JUSTICE & CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
ClassACT HR73 focuses its work and service in four areas: Justice & Civic Engagement, Environment and Climate Change, Healthcare, and Education.
For 2023-2024, the main work of the Justice & Civic Engagement Committee is centered on the theme of DEMOCRACY AT RISK.
In various projects and activities detailed below, the committee’s work will focus on issues and activities related to Protecting Voter Rights, mobilizing voter empowerment and voter registration, JusticeAid’s Black Voters Matter initiative, Gerrymandering, and others in development.
ClassACT Newsletter and Bulletin Articles, Projects, Bridges, and Forums and classmate spotlights in the Justice and Civic Engagement area appear below. Please click on those that interest you.
The Justice & Civic Engagement Committee (see side column) meets at least quarterly, with individual sub-committee meetings scheduled as needed per project.
If you would like to work with us on any of these endeavors, join the Justice & Civic Engagement committee, or have questions about them, we invite you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Justice & Civic Engagement Co-Chairs Therese Steiner or Bahman Mossavar-Rahmani.
THE STATE VOTING PROTECTION PROJECT
Members of the Justice & Civic Engagement Committee regularly contribute articles on timely issues related to Democracy at Risk to the ClassACT HR73 Newsletter and Bulletin. Links to recent articles:
PROTECTING VOTER RIGHTS
This is a group of classmates who have focused on a multi-pronged approach, including projects around protecting voter rights, gerrymandering, and, eventually, civics education.LEARN MORE.
JUSTICEAID AND BLACK VOTERS MATTER
JusticeAid believes in the power of art and music to transform awareness into action in the fight against injustice. JusticeAid is a sustained collaboration of ClassACT. Over the past 10 years, JusticeAid, with support from ClassACT, has worked with world class charities and artists to address issues relating to juvenile justice, mass incarceration, the incarceration of innocent individuals, and mental health issues in prison systems, voter suppression, LGBTQ+ civil rights; through forums, concerts and educational initiatives.
JusticeAid's 2023/2024 grantee-partner is BlackVoters Matter, a voting rights and community empowerment organization that focuses on voter registration, getting out the vote, independent election-related expenditures, and organizational development & training for other grassroots groups.LEARN MORE.
GERRYMANDERING: OUR DEMOCRACY AT RISKGerrymandering is one of the gravest, most insidious threats to our democracy, and the potential for abuse is soaring. When politicians draw voting maps to favor their party’s candidates over their opponents, that undermines the power of elections in our system of government…and citizens’ faith in our republic. A legislature should be a mirror image of its voters, so lawmakers reflect their constituents’ views, but gerrymandering prevents that. ClassACT HR73 presents its primer on gerrymandering: "Gerrymandering: Our Democracy at Risk.” Written by James P. Harbison and J. Ryan O’Connell with editing by Sallie Gouverneur, the primer is a product of ClassACT HR73’s Justice & Civic Engagement Initiative. Through this initiative, ClassACT has already hosted forums addressing issues such as voter suppression, racism and social justice, and racism in the criminal justice system.
CommUnity Cares envisions a future where health and wellbeing are central to the Black American experience. By fusing medical education and access with cultural resonance, we are a gateway to consistent high, quality healthcare.
FoolProof's core mission is to provide free, independent online financial literacy curricula to high schools and secondary schools throughout the country. Overall, FoolProof's proven program helps learners of all ages (including elementary school-age students, and parents) make better financial decisions by teaching healthy skepticism, personal responsibility, and the importance of trustworthy information.
EDITORIAL FREELANCERS ASSOCIATION
The Editorial Freelancers Association provides scholarships to undergraduates attending an HBCU (historically Black college or university) and HBCU alums attending graduate school.
The Club is a dynamic and very localized community support engine powered by Sue Press, the president, whose activities include, volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Neglected and Abused Children, mentoring sessions to encourage children regarding peer pressure, family matters, social etiquette, and proper behavior and sponsoring a community activitiesLearn more.
THE ROOTS OF MUSIC
The Roots of Music provides free year-round music education, academic tutoring, and mentorship for youths ages 9-14 in Greater New Orleans. Founded shortly after Hurricane Katrina to address the challenges facing the city’s youth and the cessation of music education in most of New Orleans’ public middle schools, the program offers children an escape and alternative to the dangerous after-school street life of New Orleans.Learn more.
