About Us

Citizen University is building a culture of powerful, responsible citizenship across the country. We envision a great civic revival across our nation — our dream is a country in which Americans are steeped in a sense of civic character, educated in the tools of civic power, and are problem-solving contributors in a self-governing community.

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.

Jená Cane

Jená Cane, Chief Creative Officer, co-founded Citizen University in 2012. She shepherded the creation of key Citizen University programs including Civic Saturday, Civic Seminary, Sworn-Again America and the National Conference. For over twenty-five years Jená created and performed theatre in and around Seattle with the touring company One World Theatre, taking reimagined classics and new plays to communities large and small throughout Washington, Canada, and to festivals around the world. She was the Communications Director for the late, great Seattle International Children’s Festival, and worked for the famed entertainment company ENTROS. Key to every program or gathering that she creates or hosts is the desire to bring surprise, delight, joy and hope to those looking for inspiration and a sense of common purpose. 

Kayla DeMonte

Kayla DeMonte is the Managing Director at Citizen University where she oversees and directs all programs in Seattle and across the country. 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 a Program Manager at Citizen University where she manages Civic Saturday programs in Seattle and nationally, as well as the Civic Seminary program. 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. In addition to her work at Citizen University, she is 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

Meaza Yalew

Meaza Yalew is a Program Manager with Citizen University where she manages the Youth Collaboratory program, the PowerNow Curriculum, and other youth-centered civic initiatives. A transplant to Seattle, she has built her career in cities across the country, and her professional experience spans a variety of areas including youth development, hunger and homelessness advocacy, and community and business development. Meaza is a graduate of Indiana University and a proud AmeriCorps Alum.

email: meaza@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

Isaiah Back-Gaal

Isaiah Back-Gaal is the Social Media and Communications Intern at Citizen University. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Isaiah is a senior at the University of Washington studying Comparative History of Ideas and Germanics. He is interested in historiography, gender politics, and is involved in labor organizing on campus with United Students Against Sweatshops.