WELCOME to the Global Seminar Series #2:

The State of Democracy and the Global Impact of the U.S. Presidential Election

What is this Event?

Do you want to learn about the state of democracy worldwide and the effect it is having on girls’ lives globally? Are you wondering what the impact of the US election will be globally? Are you wondering how other countries are viewing the US election? Would you like to feel empowered to help shape this changing world and to connect with teenage girls from around the world to work collaboratively towards developing solutions? Do you want to discuss the current status of democracy in your country and talk to others about the realities in their countries?

You are invited to participate in Miss Porter’s School’s new Global Seminar Series, “The State of Democracy and the Global Impact of the U.S. Presidential Election”. In the four-week Series, you will explore the intersection of political philosophy, the pandemic, electoral trends in key countries, economics, racism, inequality, gender and the environment through the lens of Democracy. Miss Porter’s School is excited to partner with News Decoder, a global educational news service for young people, to offer this Seminar Series, which will meet one time per week for four weeks, with 1-2 hours of asynchronous work between sessions. Each live session will be interactive and include at least one expert in the field. The last session will provide students an opportunity to work in groups to generate ideas and find solutions to some of the problems that they have identified during the four-week Seminar. At the end of the session, each student group will pitch their ideas and receive feedback on how to make their ideas a reality.

Session 1: The State of Democracy Globally

Schedule: October 17, 9:00am-10:30am EST

  • Introduction & Icebreakers
  • Keynote
  • Round Table Discussion with Experts
  • Small Group Work and Discussion

Essential Questions:

  • What is democracy?
  • Why is it generally considered the most just form of government?
  • Is democracy on the decline globally?  If so, why?


Helen Womack

British-born foreign correspondent Helen Womack is a specialist on former Communist countries. From 1985-2015, she reported from Moscow for Reuters, The Independent, The Times and the Fairfax newspapers of Australia. Now based in Budapest, she covers the European Union’s relatively new eastern members. Since the refugee crisis of 2015, she has written for the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, about how refugees are settling in Europe. 


Alessia Lefébure

Alessia Lo Porto – Lefébure (PhD) is Vice-Dean of the French School for Public Health (EHESP) and Dean of Academic Affairs. Responsible for the EHESP Education activities and strategy, she also oversees the School policy for advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion. Binational (Italian and French) and multilingual, she previously served as Director of the Alliance at Columbia University, a joint-initiative for innovation in global research and education. She holds an adjunct faculty position of Comparative Public Policy at Sciences Po Rennes, after Columbia University (SIPA) in New York, Sciences Po Paris and Tsinghua University in Beijing. Between 2001 and 2006, she has worked in Beijing, China, where she founded and run the first Sciences Po Representative Office Abroad. A sociologist by training, and an internationally recognized expert in global affairs and education, she serves as a member of international boards and committees, including the Board of the Red Cross Foundation. She is the author of a book on the Globalization of the Chinese Higher Education.


Lisa-Brit Wahlberg

LisaBrit Wahlberg joined Miss Porter’s School faculty in Fall 2018. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Slavic and Eastern European studies from the University of Connecticut, a Master’s of Science in Family Therapy from Central Connecticut State University, and a Master’s of Teaching in social studies secondary education from University of Saint Joseph’s. As an adjunct professor within University of Connecticut’s Early College Experience (ECE) Program, she has earned two classroom grants to develop greater student awareness of international human rights and learn hands-on advocacy measures. In addition, Ms. Wahlberg participated in a pilot certificate program in 2018 with the Connecticut Board of Education called the CT Certificate of Global Engagement to promote curriculum development about world affairs statewide.

Moderator (hover over picture for bio)

Tim Quinn

Tim Quinn is the Chief Academic Officer and Dean of Faculty at Miss Porter’s School.  Quinn has worked in independent schools in the United States and abroad for over 20 years. In addition to his administrative work he has taught courses in literature, moral philosophy, political philosophy, and social justice.  Quinn earned a B.A. in Political Science from Amherst College, an Ed.M from Harvard University, and is currently pursuing his Ed.D from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on the philosophy of education and moral and civic education. Quinn is also a regularly published author who writes about innovative educational practices.

Session 2: Issues in the U.S. Election

Schedule: October 24, 9:00am-10:30am EST

  • Icebreakers & Overview
  • Round Table Discussion with Experts
  • Small-Group Discussions and Collaborative Work

Essential Questions:

  • Who are the two candidates running for President in the United States? 
  • What do these candidates stand for, what are their views of the issues in the election?  
  • What issues are the most important to voters?
  • What are the underlying concerns around the election itself?


Katrina Council

Katrina Council is a History Teacher at Miss Porters School. Previously, she has taught in South Korea and New York City. Katrina has a degree in Political Science and currently teaches United States History and Government and History of East Asia. Politics in all its forms has always been in her destiny, she interned with the CT House of Representatives where she learned just how the political systems in Connecticut worked and how important it is to be politically involved. Katrina had a bachelor’s from Central Connecticut State University, A Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Southern California, and is currently working on a second master’s degree in History from Central Connecticut State University.


Ariane de Vogue

Ariane de Vogue serves as a reporter for CNN covering the Supreme Court and legal issues, chronicling everything from breaking news about major rulings to the evolving politics of personality among the justices. de Vogue joined CNN in 2015. Prior to joining the network, de Vogue covered the Court and the nominations of several justices for ABC News. As an investigative producer for ABC News, she also worked on stories concerning terrorism, the aftermath of September 11th, the presidential impeachment proceedings, campaign finance regulations, and legal challenges during national elections.


