about world hunger, living democracy, and the environment, beginning with the three-million copy Diet for a Small Planet in 1971. In Fall 2017, she coauthored Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want with Adam Eichen.  Frances was interviewed by The New York Times Magazine in an article titled, “Frances Moore Lappé changed how we eat.  She wants to do the same for our democracy.”

Other recent works include World Hunger: 10 Myths and EcoMind. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., describes Diet for a Small Planet as “one of the most influential political tracts of the times.” In 2008, it was selected as one of 75 Books by Women Whose Words Have Changed the World, by members of the Women’s National Book Association. Frances was also named by Gourmet Magazine as one of 25 people (including Thomas Jefferson, Upton Sinclair, and Julia Child) whose work has changed the way America eats. Her books have been translated into 15 languages and are used widely in university courses.

Frances makes frequent media appearances. Most notably she has been featured on the Today Show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Fox News’ Fox & Friends,, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s ‘The National’, Frost Over the World, NPR, and the BBC, among other news outlets.  Frances appears frequently as a public speaker and is a contributor to Medium and Common Dreams. She is also a contributing editor at Yes! Magazine and Solutions Journal. Articles featuring or written by Frances have also appeared in The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Harper’s, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, People, Huffington Post,, and more.

In 2011, EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want won a silver award from the Independent Publishers Association. In 2008, Getting a Grip along with Diet for a Small Planet were designated as “must reads” for the next U.S. president (by Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollan, respectively) in The New York Times Sunday Review of Books. In 2007, Getting a Grip was a San Francisco Chronicle Best Seller and received the Nautilus Gold/ “Best in Small Press” award. Other recent books include Hope’s Edge (written with Anna Lappé), and Democracy’s Edge, and You Have the Power: Choosing Courage in a Culture of Fear.

In 1987 Frances received the Right Livelihood Award (considered an “Alternative Nobel”) “for revealing the political and economic causes of world hunger and how citizens can help to remedy them.” Frances is also the recipient of 19 honorary doctorates from distinguished institutions, including The University of Michigan. In 1985, she was a visiting scholar at the Institute for the Study of Social Change, University of California, Berkeley and from 2000 to 2001, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2008 she received the James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award for her lifelong impact on the way people all over the world think about food, nutrition, and agriculture.

Other notable awards include the International Studies Association’s 2009 Outstanding Public Scholar Award, and in 2011, the Nonino Prize in Italy for her life’s work. In 2007 Frances became a founding member of the World Future Council, based in Hamburg, Germany. Frances also serves on the National Advisory Board of the Union of Concerned Scientists, on the International Board of Advisors of Grassroots International and on the Value [the] Meal Advisory Board of Corporate Accountability International. She is also a member of the Sisters on the Planet network, part of Oxfam America.

Frances is the cofounder of three organizations, including Oakland based think tank Food First, and more recently, the Small Planet Institute, which she leads with her daughter, Anna Lappé. Frances and her daughter have also cofounded the Small Planet Fund, which channels resources to democratic social movements worldwide.

K. Sabeel Rahman
Professor & President of Demos

K. Sabeel Rahman is an Associate Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School and President of Demos. He previously has been a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School (2017), and a Fellow at New America.

Rahman’s research focuses on the themes of democracy, economic inequality, exclusion, and power. His first book, Democracy Against Domination (Oxford University Press, 2017) examines how democratic ideals fueled reform movements in the Progressive Era, and what their implications might be in today’s post-financial crisis debates about economic inequality. His second book, Civic Power (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming, with Hollie Russon Gilman) explores new approaches to organizing, power, and institutional reform in the face of the current crisis of American democracy. His next research project focuses on the problems of structural inequality and exclusion, private power, and inequality, exploring historical, social movement, and public policy approaches to tackling these issues. In addition to his academic writings in law, political theory, and political science, he has written for a variety of venues including The Atlantic, The New Republic, Boston Review, Dissent, The Nation, and others.

Rahman has worked extensively with policymakers, funders, and advocacy groups in developing strategies and novel approaches to questions of democracy and economic inequality. In 2014-15 he served as a Special Advisor on strategies for inclusive economic development in New York City, and from 2015-16 as a Public Member of the New York City Rent Guidelines Board. From 2013-2016, Rahman was the Design Director for the Gettysburg Project, an interdisciplinary initiative working with organizers, academics, and funders to develop new strategies for civic engagement and building civic capacity. In addition, Rahman is on the Board of The New Press, a non-profit publisher focusing on publishing books in the public interest, and United to Protect Democracy, a legal advocacy group battling current threats to American democratic institutions.

Rahman earned his AB at Harvard College summa cum laude in Social Studies and returned to Harvard for his JD at Harvard Law School and his PhD in the Harvard Government Department. He also has degrees in Economics and Sociolegal Studies from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Jeremi Suri
Professor and Historian

Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor in the university’s Department of History and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Dr. Suri is the author and editor of nine books on contemporary politics and foreign policy, most recently The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office. His other books include Henry Kissinger and the American Century, Liberty’s Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama and Foreign Policy Breakthroughs: Cases in Successful Diplomacy (with Robert Hutchings).

Dr. Suri writes for major newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle, The Boston Globe, Foreign Affairs, Fortune, The American Prospect, and Wired—as well as for various online sites and blogs. He is a popular public lecturer, and appears frequently on radio and television.

Dr. Suri teaches courses on strategy and decision-making, leadership, globalization, international relations and modern history. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses, and he teaches and serves as academic director for the Executive Master in Public Leadership program (EMPL) at the LBJ School. His research and teaching have received numerous prizes. In 2007 Smithsonian magazine named him one of America’s “Top Young Innovators” in the arts and sciences.

Bill McKibben
Environmentalist, Author & Journalist

Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.

The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.”

A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of BooksNational Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors . In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat— Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor.

Michael Crow
President, Arizona State University

Dr. Michael M. Crow is an educator, knowledge enterprise architect, science and technology policy scholar and higher education leader. He became the sixteenth president of Arizona State University in July 2002 and has spearheaded ASU’s rapid and groundbreaking transformative evolution into one of the world’s best public metropolitan research universities. As a model “New American University,” ASU simultaneously demonstrates comprehensive excellence, inclusivity representative of the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the United States, and consequential societal impact.

Lauded as the ”#1 most innovative” school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report (2016-2020), ASU is a student-centric, technology-enabled university focused on complex global challenges related to sustainability, economic competitiveness, social embeddedness, entrepreneurship and global engagement. Under Dr, Crow’s leadership, ASU has established twenty-five new transdisciplinary schools, including the School of Earth and Space Exploration, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, and launched trailblazing multidisciplinary initiatives including the Biodesign Institute, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and important initiatives in the humanities and social sciences.

Bill Ritter
Attorney & Former Governor of Colorado

Governor Bill Ritter was elected Colorado’s 41st governor in 2006 and was the District Attorney of Denver from 1993-2005.  During his four-year term as Governor, Ritter established Colorado as a national and international leader in clean energy by building a New Energy Economy. After leaving the Governor’s Office, Ritter founded the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, which works with state and federal policy makers to create clean energy policy throughout the country.  Governor Ritter has authored a book that was published in 2016 entitled, Powering Forward – What Everyone Should Know About America’s Energy Revolution.

Gov. Ritter is the chair of the Board of Directors of the Energy Foundation and serves on the Regis University Board of Trustees. Gov. Ritter is a member of Blackhorn Venture Capital and serves as an advisor to Green Alpha and Millennium Bridge, among others.  Ritter earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Colorado State University (1978) and his law degree from the University of Colorado (1981). With his wife Jeannie, he operated a food distribution and nutrition center in Zambia. He then served as Denver’s district attorney from 1993 to January 2005.

Peter Wehner
Vice President & Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Peter Wehner is Vice President and Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and a contributing editor for The Atlantic magazine. Mr. Wehner has written for numerous other publications—including Time magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Financial Times, The Weekly Standard, National Review, Commentary, National Affairs, and Christianity Today—and has appeared frequently as a commentator on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CBS, PBS, and C-SPAN television. He was also the Pamela and Jack Egan Visiting Professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy and the School of Arts and Sciences at Duke University in 2019–2020.

Mr. Wehner served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administrations prior to becoming deputy director of speechwriting for President George W. Bush. In 2002, he was asked to head the Office of Strategic Initiatives, where he generated policy ideas, reached out to public intellectuals, published op-eds and essays, and provided counsel on a range of domestic and international issues. He has also served as an adviser to several presidential campaigns.

Mr. Wehner’s book The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump (HarperCollins) was published in June 2019. He is also author of City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era (co-authored with Michael J. Gerson), Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism (co-authored with Arthur C. Brooks), and co-editor of books on foreign policy (The Latin American Policies of U.S. Allies) and national security (Promise or Peril: The Strategic Defense Initiative).

Timothy Snyder
Professor and Historian

Timothy Snyder is the Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. He speaks five and reads ten European languages.  His chief books are Nationalism, Marxism, and Modern Central Europe: A Biography of Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz (1998); The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999 (2003); Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist’s Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine (2005); The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke(2008); Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010), Thinking the Twentieth Century (with Tony Judt, 2012); Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015); On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017); and The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America (2018).  Snyder is co-editor of The Wall Around the West: State Borders and Immigration Controls in Europe and North America (2001); Stalin and Europe: Terror, War, Domination (2013); and The Balkans as Europe (2018). His essays are collected in Ukrainian History, Russian Politics, European Futures (2014), and The Politics of Life and Death (2015).  Snyder’s work has appeared in forty languages and has received about as many prizes.  He has received state orders from Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland.  He was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford, where he earned his D.Phil., and has received the Carnegie and Guggenheim fellowships.  Among other distinctions are the Emerson Prize in the Humanities, the Literature Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Foundation for Polish Science prize in the social sciences, the Leipzig Award for European Understanding, the Dutch Auschwitz Committee award, and the Hannah Arendt Prize in Political Thought.  He has appeared in media around the world, including major films.  His words has been quoted in political demonstrations in several countries.  He is writing a book about freedom.

