Lara Schwartz Sr Professorial Lecturer SPA - Government

Program Coordinator

Keisuke Fujio.Keisuke Fujio is a senior CLEG major in the School of Public Affairs, hailing from Waltham, Massachusetts. He became interested in bridging divides and finding common ground while growing up as a half-Japanese American in both MA and NC. Keisuke spent his junior year studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. He previously served as an intern for NC Attorney General Josh Stein and currently serves as a Founding Board Member for the AU Student Alumni Association. In his free time, Keisuke enjoys poker, baseball, and discovering new places to eat. He is excited to bring forth an array of community discourse events for AU this year.

Communications Coordinator

To be announced! 

Peer Facilitators

Olivia GauvinOlivia Gauvin is a senior majoring in Political Science with minors in Religious Studies and History. She is also a member of the AU Honors Program, as well as the SPA Leadership program. Olivia is from North Chicago, and spent her junior year abroad studying History & Politics at the University of Oxford’s Lady Margaret Hall in the United Kingdom. Olivia is also a member of the national professional honors fraternity Phi Sigma Pi. She is passionate about facilitating complex discussions as she believes challenging civil discourse enriches one’s academic and interpersonal experiences.

Jack Baum.Jack Baum is a senior at American University's School of Public Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences pursuing studies in Political Science and Economics. He currently serves as Co-Editor-in-Chief of American University’s Undergraduate Law Journal. Jack has been working with the Project on Civil Discourse since his sophomore year to bridge divides on campus and promote civil, educational conversations for AU students. 

Chanelle Bonsu.Chanelle Bonsu is a graduate student at American University's School of Public Affairs pursuing a Master’s of Public Policy. She joined the Project on Civil Discourse because she wanted to gain a better understanding of how people think to find a common ground. She believes it is important to create an inclusive space to navigate difficult conversations. She enjoys traveling, writing, and producing music outside of PCD. Chanelle is looking forward to having meaningful conversations with the AU community!

AJ Given.AJ Given is a junior studying International Studies at the School of International Service. After being frustrated by the lack of truly open and non-judgemental discussions in class and club activities at AU, AJ was thrilled to find the Project on Civil Discourse. PCD has given AJ the opportunity to learn extensively about speech, the importance of respect, and civility. AJ hopes that other students will get to enjoy, disagree with, and be challenged by the important discussions PCD hosts. She also enjoys reading, exploring new recipes, and taking care of her houseplants.  

Dakota Willenbrock.Dakota Willenbrock is a senior in American University’s School of Public Affairs pursuing a degree in Political Science. She is a member of the SPA Honors Program and has previously worked as a student associate with AU’s Sine Institute of Policy & Politics. Dakota joined PCD in an effort to help foster productive discussions among a diverse, passionate student body. In her free time, Dakota enjoys writing, trying new restaurants, and playing the piano.

Monica Chill.Monika Chill is a second year Masters student studying Public Administration in American University’s School of Public Affairs. Monika believes that a lot of conflict in political discourse is really just miscommunications. With a background in ministry and philanthropy, Monika hopes to bring multiple perspectives to all conversations. Monika joined the Project on Civil Discourse to learn from other students in a setting where learning is encouraged while being an example of how to listen, learn, engage, and respectfully disagree. 

Abigail Chase.Abigail Chase (she/her) is a third-year student at American University majoring in Justice and Law and minoring in Psychology and International Affairs. She is also a member of the Lincoln Scholars, a political philosophy fellowship program at AU. Abigail is thrilled to work with PCD and sees civil discourse as critical in countering the instinct to view those who disagree with us as outsiders. 

Sophia Nayyar.Sophia Nayyar is a third-year Community-Based Research Scholar at American University. She is double majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies: Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, Government (CLEG), and Legal Studies, and pursuing a certificate in Community-Based Research. Sophia is passionate about building connections and creating safe and respectful spaces for dialogue where all participants feel recognized. She is extremely excited to be a part of the Project on Civil Discourse and looks forward to having engaging and impactful conversations with students. In her free time, Sophia enjoys photography, swimming, and reading memoirs.

Josie Magnotti.Josie Magnotti is a senior in the School of Public Affairs studying Political Science with a minor in Legal Studies. Aside from Project on Civil Discourse, she is involved in the Pre-Law Society and Undergraduate Law Review. She also spent her junior year studying History and Politics at the University of Oxford where she served as a committee member in the Oxford Union. Through her work in electoral politics, policy advocacy, and the legal field, Josie has become incredibly passionate about fostering meaningful conversations on pressing issues, and she is so excited to further this interest within PCD. In her spare time, Josie enjoys reading, fitness classes, and doing Washington Post crosswords.

Silas Engel.Silas Engel is a senior in American University’s School of Public Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences pursuing a dual major in Political Science and Computer Science. Silas joined the Project on Civil Discourse to help develop meaningful conversations between people of diverse backgrounds and to improve his own skills at communicating with others. Outside of PCD, he enjoys technology, reading, and programming.

Taha Vahanvaty is a freshman majoring in CLEG and hopes to minor in Computer Science and Arabic. Taha’s passion for civil discourse dates back to 2016 when he founded an organization named The Acceptance Project (TAP), an organization that trained high school students how to facilitate and organize dialogues on contentious issues. In 2022 Taha merged TAP with another civil discourse organization, BridgeUSA, but is continuing his love for dialogue and civil discourse through PCD. In addition to PCD Taha is also a part of the AU sailing team, club track team, and is an e-board member AU’s Muslim Student Association.

