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.

 

 

ERIC LIU

Chief Executive Officer

Eric Liu is the co-founder and CEO of Citizen University. He also directs the Aspen Institute’s Citizenship & American Identity Program. He is the author of several books, including The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker; The Gardens of Democracy (co-authored with Nick Hanauer); You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen; and his most recent, Become America: Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility, and Democracy. Eric served as a White House speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and later as the President’s deputy domestic policy adviser. He has served as a board member of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Washington State Board of Education, and the Seattle Public Library and is a co-founder of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. A regular contributor to the Atlantic, Eric can be found on Twitter @ericpliu. Learn more about Eric Liu and his books.  


JENÁ CANE

Chief Creative Officer

Jená Cane co-founded Citizen University and 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 with the Seattle-based company One World Theatre, taking reimagined classics and new plays to communities and 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. Central to every program or gathering she creates or hosts is the desire to bring surprise, delight, joy and hope to those looking for inspiration and common purpose.  


KAYLA DEMONTE

Managing Director
kayla@citizenuniversity.us

Kayla DeMonte 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.  


ELSA ROBERTS

Communications Director
elsa@citizenuniversity.us

Elsa Roberts guides and executes the communications strategy of Citizen University. Previously she served as the Communications Director at Engage Miami, where she designed educational voting materials for the field team and oversaw the civic education project repMIA, which tracked county commission business. Elsa has been practicing the delicate art of persuasion for over a decade working on pedestrian safety, harassment and sexual assault prevention, and get out the vote efforts. She holds an MS in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University.  


CHRISTY WELCH

Operations & Project Manager
christy@citizenuniversity.us

Christy Welch brings a passion for structure and harmony to her work as the Operations and Project Manager for Citizen University. She has worked with nonprofit organizations in the region and is happiest when transforming systems for greater impact and efficiency. Her admiration for Nelson Mandela prompted civic engagement and academic pursuits related to international human rights. Christy is a graduate of Harvard University, University of South Africa and the University of Washington with degrees in International Relations, African Affairs and Political Science.  


TANEUM FOTHERINGILL

Programs Manager
taneum@citizenuniversity.us

Taneum Fotheringill manages Civic Saturday in Seattle and nationally, as well as the Civic Saturday Fellowship program. Prior to joining Citizen University, she studied Public Affairs and Humanities at Seattle University during which time she also worked for the University and 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.  


ATHENA PRADO HIGGINS

Executive Assistant & Program Associate
athena@citizenuniversity.us

Athena is the assistant to Eric Liu and is a Program Associate for the Civic Collaboratory. Prior to joining the team, Athena has worked in many fields, including international law in Paris, France, media in NYC, and K-12 education system as a teacher in San Diego. In Seattle she worked at Street Outreach Services before going on to work in higher education for fifteen years. Athena is a passionate advocate for equity, inclusion, and social justice, having served on the college’s Diversity Advisory Council for the length of her tenure. Co-founder and partner of a small batch artisanal syrup company, Athena and her family can often be seen at Urban Craft Uprising, Gobble Up or at the Tom Douglas Cookbook Social peddling their wares and having a good time! Athena holds degrees from The American University of Paris and l’Université de la Sorbonne – Paris IX.  


LAURETTE HANNA

Programs Intern
laurette@citizenuniversity.us

Laurette Hanna assists both communications and programs staff through creation of social media content as well as creative and logistical assistance for various programs. An alumnus of Citizen University, she began her career as an events and programs intern for CU in 2016 and has since pursued work in non-profits and community organizations in Berlin, San Francisco, and at the University of Washington before returning again to CU. When she is not at Citizen University, Laurette works as an intake counselor for the ACLU of Washington. She is now a senior at UW studying Politics and Psychology and is currently working on her senior thesis in political science.