Dawn Johnsen
Professor of Law, University of Indiana

Dawn Johnsen is the Walter W. Foskett Professor of Constitutional law, who is currently on the faculty at Maurer School of Law at Indiana University in Bloomington, IndianaProfessor Johnsen joined the faculty in 1998, following a distinguished career in Washington, DC. She served in the U.S. Department of Justice under President Bill Clinton (1993-1998), including as the acting assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel (1997-1998), which provides legal advice to the attorney general, the president, and the general counsels of the various executive branch agencies. She served on the transition teams for both President Clinton and President Barack Obama. President Obama nominated her to return to head the Office of Legal Counsel as assistant attorney general but the US Senate failed to act on the nomination from 2009-2010. From 1988-1993, she was the legal director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (now NARAL Pro-Choice America), and prior to that as staff counsel fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project. She clerked for Judge Richard D. Cudahy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Johnsen serves as director and secretary of the board of directors of the Guttmacher Institute, a leading sexual and reproductive health research and policy organization. She also serves on the academic advisory board of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. Her research interests include issues of separation of powers (especially presidential power) and civil liberties (especially reproductive rights). She teaches Constitutional Law, the First Amendment, and Seminars in the Separation of Powers and Sexuality, Reproduction and the Constitution.

David Orr
Environmentalist, Author, and Founder of State of American Democracy

David W. Orr is Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics Emeritus and senior advisor to the president of Oberlin College. He is a founding editor of the journal Solutions, and founder of the Oberlin Project, a collaborative effort of the city of Oberlin, Oberlin College, and private and institutional partners to improve the resilience, prosperity, and sustainability of Oberlin. Orr is the author of eight books, including Dangerous Years: Climate Change, the Long Emergency, and the Way Forward (Yale, 2016) and Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse (Oxford, 2009) and coeditor of three others. He has authored over 200 articles, reviews, book chapters, and professional publications.

In the past 25 years, he has served as a board member or advisor to eight foundations and on the boards of many organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Currently he is a trustee of the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado and the Children and Nature Network. He has been awarded eight honorary degrees and a dozen other awards including a Lyndhurst Prize, a National Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation, and a Visionary Leadership Award from Second Nature. Orr is a frequent lecturer at colleges and universities throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. While at Oberlin, he spearheaded the effort to design, fund, and build the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, which was named by an AIA panel in 2010 as “the most important green building of the past 30 years,” and as “one of 30 milestone buildings of the twentieth century” by the U.S. Department of Energy and was instrumental in funding the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center.

Frank LaRose
Secretary of State, Ohio (Rep.)

Frank LaRose took office as Ohio’s 51st Secretary of State on January 14th, 2019. Prior to being elected to statewide office, he served two terms in the State Senate representing the 27th Senate District in northeast Ohio.

As Ohio’s Secretary of State, LaRose is doing his part to deliver a thriving democracy and a prosperous economy. In his role as Ohio’s chief elections officer, he’s working to ensure Ohio’s elections are secure, accurate and accessible. He is also supporting Ohio entrepreneurs as the sole authority to receive and approve articles of incorporation for Ohio businesses. In the legislature, LaRose spearheaded efforts to increase government transparency and efficiency, particularly in the areas of elections administration and regulatory reform.

Among numerous recognitions, LaRose was named the Legislator of the Year in 2016 by the Ohio Association of Election Officials in recognition of his support and commitment to improving Ohio’s election process. He is currently serving a two-year term within the Aspen Institute as a Rodel Fellow – a bipartisan group of America’s rising political stars brought together to promote greater civil discourse. In May 2019, LaRose was presented the Business Champion Award by the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

LaRose developed his strong work ethic and sense of responsibility at a young age while working on a small family-owned farm in northeast Ohio. After graduating from Copley High School, LaRose fulfilled a lifelong dream by enlisting in the United States Army with the 101st Airborne, and ultimately served in the U.S. Special Forces as a Green Beret. During his decade in uniform around the globe, LaRose received numerous commendations and honors, including the Bronze Star.

LaRose continues to give back to his community since leaving the Army and entering public service. He is the Jr. Vice Commander of the Fairlawn VFW and, as an Eagle Scout himself, Frank now serves on the executive board for his local Boy Scouts of America Council. LaRose, a native of northeast Ohio, graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Consumer Affairs and Business. He and his wife, Lauren, live in Columbus with their three daughters.

Jocelyn Benson
Secretary of State, Michigan (Dem.)

Jocelyn Benson is Michigan’s 43rd Secretary of State. In this role she is focused on ensuring elections are secure and accessible, and dramatically improving customer experiences for all who interact with our offices.Benson is the author of State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process, the first major book on the role of the secretary of state in enforcing election and campaign finance laws. She is also the Chair of Michigan’s Task Force on Women in Sports, created by Governor Whitmer in 2019 to advance opportunities for women in Michigan as athletes and sports leaders.

A graduate of Harvard Law School and expert on civil rights law, education law and election law, Benson served as dean of Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. When she was appointed dean at age 36, she became the youngest woman in U.S. history to lead a top-100, accredited law school. She continues to serve as vice chair of the advisory board for the Levin Center at Wayne Law, which she founded with former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin. Previously, Benson was an associate professor and associate director of Wayne Law’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights.

Prior to her election, she served as CEO of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), a national nonprofit organization using the unifying power of sports to improve race relations. Benson is co-founder and former president of Military Spouses of Michigan, a network dedicated to providing support and services to military spouses and their children. In 2015, she became one of the youngest women in history to be inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

Maria Hinojosa
Host, NPR's "Latino USA"

For 25 years, Maria Hinojosa has helped tell America’s untold stories and brought to light unsung heroes in America and abroad. In April 2010, Hinojosa launched The Futuro Media Group with the mission to produce multi-platform, community-based journalism that gives critical voice to the voiceless by harnessing the power of independent media to tell stories that are overlooked or under reported by traditional media.

As the anchor and executive producer of the long-running weekly NPR show Latino USA, and as anchor of the Emmy Award-winning talk show Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One from WGBH/La Plaza, Hinojosa has informed millions of Americans about the fastest growing group in our country. Previously, a Senior Correspondent for NOW on PBS, and currently, a rotating anchor for Need to Know, Hinojosa has reported hundreds of important stories—from the immigrant work camps in NOLA after Katrina, to teen girl victims of sexual harassment on the job, to Emmy Award-winning stories of the poor in Alabama.

Hinojosa has won top honors in American journalism. Latino USA won a Peabody Award in April 2015 for its 2014 episode “Gangs, Murder and Migration in Honduras.” Her awards also include four Emmys, the 2012 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Reporting on the Disadvantaged, the Studs Terkel Community Media Award, and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Overseas Press Club for best documentary for her groundbreaking “Child Brides: Stolen Lives.” In 2009, Hinojosa was honored with an AWRT Gracie Award for Individual Achievement as Best TV correspondent. In 2010 she was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, by DePaul University in Chicago, as well as the Sidney Hillman Prize honoring her social and economic justice reporting. In 2012 she additionally received an honorary degree from Simmons College, was named among the top 25 Latinos in Contemporary American Culture by the Huffington Post, and gave the prestigious Ware Lecture. In 2013, Hinojosa taught at DePaul University as the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz chair of the Latin American and Latino Studies program.

Throughout her career, Hinojosa has helped define the conversation about our times and our society with one of the most authentic voices in broadcast. Hinojosa is the author of two books including a motherhood memoir, Raising Raul: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son. She was born in Mexico City, raised in Chicago, and received her BA from Barnard College.

LaTosha Brown
Co-Founder, Black Voters Matter

LaTosha Brown is an award-winning organizer, philanthropic consultant, political strategist and jazz singer with over twenty years of experience working in the non-profit and philanthropy sectors on a wide variety of issues related to political empowerment, social justice, economic development, leadership development, wealth creation and civil rights.

She is the co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, a power building southern based civic engagement organization that played an instrumental role in the 2017 Alabama U.S. Senate race. Ms. Brown is principal owner of TruthSpeaks Consulting, Inc., a philanthropy advisory consulting firm in Atlanta, GA. For more than 25 years, she has served as a consultant and advisor for individual donors, government, public foundations and private donors.

Throughout her career, Ms. Brown has distinguished herself as a trusted expert and resource in political strategy, rural development and special programming for a number of national and regional philanthropies. She is the founding project director of Grantmakers for Southern Progress.

Andrew Gumbel
Award-winning Journalist & Author

Andrew Gumbel is an award-winning journalist and author with a long track record as an investigative reporter, political columnist, magazine writer and foreign correspondent. He contributes regularly to The Guardian from Los Angeles, where he lives, and has written extensively on subjects ranging from politics, law enforcement and counterterrorism, to popular culture and food. His book Oklahoma City: What The Investigation Missed — And Why It Still Matters (HarperCollins) was published to wide acclaim in 2012. A thoroughly revised version of his history of electoral corruption in the United States, Down for the Count: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America, was published by The New Press in 2016.

In early 2020, he was involved in two new books, one, which he wrote, the remarkable story of a public university in Atlanta that has transformed the prospects of its lower-income students, Won’t Lose This Dream: How an Upstart Urban University Rewrote the Rules of a Broken System (The New Press, May 2020) and the other, on which he was a co-editor and contributor, about the prospects for American democracy in the age of  Donald Trump, Democracy Unchained: How to Rebuild Government for the People (also from The New Press, out March 2020).

Born in Britain, Andrew spent six years with the international news agency Reuters, then worked for The Guardian and its rival British daily, The Independent. He was in Berlin when the Wall came down, in Kuwait in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, in Bosnia and Serbia during the wars of the 1990s, and in Italy to watch the political rise of Silvio Berlusconi.

