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Approaches to Experiential Civics with Lessons for Utah

The Panelists

Carla M. Duran Capellan

Student Activist

Carla Duran Capellan is an activist and aspiring politician. She is currently a student at Middlesex Community College, studying criminal justice. For the past 5 years, she has worked closely with the national nonprofit Generation Citizen as a consultant and as chair of the 2016 Student Leadership Board. Carla is a winner of a statewide College Student Change Maker award for her work mentoring students in civic education and civic action. She also presented at the Massachusetts State House and at the Boston Book Festival as a co-author of a student-written book on the key Supreme Court cases, federal laws, and concepts essential to American diversity. Carla is a co-author of the non-fiction book Defining Diversity and co-founder of the national We Are America Project.

Shawn Healy, PhD

Democracy Schools Program Director, McCormick Foundation

Shawn Healy serves as the McCormick Foundation's internal resource for knowledge on civic education and engagement. Healy plays a key role in the Democracy Program’s work in the areas of advocacy and public policy, serving as a chair of the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition, and leading the state’s Democracy Schools Initiative. Healy recently chaired the Illinois Task Force on Civic Education and led the successful push for a required high school civics course in Illinois. He also led the Illinois Social Science Standards Task Force in 2014-2015. Its recommendations were adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education in June 2015.

Jessica Lander

Teacher, Writer, Journalist

Jessica Lander is a teacher, writer and journalist living in Massachusetts. She teaches history to recent immigrant students in a Massachusetts public high school. Jessica has won several statewide teaching awards. She is a coauthor of Powerful Partnerships: A Teacher’s Guide to Engaging Families for Student Success (Scholastic, 2017) and author of Driving Backwards (TidePool Press, 2014).  Jessica writes frequently about education policy and teaching. This year, Jessica and fourteen of her former students launched the national We Are America Project, working with 40 teachers in 25 states to support more than 1400 students share their stories of American Identity.  Jessica is currently an Emerson Collective Fellow and a Re-Imagining Migration fellow working on her third book, exploring best strategies, programs, schools, and policies supporting immigrant-origin children in the United States.

Jenny Nicholas

Teacher, SLC Schools

Jenny Nicholas has taught Social Studies in the Salt Lake City School District for 19 years, specializing in AP European History, IB World History and US Government courses. She is passionate about teaching—and being taught by— her students, and views social studies education as a critical component of shared knowledge in our society. Jenny has used the action civics strategies of Generation Citizen in her government classes for two years and is an enthusiastic supporter of the way in which it engages students in new and meaningful ways.  Jenny earned a BA in History from the University of Utah, an M.A.T. degree from Boston University, and will earn an EdD degree in Education, Leadership & Policy from the University of Utah. She represented the state of Utah as a James Madison Fellow, and has worked for the James Madison Fellowship Foundation for many years.

Megan Brandon

Regional Program Manager, Generation Citizen

Megan Brandon came to Generation Citizen in 2018 straight out of the classroom, having taught 9th grade Social Studies at Colorado River Collegiate Academy, an early college high school in Bastrop, TX. She played an integral role in GC coming to her campus after learning more about the program through a 2016 civic workshop held at the White House. Through her time working as a GC teacher, she saw her students truly understand the important role they play in their local community. Megan will describe Generation Citizen’s recent work with SLC Schools.

Britnie Powell

Teacher, Salt Lake Center for Science Education

Britnie Powell has been working in education for 15 years in the Salt Lake City School District.  She has spent much of her career teaching 6th grade and Service Learning at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education. She is currently a school administrator and continues to engage students in service learning. This methodology involves students taking active roles in the community and utilizing their academic learning to make differences in their school, local, and global communities.  Whether her students are buddying up to mentor a younger grade level, performing reader’s theatre’s on math content with residents of a nearby care center, or gaining a real-world understanding of geometry through designing and building a community garden, students are engaged and achieving the high expectations Britnie has for all who come through her door.

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Andrew Wilkes, Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy, Generation Citizen



Judi Hilman serves as the conference planner. A native Californian with a MA  from Cornell University and BA from UC Berkeley (both in history), Judi is best known her work in bipartisan approaches to health and Medicaid reform, health equity, and civic engagement. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Policy Catalyst, she co-founded Voterise, Utah’s first standalone nonprofit dedicated to nonpartisan voter registration, and served as its first executive director.

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