Northumbria University: Challenge, Possibility and Potential in US and UK Politics: Voters of the Future

person holding a vote sign
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Unfolding Our Shared Future talk series: Northumbria University Public Lecture

Monday 21 November, 6.30pm – 8.00pm, Lecture Theatre 001, City Campus East

Special Guests:

  • Stephanie L. Young, Executive Director of ‘When We All Vote’ and Advisor to the Obama Administration
  • Richard Johnson, Senior Lecturer in US Politics and Policy, Queen Mary’s University, London

An abridged audio recording of the event available on:

Spotify: here

Amazon Music: here

Google Podcasts: here

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This event was reviewed Thomas Cryer of UCL’s Institute of the Americas. According to Thomas, ‘Voters of the Future’ offered a reassuring and measured reflection on recent events. An enticing introduction to this ambitious series, Northumbria University established an extraordinarily high benchmark for the seven events to come.’

In the aftermath of the US mid-term elections and amid unprecedented turbulence in British politics, this high-profile public event addresses issues of democracy, media, and accountability in contemporary US and UK politics and, crucially, considers the perils and prospects for voters in both countries for the rest of the 21st Century.

Compered by Northumbria University’s Professor in American Studies Brian Ward, and hosted by the University in collaboration with the US Embassy, the American Politics Group of the UK Political Studies Association, and the British Association for American Studies, the event features an informed, captivating, and thought-provoking blend of discussion and short presentations, including an historical guide to ‘Why Mid-Terms Matter’ by Northumbria’s Dr. Patrick Andelic (author of Donkey Work: Congressional Democrats in Conservative America, 1974-1994 and Midterms and Mandates: Electoral Reassessment of Presidents and Parties).

The centrepiece of the evening is a roundtable featuring special guests Stephanie L. Young and Richard Johnson, chaired by Professor Caron Gentry, Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor for Arts, Design, and Social Sciences at Northumbria and an expert in international relations and politics.

About the Speakers

Stephanie L. Young is Executive Director of ‘When We All Vote’, a non-partisan voting initiative launched by Michelle Obama in 2018. During her time as Executive Director, Stephanie has worked in various communications roles ranging from TV newsrooms to non-profits, political campaigns and the highest offices in federal government, the United States Congress and the Obama White House. In 2020 as the Chief Officer for Communications and Culture, Stephanie led When We All Vote’s messaging and cultural strategy that helped register over 500,000 voters— the largest increase in voter participation in over 120 years. She helped recruit over 400 artists, athletes, and influencers to help the campaign reach over 220 million individuals on social media.

In the Obama Administration, Stephanie had the unique opportunity of serving in two critical roles as the Associate Communications Director and as the Senior Public Engagement Advisor in the Office of Public Engagement. In her role as Associate Communications Director Stephanie created and oversaw press strategy for White House initiatives and domestic policy announcements.

In the White House Office of Public Engagement she created opportunities for the President, First Lady, Senior Advisor to the President, Valerie Jarrett, and other Senior White House officials to engage directly with the African American community. Stephanie also led engagement strategy for the African American community on all Presidential priorities and helped to develop White House responses to social justice and civil rights issues. Stephanie is interested in exploring how politics, pop culture and the entertainment industry influence each other to create a more fair, progressive and just society through artistry, activism and storytelling.

Richard Johnson is Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary’s University, London and an expert on race and democracy in the US. This is the subject of his book The End of the Second Reconstruction, which uncovers the role of political violence, federalism, and the federal judiciary in sabotaging civil rights from the Civil War to the Trump presidency.  His many other publications also include a textbook, US Foreign Policy: Domestic Roots and International Impact, studies of Donald Trump’s use of Twitter, and of various aspects of modern British politics, including Theresa May’s record on LGBT issues and the Labour Party’s attitudes towards Europe and notions of ‘Englishness.’ 

This talk is part of a series, titled ‘Unfolding Our Shared Future’, which is delivered by the American Politics Group of the Political Studies Association and the host universities with the support of the British Association of American Studies and US Embassy in London.