Since 1998 he has been based in the United States, breaking stories on subjects as diverse as the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, the manipulation of intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq war, the cultural battles over gay marriage, mismanagement at Hollywood’s dedicated retirement facility for former television and film workers, and the growing security threat posed by mass shootings. Aside from The Guardian, his pieces have appeared in The Atlantic, the Daily Beast, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Nation, the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeleno, Vanity Fair, The Advocate and the Hollywood news website TheWrap.

Andrew won a Project Censored award in 2003 for his work on the shortcomings of America’s new-generation computer voting machines. Five years later, he was named best political columnist of 2008 by the Association of Alternative Newspapers for his long-running column American Babylon, which appeared in the now-defunct LA CityBeat.

In addition to his work as a writer, Andrew has also developed a strong reputation as a journalism teacher. He received a first class honors degree in modern languages (French and Italian) from Oxford University.

The Most Rev. Michael Curry
Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church

The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry is Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church.  He is the Chief Pastor and serves as President and Chief Executive Officer, and as Chair of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church. Presiding Bishop Curry was installed as the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church on November 1, 2015.  He was elected to a nine-year term and confirmed at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, UT, on June 27, 2015.

The descendant of enslaved Africans brought to North America by way of the trans-Atlantic slave routes,  Presiding Bishop Curry was born in Chicago, IL, on March 13, 1953.  Presiding Bishop Curry’s father was an Episcopal priest and his mother was a devout Episcopalian. She died at a young age, and Presiding Bishop Curry, along with his sister, was raised by his father and his grandmother. His father, mother and grandmother grounded him in Christian beliefs and practices through their example and their teachings.

He attended public schools in Buffalo, NY, and, even at a young age, he learned about social activism through his father’s leadership and his own dedication to righting a broken world.

Presiding Bishop Curry was graduated with high honors from Hobart College in Geneva, NY, in 1975. He received a Master of Divinity degree in 1978 from Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, CT. He has furthered his education with continued study at The College of Preachers, Princeton Theological Seminary, Wake Forest University, the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary’s Seminary, and the Institute of Christian Jewish Studies. He has received honorary degrees from Episcopal Divinity School; Sewanee: The University of the South; Virginia Theological Seminary; and Yale.

He is married to the former Sharon Clement, and they have two adult daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth.

David Daley
Author & Senior Fellow for FairVote

David Daley is a senior fellow for FairVote and the author of Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy, which helped spark the recent drive to reform gerrymandering. Dave’s second book, Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy, chronicles the victories and defeats in state efforts to reform elections and uphold voting rights. A frequent lecturer and media source about gerrymandering, he is the former editor-in-chief of, and the former CEO and publisher of the Connecticut News Project. He is a digital media fellow at the Wilson Center for the Humanities and the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Guardian, New York magazine, the Atlantic, the Boston Globe, Rolling Stone, Details, and he’s been on CNN and NPR. When writing for the Hartford Courant, he helped identify Mark Felt as the “Deep Throat” source for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Desmond Meade
President, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC)

Desmond Meade is a formerly homeless returning citizen who overcame many obstacles to eventually become the President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), Chair of Floridians for a Fair Democracy, and a graduate of Florida International University College of Law.

As President and Executive Director of FRRC, which is recognized for its work on voting and criminal justice reform issues, Desmond led the FRRC to a historic victory in 2018 with the successful passage of Amendment 4, a grassroots citizen’s initiative which restored voting rights to over 1.4 million Floridians with past felony convictions. Amendment 4 represented the single largest expansion of voting rights in the United States in half a century and brought an end to 150 years of a Jim Crow-era law in Florida.

Recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2019, Desmond presently leads efforts to empower and civically re-engage local communities across the state, and to reshape local, state, and national criminal justice policies.  His work has resulted in being named Floridian and Central Floridian of the Year 2019.

A sought-after speaker, Desmond has made numerous appearances on radio and television, and has spoken before national organizations such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bread for the World. Desmond has testified before Congressional members and staffers and was a part of a delegation to the United Nations where he gave testimony regarding disenfranchisement in Florida. Desmond orchestrated a historic meeting at the White House between returning citizens and the President Obama’s administration. He has appeared on numerous shows such as Al-Jazeera, Democracy NOW, MSNBC with Joy Ann Reid, FOX News with Dana Perino and Tucker Carlson, Samantha Bee, and All In with Chris Hayes. He is a guest columnist for the Huffington Post in which one of his articles about the death of Trayvon Martin garnered national attention. Desmond has been featured in several newspaper and magazine articles and was chosen as a “Game Changer” by Politic 365, as well as being recognized as a “Foot Soldier” on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show on MSNBC.

Desmond is married and has five beautiful children.

Jacqueline Salit

A highly respected political innovator and advocate for the rights of independent voters—now 40% of the American electorate—Jacqueline Salit has built the largest network of independent leaders and activists in the country.  She is the President of, the country’s leading strategy and organizing center for independents, with chapters in 40 states.  Since 2005 she has hosted a bi-annual national conference for independents.

Salit managed Michael Bloomberg’s three campaigns for New York City Mayor on the Independence Party (IP) line, playing a crucial role in delivering the IP’s “margin of victory” vote in 2001, the exodus of 47% of African-American voters from the Democratic Party to support Bloomberg in 2005, and the historic 150,000 votes for Bloomberg’s re-election on the IP line in 2009.

In 2011, Palgrave Macmillan selected Salit to write a book on the contemporary independent political movement in America.  Independents Rising: Outsider Movements, Third Parties and the Struggle for a Post-Partisan America was released on August 7, 2012 and presents her firsthand account of this growing and influential voting bloc.

Salit recounts independents little-known history and sometimes volatile impact as old political institutions and categories are becoming irrelevant—even repugnant—to many Americans.  Salit, who has spent 30 years as an insider in this growing movement of outsiders, also reveals how independents underestimate their own power and how they can make the most of their newfound influence in American politics.

Salit’s political commentaries have appeared in: USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, The Huffington Post, New York Daily News, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Legal Times, Buffalo News, Union Leader, Albany Times Union, and New York Newsday. She’s been featured commentator on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, CBC, PBS, FOX and CSPAN.

Salit is a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated radio program Fairness Radio and produced Talk/Talk with the late public philosopher Fred Newman.  She is a native New Yorker who resides in Greenwich Village.

Bakari Kitwana
Author, Cultural Critic & Activist

An internationally known cultural critic, journalist, activist, and thought leader in the area of hip-hop, youth culture, and Black political engagement, Bakari Kitwana is the Executive Director of Rap Sessions, which for the last fourteen years has conducted over 150 townhall meetings around the nation on difficult dialogues facing the hip-hop and millennial generations.

He is the collaborating writer for pioneering hip-hop artist Rakim%u2019s new book Sweat The Technique: Revelations on Creativity From The Lyrical Genius (Amistad, 2019) and the 2019-2020 Nasir Jones HipHop Fellow at the W.E.B. Dubois Research Institute / Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. The former Editor-in-Chief of The Source magazine, where he wrote and edited hundreds of articles on hip-hop, youth culture, politics and national affairs, Kitwana co-founded the first ever National Hip-Hop Political Convention. The gathering brought over 4000 18-29 year-olds to Newark, NJ in 2004 to create and endorse a political agenda for the hip-hop generation.

Kitwana is the author of Why White Kids Love Hip-Hop and co-editor (with David Orr, Andrew Gumbel and William Becker) of the forthcoming Democracy Unchained: How to Rebuild Government For the People (The New Press, 2020). His groundbreaking 2002 book The Hip-Hop Generation popularized the expression %u201Cthe hip-hop generation%u201D and has been adopted as a coursebook in classrooms at over 100 college and universities.

Kitwana has been Editorial Director of Third World Press, a senior media fellow at The Jamestown Project, Artist-in-Residence at the Center for the Study of Race Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, and has served on the organizing committee for the 2013 Black Youth Project convening that launched the millennial Black activist group BYP100.

Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis
Co-Chair, Poor People's Campaign

The Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis is Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival with the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II that organized the largest coordinated wave of nonviolent civil disobedience in 21st Century America and has since emerged as one of the nation’s leading social movement forces. She is the Director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary.

Liz received her BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania; her M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in 2004 where she was the first William Sloane Coffin Scholar; and her PhD from Union in New Testament and Christian Origins. She has been published in The New York Times, Time Magazine, CNN, The Guardian, Sojourners, The Nation, and others. In 2018, she gave the “Building a Moral Movement” TEDtalk at TEDWomen, was named one of the Politico 50“thinkers, doers and visionaries whose ideas are driving politics”, and was also named a Women of Faith recipient by the Presbyterian Church (USA). In 2019, she was a Selma “Bridge” Award recipient and named one of 11 Women Shaping the Church by Sojourners. In 2020 she was named one of 15 Faith Leaders to Watch by the Center for American Progress.

Liz is the author of Always with Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor (Eerdmans, 2017). She is co-author of Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing (Beacon, 2018). Liz is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Amilcar Shabazz
Chair, W.E.B. Du Bois Department Afro-American Studies, University of Mass. Amherst

A professor of history and Africana Studies in the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies since 2007, Shabazz served as the department’s seventh chair from 2007 to 2012. From 2013 to 2016, he was the Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor for Diversity and Excellence, and, since 2016, he has acted as the department’s chair for an interim term. He continues to teach in the department with an emphasis on the political economy of social and cultural movements, education, and public policy. His book Advancing Democracy: African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas was the winner of the T.R. Fehrenbach Book Award and other scholarly recognitions. The Forty Acres Documents, a volume he co-edited with Imari Obadele and Johnita Scott Obadele and for which he wrote the introduction, was one of the earliest scholarly works in the modern movement for reparations for slavery and the racial oppression of people of African descent in North America. Shabazz has been a Fulbright Senior Specialist and has done work in Brazil, Ghana, Japan, Cuba, and other countries. Presently, he is completing an historical biography of lawyer-journalist-entrepreneur Carter Wesley, among other projects. Shabazz was selected for the 2014-15 class of the American Council on Education Fellows Program, the longest running leadership development program in the United States that focuses on identifying and preparing the next generation of senior leadership for the nation’s universities.

