April 24, 2024 | 4:00pm - 5:00 pm
Online

Democracy and Vulnerability with Allison Lee

Join the Wende Museum, the Thomas Mann House, and dublab radio for the third program in the series on the current state of democracies. How should a democracy deal with its own vulnerabilities? How do democracies need to evolve to deal successfully with increasing global levels of ecological crisis, geopolitical tensions, economic disparities, and culture wars? How much vulnerability can a democracy endure?

The Student Council consists of a team of highly engaged, talented, and diverse undergraduate and graduate students who invite prominent guest speakers to discuss topics relating to society, politics, culture, and art. In conversation with academics, journalists, politicians, and artists, the students will explore the various threats to democratic institutions and principles worldwide, as well as strategies to potentially overcome these threats.

The guest speaker for our April program is Allison Lee, who serves as PEN America’s Los Angeles Director. She will be discussing PEN America’s work fighting for free expression in the United States and worldwide.

Lee was formerly the Chief Development Officer for TIME’S UP, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting gender equity and ending sexual violence in the workplace. She has previously served as Vice President of External Affairs at Bet Tzedek Legal Services, where she worked, among other things, to launch their Rapid Response Family Immigration Project and Transgender Advocacy Program. Prior to that, Allison served for eight years as the founding Executive Director of American Jewish World Service – Southern California. Allison received her B.A. in Political Science and American Studies from Tufts University.

Meet the Student Council:

2024 Student Council collage

Sara Abrahamsson is a fourth-year student at UCLA studying Art History and French. As a culmination of her artistic and academic interest in political graphics, Sara is currently writing her senior thesis paper on the internationalist poster art of post-revolutionary Cuba. Upon graduating, she plans to continue working in museums before pursuing graduate studies in Art History or Art Conservation.

Amy Cabrales is a First-Generation fourth-year undergraduate student at UCLA, studying Sociology and the Russian Language. She is a Mexican-American, Los Angeles native born in Lynwood, California. Her career interests include cross-cultural education via museum work or language instruction and immigrant resettlement, while her academic interests include immigrant integration and self-identity across immigrant generations. She is anticipating returning to Almaty, Kazakhstan for the 2024-25 academic year to inform these interests and advance her Russian proficiency.

Elsa Coony is a fourth-year student at the University of California, Los Angeles double majoring in Global Studies and German. She has previously worked at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as both a docent and translator and is excited to join this year’s council. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in international development.

Biruke Dix is currently a 2nd year student at UCLA studying Applied Mathematics. He joined the Wende Student Council in 2024 and is deeply invested in the ever-changing properties of art as well as social habits. He hopes that he can create language and conversation that promotes the spread of cultural shifts and social justice.

Matthew Jones is a third-year PhD student in Claremont Graduate University’s Cultural Studies and Museum Studies program. His research currently explores how sites connected to authoritarian regimes function as pilgrimage destinations and what strategies states and institutions employ to reduce extremist attachment at these sites. He is thrilled to continue his training with the Wende Museum through this collaboration with the Thomas Mann House.

Emma Larson is a master’s student at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute of Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies. There, she focuses on the gender, social, and political history of Central Asia. Before starting at Columbia, Emma taught English in Kazakhstan with the Fulbright Program. She graduated from Williams College with degrees in History and Russian in 2021.

Zora Nelson is a current undergraduate student at New York University,  where she is studying Harp Performance and Media, Culture, and Communication.  As an east coaster born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she discovered the Wende Museum in the summer of 2022 and is honored to be a part of the council. With a passion for writing, Zora sees a future in storytelling to promote social justice.

Lexi Tooley is a current sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Political Science and Art History, minoring in Chinese Language and Culture. She is originally from Los Angeles, California, and attended the Archer School for Girls. Lexi has been working with the Wende Museum for the past 2 years. She looks forward to continuing the search for truth and examining the vulnerability of democracy through this program!

An event series by the Wende Museum & the Thomas Mann House. This episode is presented in collaboration with Villa Aurora and dublab radio.

Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House

Wende Museum

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