October 1, 2020

Dear Members & Friends of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall,

Engagement by high school students in our public forums has been a hallmark of our programming for many, many years. Their participation is integral to our organization’s mission and outreach. 

With no in-person events due to the pandemic, this spurred an idea: what about a webinar solely for high school students? 
It is true that it takes a village to make great ideas happen. 

First of all, we acknowledge the collaborative effort by Politics Professor Dan Schnur and LAWACTH staff members, Jessica Dugandzic, VP-Events, and Krystsina Shabanava, Membership and Community Outreach Coordinator, to shape the conversation on “How to Make a Difference – Whether or Not You Can Vote.”

Professor Schnur confirmed a superb panel of speakers from the University of California, Berkeley: Meanna Gray, a recent graduate in political science and African American studies; Aaron Aranza and Jazmine Munoz, both fourth-year undergraduates studying political science and pursuing minors in human rights and ethnic studies, respectively. 

This webinar, held Sept. 25, attracted 283 students from 13 public high schools in the Los Angeles region. Highlights of their feedback: They enjoyed the program and found it informative, insightful and inspirational. Students gave a thumbs up to hearing from college students – we thank Meanna, Aaron and Jazmine for sharing their personal stories and examples of their civic engagement. Attendees valued the opportunity to express their views and opinions via the interactive polls and the resources for actual programs and opportunities for student engagement. 

The webinar also helped students to learn how they can make an impact and be politically involved. It reminded them that “the importance of politics goes beyond political candidates.” It encouraged reflection on what they can do for their community and opened their eyes to how powerful their voice is. They were awakened to the fact that “young people can make a real difference in our government and society.” 

We were heartened by their constructive feedback: More interaction between students and presenters. Extend length of Q&A. As we plan future webinars, these suggestions will be valuable as well as continued teacher input and support. Teachers interested in the LAWACTH High School Program may contact Krystsina Shabanava at kshabanava@lawac.org. 

I also want to convey my personal thanks to the sponsors who provided financial underwriting for this “2020 Election Series” – The Baye Foundation; Dick, Mike, Evan & Steve Mader; Joel and Joanne Mogy; and Andrew Tavakoli. I am also grateful for LAWACTH members who provided ongoing gifts of support for the high student program prior to the pandemic. Your sponsorship and donations touched the lives of 283 students – it enriched and empowered them to know they can make a difference.  

This webinar – and all our livestreams – may be viewed here on our YouTube channel. You, too, can support our webinars with a donation. Everyone is invited to join our village of virtual citizens.  


Kim McCleary Blue
President & CEO
Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall