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Our Issues, Our Voices, Our Votes: Youth Civic Participation Today

Lighting the fire: What motivates young activists?

In partnership with:
With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Wednesday, October 19, 2022

What brings young people to the streets, engage in advocacy, and go to the voting booth? Despite widespread disillusionment with “establishment politics” and skepticism about the power to make change, increasing numbers of young organizers and activists are making their voices heard. Some tactics are familiar to traditional campaigns, but some tactics are innovative and fresh. We’ll sit down with some of these young leaders to hear their stories about what motivates them to action and explore some of the tactics and strategies they are branding with their unique generational stamp. Join us!

A skilled youth organizer and voting rights advocate, Brianna Cea is passionate about empowering young people in the political process and expanding youth voting rights. Briannais a research and program associate at the Brennan Center for Justice and CEO/Co-founder of Generation Vote, where she educates, mobilizes and connects young people to become agents of change in local electoral and advocacy campaigns through the GenVote Model of Engagement. Brianna is also the Co-Chair of the Let NY Vote Youth Voting Rights Working Group, the largest voting rights coalition in New York State and responsible for passing the first NY voter reform laws in over 100 years. At the Brennan Center, Brianna focuses on the census and redistricting. Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Atlantic, SCOTUSblog and other outlets. Brianna is also involved with the Roosevelt Institute Alumni Network, where she serves as a Forge Fellowship Mentor, and sits on the Board for OCA-Asian Pacific Advocates NY. Cea graduated summa cum laude with a BA in political science and philosophy, politics and law from Binghamton University in May 2018. While on campus, she was a Newman Civic Fellow, served as the Regional Coordinator for the Roosevelt Institute Lower Northeast Region, founded Roosevelt Institute at Binghamton University and the Broome County Student Board of Advisors, and interned with the New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery and Tenant Protection Unit.
Sasha Goodfriend is a community organizer, curating feminist & queer experiences through partnerships with statewide government, community organizations & creatives alike. She works to advance this mission through her roles as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women (Mass NOW), a consultant with the Boston Tenant Coalition and Our Bodies Ourselves and serves as a board member with the Transgender Emergency Fund and member of Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth. Sasha graduated with a B.A. from the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University majoring in International Relations with a minor in Women, Gender & Sexuality studies and received her Masters in Public Policy from Simmons University. [MassNow website](massnow.org)
Amara Ifeji is a systems-thinker whose lived experiences have led her to advocate at the intersection of the environmental and social justice movements. She spearheads grassroots, policy, and community science efforts that aim to grant youth of color positive experiences in the outdoors. She has received state, national, and international recognition for her work, including being named a 2021 National Geographic Young Explorer. A student at Northeastern University, Ifeji studies politics, philosophy, and economics with a concentration in energy and environmental policy. She plans to continue her advocacy in the field of public policy and aspires to attend law school. With lived experience as a catalyst, she empowers and connects individuals and communities to mobilize climate justice efforts and is steadfast in her commitment to allow all students to learn about climate change in her fight for a “more just, equitable, and climate-resilient future.” Americans Who Tell the Truth
A native of Boston and currently a resident of Roslindale, Enrique Pepen is a son of Dominican immigrants. He began his career in public service in 2016 as an intern for former City Councilor Tito Jackson. He then transitioned out to serve as District Coordinator for former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, assisting constituents with federal government-related casework. In 2019, Pepen was appointed as the Jamaica Plain liaison in the Office of Neighborhood Services and served as the community contact for residents. Most recently, he served as the Community Engagement Coordinator of Transportation for Massachusetts where he led efforts to ensure transportation equity and access to reliable and affordable transportation statewide. In his free time, Pepen serves as a member of the YDMA Latino Caucus to ensure the progress and involvement in civic engagement of young Latinx residents across the state. City of Boston
Aparna Mukherjee is a civic innovator with more than 25 years of experience, spanning the private, public, and philanthropic sectors with roots in news. She’s held editorial, strategy, and product leadership roles at the world’s biggest media outlets: Associated Press, Bloomberg TV, Wall Street Journal, and CNBC. At The New York Times, Aparna ran the paper’s online education “startup,” highlighting the relationship between news and democracy building with partners Annenberg and Kauffman. As a FUSE Corp Executive Fellow embedded in City Hall, Aparna worked to design the strategy for LA's Office of Civic Engagement, and she served as the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence for LA2050, the Goldhirsh Foundation's annual $1 million grants challenge to elevate and fund ideas to make Greater LA a better place to live, learn, create, play, and connect. As the firm’s first social media editor, Aparna developed McKinsey’s editorial voice on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. She also served as interim director of digital for Columbia University's Alumni Association (CAA) and the head of industry and programming for the Paley Center for Media, the former Museum of Television & Radio. An alumna of Bryn Mawr College, Aparna received a dual MA Journalism and MBA from Columbia University, where she was a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics and lectures executive MBA students on digital strategy. She is currently a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford, working to raise community voice in public comments, using participatory budgeting and deliberative polling approaches and machine learning to better represent New American and BIPOC communities.