With the 2020 election being less than a year away, how can we get young people to turn out and vote in Nebraska?
This event will kick off the Nebraska 2020 Critical Issues Forum Series. The UNO and Omaha community is invited to gather and engage around issues surrounding voter participation and voting rights, with a particular focus on engaging young people in civic and political life.
A keynote address will be provided by Nancy L. Thomas, Ed.D., the director of the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, followed by remarks from Adam Morfeld, State Senator and Director of Civic Nebraska; Preston Love Jr., UNO instructor and founder of Black Votes Matter Institute of Community Engagement; Wayne Bena, Nebraska Deputy Secretary of State; and Aya Yousuf, UNO Student Body President and Student Regent. The conversation will be moderated by Dr. Jonathan Benjamin Alvarado, UNO Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. More information about the featured speaker, panelists, and the moderator is available below.
This event is the first of a three-part series sponsored by UNO's Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, College of Public Affairs and Community Service, and the Department of Political Science of the College of Arts and Sciences.
This event is open to the public, no registration required. Free parking is available in Lot E for those non-UNO attendees.
Nancy Thomas, Ed.D., Director, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education
Nancy L. Thomas, Ed.D., directs the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. IDHE is an applied research center that studies higher education’s role in American democracy and supports college and university student political learning and participation. The Institute's signature initiative, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) examines student voting rates, patterns, and conditions. Through NSLVE, nearly 1,200 U.S. colleges and universities receive tailored reports containing their students’ aggregate voting rates following each federal election. Her work and scholarship interests include college student civic learning and participation in democracy, campus climates for political engagement, deliberative democracy, political equity and inclusion, and campus free speech and academic freedom. She holds a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a law degree from Case Western Research University’s School of Law. She is also an associate editor at the Journal of Public Deliberation, a senior associate with Everyday Democracy, and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.
Adam Morfeld, JD, Nebraska State Senator, District 46, and Executive Director and Founder, Civic Nebraska
Before going to the University, Adam worked for two years managing the stockroom of a grocery store and working as a part-time news correspondent for his local newspaper while attending community college. He then worked his way through college and law school at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. While still an undergraduate in college, he founded Civic Nebraska, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to building youth civic leadership skills, strengthening civic health in our communities, and ensuring elections are accessible for all Nebraskans. In 2014 Adam was elected to the Nebraska Legislature to represent Northeast Lincoln. His focus has been affordable healthcare, maintaining a strong K-12 education system, living wage jobs, affordable higher education and trade programs, and protecting civil rights.
Wayne J. Bena, JD, Deputy Secretary of State for Elections, Nebraska
Wayne Bena was appointed by Governor Dave Heineman in 2009 and 2013 to serve as Sarpy County’s Election Commissioner. In his role, Wayne coordinates all elections and serves as the Jury Commissioner for the County. Wayne holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science as well as a Law Degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is a member of the Nebraska Bar Association. In 2011, Wayne was awarded National Young Republican Man of the Year by the National Federation of Young Republicans and he was the recipient of a Suburban under 40 Award by Sarpy County Suburban Newspapers. Wayne has been married to his wife Jill for 10 years and in his free time enjoys attending Storm Chaser baseball games at Werner Park.
Preston Love, Jr., MA, Founder and CEO, Black Votes Matter Institute of Community Engagement, and Adjunct Professor, UNO Department of Black Studies
Preston Love, Jr., a local activist for economic inclusion, is the founder and CEO of the Black Votes Matter Institute for Community Engagement. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska Lincoln and a Master’s degree from Bellevue University in Omaha. Preston has been a leader in civic engagement and political efforts at both the local and national level. In addition to running the Institute, Preston teaches African-American Experience in Politics in UNO’s Department of Black Studies, as well as engages with local government officials and leaders to advocate for people of color as important voices and voters in our community, while working to support youth through educational opportunities.
Aya Yousuf, 2019-20 Student Body President, UNO
Aya Yousuf was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq. In 2010 her family moved to the United States, settling in Michigan, and in 2013 they moved to Omaha. Aya is studying Political Science and Economics and she plans to attend law school after graduation. Her favorite thing about Omaha/UNO is the welcoming and supportive community. She is passionate about implementing positive change to give back to the community. Aya loves meeting new people and is honored to serve as UNO’s student regent. Before her role as Student Body President, she was a senator for the UNO College of Arts & Sciences and served on the Student Government Rules Committee.
Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, Ph.D., Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, UNO
Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, Ph.D., oversees diversity, inclusion, and equity issues on campus. This includes the divisions of Veterans and Military Affairs, Multicultural Affairs, Academic and Career Development, and Gender and Sexuality Resources. He is also a Professor of Political Science in the UNO College of Arts and Sciences, with an emphasis on U.S. Foreign Policy, International Development and National Security.
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