Moderators

Herman Goldman Foundation Democracy Fellows:

Catherine Ardrey

Catherine is a junior at Hofstra University, majoring in History with minors in Anthropology and Italian. She is the current President of Hofstra Women’s Club Soccer, and has been since her sophomore year. Her future ambitions are to receive her PhD after having traveled abroad with the Language Crops teaching English as a foreign language. In the past, she has volunteered her time on political campaigns, such as Massachusetts’ Scott Brown. Deepening Democracy has given her the opportunity to work more closely with politics in a way that makes it possible to keep emotions in check, and to really discuss the issues at hand.

Rejena Carmichael

Originally from Maryland, Rejena is a junior at Hofstra University.  She is working towards a double major in English and Political Science with a minor in Film.  After graduating, she plans on going to graduate school in an English PhD program to become an English professor.

Jesse Crosson

A native of Reedsville, PA, Jesse Crosson is currently a senior Political Science major at Hofstra University. In addition to his major in political science, Jesse minors in mathematics and philosophy and sings in Hofstra’s two select choirs. He is a member of several honors societies on campus (including Pi Sigma Alpha and Phi Beta Kappa), a student of the Hofstra Honors College, a University Senator, and one of Hofstra’s Fellows at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC), in Washington, DC. As a Fellow at CSPC, Jesse was one of 20 students to have his paper, “The Politics of Compassion,” published in the organization’s annual book. A shorter version of that paper also won the 2012 Herbert Rosenbaum Prize for the best paper in Political Science at Hofstra. In addition to his academic experiences, Jesse has interned with The Heritage Foundation, served as a Summer Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and represented Hofstra at the 2012 Republican National Convention. He is thrilled to join the rest of the Democracy Fellows, and hopes his experiences can add to the success of the project.

Marissa Espinoza

Marissa is a sophomore at Hofstra University, double majoring in Psychology and Political Science, with a minor in Spanish. After Hofstra she intends on pursuing a law degree with a focus on either criminal or corporate law.  Marissa currently works for New York Community Bancorp, and is motivated to help affect policy making within the United States in her future career. “I would love to work with emerging democracies around the world  to help them reach the sense of freedom that we have in the United States.”

Ariel Flajnik

Ariel is a senior at Hofstra University pursuing a dual major in History and Latin American & Caribbean Studies, with a minor in Spanish.   When she is not moderating forums, Ariel spends her time serving as the President of Hofstra’s Women of Action and the Secretary of Hofstra Historians.  She also works on WRHU’s Alternativa Latina program and as an intern at the National Day Laborers Organizing Network.

Ashlyn Grisetti

Ashlyn is a sophomore at Hofstra University, with a Political Science major and Broadcast Journalism minor.  She attributes her interest in politics to her upbringing, explaining how both watching the news and active engagement in political and current event discussions was an integral part of her family’s daily routine. Ashlyn recently traveled with a group of Hofstra students to New Hampshire for the Presidential Primaries and has worked on several congressional campaigns. “This project has allowed me to take a subject I am most passionate about and bring it to life through engaging and thought provoking discussion. I am excited to continue working with a group of individuals who share my passion.”

Priyanka Jaisinghani

A junior at Hofstra University, majoring in Psychology with minors in Arabic and Public Relations, Priyanka has been a part of the Center for Civic Engagement since her freshman year.  She hopes to take what she has learned at Hofstra and the passion the CCE has cultivated within her, to work in India after graduation and foster change there.  “Education is the foundation for change. Every time I participate in a forum, I learn a new perspective of an issue. Deepening Democracy gives me the opportunity to show others a different perspective.”

Mishaina Joseph

 Originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but current resident of Lake Ronkonkoma, Long Island, Mishaina joins the project as a sophomore at Hofstra University. She is working towards a double major in Global Studies and History, with a double minor in Geography and Arabic.  Her interests in politics and civic engagement drew her to work as a moderator. “I believe in the positives of talking about the problems that plague the country and the world, and am proud to be part of something that I believe to be so necessary to democracy. I am also really enjoying myself on this project and love to work with this incredible group of people.”

Katie Kopania

A senior at Hofstra University with aspirations of working in the field of international development, Katie describes herself as: “Italian by blood. American by birth. Political Scientist by profession. Feminist by passion.”  While working towards a duel major in Political Science and Sociology, with a minor in Women’s Studies, Katie was able to intern at the National Organization of Women in Washington D.C., and has also completed internships with the Long Island Progressive Coalition and The Legal Aid Society.  “I felt working on this project was an important way to engage the community in thinking about key issues that effect individuals like themselves, and the country as a whole. It is important to provide different perspectives and keep an open mind of how each issue has a different effect on each individual.”

Paige Lock

A senior at Hofstra University, Paige is pursuing a dual History and Women’s Studies major and a minor in Labor Studies; the bulk of her work focuses on Central America and the US-Mexico Borderlands. One of her strongest beliefs is that social change has always, and will always, proceed any political change. Becoming a Democracy Fellow has allowed her to both observe and encourage the sort of postive and active interpersonal exchanges she belives are integral to enacting social change. Additionally, working on the project has also taught her, as an individual, how to be a more effective component within these exchanges. Overall, the experience thus far has been wonderful and she cannot wait to continue!

