Meet the team

Staff & Board

 

ERIC LIU

Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder

Eric Liu is the co-founder and CEO of Citizen University. He also directs the Aspen Institute’s Citizenship & American Identity Program. He is the author of several books, including The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker; The Gardens of Democracy (co-authored with Nick Hanauer); You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen; and his most recent, Become America: Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility, and Democracy. Eric served as a White House speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and later as the President’s deputy domestic policy adviser. He has served as a board member of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Washington State Board of Education, and the Seattle Public Library and is a co-founder of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. He has been selected as an Ashoka Fellow and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A regular contributor to the Atlantic, Eric can be found on Twitter @ericpliu. Learn more about Eric Liu. To reach Eric email his Executive Assistant Athena.

 


KAYLA DEMONTE

Managing Director
kayla@citizenuniversity.us

Kayla DeMonte leads the Citizen University team, and oversees the development, strategy, and operations for our national slate of programs. Previously, she worked on community programs and partnerships at the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce and managed sponsorships for Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival at One Reel. Kayla current serves as a member of the Seattle Arts Commission, and has has served in volunteer leadership and board roles for a variety of arts and civic organizations including The Vera Project, 4Culture, ArtsFund. She is a proud graduate of the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

 


CHRISTY WELCH

Operations & Project Manager
christy@citizenuniversity.us

Christy Welch brings a passion for structure and harmony to her work as the Operations and Project Manager for Citizen University. She has worked with nonprofit organizations in the region and is happiest when transforming systems for greater impact and efficiency. Her admiration for Nelson Mandela prompted civic engagement and academic pursuits related to international human rights. Christy is a graduate of Harvard University, University of South Africa and the University of Washington with degrees in International Relations, African Affairs and Political Science.

 


TANEUM FOTHERINGILL

Senior Program Manager
taneum@citizenuniversity.us

Taneum Fotheringill manages Civic Saturday in Seattle and nationally, as well as the Civic Saturday Fellowship program. Prior to joining Citizen University, she studied Public Affairs and Humanities at Seattle University during which time she also worked for the University and interned for an M.P. at the U.K. House of Commons, APACEvotes, and Seattle CityClub. In addition to her work at Citizen University, she is a volunteer advisor for a delegation of high school students in YMCA Youth and Government, which is the program which first introduced her to civics.

 


ATHENA PRADO HIGGINS

Executive Assistant & Program Associate
athena@citizenuniversity.us

Athena is the assistant to Eric Liu and is a Program Associate for the Civic Collaboratory. Prior to joining the team, Athena has worked in many fields, including international law in Paris, France, media in NYC, and K-12 education system as a teacher in San Diego. In Seattle she worked at Street Outreach Services before going on to work in higher education for fifteen years. Athena is a passionate advocate for equity, inclusion, and social justice, having served on the college’s Diversity Advisory Council for the length of her tenure. Co-founder and partner of a small batch artisanal syrup company, Athena and her family can often be seen at Urban Craft Uprising, Gobble Up or at the Tom Douglas Cookbook Social peddling their wares and having a good time! Athena holds degrees from The American University of Paris and l’Université de la Sorbonne – Paris IX.

 


LAURETTE HANNA

Programs Coordinator
laurette@citizenuniversity.us

Laurette Hanna coordinates and aids in development of youth programming at Citizen University . An alumnus of Citizen University, she began her career as an events and programs intern for CU in 2016 and has since pursued work in non-profits and community organizations in Berlin, San Francisco, and at the University of Washington before returning to CU. Laurette is a graduate of University of Washington with a degree in Political Science and Psychology, with focused study on how narrative, power, social psychology and conflict intersect as explored through her senior thesis.

 


TALYA GILLMAN

Senior Manager of Learning Experiences
talya@citizenuniversity.us

Talya Gillman develops resources and experiences that spark and support powerful citizenship, rooted in the CU tenet that “we’re all better off when we’re all better off.” Many experiences and relationships have fueled her commitment to building eco-systems of dignity, equity and belonging: designing and leading experiential learning initiatives with organizations including Jewish Family Service, University of Washington, and Repair the World; receiving a Covenant Foundation Pomegranate Prize for emerging Jewish educators; completing an M.A. in Transformational Leadership through Seattle University; organizing with anti-racist and immigrant justice community networks in Seattle; and serving as an AJWS World Partners Fellow doing harm reduction work with Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust in Mumbai.

 


NATALIE JAMERSON

Senior Communications Manager
natalie@citizenuniversity.us

Natalie Jamerson brings a passion for storytelling, strategy, and community connection to her work of managing Citizen University’s communications. Natalie cares deeply about amplifying the voices of changemakers and sharing the ideas of organizations, which she did previously at Washington Environmental Council. Natalie holds a Master’s degree from the Communication Leadership program at the University of Washington and is a graduate of Whitman College. In her spare time, she serves on the board of AGE UP — a youth leadership and social justice organization — and spends lots of time working in her garden.

 


 

JENÁ CANE

Special Advisor and Co-founder

Jená Cane co-founded Citizen University and shepherded the creation of key Citizen University programs including Civic Saturday, Civic Seminary, Sworn-Again America and the National Conference. For over twenty-five years Jená created and performed with the Seattle-based company One World Theatre, taking reimagined classics and new plays to communities and festivals around the world. She was the Communications Director for the late, great Seattle International Children’s Festival, and worked for the famed entertainment company ENTROS. Central to every program or gathering she creates or hosts is the desire to bring surprise, delight, joy and hope to those looking for inspiration and common purpose.

 


BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Diane Douglas | Diane Douglas Consulting

Kristen Cambell | PACE Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement

Eric Liu | Citizen University

Jená Cane | Citizen University

Hahrie Han | SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University

Katie Hong | Raikes Foundation

Martin A. Rodgers | Accenture

Rich Tafel | Pepperdine School of Public Policy

Stephanie Ybarra | Baltimore Center Stage