2016 Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement Meeting Organized by ADP, TDC, and NASPA: Speakers

Austin Belali

Austin Belali

Austin Belali is the Director of the Youth Engagement Fund. The YEF is a pooled fund of institutional and individual donors that invest in next generation civic and political engagement in the United States. Austin comes to philanthropy from student and labor organizing. He led the development of a major youth program at one of America’s largest service sector unions and has taught comparative democracy to high school students in Dakar, Senegal and Delhi, India. He currently serves on the board of a low-income immigrant organization called CASA and is passionate about supporting student involvement on racial and gender equity issues.

Elizabeth Bennion

Elizabeth Bennion

Elizabeth Bennion is a Professor of Political Science at Indiana University South Bend. Her teaching and research focus on U.S. political behavior and effective approaches to fostering civic and political engagement. Elizabeth is co-editor of the book Teaching Civic Engagement: From Student to Active Citizen, and has published her civic engagement scholarship in numerous other books and academic journals. Elizabeth directs IU South Bend’s American Democracy Project and moderates candidate debates and forums for offices ranging from city council and mayor to U.S. House and Senate. She is also host of WNIT’s live weekly TV program Politically Speaking which brings her students into contact with local, state, and national elected officials and community activists from a two-state, 22-county region. Elizabeth earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and lives with her husband and four children in South Bend, IN. 

David L Bodary, Ph.D.

David Bodary

David L Bodary, Ph.D. is Professor of Communication at Sinclair Community College.  He holds degrees in Communication from Eastern Michigan University and Wayne State University.  He has facilitated numerous National Issues Forum discussions in the Dayton region and coordinates the Service Learning program for Sinclair Community College.

Ishara Casellas Connors

Ishara Casellas ConnorsIshara Casellas Connors, Associate Director, Institute for Democracy and Higher Education
Ishara Casellas Connors manages the Institutes signature initiative, The National Study for Learning Voting and Engagement (NSLVE). NSLVE provides participating campuses with data on their students’ registration and voting rates. In addition, NSLVE works to create resources for campuses interested in advancing political learning and engagement in democracy, with a focus on advancing social and political equity. Ishara has worked across all types of higher education institutions, in both policy, program, and development roles. Throughout this work and scholarship Ishara has focused on issues of access and diversity within higher education. Ishara holds a MA in Higher & Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Abraham Goldberg

Abraham Goldberg

Abraham Goldberg is Director of the Office of Service-Learning and Community Engagement (OSLCE) and an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of South Carolina Upstate.  The OSLCE strives to eliminate barriers between the campus and region by cultivating reciprocal and sustainable partnerships between USC Upstate students, faculty, and community organizations.  He authored the South Carolina Civic Health Index and has published numerous academic articles about the relationship between the built environment of cities, social connectivity, and resident quality of life.  Abe regularly supervises undergraduate research projects and teaches courses in urban planning and policy, public administration, civic engagement and American politics.  He earned his doctorate from West Virginia University and resides in Greenville, South Carolina with his wife and two children.

Jane Henegar

Jane HenegarJane Henegar joined the ACLU of Indiana as executive director in September of 2012. Prior to her service at the ACLU she was a deputy mayor of Indianapolis from 2000 to 2006. Henegar has held various positions in government, including state director in the office of Senator Evan Bayh, deputy commissioner and general counsel in the Indiana Department of Administration, executive posts at the Family and Social Services Administration and judicial law clerk for the Hon. Thomas Reavley, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Henegar has taught political science and led the Indiana Bar Foundation’s Project Citizen to teach civics to K-12 students in Indiana. Born and raised in Bloomington, she is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington.

David Hoffman

David HoffmanDavid Hoffman is assistant director of student life for civic agency at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). His work helps people envision and achieve institutional and cultural transformations that foster civic agency and democratic engagement. Drawing on his experiences as a student leader, community organizer and lawyer, he worked with UMBC colleagues to develop BreakingGround, an initiative that seeds new civic courses, co-curricular experiences, and cultural practices while diminishing role distance among students, faculty and staff. His research explores students’ growth as civic agents in the context of experiences, environments, and relationships they perceive as “real” rather than synthetic or scripted. David is an alum of UCLA, where he served as student body president and University of California student regent. He earned J.D. and M.P.P. degrees at Harvard University, and his Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Culture at UMBC.

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg

Kei Kawashima-GInsbergKei Kawashima-Ginsberg became the Director of CIRCLE in 2015.  Kei directs CIRCLE’s mission and strategies by working with various stakeholders and overseeing CIRCLE’s key research and dissemination efforts.  Kei applies her expertise in positive youth development and community psychology to youth civic and political development, and seeks to understand how diverse young people interact with the community and cultural contexts as they learn to participate in civic life.  Kei serves on the Leadership Council of Nonprofit VOTE and Board of Generation Citizen.  Kei earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with specialization in Family and Children from Loyola University Chicago and lives with her family, which includes three young children in Lowell, MA.

John Brian Locke IV

John Brian Locke IVJohn Brian Locke IV was a two term student body president of the University of Houston-Downtown. He has received certificates of recognition from Houston’s City Council members, Mayor of Houston and Congress. He also has been recognized as Student of the Year Award, at the Circle of Change Leadership Conference in Los Angeles, CA. John also received an honorary degree from the International Education Parliament in 2016 for his commitment to improving higher education and his presentation on best practices.

Michele “Micki” Meyer

Michele “Micki” MeyerMichele “Micki” Meyer serves as the Lord Family Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Rollins College. She holds an Endowed Chair position funded by the DHL and RNR Foundations to build capacity around engaged scholarship, high impact learning, and student engagement. She oversees areas of campus that work directly with leadership education, civic engagement, service-learning, diversity and inclusion, student involvement, and college access. 