Born in Beaumont, Texas, Shabazz graduated from Monsignor Kelly High School, followed by his earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from The University of Texas at Austin, a masters from Lamar University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston, both in history. He was an associate professor of History and Director of the American Studies Program at Oklahoma State University, as well as the founding director of its Center for Africana Studies & Development. Prior to that he served as the first director of the African American Studies Program at The University of Alabama while also becoming a tenured professor of American Studies. In 2014, and again in 2016, Shabazz was elected for a two-year term as Vice President of The National Council for Black Studies, the premier organization of Black Studies professionals in the world.

Deadria Farmer-Paellmann
Executive Director, Restitution Study Group

Farmer-Paellmann is credited for popularizing the slavery reparations movement through her groundbreaking research exposing corporate complicity in slavery. In January of 2000, she exposed and secured an unprecedented public apology from Aetna Incorporated for writing insurance policies on the lives of enslaved Africans with slaveholders as the beneficiaries in the 1800’s. Her research linking various blue-chip corporations to the slave trade led to them making a $20 million payment to the African American community in 2005. Her litigation strategy in a case filed against slave-trade corporations for consumer fraud resulted in the first reparations court victory in American history in 2006.

Deadria Farmer-Paellmann set aside a promising law career to become one of the foremost researchers into the links between the slave trade and American corporate interests of the nineteenth century. In 2002 she gained media attention for launching a lawsuit that demanded reparations for the descendants of American slaves, based on the premise that several U.S. corporations had profited from the practice of slavery in the years before the Civil War of 1861-65. Named in the suit was Aetna, the largest insurer in the United States, along with a financial corporation and a railroad. “They have played a role and they should be held responsible,” said Farmer-Paellmann in an interview with Virginia Groark of the New York Times, adding, “And later on down the road there will be more companies.”

After earning a master’s degree in lobbying and political campaignmanagement from George Washington University, Farmer-Paellmann entered the New England School of Law in the mid-1990s. She decided to write a paper for one class on the reparations issue, and began researching the subject. She was particularly intrigued by recent court challenges filed on behalf of Holocaust victims from World War II. The German government had bowed to pressure and compelled some prominent corporations, which had operated factories during World War II using slave labor culled from the conquests of the Nazi regime, to contribute to a reparations fund.

Instead of cash payouts, Farmer-Paellmann and other groups involved in seeking reparations are looking to the German model, hoping that reparations could be placed in a trust fund to be used for jobs, housing, and education. Interestingly, Farmer-Paellmann is married to a German executive, with whom she has a daughter. She lives in the New York area, and continues to research the murkier side of American corporate history. Her efforts have linked some 60 U.S. companies to the slave trade. Though her grandfather died in 1999, he already knew of her work on the reparations cause. “I called him when I was in law school to tell him I was developing the case,” she told People. “He was proud.”

Betty Lyons
President and Executive Director, American Indian Law Alliance

Betty Lyons, President & Executive Director of the American Indian Law Alliance (AILA), is an Indigenous and environmental activist and citizen of the Onondaga Nation. Her native name, Gaen hia uh, meaning ‘small sky,’ was given to her by her Snipe Clan mother and has developed her love for the earth from her deep connection to her culture. Growing up Ms. Lyons learned a deep respect for the earth and the responsibility to protect it. Ms. Lyons worked together with the NOON organization (Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation) to educate and teach local communities about the culture of the Onondaga Nation to further a better understanding and to bridge the gap between the communities. Ms. Lyons has participated and organized rallies and demonstrations pushing for a ban on fracking in New York State, until a ban was achieved in December 2014. Betty Lyons has worked for the Onondaga Nation for over seventeen years as a Public Relations Representative, Manager of the Onondaga Nation Arena, and as Executive Assistant to Tadodaho Sidney Hill. She has been an active participant at the annual United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) since the first session in 2001 and has coordinated the opening ceremonies. For over 10 years, Ms. Lyons was the President of Onondaga Minor Athletic Club where she organized and managed over 15 youth sports team programs. Betty Lyons graduated from Cazenovia College ALA (2013), Bryant Stratton College Graduate of Paralegal Program Magna Cum Laude. She is also the hardworking mother of Garrett and Sid Jr.

Ron Daniels
Convener, National African American Reparations Commission

Veteran social and political activist Dr. Ron Daniels was an independent candidate for President of the United States in 1992. He served as Executive Director of the National Rainbow Coalition in 1987 and Southern Regional Coordinator and Deputy Campaign Manager for the Jesse Jackson for President Campaign in 1988. He holds a B.A. in History from Youngstown State University, an M.A. in Political Science from the Rockefeller School of Public Affairs in Albany, New York and a Doctor of Philosophy in Africana Studies from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati. He currently serves as Distinguished Lecturer at York College, City University of New York.

From 1993-2005 Dr. Daniels served as first African American Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) During his tenure CCR emerged as a major force fighting against police brutality and misconduct, church burnings, hate crimes, voter disenfranchisement, environmental racism and the threats to civil liberties posed by the government’s response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

In June of 1995, Dr. Daniels led an African American fact-finding and support delegation/mission to Haiti. As a result of the visit, the Haiti Support Project (HSP) was created to mobilize ongoing political and material support for the struggle for democracy and development in Haiti. HSP has emerged as the leading African American organization working to build a constituency for Haiti in the U.S.

A prolific essayist and commentator, Dr. Daniels’ column Vantage Point appears in numerous Black and progressive newspapers and web sites nationwide. He is also an occasional radio talk show host who Guest Hosts the WWRL Morning Show, 1600 AM in New York, The Warren BallentineShow, Keeping It Real with Rev. Al Sharpton on the Radio One Network andMake It Plain with Mark Thompson on SIRIUS/XM Satellite Radio.

Dr. Daniels is Founder and President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century [], a progressive, African centered, action-oriented Resource Center dedicated to empowering people of African descent and marginalized communities.

Leah Stokes
Professor at University of California, Santa Barbara & Author

Leah Stokes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and affiliated with the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). She works on energy, climate and environmental politics, and within American Politics, her work focuses on representation and public opinion; voting behavior; and public policy, particularly at the state level. Within environmental politics, she researches climate change, renewable energy, water and chemicals policy.

Stokes’ book, Short Circuiting Policy, examines the role that utilities have played in promoting climate denial and rolling back clean energy laws. She has also contributed to the anthology, All We Can Save, which is a collection of essays written by influential women in the climate space. Stokes’ academic research has been published in top journals including the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, Nature Energy, Energy Policy, and Environmental Science & Technology. I have also published articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, CNN and elsewhere.

She completed her PhD in Public Policy in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning’s Environmental Policy & Planning group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Leah also received a masters from MIT’s Political Science Department. Before that, she completed an MPA in Environmental Science & Policy at the School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Stokes also has a BSc in Psychology and East Asian Studies from the University of Toronto. Prior to academia, Leah worked at the Parliament of Canada and Resources for the Future.

Nick Rathod
Founder & Former Executive Director of the State Innovation Exchange (SiX)

Nick Rathod has spent his career working in state and local politics, successfully building institutions and winning electoral and policy campaigns for twenty years. Nick most immediately was the founder and Executive Director of the State Innovation Exchange (SiX), which was created and designed to build progressive power in state legislatures around the country. During his time at SiX Nick merged several similar organizations together, grew SiX from an idea to a multimillion dollar enterprise with more than 30 staff and significantly impacted progressive state policy making and established a pipeline of training for elected officials in states across the country.

Prior to SiX, Nick served as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House, and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Obama-Biden Transition Team. In these roles, Nick served as President Obama’s liaison to states and U.S. territories, handling political and policy engagement as it relates to the states. Nick also worked with Senator Elizabeth Warren to help build and establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and later served as the Bureau’s Assistant Director in charge of Intergovernmental and International Affairs. Nick has also served as a Senior Advisor to former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Senior Manager of State and Regional Affairs at the Center for American Progress, and Director of State Campaigns for Mayor Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety. A lawyer by training, Nick has also worked as a civil rights attorney and community organizer, with a focus on language access, housing discrimination, and immigrant rights issues. He is a founding member and former Chairman of the Board of Directors of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national nonprofit dedicated to empowering the South Asian community.

Nick currently lives in Virginia with his wife and three children. He is active in the state building progressive infrastructure like the donor table, sits on a number of non-profit boards and runs a consulting practice.

Crystal M.C. Davis
Vice President of Policy & Strategic Engagement, Alliance for the Great Lakes

Crystal M.C. Davis is a respected professional with a career in government affairs that bloomed in Columbus, Ohio and Washington D.C. Crystal is currently with the Alliance for the Great Lakes as its Vice President of Policy & Strategic Engagement, leading the organization’s efforts related to Lake Erie, drinking water policy advocacy and relationship building across the region. In this role, Crystal has spearheaded the Alliance’s commitment to diverse engagement of Great Lakes communities and authored the organization’s seminal report Step One: Shut Up and Listen. She also developed and executed the organization’s environmental policy and strategy on Lake Erie water quality issues. Moreover, in 2016 Crystal founded the Thornton Buckeye Group, which is a government relations and public affairs firm that provides clients tactical advocacy, policy, communications and other related services. Crystal has developed local, state and national clients. To return to Greater Cleveland, Crystal left a position in D.C. as the Federal Relations Director for Kent State University, where she established KSU’s federal office and policy agenda on Capitol Hill. Her previous experience includes stints with the Ohio House of Representatives, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Crystal is a graduate of Kent State University, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., winner of the 2015 Ohio TRiO Trailblazer Award, an Environmental Commissioner for the City of Twinsburg, Ohio and 2018 Crain’s Cleveland Business 40 under 40 Honoree. She is an Akron, Ohio native and now lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband and their two young children.