SPORTS ANALYTICS CLUB PROGRAM
Robert Clayton ’73 developed the concept of a Sports Analytics Club Program (SACP) to expand STEM education opportunities to under-served high and middle school students. He had successfully implemented a pilot high school Sports Analytics Club in Baltimore, MD, and needed help developing and expanding the concept. ClassACT has helped to bring together over thirty classmates to assist in the development of SACP. Classmates have helped to facilitate business planning, organization as a not-for-profit, development of a governance structure and financial strategies, and identification of program expansion models to help as SACP has expanded to a multi-city program. The SACP board includes three HR73 classmates.Learn more.
UNDERSTANDING OUR DIFFERENCES
Understanding Our Differences (UOD) is a nationally recognized non-profit organization whose mission is to educate communities to value and respect people of all abilities, through school-based interactive disability-awareness programs. The goal is to foster a society that includes people with disabilities – who, at 20 percent of the US population, make up the largest minority group in the country. Since 1978, Understanding our Differences volunteers have regularly been presenting its programs to students in grades 3-5 in our home district of Newton, MA, and in other Massachusetts communities. The lessons increase students’ understanding of a range of disabilities and chronic medical conditions, with visual presentations, hands-on activities, and speakers with disabilities discussing their experiences and answering questions. Accurate information about disabilities makes the difference between discrimination and acceptance, and Understanding Our Differences teaches children – at a young age when they are open and receptive – to be allies, not bullies.Learn more.
UNITED NATIONS ASSOCIATION OF GREATER BOSTON
The United Nations Association of Greater Boston is ClassACT's newest Bridge. Sponsored by classmate Rich Golob, who most recently served as the chair of the UNAGB board of directors, the organization promotes global awareness in the Greater Boston area. Rich and their Executive Director, Caitlin Moore, have asked ClassACT to help them find topical experts to serve as speakers for their adult and student programs. We have already provided a connection to Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program Associate and international water expert, Erum Sattar.
UNAGB is developing a water curriculum so they are delighted that Erum has agreed to be the keynote speaker at their annual meeting. Classmates interested in UNAGB should reach out to Rich Golob or Caitlin Moore.In addition to finding experts for their program they are interested more generally in volunteers supporters.Learn more.
WHITE PONY EXPRESS
To help eliminate hunger and poverty in Contra Costa County by delivering the abundance all around us to those in need. “Many friends in Contra Costa County can’t afford to feed or clothe themselves properly. And nonprofit organizations and shelters here often don’t have enough resources to serve them. But we’ve found that many businesses would be pleased to donate their excess food and goods if someone could just pick it up and deliver it. That’s why we created the White Pony Express. We are the connecting link between those with surplus and those in need.” – Founder, Dr. Carol Weyland ConnorLearn more.
UPDATE ON UKRAINE
November 13, 2023
More than a year after the Russians launched a massive brutal assault against the sovereign nation of Ukraine, ClassACT HR73 held a wide-ranging discussion about this war. Moderator Bill Kristol ’73, a widely respected analyst of global affairs and founding director of Defending Democracy Together, led a discussion with Nobel Prize winning economist Roger Myerson '73; former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith '73; and international security expert and retired Marine Colonel Mark Cancian '73.
HONORING THE LEADERSHIP LEGACY OF PRIME MINISTER BENAZIR BHUTTO
June 21, 2023
In this Allyship Series Forum we honored Benazir Bhutto by exploring her legacy. Peter Gabraith AB ’73, former US Ambassador to Croatia and Benazir’s life-long friend and advisor, spoke about Benazir’s life, commitment to her people, and courage. Marion Dry AB ‘73, Chair of ClassACT HR’73, shared the story of the creation of the Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program and its impact to date, and, Leigh Hafrey AB ’73, a ClassACT board member, will spoke with this year’s Bhutto Fellow, Laila Khondkar of Bangladesh, about her mission, her work and her year as the Bhutto Fellow at HKS.
CLASSACT CONVERSATION WITH THE BENAZIR BHUTTO LEADERSHIP FELLOWS
May 20, 2023
Former US Ambassador to Croatia, classmate and BBLP Steering Committee Member Peter Galbraith lead a Zoom discussion with all five of the fellows: Roohi Abdullah, Natasha Jehangir Khan, Nadia Rehman, Zeina Majdalani, and Laila Khondkar. The Fellows spoke about their work in legal reform, pandemic relief, and infrastructure improvement, and provided their thoughts on women’s leadership in nations that stretch from the Mediterranean to the Bay of Bengal. Attendees were able to ask questions about the successes to date of the BBLP as well as its goals for the future.
