Director

Lara Schwartz Professorial Lecturer SPA - Government

Lara Schwartz specializes in civil discourse and campus speech, constitutional law, civil rights, politics, communications, and policy. Drawing on her experience as a legislative lawyer, lobbyist, and

  lschwart@american.edu

  (202) 885-6682

Program Coordinator

Noam Krainin Headshot.Noam Krainin is a senior studying Political Science in the School of Public Affairs with minors in Law, Economics, and International Studies. He is a member of the AU Honors Program and the Supplemental Instruction Program. Noam was part of the inaugural cohort of peer facilitators in 2018. Going forward, Noam is excited to help create spaces at AU where students with different political opinions can respectfully discuss the pressing issues of our time, engage with unfamiliar beliefs, and strengthen their own principles.

Peer Facilitators

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  1. Felicia Hernandez is a senior studying Political Science in the School of Public Affairs. She is an active member of the SPA Leadership program, where her research focus is on environmental sustainability. She has also interned for the United Nations Foundation, Girl Up, where she gained valued skills to tackle the inequalities that girls face from an early age. Felicia is a member of Alpha Xi Delta, where she served as the Director of Alumnae Relations and is currently the VP of Member Development for the Panhellenic Executive Council. Felicia is passionate about facilitating engaging and thought provoking discussions on a variety of issues that often create divides in our community at AU.

  2. Maddie McCarthy is a junior studying Interdisciplinary Studies: Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government (CLEG) in the School of Public Affairs. She is a member of Alpha Xi Delta, College Republicans, and Model United Nations. Maddie is excited to bridge the gap between political ideologies on campus by facilitating conversations where students can see past the politics in others.

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  4. Abbe Murphy is a senior in the School of Public Affairs, pursuing a B.A in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government. Over the past year, Abbe worked as a field organizer for former Obama staffer Will Jawando’s campaign for Montgomery County Council and as an intern at a plaintiff litigation firm in Chicago. She is extremely passionate about the speech rights of journalists and played a crucial role in passing legislation in Illinois that guaranteed protected speech rights for student journalists. In 2017, she was named the Illinois Journalist of the Year. Abbe is excited to help improve the way that AU approaches tough conversations through the Project on Civil Discourse.

  5. Michaila Peters is a third year student double majoring in Political Science and Economics and minoring in philosophy. She is a member of the SPA Honors Program, the College of Arts and Sciences Leadership and Ethical Development Program, and the Community Based Research Scholars Program. She works as a leader and volunteer teacher for Civics in the Capitol, teaches in AU’s Complex Problems program, is active in research, and is working on her own non-profit startup focused on political communication reform. Michaila first worked with the Project on Civil Discourse during its pilot program in the 2017-18 school year. She is now very excited to continue building the project through her new position as a Peer Facilitator.

  6. Jack Baum is a second-year student double majoring in political science and economics. He’s a member of College Republicans, Young Americans for Liberty, and Students for a Just Society. Jack also interned for the Senate Campaign of Daniel Gade in Virginia. He looks forward to bridging the divides on campus and having real conversations about real issues.

    Harsha Mudaliar is a junior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Information Systems and Technology. This past summer, she served as a campaign fellow on a grassroots campaign, Rebecca Parson for Congress (WA-06). Last spring she interned for the House of Representatives Democratic Caucus where she conducted policy research, attended confidential meetings, and worked in a fast-paced environment under the leadership of an impeachment manager. She is also a chair for American University's annual Model United Nations conference. Harsha is passionate about increasing civic engagement on campus and facilitating open communication about controversial issues.

    Keisuke Fujio is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs, pursuing a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies: Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government (CLEG). He is a founding board member of the Student Alumni Association at AU and this summer interned at Synergy for Justice, a UK-based organization combatting torture and sexual violence in conflict zones. As a bi-racial and bilingual student, he understands the importance of bringing together people of different backgrounds through difficult conversations. Outside of school, Keisuke enjoys volunteering at his local dog shelter and going to baseball games.

    Laura Corona is a senior majoring in Political Science with a concentration in American Government. She is an aspiring immigration attorney. Laura is passionate about immigration issues and community outreach. Last year, she was a legal intern at DC Superior Court, and she is currently a legal intern at the Department of Justice. Laura is eager to participate in valuable discussions and expects to learn a great deal from doing so.