Sean O'Leary
Senior Researcher, Ohio River Valley Institute

Sean O’Leary is a senior researcher in the areas energy, petrochemicals, and economic development at the Ohio River Valley Institute. Sean He has written extensively about coal and natural gas and their roles in the economy of Appalachia. Examples of Sean’s work can be found in his blog and a companion book titled, “The State of My State: A Native Son’s Search for West Virginia”. Prior to joining the Ohio River Valley Institute, Sean served as communications director at the NW Energy Coalition in Seattle, Washington where he worked on many of the climate change and clean energy transition policies enacted under Governor Jay Inslee. Sean is also an accomplished playwright whose plays have been recognized by the National Endowment for The Arts and been produced Off-Broadway and internationally. In 2004, Sean was named to The Literary Map of West Virginia.

Larry Schweiger
Chair, Climate Reality Action Fund & Author

Larry Schweiger serves as the chair of Climate Reality Action Fund and an author of two books The Climate Crisis and Corrupt Politics and Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth. Larry was the president and chief executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation where he served as President for ten years and served an additional fourteen years as Federation’s senior vice president of conservation programs and in other Federation capacities including publisher for National Wildlife and Ranger Rick. Under Schweiger’s leadership, fighting climate change became the Federation’s top priority. He was also CEO of PennFuture-a statewide environmental advocacy organization dedicated to addressing the urgent energy and environmental threats to assure a safer future for all Pennsylvanians. He was also first vice president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and President and chief executive officer of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for more than eight years. His book, Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth, won first prize for nonfiction in the 2011 and first prize for science at the Next Gen Indie Book Awards.

Randi Pokladnik
Climate Activist

Dr. Randi Pokladnik was born and raised in the Ohio River Valley. She earned an associate degree in Environmental Engineering, a BA in Chemistry and an MA and Ph.D. in Environmental Studies. She is certified in Hazardous Materials Regulations and has a teaching license in Science and Math. She worked as a research chemist for eleven years at Nationals Steel’s Research Center in Weirton, WV. She has taught both secondary and post-secondary science courses.  She is retired but keeps busy as a volunteer for several environmental non-profits in the Ohio Valley including the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition in West Virginia; their goal to stop the petrochemical buildup in the region. She also does some free-lance writing about environmental issues and conducts presentations about the health and environmental impacts of plastics and climate change.

She has received several awards including Eastern Gateway Community College’s Outstanding Alumnus of 2018, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition’s Community Networker of the Year for 2015, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition’s Fractivist of the Year in 2018 and the Laura Forman Passion for Justice Award in 2020 for her work to educate people about the petrochemical industry. She resides with her husband at Tappan Lake near Cadiz, Ohio in an eco-log home that they have built using sustainable building and design practices.

Chris Quinn
Editor, The Plain Dealer and

Chris Quinn is editor of and The Plain Dealer. He started in journalism in 1980 as a staff writer at a New Jersey weekly paper before moving on to reporting positions in Dover, Del.; Harrisburg, Pa. and Orlando, Fla. He joined The Plain Dealer as a crime reporter in 1996 and covered Cleveland City Hall from 1999 to 2002, when he moved into editing. In 2006 he became metro editor and headed newsgathering at the paper until August 2013, when he joined what is now known as Advance Ohio as vice president of content. Chris is a native of New Jersey and received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Temple University in Philadelphia.

Heather Taylor-Miesle
Executive Director, Ohio Environmental Council (OEC)

Heather Taylor-Miesle has more than 20 years of experience advocating for greater environmental and public health protections, and working with our nation’s top decision-makers to bring environmental issues into the political spotlight. Prior to serving as the Executive Director of the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) and President of the OEC Action Fund, Heather was the leader of the NRDC Action Fund, where she grew the organization from a mere concept into an environmental powerhouse in national politics. She also served as the NRDC’s deputy legislative director, worked with Fortune 500 companies to strengthen their sustainability practices, and held key aide positions on Capitol Hill working on energy and natural resources issues. Heather studied political science and communications at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio and earned her master’s of public administration from the University of Southern California.

Dan Moulthrop
CEO, The City Club of Cleveland

Dan Moulthrop is CEO of The City Club of Cleveland, one of the nation’s oldest free-speech forums, and co-founded The Civic Commons, a Knight Foundation project creating a social media environment designed for civil civic dialogue. He’s worked as a print and radio journalist, including as former host of WCPN’s “Sound of Ideas.” Moulthrop is co-editor of A Race Anthology: Dispatches and Artifacts from a Segregated City and co-author of Teachers Have it Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America’s Teachers, which provided the basis for the 2010 documentary American Teacher. He serves on the boards of the Teacher Salary Project, MedWorks, Teach for America in Cleveland, and Borderlight.

Zephyr Teachout
Associate Law Professor, Fordham University

Zephyr Teachout is an Associate Law Professor and has taught at Fordham Law School since 2009. She grew up in Vermont and received her BA from Yale in English and then graduated summa cum laude from Duke Law School, where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review. She also received an MA in Political Science from Duke. She clerked for Chief Judge Edward R. Becker of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

She was a death penalty defense lawyer at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in North Carolina, and co-founded a non-profit dedicated to providing trial experience to new law school graduates. She is known for her pioneering work in internet organizing, and was the first national Director of the Sunlight Foundation.

She has written dozens of law review articles and essays and two books. Her book, “Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United” was published by Harvard University Press in 2014.
She ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination of the Governor of New York in 2014, and for Congress’s 19th Congressional District in 2016.

Russ Feingold
President, American Constitution Society

Russ Feingold is the President of the American Constitution Society. He served as a United States Senator from Wisconsin from 1993 to 2011 and a Wisconsin State Senator from 1983 to 1993. From 2013 to 2015, he served as the United States Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

During his 18 years in the United States Senate, Russ was ranked 6th in the Senate for bipartisan voting. He is a recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award and cosponsored the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain-Feingold Act), the only major piece of campaign finance reform legislation passed into law in decades. Russ was the only Senator to vote against the initial enactment of the USA PATRIOT Act during the first vote on the legislation and was well-known for his opposition to the Iraq War and as the Senate’s leading opponent of the death penalty. He served on the Judiciary, Foreign Relations, Budget, and Intelligence Committees. Russ was Chairman or Ranking Member of the Constitution Subcommittee.

For the better part of the last 10 years and in addition to his congressional and diplomatic career, Russ has taught extensively at various American law schools including Stanford Law School (where he is currently teaching), Yale Law School, Marquette University Law School, and Harvard Law School. In this capacity, he has played a significant mentoring role to law students, preparing him for his role as President of the American Constitution Society. He has also taught foreign policy to graduate and undergraduate students at Stanford University, University of Wisconsin, Yale University, Lawrence University, and American University.

Russ is the Honorary Ambassador for the Campaign for Nature which is a global effort calling on policymakers to commit to address the growing biodiversity crisis. The Campaign seeks a science-driven, ambitious new deal for nature at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China, in 2021.

He is the author of While America Sleeps: A Wake-Up Call for the Post-9/11 Era and contributes regularly to various publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian. He appears frequently on MSNBC and CNN. Russ holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Oxford (as a Rhodes Scholar), and a J.D. from Harvard Law School, all degrees awarded with honors.

Trevor Potter
Founder and President, Campaign Legal Center

Trevor Potter is the founder and President of Campaign Legal Center.

He is a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, and was General Counsel to John McCain’s 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns, and an adviser to the drafters of the McCain-Feingold law. To many, he is perhaps best known for his recurring appearances on The Colbert Report as the lawyer for Stephen Colbert’s super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, during the 2012 election, a program that won a Peabody Award for excellence in reporting on money in politics.

The American Bar Association Journal has described Potter as “hands-down one of the top lawyers in the country on the delicate intersection of politics, law and money.” A Republican, he was appointed to the FEC in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush. A nonresident Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, Potter is the author of several books and manuals on lobbying regulation and disclosure, campaign finance, and federal election law. He has testified before Congress on federal election proposals and campaign finance regulation, and has taught campaign finance law at the University of Virginia School of Law and Oxford University. He has served as Chair of several American Bar Association election law and lobbying regulation committees and task forces, and is currently a member of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Election Law as well as the American Law Institute.

In recent years, Potter has led CLC as it has grown to meet significant challenges to our democracy. In October 2017, lawyers for CLC argued Gill v. Whitford, the groundbreaking Supreme Court case seeking to end extreme partisan gerrymandering. CLC plays a leading watchdog role on ethics issues, providing expert analysis and helping journalists uncover ethical violations, and participates in legal proceedings across the country to defend the right to vote and improve the disclosure and regulation of campaign finance.

Potter has recently appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper, on CBS’s morning news show Face the Nation, on NBC’s Nightly News, and in the films Dark Money (2018) and The King (2017). His writing has been featured in publications such as The Washington Post and The Hill.

Nancy MacLean
Scholar and Author, "Democracy in Chains"

Nancy MacLean is an award-winning scholar of the twentieth-century U.S., whose new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, has been described by Publishers Weekly as “a thoroughly researched and gripping narrative… [and] a feat of American intellectual and political history.” Booklist called it “perhaps the best explanation to date of the roots of the political divide that threatens to irrevocably alter American government.” A finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction, it won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Current Interest, the Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Award, and the Lillian Smith Book Award.

MacLean is the author of four other books, including Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace (2006) called by the Chicago Tribune “contemporary history at its best,” and Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, named a New York Times “noteworthy” book of 1994. Her articles and review essays have appeared in American QuarterlyThe Boston ReviewFeminist Studies, Gender & History, In These Times, International Labor and Working Class HistoryLabor, Labor History, Journal of American History, Journal of Women’s HistoryLaw and History ReviewThe Nation, the OAH Magazine of History, and many edited collections.

Professor MacLean’s scholarship has received more than a dozen prizes and awards and been supported by fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowships Foundation. In 2010, she was elected a fellow of the Society of American Historians, which recognizes literary distinction in the writing of history and biography. Also an award-winning teacher and committed graduate student mentor, she offers courses on twentieth-century America, social movements, and public policy history.

