Tag Archive for E2020

Wesleyan Alumni, Staff Win Local, National Elections

election 2020

From left, Matt Lesser ’10; Wesleyan employee Amy Bello; John Hickenlooper ’74, MA ’80, Hon. ’10 (photo by Gage Skidmore); Alex Kasser ’88; and Michael Demicco ’80 all won seats in their respective elections on Nov. 3, 2020.

Alumni and staff who have met with success in the November 2020 elections include:

Amy Bello, administrative assistant for the African American Studies Department, won her first term as a State House representative for Connecticut’s 28th District. Bello, a Democrat, is serving on the Wethersfield Town Council and is the former mayor. Read more in this Nov. 5 Hartford Courant article or in this past Wesleyan Connection article.

Michael Demicco ’80 won his second term serving as a State House representative for Connecticut’s 21st District. Demicco, a Democrat, represents Farmington and Unionville, Conn. Read more here.

Former two-term Democratic Colorado governor John Hickenlooper ’74, MA ’80, Hon. ’10 won a U.S. Senate seat, representing the state of Colorado. Read more in this Nov. 3 NBC News article and Nov. 4 CBS Denver report.

Alex Kasser ’88 won her second term as a State Senator for Connecticut’s 36th District. Kasser, a Democrat, represents Greenwich, Stamford, and New Canaan, Conn. Kasser’s campaign manager is Nichola Samponaro ’11 and Emily Litz ’20 helped edit Kasser’s campaign videos. Read more in this Nov. 5 Greenwich Time article.

Matt Lesser ’10 won his second term as a State Senator for Connecticut’s 9th District. Lesser, a Democrat, represents Middletown, Newington, Rocky Hill, Wethersfield, and Cromwell, Conn. Read more in this Nov. 4 Patch article.

Do you know about other Wesleyan alumni who won an election? Email newsletter@wesleyan.edu.

Students Discuss Politics at Pre-Election Fireside Chat

On Nov. 2, more than 65 students gathered at one of four locations on campus for a pre-election fireside chat and s’mores.

“The event provided students an opportunity to socialize under the stars, meet new people, and showcased the compassionate and empathic community that Wesleyan can be,” said Rabbi David Leipziger Teva, University Jewish Chaplain and director of religious and spiritual life.

The event was sponsored by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (ORSL) and several student leaders from different campus communities.

“Fire is a place for warmth, survival, and renewal. We’re living in tumultuous times; join a caring community of your fellow students to find solace around the fire,” said Emily McEvoy ’22, the religious and spiritual diversity intern at ORSL.

Andrea Roberts, associate professor of the practice in chemistry; Anthony Hatch, associate professor of science in society; and Jennifer D’Andrea, director of counseling and psychological services (CAPS) co-facilitated dialogue at the fireside chats along with a student leader.

“A great time was had all around,” Roberts said. “Laughter, the voicing of serious concerns, singing, talks of the future and the election and classes and the holidays. Everyone was so grateful, especially me for the opportunity to be a part of it!”

Photos of the fireside chats are below: (Photos by Simon Duan ’23)

russian house

Students gather for a fireside chat behind the Russian House and Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

Students Reflect on Presidential Election Voting Experience

voting

From left, Annie Roach ’22, Julia Jurist ’22, and Emma Smith ’22 proudly display their “I Voted” stickers after casting their ballots in Beckham Hall on Nov. 3. “The whole process of voting was much easier than I expected,” Jurist said. “It was very convenient and easy to be able to vote on campus.”

By Annie Roach ’22 and Olivia Drake MALS ’08

After the whirlwind of 2020, Wesleyan students—many of them first-time voters—were particularly eager to exercise their right to vote in the presidential election. While several students cast absentee ballots in their home states weeks ahead of time, others voted in person on Nov. 3.

Marangela James

Marangela James ’24

Marangela James ’24 decided to vote in person in Connecticut, here on campus at Beckham Hall. She registered at Wesleyan earlier this semester, when some students had set up a voter registration table in front of Usdan. “It was a little bit hard navigating how to vote at first with everything going on,” she said, “but I thought it was helpful that Wes had a table set up to register us.”

Thomas Holley ’22 voted via absentee ballot. However, he physically dropped it off in the election box outside his town hall in Cheshire, Conn. “I mostly chose to vote absentee because of its ease and to avoid crowds on Election Day,” he said. “I voted in the 2018 midterms, but this election feels much more important. This statement comes from an unbelievable point of my privilege, but this is the first time political events have directly impacted my daily life. In 2018, I enjoyed voting, but going to the polls did not have the same sense of necessity.”

In conversations with his peers, Holley feels there is a shared sense of “we have to act now, and voting is the least we can do.” Issues such as climate change, reproductive rights, and the virus have come up frequently in discussions, he said.

