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

Tea Leaves: What does the present tell us about the future of youth voting?

In partnership with:
With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Monday, November 28, 2022
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With the 2022 midterms in the rearview mirror, we look at the results to help us understand what is to come. What role did the threat to the stability of American democracy play for young voters? What about the urban/rural divide? And issues like abortion? The anticipated “red wave” didn’t materialize and President Biden’s low approval ratings were de-linked from voting intensity; especially among young voters, who appeared motivated by policy questions. Incumbent senators, governors and House members overwhelmingly won re-election. Biden beat the “midterm curse” and in key races, the youth vote was critical. What are top things to watch for in 2023? Join us as we hear from a political strategist, a turnout expert, young people, activists and officeholders, from across the political and geographic spectrum to examine what happened, why it matters, and what the implications may be.

Caitlin Donnelly is the Senior Program Director at Nonprofit VOTE. She supports partnerships, field work, and general education for 501(c)(3) nonprofits interested in engaging the people they serve in voting and elections. She has worked in civic and community engagement for over 10 years, first as an AmeriCorps* VISTA stewarding a speakers' bureau for the National Coalition for the Homeless and then developing curriculum and trainings for youth organizers at the Boston Student Advisory Council.
Kostas Loukos is a twice-elected Town Moderator in Mansfield, MA where he remains the youngest town moderator in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Before getting elected for a second time, Kostas served three years on the Mansfield Conservation Commission from 2019 to 2021, when he won his first election. He is a double Suffolk alum, graduating with his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a concentration in American Politics and International Relations in 2021 and earning his Master of Arts in Applied Politics this past spring. Since graduating, he has also worked for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission as a gaming agent. As a young adult who zealously learned the process of policy, Kostas has a tremendous amount of experience in the legislative field, assisting in countless local and state elections. During his time in college, he worked on Ben Sigel's Congressional campaign in the 2020 primary, where they saw nine candidates vying for the 4thMassachusetts congressional district. He also interned at the State House for three different state representatives: Representative McMurtry in 2017, Representative Barrows in 2018, and Representative Scanlon in 2021. With the extensive background he holds from several different positions, Kostas has been paving the way for young generations to participate in their elections.
Canyon was born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains of rural North Carolina and the North Cascades of Washington. He was the campaign manager for Chloe Maxmin’s successful 2018 and 2020 campaigns, flipping seats in the most rural county in the most rural state in the country. He was previously regional field director for Bernie Sanders 2016 in rural S.C., field director for Jane Hipps for NC Senate in rural NC, and vice chair of the NC District 11 Democrats. He earned an honors degree in social studies from Harvard College, where the bulk of his education took place outside of the classroom co- coordinating (with Chloe) Divest Harvard, a 70,000+person movement that succeeded in pressuring Harvard to divest its $53 billion endowment from fossil fuels. He is the co-author of Dirt Road Revival: How to Rebuild Rural Politics and Why Our Future Depends On It. Canyon and Chloe are co-founders of Dirtroad Organizing.
Growing up on the border while being both a Mexican and United States citizen has allowed Alvaro Diaz to gain a valuable perspective on the challenges and opportunities of political and civic participation. After moving to the U.S. at the age of 19, Alvaro recognized the importance of youth civic involvement in southern Arizona. During the pandemic, he became part of the first cohort of Public Allies in Tucson, Arizona. While serving for a local non-profit, he had the opportunity to learn about the dynamics of the nonprofit world and the importance of collaboration among non-governmental actors as a fundamental part of democracy development. Motivated by this experience, Alvaro participated in a local program, developed by Greater Tucson Leadership, to meet the change agents of my community. The 10-month program brings together different actors from business, government, nonprofit, and public sectors. As a student at the University of Arizona, he had the opportunity to serve as the Undergraduate Representative for the Latin American Studies Student Association, as well as part of the Aspiring Latino Lawyers Club. He also participated in a seminar by the Washington Center, learning about current issues related to National Security. As he continues his education, Alvaro has come to the realization much of the changes we want as young citizens start at the local level and civic engagement plays a huge role in moving our agenda forward.
Samuel J. Abrams is a nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on questions of related civic and political culture and American ideologies. He is concurrently a professor of politics and social science at Sarah Lawrence College, and a faculty fellow with New York University’s Center for Advanced Social Science Research. Dr. Abrams has been widely published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The American Interest, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, among others. He is the author of several books on a variety of topics including public opinion, Congress, religion and society, and polarization. His scholarly articles have been featured in peer-reviewed journals such as the British Journal of Political Science, The Jewish Journal, and PS: Political Science & Politics. He is presently working on two book projects exploring partisanship, polarization, and society. Dr. Abrams has an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University and is an alumnus of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Program on Inequality and Social Policy. He received his A.B. in political science and sociology from Stanford University.

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