Ellen Dorsey
Executive Director, Wallace Global Fund

Ellen Dorsey is Executive Director of the Wallace Global Fund, a private foundation focused on progressive social change in the fields of environment, democracy, human rights and corporate accountability. Under her leadership, the Fund is recognized for creative philanthropic strategies and mission-related investing. This alignment of programs and investments led the foundation to support the fossil fuel divestment movement since its inception and to launch a new global campaign, Shine, to end energy poverty. Dorsey was awarded the 2016 inaugural Nelson Mandela – Graca Machel Brave Philanthropy Award for launching Divest-Invest Philanthropy, a coalition of over 170 foundations committed to deploying their investments to address the climate crisis and accelerate the clean energy transition.

Dr. Dorsey came to Wallace Global Fund from a series of academic, philanthropic and non-profit leadership positions in the human rights and environmental fields, including serving as Executive Director at the Rachel Carson Institute, launching the Human Rights and Environment program at Amnesty International, and serving as senior program officer in the Heinz Endowment’s Environment Program.

Additionally, she has served on the board of numerous non-profit organizations promoting human rights and sustainable development, including Greenpeace USA, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the United States Human Rights Network, and chair of the board of Amnesty International USA.

Dorsey holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Pittsburgh.  She was a Fulbright Research Fellow in South Africa during that country’s historic transformation. She served on the faculty of several Universities, teaching human rights and environmental sustainability. She has written extensively on effective strategies of non-governmental organizations and social movements. Dorsey is co-author, with Paul J. Nelson, of New Rights Advocacy: Changing Strategies of Development and Human Rights NGOs, Georgetown University Press, 2008.

Chisun Lee
Deputy Director, Election Reform Program, Democracy

Chisun Lee is Deputy Director of the Brennan Center’s Election Reform Program, where she works to advance money-in-politics reform and improve election administration. She leads strategy and research for policy initiatives, legislative campaigns, publications, litigation, and public advocacy.

Lee has authored or co-authored nationally recognized reports and legal scholarship, and is a popular-book contributor. She writes and comments for outlets such as the New York TimesWashington Post, and NPR. She has provided testimony, briefings, and policy advice to federal, state, and local lawmakers across the country and taught as an adjunct professor at NYU School of Law.

Before her current work at the Brennan Center, Lee represented indigent criminal defendants in federal court. Previously she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Gerard E. Lynch in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Lee also worked in journalism and government. She covered legal issues and won numerous honors as a staff reporter for ProPublica and previously the Village Voice. Prior to becoming a journalist, Lee was press secretary to a citywide elected official in New York City. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a degree in history.

Nick Rathod
Founder & Former Executive Director of the State Innovation Exchange (SiX)

Nick Rathod has spent his career working in state and local politics, successfully building institutions and winning electoral and policy campaigns for twenty years. Nick most immediately was the founder and Executive Director of the State Innovation Exchange (SiX), which was created and designed to build progressive power in state legislatures around the country. During his time at SiX Nick merged several similar organizations together, grew SiX from an idea to a multimillion dollar enterprise with more than 30 staff and significantly impacted progressive state policy making and established a pipeline of training for elected officials in states across the country.

Prior to SiX, Nick served as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House, and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Obama-Biden Transition Team. In these roles, Nick served as President Obama’s liaison to states and U.S. territories, handling political and policy engagement as it relates to the states. Nick also worked with Senator Elizabeth Warren to help build and establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and later served as the Bureau’s Assistant Director in charge of Intergovernmental and International Affairs. Nick has also served as a Senior Advisor to former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Senior Manager of State and Regional Affairs at the Center for American Progress, and Director of State Campaigns for Mayor Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety. A lawyer by training, Nick has also worked as a civil rights attorney and community organizer, with a focus on language access, housing discrimination, and immigrant rights issues. He is a founding member and former Chairman of the Board of Directors of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national nonprofit dedicated to empowering the South Asian community.

Nick currently lives in Virginia with his wife and three children. He is active in the state building progressive infrastructure like the donor table, sits on a number of non-profit boards and runs a consulting practice.

Crystal Hayling
Executive Director, The Libra Foundation

Crystal Hayling is the Executive Director of The Libra Foundation, based in San Francisco, funding organizations working to advance human rights and racial, economic, and social justice. Crystal (she/her) brings to The Libra Foundation a wealth of domestic and international experience across a broad spectrum of equity-focused issues. For six years, Crystal lived in Singapore where she built bridges between civil society and emerging donors in Southeast Asia to address income inequality and climate change. As managing director of the Aspen Institute’s Environmental Fellowship, Crystal designed a global leadership program focused on the food system’s impact on the environment.

Feeding her interest in equitable health care, Crystal was CEO of the Blue Shield of California Foundation where she spearheaded work to achieve universal health coverage. She was also part of the founding team at The California Wellness Foundation where she led a groundbreaking initiative to shift youth violence prevention from a criminal justice issue to a public health effort.

She has served on the boards of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, Northern California Grantmakers, Asian Venture Philanthropy Network, and Grantmakers in Health. Most recently Crystal was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to serve on the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. She has also lived and worked in China and Mexico.

Born and raised in Florida, Crystal is a graduate of Yale University and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. She and her husband live in the Bay Area with their two teenage sons.

Stephen Heintz
President and CEO, Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Stephen B. Heintz is president and CEO of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a family foundation with an endowment of approximately $1.2 billion that advances social change for a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. Heintz coined the term “acupuncture philanthropy” to describe his philanthropic approach of leveraging modest financial assets to trigger larger systemic change on critical issues. In 2010, he set an ambitious path to align investment of the Fund’s financial assets with its mission, resulting in its 2014 decision to divest from fossil fuels and establishing the RBF as a leader in the Divest-Invest movement.

Heintz, who began his professional life in public service for the state of Connecticut, has devoted his career to strengthening democratic culture and institutions to better serve citizens. Before joining the RBF in 2001, Heintz co-founded and served as president of Dēmos, a public policy organization that works to reduce political and economic inequality and to broaden citizen engagement in American democracy. In 2018, he was named by the Academy of Arts and Sciences as one of three co-chairs of a national Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship in the 21st Century. The Commission plans to release a report and recommendations in early 2020.

On the international stage, Heintz served as executive vice president and chief operating officer for the EastWest Institute during the 1990s. Based in Prague, he helped propel civil society development, economic reform, and international security as the bedrock of Central and Eastern Europe’s burgeoning democracies. In 2002, he led the RBF’s joint initiative with the UN Association of the USA to open a Track II dialogue that helped lay the groundwork for the Iran nuclear deal. The Iran Project, which he co-founded, keeps alive the possibility of a peaceful relationship with Iran despite the U.S. withdrawal from this historic agreement. In 2007, Heintz convened a meeting of the Kosovo Unity Team and prominent global diplomatic figures at the Fund’s Pocantico Center, resulting in the Pocantico Declaration that set a path for the Kosovo independence process.

Heintz is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development. He serves on the boards of the Quincy Institute, the David Rockefeller Fund, and the Rockefeller Archive Center. He is the recipient of the Council on Foundations 2018 Distinguished Service Award.

Tom Steyer
Investor, Philanthropist, former presidential candidate

Tom Steyer  is an American hedge fund manager, philanthropist, environmentalist, activist, and fundraiser. Steyer is the founder and former co-senior-managing-partner of Farallon Capital and the co-founder of Onecalifornia Bank, which became (through merger) Beneficial State Bank, an Oakland-based community development bank. Farallon Capital manages $20 billion in capital for institutions and high-net-worth individuals. The firm’s institutional investors include college endowments and foundations. Steyer served on the board of trustees at Stanford University from 2007 to 2017. Since 1986, he has been a partner and member of the executive committee at Hellman & Friedman, a San Francisco–based private equity firm.

In 2010, Steyer and his wife signed The Giving Pledge to donate half of their fortune to charity during their lifetime. In 2012, he sold his stake in and retired from Farallon Capital. Switching his focus to politics and the environment, he launched NextGen America, a nonprofit organization that supports progressive positions on climate change, immigration, health care, and education.

Shoshana Zuboff
author, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Shoshana Zuboff is the author of three books, each of which signaled the start of a new epoch in technological society. In the late 1980s her decade-in-the-making In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Powerbecame an instant classic that foresaw how computers would revolutionize the modern workplace. At the dawn of the twenty-first century her influential The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism (with James Maxmin), written before the invention of the iPod or Uber, predicted the rise of digitally-mediated products and services tailored to the individual. It warned of the individual and societal risks if companies failed to alter their approach to capitalism. Now her masterwork, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, synthesizes years of research and thinking in order to reveal a world in which technology users are neither customers, employees, nor products. Instead they are the raw material for new procedures of manufacturing and sales that define an entirely new economic order: a surveillance economy. She is the Charles Edward Wilson Professor Emerita at Harvard Business School and a former Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.

Kevin Roose
Columnist, The New York Times

Kevin Roose is an award-winning technology columnist for The New York Times. His column, “The Shift,” examines the intersection of tech, business, and culture. He is the New York Times bestselling author of three books, FutureproofYoung Moneyand The Unlikely Disciple.

He is the host of “Rabbit Hole,” a New York Times-produced narrative audio series about what the internet is doing to us, and a regular guest on “The Daily,” as well as other leading TV and radio shows. He writes and speaks regularly on many topics, including automation and A.I., social media, disinformation and cybersecurity, and digital wellness.

Before joining The Times, he was a writer at New York magazine, and a host and executive producer of “Real Future,” a documentary TV series about technology and innovation.

He lives in the Bay Area.