Jennifer Wells-Qu

Jennifer Wells-Qu is an executive/life/career coach. Throughout her career, she has bridged people and places to optimize change pathways geared to breakdown taboos, accelerate justice, and fight inequality. This includes building partnerships across Asia for Equality Now’s anti-sex trafficking work, developing and teaching a small business curriculum for refugees in South Africa, and serving as an advisor to Beijing-based social impact org Purpose in Motion and as a mentor for Nigeria-based NGO Inspire for Greatness. Ms. Wells-Qu has lived, worked, and traveled across 4 continents and 45 countries and accumulated countless stories of courage, resilience, and creativity.


Kate Bennett

Kate Bennett is a White House Correspondent for CNN, where her beat includes the Trump family, the first lady, the East Wing of the White House, and the mashup of style, society, and buzz in the nation’s capital. Bennett’s debut book, FREE, MELANIA: The Unauthorized Biography, was published in 2019, offers the first behind-the-scenes look at the life of the most enigmatic first lady in United States history. A former magazine and fashion editor, prior to CNN Kate worked for Politico, Independent Journal Review, and Washingtonian, among other outlets. She’s been a lifestyle journalist for almost two decades, chronicling the intersection of people, pop culture, and politics.

Session 3: A Global View of the U.S. Election

Schedule: October 31, 9:00am-10:30am EST

  • Icebreakers & Overview
  • Round Table Discussion with Experts
  • Small Group Discussions and Collaborative Work

Essential Questions:

  • How is the U.S. election being viewed globally?
  • How are the two candidates viewed differently in different parts of the world?
  • What impact do other countries feel the outcome of the U.S. election may have on them?


Nelson Graves

Nelson Graves is the founder of News Decoder, a global educational news service for young people. He is an experienced educator and administrator. Graves was a correspondent, Bureau Chief and regional managing editor at Reuters for 24 years, holding posts in Washington, Paris, New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Milan and Tokyo. He later served as Admissions Director at Johns Hopkins University’s graduate program in international relations.


Elaine Monaghan

Elaine Monaghan has worked for two decades in international journalism. For Reuters, she was a correspondent in Russia; chief correspondent in Ukraine and Belarus, and in Ireland and Northern Ireland; and U.S. State Department correspondent in Washington. She joined The Times in 2002 as Washington correspondent before moving to the Congressional Quarterly. Currently she is professor of practice at Indiana University’s Media School.


May Lee

May Lee is a television, radio, online host/journalist who has worked with CNN, CNBC, CNBC Asia, CGTN America, ABC and Oxygen Media. She has anchored and reported on news events around the world as well as hosting high-profile talk shows in the US and in Asia. She is the Executive Producer and Host of podcast/video show, “The May Lee Show”. Ms. Lee has also worked with corporate clients to improve their marketing and communications strategies, including developing social media presence. She also  teaches graduate and undergraduate students at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.


Gene Cassidy

Gene Cassidy completed his doctorate in history at the University of Michigan, focusing on transatlantic issues of slavery, identity, and colonialism in Brazil and Germany. While completing his dissertation, he lived in both countries and presented his research on three continents. At Miss Porter’s, Dr. Cassidy has taught a host of courses regarding Latin America, Europe, and the Atlantic World. Currently, he teaches History of Latin America and an Advanced Interdisciplinary Seminar on race and identity.

Session 4: Healing a Divided Nation and a Divided World

Schedule: November 7, 9:00am-11:00am EST

  • Overview
  • Panel of Innovators & Big Thinkers
  • In small groups, think creatively while working collaboratively to come up with solutions to help unite our divided world
  • Pitch your solutions to the Innovators & Big Thinkers!

Essential Questions:

  • How do we restore unity not only in the U.S. but globally?
  • How can we make an impact?
  • What roles must girls and women play in shaping a changing world?


Caroline Welles

Caroline Welles is the National Surrogates Director at the Democratic National Committee, working with the Democratic National Committee and Biden for President to create and implement the National Surrogate Strategy for the 2020 General Election. She has worked at the DNC since 2017, and earlier this year served as the Early Primary and Caucus States Manager, working directly with the early primary and caucus states to create an effective primary process and facilitate the primary presidential debates. Ms. Welles also worked on the Hillary Clinton campaign and oversaw principal events for Clinton as well as President Obama. She has also worked in Print Media in New York in sales and marketing and holds an MA in Sociology from the University of Edinburgh.


Rudy van Belkom

Rudy van Belkom is the initiator of ‘The New Vote’ (Het Nieuwe Kiezen); a proposal for a modular voting system. The concept was nominated for an international design award (The Index Project). Meanwhile, the project has grown into a platform in which he develops new democratic tools that emphasize the similarities between people, rather than the differences. For example, he developed a voting aid that 1.2 million Dutch people used. He is currently researching the future of democracy on behalf of The Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends (STT).


Cassidy Lichtman

Cassidy Lichtman is the founder of the non-profit P/ATH. For five years, she was a member of the world champion USA Women’s National Volleyball team, and is currently on the Board of Directors of USA Volleyball, the sport’s national governing body. She graduated with a BA and MA from Stanford University in 2011. Most recently she worked with shift7, founded by former Chief Technology Officer of the UnitedStates, Megan Smith, where she helped develop partnerships with organizations like the UnitedNations, TIME’S UP, and National Geographic to build awareness and action in areas of social justice and economic empowerment.


Udodi Okoh

Udodi Okoh is a policy researcher and social entrepreneur with vast international experiences. She is a program analyst at the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service where she provides input into interagency African Strategy, focusing specifically on opportunities for market development within the Continent. Ms. Okoh was a Peace Corps volunteer, working in Senegal’s Community Economic Development (CED) sector where she worked towards ensuring household members, especially women and youth, achieve economic security and upward economic mobility through the implementation of a women-led microfinance project.

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