E2020 Experiences Shape Students’ Views of the Election

Led by the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships (JCCP), the University launched its new Engage 2020 (E2020) Initiative last fall to deepen Wesleyan’s commitment to civic engagement. To date, 33 students have already received funding to support the development of their civic literacy and their preparedness to engage in political life through hands-on experiences such as working to register voters, issues advocacy, and volunteering on political campaigns. E2020 encourages participation regardless of political affiliation or stances on specific issues.

Since the initiative’s inauguration, Wesleyan has joined forces with colleges and universities across the U.S. to reaffirm the University’s collective responsibility as institutions of higher learning. (Read more about how E2020 has supported student action in civic life in this September 2020 Wesleyan University Magazine article.)

Leading up to the election, three E2020 veterans offered to reflect on their experiences and explained whether, and how, they helped shape their views of the 2020 presidential election and the current political climate.

Dani Dittmann ’22

Dani Dittmann ’22

Government and economics double major Dani Dittmann ’22 interned with Deb Ciamacca’s campaign for Pennsylvania state representative in Pennsylvania’s 168th District, and as she had hoped, she gained much confidence in speaking about politics today, especially the importance of local elections in a swing state. Although her internship concluded at the end of the summer, Dittmann continued to help with the campaign this fall, whether it was phone banking or helping out with social media content.

On campus, Dittmann co-founded a club named New Voters at Wesleyan, which has been registering high school students to vote in Connecticut and beyond. And she also signed up to be the field hockey team’s Voice in Sport’s “More Votes More Voices” campaign team leader. She kept track of teammates’ voter registration status and made sure every member of her team had a plan to vote.

“My E2020 project absolutely impacted me and my actions leading up to the election,” she said. “My experience definitely ignited something within me to ensure I was making some kind of tangible difference leading up to Nov. 3. The experience definitely encouraged me to be as involved as I am in voter registration work and political discussions on campus, and I am so grateful!”

Watch Engage 2020 Speaker Series Recordings

engageAs a lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships is sponsoring an Engage 2020 (E2020) Speaker Series featuring an array of public figures from diverse backgrounds, all with compelling messages about the urgency of this moment, and the power of students and young people to affect change.

Topics for this ongoing series include voter education and registration in battleground states; elections under threat; post-debate conversations with Wesleyan faculty; religion, diversity, and democracy; strategizing politics; discussing the election and staying friendly; young voters; criminal justice and the 2020 elections; and more.

The E2020 Speaker Series is supported by generous contributions from the Wintman Family Lecture Series Fund.

Recordings of past E2020 events are now posted. Watch some below, or click here for more.

Sept. 8, Organizing Communities. Strategizing Politics: From the Arab Spring to Election 2020:

Criminal Justice and Election Discussed at E2020 Speaker Series Event

As part of Wesleyan's E2020 Speaker Series, on Oct. 1, a group of Wesleyan alumni and community leaders discussed the topic "Criminal Justice and the 2020 Election." This event featured a panel of Wesleyan alumni and community leaders including Alicia Hernandez Strong ’16, Julian Adler ’02, Lorenzo Jones, Andrew Clark, Earl Bloodworth and Tracie Bernardi, who are all committed to criminal justice reform (bios below). They will speak about their work and their thoughts on the upcoming election.

As part of Wesleyan’s E2020 Speaker Series, on Oct. 1 a group of Wesleyan alumni and community leaders discussed the topic “Criminal Justice and the 2020 Election.” The event, hosted on Zoom, was open to the Wesleyan community and the public.

This event featured a panel of Wesleyan alumni and community leaders including Alicia Hernandez Strong ’16, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations; Julian Adler ’02, director of policy and research at the Center for Court Innovation; Lorenzo Jones, co-founder and co-executive director at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice in Hartford, Conn.; Andrew Clark, director of the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy (IMRP) at Central Connecticut State University; Earl Bloodworth, director of The Warren Kimbro Reentry Project whose mission is to help formerly incarcerated New Haven residents successfully return to the community after their release from prison; and Tracie Bernardi, co-founder and co-director of Once Incarcerated… Once In–a non-profit organization geared toward ending recidivism and generational incarceration.

This event featured a panel of Wesleyan alumni and community leaders, including Alicia Hernandez Strong ’18, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Julian Adler ’02, director of policy and research at the Center for Court Innovation; Lorenzo Jones, co-founder and co-executive director at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice in Hartford, Conn.; Andrew Clark, director of the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy (IMRP) at Central Connecticut State University; Earl Bloodworth, director of The Warren Kimbro Reentry Project, whose mission is to help formerly incarcerated New Haven residents successfully return to the community after their release from prison; and Tracie Bernardi, co-founder and co-director of Once Incarcerated… Once In, a nonprofit organization geared toward ending recidivism and generational incarceration.

The discussion was moderated by Allie Cislo, program manager of Wesleyan's Center for Prison Education.

The discussion was moderated by Allie Cislo, program manager of Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education. She asked the panelists to reflect on their own work and discuss the uses and limitations of elections at every level of government—from the federal to the municipal—in affecting transformative change to the landscape of law and punishment in America. She also asked, “What is the relationship between prospective changes in the criminal legal system and an electoral paradigm?”