Ray McGrath

Ray is a senior History major at Hofstra University, after transferring two years ago from Catholic University of America.  Spending much of his time on and in the water, Ray has spent the past six summers working as a lifeguard for the Town of Hempstead. During the winters he gives swim lessons and works for the Echo Winter Answering the Needs of Citizens with Handicaps through Organized Recreation (ANCHOR) program. Ray has also worked with the Surfers Healing camp, allowing him to teach children with down syndrome and autism how to surf. In 2010, Ray volunteered to work on the US Senate Campaign for former Nassau County Legislator Bruce Blakeman.  He hopes to eventually teach history, special education, or Spanish at the high school level, and intends on teaching abroad and achieving fluency in Spanish.

Ciara Musson

Ciara is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Television and Business at Hofstra University. While working for the Communications Department, she has played an integral role with media for civic organizations on campus, such as the Center for Civic Engagement and the Student Affairs 2012 Debate committee. This summer, Ciara got the chance to intern at Sesame Workshop and has seen how non-profit organizations provide lasting and positive impacts on society. She loves the study of media and became involved with the Democracy through Deliberation Project to examine what democracy means by listening and deliberating with others. She’s thrilled to be a part of a great project that continues to expand her knowledge of the world.

Christiaan Perez

As a California Bay Area native, and recent Global Studies and Political Science BA graduate from Hofstra University, Christiaan is excited to continue his political engagement through the Democracy through Deliberation Project.  “I realized that this is exactly the kind of political discourse that I need to keep my mind open to new ways of thinking and perceiving political issues.” As the current Assistant Producer for the Spanish news show, “La Comunidad y Trabajadores Unidos,” which can be heard on 98.5fm  La Fiesta, Christiaan is able to conduct interviews about political issues he finds interesting.  Fortunately, “my work with the project leaves me with more questions and a new understanding of variations in perceiving politics that my personal investigations did not even touch upon.”

Ian Poulos

Ian not only is a senior, majoring in Labor Studies and minoring in Economics, but is also enrolled in Hofstra University’s six year accelerated law program (LEAP). Born in New York, and raised in Arizona, he is happy to be back on the east coast.  “I joined the Deepening Democracy Project because I want to facilitate an exposure to a new way of thinking. Our forums do not revolve around persuasion or debate; rather, they emphasize the importance common ground plays in the progress of key issues.”

Julie Rafatpanah

Julie is a sophomore from Connecticut, triple majoring in History, Political Science, and English Literature. She’s an active member of the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, and ultimately hopes to attend law school. In the past, she has worked with progressive political campaigns like that of Chris Donovan, and will continue to participate in campaigns this fall. She’s chosen to participate in Deepening Democracy because “it really opens people up to differing viewpoints and helps them reevaluate their beliefs in a critical manner based on unbiased sources.”

Kayla Rivara

 Kayla, originally from Suffolk County, is a senior at Hofstra University double majoring in Political Science and Global Studies, and minoring in History. She has been working with Hofstra’s Center for Civic Engagement since her sophomore year. Here, she discovered a passion for community involvement and public service. Kayla has channeled this energy towards radio broadcasting and, most recently, the Deepening Democracy Through Deliberation project. She looks forward to continuing this work through her senior year and beyond.

Jeanine Russaw

A sophomore working towards a major in Broadcast Journalism and minors in both Film Studies and Speech Communication Rhetoric & Performance, Jeanine is thrilled to be at Hofstra for this project.  When she is not with her fellow moderators, you can find Jeanine covering the debate activity on campus as a Media Communications Volunteer this fall. “I am grateful this project has provided me with the chance to work with an amazing group of people bringing about change with words.”

Polydoros Sassos

Polydoros will be graduating from Hofstra Univeristy in just two and a half years instead of the conventional four.  After completing his BA in History, he plans to further his studies in the subject in pursuit of a PhD.  In addition to keeping up with his rigorous curriculum, Polydoros is a competitive athlete,  participating in powerlifting, kettlbell lifting and endurance runs such as the “Spartan Race” as well.  He is also greatly involved in his parish church and services, and defines his three pillars of life as his pursuits in academia, physical athleticism, and Christianity. “I signed onto the project because I believe in what our founding fathers began, in the ‘American Spirit,’ and that everyday citizens are able to come together and respectfully deliberate the problems and issues that face our nation. This is exactly what creates a successful and functional democracy and really what makes the United States the greatest nation in the world. I will make it my job to instill in citizens a love for democracy and republican virtue.”

 Megan Teehan

Megan, a junior Global Studies major at Hofstra University, possesses a far reaching passion for furthering social justice in both local and global communities.  She is an Associate Producer on WRHU’s Morning Show, working to use radio as a tool for local community building, and is a Fellow at the Center for Civic Engagement. “Working with the wonderful moderators of the project, and especially the participants, has encouraged me to believe that something can be done about our sorry state of democracy.  Participating in respectful, thoughtful, non-partisan discussion, with such diverse groups of people on the most pressing issues we face as a global community, has transcended the polarizing effect our two party system often has on political thought, and speaks to one of my greatest interests and a major focus of my academic studies, ‘the political as personal’.”

Letisya Tekiroglu

 Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, Letisya moved to the United States just six years ago, and is now a proud U.S. citizen and New York resident.  She graduated from Hofstra University with a dual major in Political Science and Philosophy this past spring, and is excited to be working on the project.  “Deepening Democracy through Deliberation  has given me the chance to be involved with current events and politics.   I now have the opportunity to listen to other people and learn more about what they think about prominent current issues. I am  proud to be a part of  this group!”

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