Meghan Fay Zahniser
Executive Director, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)

Meghan Fay Zahniser has been with AASHE for nine years and previously held the positions of Director of Programs and STARS Program Manager. Prior to AASHE, Meghan worked as Sustainability Specialist at NELSON, where she provided sustainability expertise and consulting services to various clients. She also spent over five years working at the U.S. Green Building Council where, as Manager of Community, she developed and managed a local chapter network for building industry professionals and helped create the Emerging Green Builders program that integrates students and young professionals into the green building movement. Meghan also worked as Environmental Educator for the University at Buffalo Green Office, organizing campus and community education focused on energy conservation, green building, and sustainable living. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences, with concentrations in environmental studies and health & human services, from the University at Buffalo, a master’s degree in Organization Management and Development from Fielding Graduate Institute and a certificate in massage therapy from the Potomac Massage Training Institute.

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg
Director, CIRCLE at Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University

As Director, Kei leads all of CIRCLE’s research activities while charting a vision of how that research can inform policy and practice to strengthen youth civic engagement. Kei is particularly interested in providing various organizations and communities with research that would help increase civic and political engagement among ethnic minority and immigrant populations. Kei earned her doctorate degree in 2008 from Loyola University Chicago in Clinical Psychology and has extensive experience in working with youth of diverse backgrounds both as a researcher and a practitioner. Throughout her graduate career, she focused her research on positive youth development, including civic engagement. Prior to joining CIRCLE, Kei taught as Visiting Instructor of Psychology at Knox College, where she became involved as an active collaborator for the Center in Galesburg, a community-based citizen organization. In collaboration with the Center in Galesburg, Kei designed a course in Community Psychology in which she taught college students about various types of engagement and actively involved them in the local community.

Carmen Twillie Ambar
President, Oberlin College

Carmen Twillie Ambar is the 15th president of Oberlin College and the first African American leader in its 184-year history. She was appointed to the post in May 2017 after serving for nine years as president of Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Early on at Oberlin, President Ambar emphasized engaging Oberlin’s distinctive liberal arts education with the wider world. Early initiatives have included enhancing winter term, promoting internships and study abroad, building career communities, and creating hands-on opportunities for students. To ensure Oberlin’s future as a leading liberal arts college and conservatory, President Ambar and the Board of Trustees began a full-spectrum examination of the institution. Rooted in Oberlin’s values and led by some of the wisest and most committed faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and students, the process aims to offer long-term strategies for reallocation and growth.

Notable achievements in President Ambar’s first year included a six-year high in student enrollment and the launch of Connect Cleveland, in which all 839 first-year students traveled to Cleveland for a day of service, experiential learning, and connecting with alumni. Working to strengthen ties between the college and the city of Oberlin, President Ambar promoted orientation programs that gave first-year students an in-depth introduction to the city, encouraged them to shop locally, and offered advice about being a good neighbor.

At Cedar Crest College, President Ambar’s leadership substantially strengthened and reshaped the college. Her successes included multiple years of multimillion-dollar budget surpluses, a 35 percent growth in assets that allowed for significant investments in the campus without borrowing, and a 92 percent growth in the endowment. She presided over the launch of 18 new academic programs and an enrollment growth in six of her last seven years of leadership. President Ambar also led initiatives to expand access to high-impact practices for all students, including the Sophomore Expedition, campus vibrancy initiatives, a robust First Year Experience, the Four-Year Guarantee, and living learning communities. Student body diversity at Cedar Crest increased from 16 percent in 2008 to 37 percent in 2016, with the highest increases in Latino and African American populations.

Prior to Cedar Crest, President Ambar had a successful tenure as vice president and dean of Douglass College at Rutgers University, where she was the youngest dean in the university’s history. Before Rutgers, she was assistant dean of graduate education at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. As an attorney, she worked in the New York City Law Department as an assistant corporation counsel.

President Ambar is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, and the mother of 11-year-old triplets: Gabrielle, Luke, and Daniel.

Michael Sorrell
President, Paul Quinn College

Dr. Michael J. Sorrell is the longest-serving President in the 148-year history of Paul Quinn College. During his 13 years of leadership, Paul Quinn has become a national movement for its efforts to remake higher education in order to serve the needs of under-resourced students and communities.

Included among Paul Quinn’s numerous accomplishments during President Sorrell’s tenure are the following: winning the HBCU of the Year, the HBCU Student Government Association of the Year, and the HBCU Business Program of the Year awards; achieving recognition as a member of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll; creating the New Urban College Model; demolishing 15 abandoned campus buildings; partnering with PepsiCo to transform the football field into the WE over Me Farm; achieving full-accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS); creating the College’s first faculty-led study abroad program; and rewriting all institutional fundraising records.

President Sorrell is one of the most decorated college presidents in America.  He has been named Higher Education’s President of the Year by Education Dive; one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine; is the only three-time recipient of the HBCU Male President of the Year Award (2018, 2016 and 2012); and Time Magazine listed him as one of the “31 People Changing the South.” Washington Monthly Magazine identified him as one of America’s 10 Most Innovative College Presidents and Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. and PUSH/Excel honored him with its Education Leadership Award.  Michael is the recipient of both the Dallas Bar Association’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Award and the City of Dallas’ Father of the Year Award. In addition to being a member of the “Root 100” (a list of the top 100 emerging leaders in America) by the Root Online Magazine, Michael has received: the Distinguished Alumni Award from Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Illinois; the A. Kenneth Pye Award for Excellence in Education from Duke University’s School of Law Alumni Association; the Social Innovator Award from Babson College; the Vision Award, Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Middlebury College; Luminary Award from SMU; and the TRACS Leadership Award.  The Dallas Historical Society honored Michael for Excellence in Educational Administration.  He is a past recipient of the Dallas Urban League’s Torch for Community Leadership and both the President’s and C.B. Bunkley Awards from J.L. Turner for his outstanding contributions to the Dallas legal community.  Michael also has an honorary degree from Austin College.

Michael received his J.D. and M.A. in Public Policy from Duke University and his Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (where his dissertation defense was awarded “with Distinction”).  While in law school, he was one of the founding members of the Journal of Gender Law & Policy and served as the Vice President of the Duke Bar Association.  Michael was a recipient of a Sloan Foundation Graduate Fellowship, which funded his studies at both Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (as a graduate fellow) and Duke University.  He graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in Government, served as Secretary-Treasurer of his senior class, was a two-time captain of the men’s varsity basketball team, and graduated as the school’s fifth all-time leading scorer.

Among the entities that President Sorrell serves as a trustee or director for are Duke University’s School of Law, the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, JP Morgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways, Amegy Bank, the Hockaday School, the Dallas Advisory Board of Teach for America, the Dallas Foundation, and EarthX.

Michael is a member of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

President Sorrell is married to the former Natalie Jenkins.  Natalie is an alumna of Spelman College and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  They have two wonderful children, Michael Augustus and Sage Louise-Sinclair.

Patrick Kenney
Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Arizona State University

Patrick J. Kenney is the dean of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a Foundation Professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University. Kenney came to ASU in 1986 and received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate from the University of Iowa. Professor Kenney has authored and co-authored articles in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics and several other journals. He has co-authored three books with Kim Fridkin, “The Spectacle of U.S. Senate Campaigns” (Princeton Press, 1999), “No-Holds Barred: Negativity in U.S. Senate Campaigns” (Prentice Hall, 2004), “The Changing Face of Representation” (University of Michigan Press, 2014) and “Taking Aim at Attack Advertising” (Oxford University Press, 2019). He has received funding from the National Science Foundation.

Ben Scott
Executive Director,

Ben is Executive Director at Reset, an initiative run by Luminate in partnership with The Sandler Foundation focussed on tackling digital threats to democracy, where he is responsible for strategic direction, overseeing the coordination of policy, technology and civic engagement work, and providing expert counsel on policy development and advocacy. Ben is also policy and advocacy advisor at Luminate.

Prior to joining Luminate, Ben co-led the Stiftung Neue Verantwortung (SNV) in Berlin, where he helped to develop it into a leading tech policy voice in German politics. He also was a senior adviser to New America in Washington DC, where he helped design the Public Interest Technology Initiative. During the 2016 presidential campaign in the US, Ben led the technology policy advisory group for the Clinton campaign.

Previously, Ben was Policy Adviser for Innovation at the US Department of State, where he helped steward the 21st Century Statecraft agenda, with a focus on technology policy, social media, and development. Before this, Ben led the Washington office of Free Press, a public interest organisation expanding affordable access to an open internet and fostering more public service journalism.

Danielle Allen
Professor and Director, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University

Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. Widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America, Allen is the author of The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown vs. the Board of Education (2004), Why Plato Wrote (2010), Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (2014), Education and Equality (2016), and Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. (2017). She is the co-editor of the award-winning Education, Justice, and Democracy (2013, with Rob Reich) and From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in the Digital Age (2015, with Jennifer Light). She is a former Chair of the Mellon Foundation Board, past Chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Allen is also the principal investigator for the Democratic Knowledge Project, a distributed research and action lab at Harvard University. The Democratic Knowledge Project seeks to identify, strengthen, and disseminate the bodies of knowledge, skills, and capacities that democratic citizens need in order to succeed at operating their democracy. The lab currently has three projects underway: the Declaration Resources Project, the Humanities and Liberal Arts Assessment Project (HULA), and the Youth and Participatory Politics Action and Reflection Frame.

Judy Braus
Executive Director, North American Association for Environmental Education

Judy Braus brings to her role as NAAEE Executive Director a wealth of experience in the environmental education profession, with a focus on conservation education, diversity and inclusion, and using the power of education to help create healthier communities that empower local communities, stakeholders, and individuals to help restore and protect the environment. She comes to NAAEE from the National Audubon Society, where she was the Senior Vice President of Education and Centers, overseeing an extensive nationwide network of nature centers and educators. Prior to that, she led the education programs at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the U.S. Peace Corps, and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

Braus also has extensive experience with NAAEE, having served in a number of capacities in the past two decades, including past president, conference chair, head of the elementary and secondary commission, and editor of a number of NAAEE monographs. “I’m thrilled to have this opportunity lead an organization that promotes the power of environmental education at a time when it is so needed and in so much demand.”