Julian Adler ’02 is the director of policy and research at the Center for Court Innovation, where he oversees a broad portfolio of teams, projects, and new initiatives. Julian was previously the director of the Red Hook Community Justice Center in Brooklyn, New York, and he was part of the planning teams that created Brooklyn Justice Initiatives and Newark Community Solutions in New Jersey. Julian is the co-author (with Greg Berman ’89) of Start Here: A Road Map to Reducing Mass Incarceration (The New Press), and he is a co-chair of the advisory board for Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education.

Julian Adler ’02 is the co-author (with Greg Berman ’89) of Start Here: A Road Map to Reducing Mass Incarceration (The New Press), and he is a co-chair of the advisory board for Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education.

licia Hernandez Strong ’18, a leader and community activist in her hometown of New Britain, was named one of Connecticut Magazine‘s 2019 “40 under 40.” At 21 years old, Strong became the youngest person nationally to be given the title of executive director of the Connecticut chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Strong is working to empower young Muslim women and, in her work with the New Britain Board of Education, tackle socioeconomic and racial disparity in New Britain schools. After taking a course in comparative religion during her junior year at New Britain High School, Strong converted from Catholicism to Islam. She went on to double-major in government and religion at Wesleyan, studying abroad in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Serbia her junior year and graduating with honors. During her time at Wesleyan, Strong received the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship for a research proposal seeking to explore the Muslim identities of the Albanian population in Kosovo.

Alicia Hernandez Strong ’18, a leader and community activist in her hometown of New Britain, was named one of Connecticut Magazine’s 2019 “40 under 40.” At 21 years old, Strong became the youngest person nationally to be given the title of executive director of the Connecticut chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Strong is working to empower young Muslim women and, in her work with the New Britain Board of Education, tackle socioeconomic and racial disparity in New Britain schools. After taking a course in comparative religion during her junior year at New Britain High School, Strong converted from Catholicism to Islam. She went on to double-major in government and religion at Wesleyan, studying abroad in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Serbia her junior year and graduating with honors. During her time at Wesleyan, Strong received the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship for a research proposal seeking to explore the Muslim identities of the Albanian population in Kosovo.

racie Bernardi is a formerly incarcerated woman who entered prison a teenager and served 23 years in prison. Seven of which she spent in Solitary Confinement. Since her release just five years ago Tracie has become a Certified Recovery Support Specialist. She is the co-founder and co-director of Once Incarcerated… Once In – a non-profit organization geared toward ending recidivism and generational incarceration. Tracie co-facilitates Once In Anonymous (OIA) an on-line safe haven for formerly incarcerated people. Tracie is also a dedicated ACLU Smart Justice Leader fighting to end mass incarceration. She is also a Phoenix Member helping to change the culture of corrections. Tracie is a public speaker- Venues such as Yale, Wesleyan, CCSU, Capital Community College, The Connecticut Women’s March, The Connecticut Convention center, and several public libraries and churches, panels, and rally’s. Tracie is published in Kenneth E. Hartman’s Too Cruel Not Unusual, the other death penalty. Tracie is an avid writer, looking to publish a memoir. Visit her blog. Tracie is also an artist who has also had her art displayed in The Brooklyn Museum, The American Visionary Art Museum, Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, and Hartford Public Library.

Tracie Bernardi is a formerly incarcerated woman who entered prison as a teenager and served 23 years in prison, seven of which she spent in solitary confinement. Since her release five years ago, Bernardi has become a Certified Recovery Support Specialist. Bernardi co-facilitates Once In Anonymous (OIA) an online safe haven for formerly incarcerated people, and she’s also a dedicated ACLU Smart Justice Leader fighting to end mass incarceration. “I’m in this game for every person who ends up incarcerated. If you don’t help us, and let us back into society, you essentially block us out of society,” she said, “You’re doing a disservice to our kids, our families, and new victims. . . . I just want to make changes. I speak out and try to change perspectives and change hearts, and change minds, and hopefully who we vote for will help change the world.”

The E2020 Speaker Series features an array of public figures from diverse backgrounds, all with compelling messages about the power of students and young people to affect change amid the urgency of this moment. The E2020 Speaker Series is a centerpiece of Wesleyan’s E2020 Initiative, the University’s comprehensive effort to support student learning and civic participation, while engaging the public around the electoral process and broader questions related to civic life.

Upcoming E2020 Speaker Series events include a vice presidential debate watch party with Logan Dancey, associate professor of government; “Don’t Hate, Communicate: Discussing Politics and Maintaining Relationships”; “Our Country Our Votes: Young Voters Weigh in on the Election, Election Coverage, and Political Discourse Today”; “Religion, Diversity, and Democracy: Eboo Patel in conversation with Michael Roth”; an election results watch party; and more.

The E2020 Speaker Series is supported by generous contributions from the Wintman Family Lecture Series Fund.