On July 22nd 2008, The Century Foundation (TCF) hosted the second installment in its summer 2008 public policy lunch series for New York City interns with a forum, "The Incredible Youth Vote: Will the Youth Vote Have the Strength to Decide the 2008 Presidential Election?"
TCF gathered a panel of experts to lead an interactive discussion with nearly 100 young people from the NYC area on the potential political power of the youth vote, and the various legal and social factors that election year after election year keep this demographic of voters from actively engaging in the political process.
Forum speakers included, Tova Wang, Vice President of Research for Common Cause and Democracy Fellow at The Century Foundation; Justin Rockefeller, Co-founder and National Program Director of GenerationEngage, Maya Enista, Chief Executive Officer of Mobilize.org, Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director of the Pew Hispanic Center; and Ben Adler, Staff Writer for Politico- The Century Foundation
Ben Adler is a staff writer at Politico, where he covers the election and Congress with a focus on the youth vote and related issues such as higher education policy, online organizing, and voting rights.
He was previously editor of CampusProgress.org, a daily online political and cultural magazine at the Center for American Progress. He has also worked at The Nation and The New Republic.
His writing has appeared in Newsweek, The American Prospect, The Washington Monthly and In These Times, among other publications.
Maya Enista is chief executive officer at Mobilize.org, and has worked in both the Washington, D.C., and California offices as the chief operating officer. She has been active in public service since she was an undergraduate at Rutgers University, focusing mainly on voter empowerment and youth civic engagement.
She served as the East Coast coordinator for Rock The Vote at age 17, a position in which she registered over 30,000 young people. Through her work with Rock The Vote, she was awarded the first ever Rock The Vote "Rockin' The Streets" award.
She served as national field director for the Hip Hop Civic Engagement Project, a project that grew out of the successful National Hip Hop Political Convention in Newark, New Jersey. She organized a thirteen-state campaign that registered over 300,000 new voters in the "hip hop generation."
She worked with The Center for Civic Responsibility as an empowerment civics coordinator, facilitating trainings for New Jersey residents to teach them about their rights to access power within their local government, and worked to organize the first Citizenâ€™s Campaign Convention in June of 2004 at Rutgers University, with over 200 attendees.
In addition to her work with Mobilize.org, she serves on the steering committee for the November 5th Coalition,.an all-partisan alliance committed to civic partnerships that address our democracy's biggest challenges. (The coalition is named for the day after the election in 2008, when a new chapter of America's civic history begins.)
She also runs the 2100 Fund (originally founded by Atlas Service Corps Founder Scott Beale, and now a project of Mobilize.org), which throws "parties with a purpose" and raises money for diverse youth civic engagement campaigns throughout the country.
Mark Hugo Lopez
Mark Hugo Lopez is the associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center, where he studies political engagement among young Latinos and helps to coordinate the center's national surveys.
Prior to joining the center, he served as research director at the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at the University of Maryland. Through his work at CIRCLE, he has studied young people's electoral participation, the civic engagement of immigrants, young people's views of the First Amendment, and the link between college attendance and civic engagement.
He also currently serves as a visiting professor at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy.
Justin Rockefeller is co-founder and national program director of GenerationEngage (www.GenerationEngage.org), a nonpartisan youth-civic-engagement initiative that connects young Americans particularly those who fall outside the boundaries of university campuses to one another, to political leaders, and to other civic organizations.
It is founded on three principles: (1) young people suffer not from a lack of interest, but from a lack of access; (2) our democracy should be a dialogue, not a monologue; (3) the best investment we can make in the future of our democracy is in young leaders at the local level.
Notable GenerationEngage participants include, among others: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Al Gore, Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel, Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell, John Edwards, Nancy Pelosi, Coretta Scott King, Stephen Breyer, Peggy Noonan, Ted Sorensen, Bill Safire, John C. Whitehead, and Spike Lee.
He has received, on behalf of GenerationEngage, two awards: the 2007 Common Cause Andrew Heiskell Youth Democracy in Action Award, and the 2008 Edwin Powell Hubble Medal of Initiative.He serves on the boards of The Alliance for the Arts, Population Council, Japan Society, and the Rockefeller Family Fund, and was appointed by the governor to the New York State Commission on National and Community Service.
In addition, he serves on the National Leadership Council of GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network), on the Executive Committee of The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, and on the advisory boards of America Forward and Children for Children.
Weekly, he tutors English grammar and expository writing at The TEAK Fellowship. He is also a regular public speaker/panelist at various symposia. He has been accepted to participate at the 2009 TED Conference.
In 2002 Rockefeller received a B.A. from Princeton University, where he studied politics and art and was active in debate and race relations on campus.
Tova Andrea Wang
Tova Andrea Wang, a democracy fellow at The Century Foundation, is also vice president for research at Common Cause. She is a nationally known expert on election reform, and works on other issues related to civil rights and liberties as well.
She was the executive director of The Century Foundation's Post-2004 Election Reform Working Group, comprised of many of the most preeminent election law scholars in the country. In 2001, she was staff person to the National Commission on Federal Election Reform -- co-chaired by former Presidents Carter and Ford -- of which The Century Foundation was a co-sponsor.
Prior to joining The Century Foundation, Wang was the deputy director of public policy at The Kamber Group, a public relations and political consulting firm; deputy director of an investigation into misconduct and disciplinary practices at the New York City Police Department for the Office of the Public Advocate; and an independent political consultant and campaign staff member for a number of national and statewide political and advocacy campaigns.
Wang is the author of several election reform reports and wrote the widely remarked-upon 2006 report on voter fraud and voter intimidation for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Her commentary on election reform has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the National Journal, the Associated Press, the Nation, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, the New York Daily News, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the American Prospect, and Campaigns and Elections, among other media outlets.
Wang has frequently appeared on national radio and television, including C-SPAN's Washington Journal, MSNBC, NBC, and NPR. She has spoken at a number of national election reform conferences and forums, provided her expertise to members of Congress, and given expert testimony regarding the new federal election reform law before the New York State Assembly, the New York State Senate, the New York State Board of Elections, and the New York City Council.
She is coeditor (with Greg Anrig) of Immigration's New Frontiers: Experiences from the Emerging Gateway States (Century Foundation Press, 2006).
She is an attorney, a 1996 graduate of New York University School of Law, and a magna cum laude graduate of Barnard College of Columbia University.