Nancy Thomas, Director, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, Tufts University
Nancy L. Thomas 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.
Hayley Spellman, Student, Kansas State University
Hayley is a fifth-year senior at Kansas State University dual majoring in Political Science and Communication Studies. As an undergraduate student, she has served in numerous positions in the KSU Student Governing Association since 2017, including her role as the 2018-2019 Governmental Relations Committee Chair and the 2019-2020 SGA Elections Commissioner. In the fall of 2018, she helped lead a campus-wide initiative for National Voter Registration Day, where she sparked a career-long interest for voter registration and youth civic engagement. In Fall 2019, Hayley Spellman founded a new student organization called Wildcats Vote, where she also serves as the President. Following the guidance from recent National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) reports, Wildcats Vote focuses on building relationships throughout the K-State and local community to promote increased voter registration and turnout rates. Going into the 2020 Election, the organization has taken leadership on making civic engagement a priority at K-State.
Ron Orchard, Student, Kansas State University
Ron is a second-year student of Veterinary Medicine and also pursues a master’s in Public Health at Kansas State University. He is a licensed Veterinary Technician with extensive experience with Seattle Humane and served as the Shelter Medicine Manager for the Oregon Humane Society. Ron’s experience was key to his selection to assist in setting up the Shelter Medicine Program at the K-State School of Veterinary Medicine. In addition to his work and study with veterinary medicine, Ron is pursuing a master’s degree in Public Health with a goal of focusing on One Health clinics. He says he plans to "contribute to the research looking at the long-term health benefits for both humans and animals entering these clinics, with the goal of creating a more robust pool of study." Ron volunteers his time to community organizations, including 'This is How We Role,' a student chapter at the KSU CVM that provides biology lessons for low-income elementary children.