About Us

Citizen University is a national platform for fostering responsible and empowered citizenship through activation, communication, and education. We believe in the promise of a nation where more people are more literate in civic power — and more steeped in a sense of civic character. We are a recognized leader and innovator in the field of civic engagement, working at the intersection of the public, private, and independent sectors, to democratize the practice of civic power.

Citizen University is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. EIN: 46-4270721

Eric Liu

Eric Liu is the founder and CEO of Citizen University. Read his bio here.

Ra Joy

Ra Joy is the Managing Director of Citizen University. With a career that spans the fields of politics, government, community engagement, culture, and the arts, Ra is known for his ability to collaborate and bring diverse people together to solve complex problems. Before joining Citizen University, Ra served as Executive Director of CHANGE Illinois, a non-partisan coalition leading systemic political and government reform.  Prior to CHANGE, Ra served as Executive Director of Arts Alliance Illinois, one of the nation’s most prominent statewide arts advocacy organizations. Ra is passionate about teaching people to build and flex their citizenship muscles. You can connect with Ra on Twitter at @Ra_Joy

Email: ra@citizenuniversity.us

Jená Cane

Jená Cane is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Citizen University. She started Sworn-Again America, a project to revitalize citizenship, and is the host of Civic Saturday — our monthly gathering that is a civic analogue to church. Jená was the Communications Director for the late, great Seattle International Children’s Festival, and worked for the famed Seattle entertainment company ENTROS. Jená is also an actor and teaching artist. In 1989 she co-founded One World Theatre, a Seattle-based touring company that brought new works and reimagined classics to rural communities across Washington state, and to fringe festivals around the world. She has implemented drama programs for numerous public elementary schools. In the summer, Jená volunteers at the Seattle Children’s Playgarden, where she and a group of teens expand the universe of story and performance. 

Ben Phillips

Ben Phillips is a senior program manager for Citizen University, and associate producer for Citizen University TV on the Seattle Channel. Ben has worked with the Aspen Institute Citizenship & American Identity Program, in Senator Patty Murray’s Seattle office, and as a campus organizer for Organizing for America. Ben is also an actor and theatre administrator, and has had onstage, producing, and teaching artist roles with many Seattle theatres, including The Horse in Motion, where he is the executive director and co-founder. Ben is a graduate of the University of Washington Honors Program with a degree in Political Science and Drama and a minor in African Studies.

Email: ben@citizenuniversity.us

 

Kayla DeMonte

Kayla DeMonte is a senior program manager at Citizen University where she manages Civic Saturday programs in Seattle and nationally, as well as the Civic Seminary program. Previously, she worked on community programs and partnerships at the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce and managed sponsorships for Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival at One Reel. Kayla remains involved in the arts & events community through volunteer and freelance work with Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, The Vera Project, and numerous festivals and events around the city and country. She is happiest when working on programs where community, celebration, and action collide.

Email: kayla@citizenuniversity.us

 

Taelore Rhoden

Taelore Rhoden is the logistics manager at Citizen University. She has been a member of the Citizen University National Conference planning team since 2011. In addition to her work at Citizen University, Taelore wears a variety of hats at Hack Nation, Ethnic Business Coalition, Jubilee Event Engineers, Hella Black Hella Seattle and Nagomi Tea House. Taelore is a graduate of Pepperdine University with a degree in Journalism and Intercultural Communications.

Email: taelore@citizenuniversity.us

 

Taneum Fotheringill

Taneum Fotheringill is the program and communications coordinator at Citizen University. Prior to joining Citizen University, she studied Public Affairs and Humanities at Seattle University during which time she interned for an M.P. at the U.K. House of Commons, APACEvotes, and Seattle CityClub. Taneum is particularly interested in youth civic engagement and how young adults relate to their communities. Each year she gets to see this work in action as a volunteer advisor for a delegation of high school students in YMCA Youth and Government, which is the program which first introduced her to civics.

Email: taneum@citizenuniversity.us

Emily Naftalin

Emily Naftalin is interim executive assistant to Eric Liu and the Joy of Voting project coordinator. After years working in sustainable food and farming in East and West Africa, first as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal and then as part of the Agricultural Development team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she left her day job to help build a community-owned and -operated restaurant/performance venue in South Seattle. When not at CU, Emily teaches yoga and works part-time as a data scientist.

Email: emily@citizenuniversity.us