Wyatt Lowrie is a senior in the School of Public Affairs majoring in CLEG, originally from Louisville, Colorado. Wyatt discovered PCD through one of their peer discussion sessions and was impressed with the incredible discussion, and the diversity of views the discussion was able to elicit. He joined PCD to continue those discussions, and to get others involved in civil discourse. Outside of AU, Wyatt enjoys cooking, making music, and board games.

Eli Duncan-Gilmour is a senior in SIS originally from New Paltz, New York. Eli loves exploring difficult issues and saw PCD as a great opportunity to get some hands-on experience doing academic research, while facilitating the tough discussions that excite him. Eli is also a member of the AU Model UN team and the Groundworks Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitive team!

Isabel Sunderland is a sophomore with a double major in International Relations and Justice & Law. She is originally from the suburbs of Chicago, where she participated extensively in Model UN and Business Professionals of America at her high school. At American University, she is a proud member of the Model United Nations team, the International Relations Society, Cru, and the Said Peace Scholars program.

Nick Valbuena is a senior majoring in Economics and International Studies with concentrations in Global Health and Latin American Affairs. Nick is originally from Detroit, Michigan, where he became interested in international relations through the Latino diaspora witnessed in his community and watching RCN, a Colombian state media outlet, with his immigrant grandfather beginning at age 11. Nick came across PCD through a partnership with AmeriMUNC where PCD facilitated a conversation of civility in diplomacy amongst highschoolers. Seeking to broaden the reach of this important messaging, Nick is excited to join the PCD team. Outside of PCD & AmeriMUNC, Nick bakes and cycles around DC in his free time.

Khushi Ramnani is a Junior Political Science major at the School of Public Affairs and is completing a specialization course in Comparative Politics. She resided in Dubai, UAE as a South Asian-American and is interested in creating accessible platforms for civil and legal discourse in restricted environments, especially for women and non-english speakers. She has engaged with Trial by Jury, World Scholars Cup, and Model United Nations which has allowed her to approach conflicting perspectives as an educational experience. PCD offers Khushi an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who appreciate the art of discussion and actively participate in productive conversations. In her spare time, she likes to build legos, play with dogs, learn new languages, and travel.

Andrew Smith is a second year political science major with a minor in philosophy, originally from a small town in Eastern Connecticut. With a specialization in law and politics, he hopes to attend law school after having completed his undergraduate studies. He became interested in PCD after spending two semesters working in government and frequently interacting with constituents. From these experiences, he realized he had a passion for fostering constructive dialogue, especially surrounding difficult and contentious issues. In his free time, Andrew enjoys trying new D.C. restaurants and traveling to new countries. 

Alicia Talamas Leal is a senior double majoring in International Relations and Arab World Studies. Within her studies she is particularly interested in the intersectionality of culture and gender within conflict studies. Throughout her time on campus, Alicia has dedicated herself to AmeriMUNC and the AUx program as a Senior Peer Facilitator. In her free time you can find her cooking, painting, or boxing.

Jackson Dietz is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs and the School of Communication. Dietz is an experienced project manager, event planner, and organizational developer on campus and has stood up two entities on campus including Swing Left AU and the Changemakers Summit within the School of Public Affairs. Dietz is excited to help create productive dialogue on AU’s campus. Outside of PCD, Dietz serves as Co-Executive Director of the School of Public Affairs’ Changemakers Summit, Chief Executive Officer of the University’s Political Review Magazine, and Treasurer of the School of Public Affairs Undergraduate Council. In his free time Dietz enjoys seeing the latest mystery movie, trying new restaurants, and spending time with friends and family.

Sarah Marc Woessner is a sophomore studying International Business and Finance at the Kogod School of Business. She is also a Resident Assistant on campus, as well as a member of the American University International Relations Society. In her free time, Sarah enjoys hanging out with her friends in SIS, reading, and traveling. 

Omar Nur is a senior majoring in international relations with a minor in philosophy. Omar joined PCD because of the valuable opportunity to foster constructive dialogue and assist in academic research. He is also a member of the Pericles Institute, which is a student-run foreign affairs think-tank at American University. In his free time, Omar enjoys reading, playing basketball, and hanging out with friends.

Mina Hicks is a freshman majoring in International Relations and minoring in Russian studies. Mina joined PCD because she wanted to find a community that she could engage with through meaningful dialogue. She is also on the Model UN team at AU and in her free time she dances with AU in Motion. 

Penelope Grapsas is a freshman in the Global Scholars program double majoring in International Studies and a B.S. in Economics. Penelope joined the PCD because she has a love for sharing ideas and being a part of discussions with people of varying backgrounds and opinions, but also because she wants to help foster a community on campus which encourages productive dialogue. She is also a part of the Ask a Diplomat E-Board and likes to read and explore DC in her spare time. 

Becca Baral is a second year Political Science major with a minor in Philosophy. She joined PCD because she understands the power of communication and meaningful conversation and believes in the ideals that drive PCD. She knows how important it is to listen and learn from those around you. Becca’s background in philosophy further pushes her to problem-solve and think critically about the world around us. In her free time, she likes to hike with her dogs and enjoy all that DC has to offer with her friends.

Grant Warren is a sophomore majoring in CLEG through the School of Public Affairs. Exploring DC with friends is a favorite pass-time. He enjoys hearing others’ opinions and is thankful for the environment that PCD fosters for that purpose. Being able to communicate one’s ideas clearly and effectively is an incredibly powerful skill, and through PCD he wants to learn from those around him and create an environment for others to expand their skills as well. He currently serves as the Secretary for the Mock Trial program at AU.


Woman speaking to students in classroom

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