VOTER SUPPRESSION: A CANCER IN OUR BODY POLITIC
September 12, 2022
This forum brought together journalists, activists and experts concerned with election integrity to discuss how repressing voting threatens our democracy. Class of 1973’s own E.J. Dionne, the renowned Washington Post columnist, moderated a panel that included Congressman Joaquin Castro HLS '00, the Congressman for the 20th District of Texas, Cecile Scoon ’81, President of the League of Women Voters of Florida, Michael Waldman, President of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, and Samuel Spital '00, HLS '04, the Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.LEARN MORE
LGBTQ YOUTH RIGHTS: PROTECTING THE QUEER FRONTIER
April 7, 2022
We examined the challenges LGBTQ youth face and the ways that advocates, friends and families can offer support. Our moderator was Tazewell Jones, a JusticeAid board member and an attorney who has fought against injustice since law school when he volunteered for Lambda Legal Alliance and the Innocence Project. Our panel included Li Nowlin-Sohl, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBTQ Rights team. Li was joined by Jorge Membreño, a social worker who has helped to provide clinical services and housing for youth and families in Brookline and Washington, and who now serves as deputy executive director of SMYAL. Our final panelist was Alana Jochum, the executive director of Equality Ohio and a co-chair of Equality Federation’s Board of Directors, which advocates in State Houses across the country to safeguard LGBTQ rights.
CLASSACT HR73 PRESENTS: A CONVERSATION ON RUSSIA'S WAR ON UKRAINE
March 16, 2022We hosted an in depth conversation about the Russian war against Ukraine. Noted historian and former Washington Bureau Chief for Newsweek Evan Thomas '73 led a discussion with Nobel Prize winning economist Roger Myerson '73 and international security expert and retired Marine Colonel Mark Cancian '73. Drawing on their knowledge of Ukraine’s past tragedies and its immediate crisis, these panelists analyzed the current state of the war from military, political and economic perspectives.
CAN 21ST CENTURY CAPITALISM SOLVE SCHOOL FAILURE, CLIMATE CHANGE, AND INCOME INEQUALITY?
December 16, 2021Moderator Leigh Hafrey ’73, Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and former co-Master of Mather House, led a stirring discussion about imaginative ways that impact investing and partnerships between public and private investors can help remedy poverty, failing schools and the climate crisis. The distinguished panel included Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. ’73, the former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the former President and CEO of TIAA; Natasha Lamb, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Arjuna Capital; and Tracy Palandjian, CEO and Co-Founder of Social Finance and former Vice-Chair of the Harvard Board of Overseers.
GERRYMANDERING: OUR DEMOCRACY AT RISK
June 10, 2021Moderator Ryan O’Connell HR'73, one of the authors of a new ClassACT primer Gerrymandering: Our Democracy at Risk, lead a panel of experts on reforming redistricting. The panelists included Alicia Bannon, Managing Director, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University; Brian Cannon, Director of Campaigns at the Institute for Political Innovation and former Executive Director of OneVirginia2021; Jim Harbison HR'73, PhD ’77, former physicist and computer scientist at Bell Labs and IBM, now focused on the mechanics and mathematics underlying gerrymandering; and Michael Li, Senior Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice. This Forum was developed by our gerrymandering subcommittee, led by Bahman Mossavar Rahmani '73, co-chair of ClassACT's Justice & Civic Engagement Initiative.
RACISM AND THE CRIMINAL SYSTEM: COMMUNITIES FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
March 25, 2021
Our moderator Sylvester Monroe ’73, award winning journalist and former Washington Post Assistant Foreign Editor, lead a panel of experts dedicated to redressing racial injustice by transforming the criminal system and empowering the communities most adversely affected by it. The panelists included Gina Clayton-Johnson, Executive Director and Founder of the Essie Justice Group; Rick Jones, Executive Director and a founding member of Neighborhood Defender Services; Christy E. Lopez, Georgetown Law School Professor and Co-Director of its Innovative Policing Program; and Jason Williams, District Attorney of New Orleans. Together these panelists explored the impact of racism on policing and the court system, explained what actions have worked best for the organizations and communities they serve, and offered possibilities for lasting reforms in legal systems and civic awareness.Learn more.
WHEN THE STAGE GOES DARK: PERFORMING ARTS IN COVID TIME
January 11, 2021This forum explored the impact of the pandemic on the performing arts and its artists, described creative solutions the panelists have found for continuing their work and engaging audiences, and offered some innovations and hopes for the future. Moderator Marion Dry '73, Co-Chair of ClassACT, opera singer and former Director of the Wellesley College Music Performance Program will moderate our panel: Jerome Harris '73, jazz bassist and recording artist; Peter Kazaras '73, leading opera director and Director of Opera UCLA and the Inaugural Susan G. and Michel D. Covel MD Chair at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music; Emily Mann '74, former artistic director and resident playwright of the McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton University; and Charlene Jones Marchant '73, faculty member at Music Academy of North Carolina and member of the board of the Greensboro Opera.