Her notable achievements include the creation and implementation of TogetherGreen—a $20-million alliance between Audubon and Toyota to build leadership, engage more people in conservation, and promote diversity and inclusion in conservation. As the Director of TogetherGreen for five years, she worked with Audubon and Toyota to create a program that has engaged hundreds of thousands of people nationwide through a national fellowship program, a grants program, and a community-based volunteering initiative. At Audubon, she also spearheaded the development of a planning guide called “The Tools of Engagement: A Toolkit for Engaging People in Conservation,” in collaboration with the U.S. EPA-funded Environmental Education and Training Partnership (EETAP) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Braus also developed and implemented well-known and widely used curricular and educational materials while at WWF and NWF: “Windows on the Wild” at WWF, and “NatureScope” at NWF. While at Peace Corps, Braus co-authored “Environmental Education in the Schools: Creating a Program that Works,” which is used in dozens of countries around the world.

Additionally, Braus is a proven fundraiser, working with foundations, corporations, government, and individual donors to raise more than $35 million for education and conservation. She is committed to strong partnerships and has negotiated and implemented lasting relationships with organizations including Toyota Motor North America, REI, National Geographic, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Eastman Kodak, and Aardman Animations, among others.

Yascha Mounk
Writer, academic and public speaker

Yascha Mounk is a writer, academic and public speaker known for his work on the rise of populism and the crisis of liberal democracy.

Born in Germany to Polish parents, Yascha received his BA in History from Trinity College, Cambridge, and his PhD in Government from Harvard University. He is now an Associate Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University, where he holds appointments in both the School of Advanced International Studies and the Agora Institute. Yascha is also a Senior Advisor at Protect Democracy, a Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance, a Senior Fellow at New York University’s Reiss Center on Law and Security, and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Yascha has written three books: Stranger in My Own Country – A Jewish Family in Modern Germany, a memoir about Germany’s fraught attempts to deal with its past; The Age of Responsibility – Luck, Choice and the Welfare State, which argues that a growing obsession with the concept of individual responsibility has transformed western welfare states; and The People versus Democracy – Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It, which explains the causes of the populist rise and investigates how to renew liberal democracy. His latest book has been translated into eleven languages, and hailed as one of 2018’s Best Books of the Year by multiple publications, including the Financial Times. A Contributing Editor at The Atlantic, Yascha regularly writes for newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Foreign Affairs. He is also is also a regular columnist or contributor for major international publications including Die Zeit, La Repubblica, l’Express, Folha de Sao Paolo, Kultura Liberalna, and Letras Libres.

To get a better sense of Yascha’s work, listen to his podcast, read his weekly column, or follow him on Facebookand Twitter. Or check out these recent profiles of him and reviews of his work:

Kathleen Belew
Author, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America

Kathleen Belew is a historian, author, and teacher. She specializes in the history of the present. She spent ten years researching and writing her first book, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America (Harvard, 2018, paperback 2019). In it, she uses previously classified FBI documents and vivid personal testimonies to explore how white power activists created a social movement through a common story about betrayal by the government, war, and its weapons, uniforms, and technologies. By uniting Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi, skinhead, and other groups, the movement mobilized and carried out escalating acts of violence that reached a crescendo in the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City. This movement was never adequately confronted, and remains a presence in American life.

Belew has spoken about Bring the War Home in a wide variety of places, including The Rachel Maddow Show, The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, AC 360 with Anderson Cooper, Frontline, Fresh Air, and All Things Considered. Her work has featured prominently in documentaries such as Homegrown Hate: The War Among Us (ABC) and Documenting Hate: New American Nazis (Frontline).

This research has received the support of the Chauncey and Marion Deering McCormick Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Jacob K. Javits Foundation. Belew earned her BA in the Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington, where she was named Dean’s Medalist in the Humanities. She earned a doctorate in American Studies from Yale University. Belew has held postdoctoral fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (2019-20), Northwestern University, and Rutgers University. Her award-winning teaching centers on the broad themes of history of the present, conservatism, race, gender, violence, identity, and the meaning of war.

Eric Liu
Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen University

Eric Liu is the co-founder and CEO of Citizen University. He also directs the Aspen Institute’s Citizenship & American Identity Program. He is the author of several books, including The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker; The Gardens of Democracy (co-authored with Nick Hanauer); You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen; and his most recent, Become America: Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility, and Democracy. Eric served as a White House speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and later as the President’s deputy domestic policy adviser. He has served as a board member of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Washington State Board of Education, and the Seattle Public Library and is a co-founder of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. A regular contributor to the Atlantic, Eric can be found on Twitter @ericpliu.

Ganesh Sitaraman
Professor, Vanderbilt Law School

Ganesh Sitaraman is a Professor of Law and also Director, Program in Law and Government at Vanderbilt University. Ganesh Sitaraman teaches and writes about constitutional law, the regulatory state, economic policy, democracy, and foreign affairs.

Professor Sitaraman has been a longtime advisor to Elizabeth Warren, including serving as a senior advisor on her 2020 presidential campaign, her senior counsel in the Senate, and her policy director during her 2012 Senate campaign. He is also a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the co-founder of the Great Democratic Initiative, which develops bold, innovative and detailed policy plans. He has been profiled in The New York Times and Politico for his work at the nexus of politics and ideas.
Sitaraman is a public member of the Administrative Conference of the United States and a member of the American Law Institute, and he serves on the boards of The American Prospect, the American Constitution Society, and Foreign Policy for America. He was awarded an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship in 2018, and he was a visiting assistant professor at Yale Law School in 2016. At Vanderbilt, he was awarded a Chancellor’s Award for Research and a Chancellor’s Faculty Fellowship. Before joining Vanderbilt, Sitaraman was the Public Law Fellow and a lecturer at Harvard Law School, a research fellow at the Counterinsurgency Training Center – Afghanistan in Kabul, and a law clerk for Judge Stephen F. Williams on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Sitaraman’s most recent book is The Great Democracy: How to Fix Our Politics, Unrig the Economy, and Unite America (Basic Books, 2019). He is also the author or co-author of The Public Option, written with Ann Alstott in 2019; The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republicwhich was one of The New York Times’ 100 notable books of 2017; and The Counterinsurgent’s Constitution: Law in the Age of Small Wars, which won the 2013 Palmer Civil Liberties Prize.
An Eagle Scout and a Truman Scholar, Sitaraman earned his A.B. in government magna cum laude from Harvard College, a master’s degree in political thought from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was the Lionel de Jersey Harvard Scholar, and his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Geoffrey Mearns
President, Ball State University

President Geoffrey S. Mearns serves as the 17th president of Ball State University. After joining the University in May 2017, President Mearns helped to develop a new strategic plan. Destination 2040: Our Flight Path establishes a long-range vision for the University that sets priorities across five key areas: undergraduate excellence, graduate education and lifetime learning, community engagement and impact, scholarship and societal impact, and institutional and inclusive excellence.

During his tenure, President Mearns has pursued initiatives that have produced the largest freshman class in history and increased alumni engagement and fundraising. President Mearns has also strengthened the University’s relationship with the community, most notably through its innovative partnership with Muncie Community Schools.

President Mearns earned his undergraduate degree in English from Yale University and a law degree from the University of Virginia. After a legal career that included serving as a federal prosecutor, President Mearns held academic and administrative roles at Cleveland State University, and then he served as president of Northern Kentucky University. He and his wife, Jennifer, have five children.

Pamela Karlan
Professor, Stanford Law School

A productive scholar and an award-winning teacher, Pamela S. Karlan is co-director of the school’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, where students litigate live cases before the Court. One of the nation’s leading experts on voting and the political process, she has served as a commissioner on the California Fair Political Practices Commission, an assistant counsel and cooperating attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (where she received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service – the department’s highest award for employee performance – as part of the team responsible for implementing the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor). Professor Karlan is the co-author of leading casebooks on constitutional law, constitutional litigation, and the law of democracy, as well as numerous scholarly articles.

Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 1998, she was a professor of law at the University of Virginia School of Law and served as a law clerk to Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Abraham D. Sofaer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Karlan is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and the American Law Institute.

Neil Kinkopf
Professor, George State University College of Law

Neil Kinkopf is Professor of Law at the Georgia State University College of Law.  He has also taught at the law schools at Case Western Reserve and Duke Universities.  Neil teaches courses on constitutional law, civil procedure, and legislation.  His research and writing focuses on separation of powers, with an emphasis on presidential power.  The fourth edition of his book, Separation of Powers Law, (co-authored with Peter Shane and Harold Bruff) was published last winter.  Professor Kinkopf has also held appointments in the Office of Legal Counsel and the Office of Legal Policy, both in the Department of Justice.

Paul Pierson
John Gross Professor of Political Science, University of California Berkeley

Paul Pierson is the John Gross Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley. Pierson’s teaching and research includes the fields of American politics and public policy, comparative political economy, and social theory. His most recent books are Off-Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy (Yale University Press 2005), co-authored by Jacob Hacker,  Politics in Time: History, Institutions and Social Analysis (Princeton University Press 2004), and  The Transformation of American Politics: Activist Government and the Rise of Conservatism (Princeton University Press 2007), which was co-edited with Theda Skocpol, and Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Simon and Schuster 2010), also co-authored by Jacob Hacker. Pierson is an active commentator on public affairs, whose writings have recently appeared in such outlets as The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, and The New Republic.

Pierson is also the author of Dismantling the Welfare State? Reagan, Thatcher, and the Politics of Retrenchment (Cambridge 1994), which won the American Political Science Association’s 1995 prize for the best book on American national politics. His article “Path Dependence, Increasing Returns and the Study of Politics” won the APSA’s prize for the best article in the American Political Science Review in 2000, as well as the Aaron Wildavsky Prize for its enduring contribution to the field of public policy, awarded by the Public Policy Section of the APSA in 2011. He has served on the editorial boards of The American Political Science Review,  Perspectives  on Politics,  and The Annual Review of Political Science. From 2007 to 2010 he served as Chair of the Berkeley political science department.

David Orr
State of American Democracy Founder and Co-Editor of Democracy Unchained