2013 American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment National Meeting: Speakers

Bianca Brown

Bianca BrownBianca Brown, who grew up in Rodeo, California, is a first-year graduate student at Western Kentucky University (WKU). She is the Public Achievement Coordinator for the Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility and received an undergraduate certificate from that department as well. Brown earned her BA in English and philosophy at WKU and is currently working toward a master’s degree in social responsibility and sustainable communities. After graduation, she plans to utilize her background in English studies to continue working with community members, affecting positive social change through literacy education for upward mobility. Brown’s primary interest is taking an active role in helping others to realize and exercise their own power. “I believe that if one feels it is possible to be disempowered by others, one was never self-empowered to begin with,” said Brown. “As I feel involvement in political life begins foremost with the self-empowerment of the individual, I aim to inspire others through my own actions and philosophy of civic engagement: the hopeful messages each of us deserves to share with the world must be masterfully crafted, expressed with confidence, and relentlessly upheld.”

Denise Fairchild, Ph.D.

Denise Fairchild, Ph.D.Denise Fairchild, Ph.D. is the inaugural President of Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC), a national non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. with affiliates in major urban centers across the United States. Fairchild was recruited in 2010 to launch ECC, a coalition of labor, business and community-based organizations organized to accelerate the growth and distributive benefits of the emerging green economy.

Fairchild has dedicated over 30 years to strengthening housing, jobs, businesses and economic opportunities for low-income residents and communities of color domestically and internationally. In 1995 she founded and directed the Community and Economic Development (CED) Department at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, as well as an affiliated non-profit community development research and technical assistance organization, CDTech. She helped launch the Regional Economic Development Institute (REDI), an initiative of Los Angeles Trade-Technical College to provide inner city residents with career and technical education for high growth/high demand jobs in the L.A. region, with a focus on the green economy. From 1989-1994, Fairchild directed the L.A. office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and is credited with raising over $100 million in equity, grants, and loans for community-based housing and commercial development projects and, generally, with building the non-profit housing and community development industry in the L.A. region.

Her civic and political appointments have included the California Commission on Regionalism, the California Economic Strategy Panel, the California Local Economic Development Association, the Urban Land Institute National Inner City Advisor, the Coalition for Women's Economic Development and the Los Angeles Environmental Quality Board. She also served as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's special advisor for South L.A. Investments.

Peter Levine

Peter LevinePeter Levine is the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and Director of CIRCLE, The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. He studied philosophy at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, receiving his doctorate in 1992. He has been a research associate at Common Cause and Deputy Director of the National Commission on Civic Renewal. Levine is the author of the forthcoming book We are the Ones We have been Waiting for: The Promise of Civic Renewal in America (Oxford University Press, fall 2013), five other books on philosophy and politics, and a novel. He has served on the boards or steering committees of AmericaSpeaks, Street Law Inc., the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, the Kettering Foundation, the ABA’s Committee for Public Education, Everyday Democracy, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

Justin Machelski

Justin MachelskiJustin Machelski is a street musician turned professional student who wants to use his experiences in homelessness to help other people. His biggest focus is trying to get the students of Delta College (Mich.) to become more politically active. Over the course of his time at Delta College Justin has experienced a life transformation that can only be described eudaimonic. He has yet to attend a semester where he has not placed on the Dean’s, Vice President’s, or President’s Lists. He also won the Paul Moore Social Science Award, and has even taken a job in the Humanities Division of Delta College. He says that his time as the President of the Democracy Commitment Student Club may actually be the crowning achievement of his two-year college experience. “Through this club we politically engage students in ways I did not know was possible. Helping fellow students participate in thoughtful engagement of politics is in itself a virtue.”

David M. Scobey

David ScobeyDavid M. Scobey became executive dean of The New School for Public Engagement in 2010. He is a national leader in developing innovative methods to engage institutions of higher education with communities outside the academy. He was previously director of the Harward Center at Bates College in Maine, established to bring together community-based learning and research, co-curricular work, and environmental stewardship. He is the founder and former director of the University of Michigan's Arts of Citizenship program, an initiative to integrate civic engagement and the liberal arts. He serves on the boards of Project Pericles, an organization that encourages universities to include civic engagement as an element of undergraduate education, and Bringing Theory to Practice, a project that links education as a public good with civic engagement and concern for the well-being of individual students. David's scholarship explores politics, culture, and space in 19th-century America and New York City in particular. He taught for 16 years at the University of Michigan, where he earned tenure. He holds a Ph.D. in American studies from Yale, where he also received his BA degree, and a diploma in social anthropology from Oxford, where he studied as Rhodes Scholar.

Quinta Tangoh

Quinta TangohQuinta Tangoh was born in Cameroon, an ethnically diverse country. She was brought up in a Christian home full of love, care and peace. During her four years in the USA, she has been attending Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) (Ohio), studying nursing and Conflict Resolution. At Tri-C she received a scholarship to complete the Short-term Certificate in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies. She decided to pursue the nursing program to make a positive change through health care in the lives of Cameroon women and to utilize sustained dialogue to empower women to make positive change in their communities. In Cameroon she is a member of a charity, and in the U.S., she is an active member in her church and has served as a member and a moderator of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network at Cuyahoga Community College.

Rachel Wintz

Rachel WintzFrom Palmer, Alaska, Rachel Wintz is a senior at the University of Alaska Anchorage, majoring in sociology, minoring in Spanish, and receiving a certificate in civic engagement. After graduation, she plans to work for the Peace Corps in South America then attend graduate school for a master’s degree in international development. “I think the only way to have a healthy community is through active participation of civically engaged citizens,” said Wintz. “Because of this, we need to encourage people of all ages to be involved in their communities in order to make them better places to live.”

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