SCHOOLS + COVID = INEQUITY AMPLIFIED
November 17, 2020
COVID-19 led to school closings across the country in March. Here we are, months later, with more chaos and uncertainty, and a variety of modes of learning from which parents and students had to choose: all remote, all in-person and hybrid. Moderator Rick Melvoin '73, Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and former head of Belmont Hill School in Massachusetts, lead a panel of individuals uniquely positioned to observe and affect the future: John B. King, Jr. ‘96, President and CEO of The Education Trust, Harvard Overseer and former U.S. Secretary of Education in the Obama Administration; Nick Melvoin ’08, Board Member of the L.A. Unified School District; and Angela McEwen Sims, Principal of the Lenart Elementary Regional Gifted Center (Chicago).Learn more.
FASCISM: ARE WE THERE YET?
October 20, 2020
Authoritarianism, illiberalism, nationalism, fascism: these words appear with alarming frequency in editorials, analyses, and popular articles in 2020. What are the shades of meaning among them? How do they play out in the politics of our time? What can we learn from recent history to help us understand and combat a darker future than many would wish to see? Listen to our panelists discuss this in a wide-ranging and provocative conversation. Moderator A'Lelia Bundles ’74, award-winning journalist, writer and historian, lead our outstanding panelists William Kristol ’73, political analyst; Nadine Strossen ’72, J.D. ’75, the first female President of the ACLU; and Dr. Chad Williams, RI ’17, Chair of African and African American Studies, Brandeis University, in a wide-ranging and provocative conversation.
CALL TO CLASSACTION: TURN OUT THE VOTE
September 24, 2020ClassACT, as a part of its Voter & Civic Engagement Initiative, enlisted a team from Open Progress/Vote.org (a non-partisan effort devoted to getting out the vote) to train us, the "ClassACT Text Troop," to utilize “text banking” to reach out to people of color and to young voters in general, to provide them with the information they need to register, vote by mail, or vote in person. Our host for the Forum was ClassACT board member, Therese Steiner.
HEALTH DISPARITIES: LESSONS FROM COVID-19
July 30, 2020
This forum focused on lessons COVID-19 taught us about health disparities in America. Our distinguished panel was moderated by ClassACT Board Member Dr. Vivian Lewis '73, and featured experts in medicine, healthcare delivery and government policy: Dr. Mary Bassett '74, Dr. Prentiss Taylor '73, and Al Franken '73.
WHOSE INDEPENDENCE DAY IS IT? SOCIAL JUSTICE AND RACISM IN AMERICA
June 30, 2020
Nearly sixty years after the March on Washington, African Americans are still struggling for economic equality and equal protection under the law. A distinguished panel including Rep. Karen Bass, current Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; award-winning broadcast journalist and author Soledad O'Brien; JusticeAid founder Stephen Milliken '73; and veteran Black journalist Sylvester Monroe '73 discussed how the nation can reform its police departments and whether what's broken with race and social justice in America can ever be fixed.
VOTER SUPPRESSION AND THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON VOTING RIGHTS
April 23, 2020
The right to vote is a fundamental Constitutional right and a guiding principle of American democracy. Yet this right is increasingly being put to the test, challenged by voter suppression, uncertain access to the polls, accessibility of ballots, vote by mail restrictions, COVID-19 and other issues. A panel of experts featuring Kevin D. Benish, Lawyer and Adjunct Professor at NYU Law School, Helen Hershkoff '73, the Herbert M. and Svetlana Wachtell Professor of Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties at NYU Law School, as well as the Co-Director of the Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program, Julie M. Houk, Managing Counsel for the Voting Rights Project at Election Protection of Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law, Steve Milliken '73, CEO and Founder of JusticeAid, and Myrna Peréz, the Director of the Voting Rights & Elections Project and Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, addressed these issues.Learn more.
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
March 26, 2020
Global health security expert Dr. Jono Quick '73 shared his insights into the current pandemic during our first ClassACT Zoom Forum.Learn more.
Below, we highlight classmates and initiatives whose work fits into the category of Justice & Civic Engagement. Scroll through and see if you recognize anyone! And if you're interested in participating in any of the initiatives below, send us an email at email@example.com and we will connect you.
Justice & Civic Engagement Committee
Donna Brown Guillaume
Elena (Nini) Cohen '79
Jean Leventhal '63
Terrence McNally '69
Bahman Mossavar-Rahmani (lead)
Therese Steiner (lead)
Merry (Corky) White '63