Micki received her Bachelors of Science in Human Communications and Media Management from the State University of New York College at Fredonia and Master of Arts in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University. She joined Rollins in 2005 as Director of Community Engagement after serving as Assistant Director for the LEAD Scholars Program at the University of Central Florida. 

Over the past 15 years Micki has worked closely with faculty, staff, students, and community partners to make purposeful connections between campus and community that make meaning of a liberal education in the 21st century. She has been engaged in strategic efforts to help advance an agenda of civic learning and action including NASPA’s Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement efforts with the Lead Initiative, Lead Consulting and Advisory Boards. Micki serves as a Certified Scholar for Florida Campus Compact. In 2008 she was awarded the Community Engagement Educator Award for Independent Colleges and Universities by Florida Campus Compact. In 2009 Micki was named as an Engaged Scholar for New Perspectives in Higher Education by Campus Compact. In 2014 she was honored with the “Above and Beyond” Award by Florida Campus Compact for excellence in higher education. During her career Micki has been engaged in board service though the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce Leadership Orlando Board, Leadership Winter Park Board, Fern Creek Elementary School Foundation, and Healthy Central Florida Board.

Chris Paulsen

Chris PaulsenChris Paulsen, Campaign Manager for Freedom Indiana, is a long time Hoosier.  Chris brings a business and coalition building background to the campaign. She spent over 20 years working for a regional custom homebuilder as Vice President of Operations overseeing sales, purchasing, administration and construction.    Chris currently owns her own custom homebuilding company.  
Chris has a been an active member of the LGBT movement as a board member and President of Indiana Equality Action, a board member of Freedom Indiana during the marriage amendment fight, and as a member of the capital campaign committee of Indiana Youth Group.   
Chris has an undergraduate degree from Hanover College and a MBA from IU-Southeast. She has lived on the south side of Indianapolis with her wife for 18 years.

Peter Rusthoven

Peter RusthovenPeter Rusthoven is a partner in the Indianapolis office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, where his practice focuses on appellate litigation, corporate governance and governmental services.  He is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and of Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.  Rusthoven served as Associate Counsel to President Ronald Reagan and Counsel to the Presidential Commision on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident, and is a frequent author, speaker and television and radio analyst on political and other public issues.”

Nancy Thomas

Nancy Thomas

Nancy Thomas directs the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. The Institute is dedicated to shifting college and university priorities, practices, and culture to strengthen college student political learning and engagement in democracy and to advance social and political equity in public life. The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement is the Institute’s signature initiative. Her work and scholarship center on higher education’s democratic mission, college student political engagement, free speech and academic freedom, and deliberative democracy on campuses and in communities. She is the author of multiple book chapters, articles, and the monograph, Educating for Deliberative Democracy, an issue of Jossey Bass’ New Directions for Higher Education series.  She is an associate editor of the Journal of Public Deliberation and a senior associate with Everyday Democracy. She received her bachelor’s degree in government from St. Lawrence University, a law degree from Case Western Reserve University, and a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

State Representative Timothy Wesco (R-District 21)

Tim WescoState Representative Timothy Wesco (R-District 21) is a 5th generation Hoosier and a lifelong resident of St. Joseph County. He and his wife, Kathryn, live in Osceola. Timothy is the sixth of 10 siblings and the son of Virgil and Rebecca Wesco. Representative Wesco serves on the following committees: Public Policy (Vice Chair), Local Government, Employment, Labor & Pensions, and Elections & Apportionment.  He holds an associate’s degree in biblical studies from Midwest School of Theology and a B.S. in organizational management from Bethel College.

2016 CLDE Interns

Monica BustinzaMonica Bustinza is a junior at the University of Miami majoring in political science. She currently serves as president of Get Out the Vote, transfer senator of UM’s student government senate, and director of curation for TEDxUMiami. At the age of 16, she founded a meal bag program, Meals from the Heart, to benefit under-resourced children and families in South Florida. Since its founding, Meals from the Heart has provided meals for more than 4,000 people. In her spare time, Monica enjoys volunteering with the League of Women Voters, educating students on the importance of getting politically involved and working with national, state, and local campaigns. She is deeply honored and humbled to be selected to represent the student population as a 2016 CLDE Meeting Intern. Monica hopes to work with the other interns in creating an environment where students can build connections and interact with one another by discussing and sharing ideas. 


Angelo KappAngelo Kapp is a student at Delta College in Michigan. He is the vice president of Citizens In Action, a student-led club that promotes student civic engagement around campus and local communities. In addition, Angelo is a member of Men of Delta, the Black Student Union, the Student Leadership Academy, the Club Advisory Board, and the Student Mentoring Program at Delta. He is pursuing a degree in advertising and marketing and is a member of DECA.



Maryam SarhanMaryam Sarhan is a resident of South Jersey attending Stockton University, pursuing a political science degree with a minor in international studies and a pre-law concentration. Maryam is passionate about civic engagement, international law, human rights and social justice. She currently serves as the student trustee on Stockton University's Board of Trustees, chair of the governmental affairs committee of Stockton's Student Senate, member of Stockton's Model United Nations Team, and student representative on Atlantic County's Advisory Commission on Women. 



Manisha VepaManisha Vepa is a sophomore at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County studying economics and global studies. She is a Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar, and is active both on campus and off campus. Her civic engagement work includes initiatives within the campus Student Government Association and initiatives with UMBC's BreakingGround working group.