    Yazan Nusiebeh is a sophomore intending to double major in Political Science and Justice/Law. A writer in his spare time, he wishes to assist with creating an environment in which students can comfortably explore their voices and opinions without fear of being shot down, and he hopes that his background can offer perspectives and insights which encourage both proper discourse and self-reflection.

    Olivia Gauvin is a sophomore studying Political Science in the School of Public Affairs with minors in Religious Studies and History. She is an active member of the professional fraternity Phi Sigma Pi, as well as the SPA Leadership Program. Olivia recently interned with the Katiba Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, where she worked alongside legal advocates to support the implementation of Kenya's constitution. Though she has many interests, Olivia is extremely passionate about the study of geography, with particular interests in cartography and cultural landscapes. She is looking forward to facilitating meaningful discussions and encouraging peers to think critically about our world today.

    Angela Chen is a rising senior studying CLEG (Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government) and Justice and Law with a concentration in Criminal Justice. She previously served as the President of American University Student Government and American University College Democrats. Angela is looking forward to facilitating conversations where students can engage with each other on issues that impact the American University campus and community.

    Coura Fall is a junior majoring in Political Science and minoring in International Studies. She is currently a Policy Intern at the Rhode Island General Assembly, working on a team to explore the reconstruction of the state's police force. She is also former Education Chair for AU NAACP and AUx Peer Facilitator and is a staff writer for The Blackprint. Coura is excited to have robust discussions with the AU community on pressing issues while fostering an environment of positivity and respect.

    Joshua Alem is a senior pursuing a B.A in Political Science in the School of Public Affairs as well as a B.A in Public Relations and Strategic Communications in the School fo Communication. Josh is also a Senior Peer Facilitator for the American University Experience (AUx) Program. Josh is looking forward to facilitating difficult conversations while fostering a safe space for all voices. He is extremely passionate about LGBTQ+ rights, racial justice, accessibility, and reproductive justice.

    Natalie Peek is a senior double majoring in Political Science and Psychology. She is a member of the AU Honors program, a Resident Assistant serving the East Campus community, and is involved in the Health Promotion and Advocacy Center, where she interns in the Alcohol and Other Drugs department and as a Peer Health Educator. Natalie is excited to explore important conversations surrounding the changing environment at American University, which are a vital component to make AU a more inclusive campus.

    Alice Kahkajian is a sophomore in American University’s School of Public Affairs pursuing an interdisciplinary Bachelor’s Degree in Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government (CLEG). She is a student in the AU Honors Program, serves as a fellow for the No Lost Generation Student Initiative, and is involved in AU’s International Relations Society. Alice also serves as an ambassador on behalf of Free the Facts; a non-profit organization that creates educational programs to aid young Americans in understanding complex economic, social, and political issues pertinent to their lives. She is looking forward to working alongside all the peer facilitators to foster meaningful discussions among AU students!

    Benjamin McNutt is a sophomore majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies: Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics and Government (CLEG) as a member of the three-year Politics Policy & Law Scholars Program (PPL). He is passionate about service and volunteer work, volunteering hundreds of hours throughout high school and college primarily focused on issues related to veterans, civic engagement, and youth development. Benjamin is looking forward to helping students at AU engage with beliefs and political opinions that may differ from their own, and helping students to better understand one another's perspectives and beliefs in the process.

    Emma Semaan is a sophomore pursuing a BA in Economics and in Interdisciplinary Studies: Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government (CLEG) at American University. She is currently a Program Coordinator for the Politics, Policy, and Law Scholars’ Program in the School of Public Affairs, and she most recently took on a summer collaboration series between PPL and the Project on Civil Discourse. She is also the Junior Editor at HerCampus Magazine’s AU Chapter, where she started the “Modern Affairs” Column in Spring 2020. Her current focus includes research on the effects of partisanship in America, and she is excited to begin exploring this conversation and others as a Peer Facilitator.

    Gargi Mansingh is a sophomore studying Physics and minoring in Mathematics. She is currently a member of CASE. Last year she was an intern for Congressman Dean Phillps (MN-03). Gargi looks forward to facilitating valuable discourse with the students she will be working with.

    Marquita Young is a sophomore student studying political science on a pre-law track in the School of Public Affairs. She has performed in Choreolab with the dance department. Over the years Marquita has spent most of her time advocating for tobacco reform in her community and now civil rights-based affairs. She looks forward to continuing doing work as a peer facilitator but for the first time with SPA where she hopes to strengthen and build relationships across the many different communities at AU.