Introducing the
2021 Landecker Democracy Fellows

Social polarization is poison for democracy. That is why this year ´s Fellowship is dedicated to social cohesion. Our partner organization Humanity in Action asked the Fellows how a critical and inclusive path toward social cohesion could look like.

How can peoples’ and communities’ diverging realities be seen and acknowledged in the process of building equitable societies? How can our societies address the dangerous forces that underpin today’s polarization and build trust?

What emerged are compelling ideas for impactful initiatives: from addressing discriminating algorithms in the criminal justice system, amplifying the voices of youth through visual arts, to empowering structurally disadvantaged content moderators of social media platforms.

The 30 Fellows will be supported for one year - through financial support, advice and training. The aim is to enable them to build inclusive bridges and form unique and lasting ties among those who are increasingly drifting apart. The fellows represent a new generation of leaders whose approaches to political and societal challenges have the potential to become catalysts for shaping democracy and communities.

Introducing this year’s fellows:

Ágnes Fernengel

Ágnes Fernengel is the Executive Director of the School of Public Life Foundation in Budapest, Hungary. Her project aims to replicate the model of the school in Miskolc, a regional capital in Northeast Hungary, and to establish a citizenship education center.

Amiirah Salleh-Hoddin

Amiirah Salleh-Hoddin is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Anti-Racist Forum (ARF), a Finnish NGO. Her project is to develop a Train-the-Trainers program to not only build the capacity for critical anti-racist work, but also a sustainable community of anti-racist activists in Finland.

Anna Bednarczyk

Anna Bednarczyk is a researcher at the Graduate School for Social Research in Warsaw. Her project “We got this! The Feminist Hackathon” utilizes the lens of collective care and civic participation to reimagine democratic systems as they relate specifically to young women in a (post)pandemic world.

Armin Fardis

Armin Fardis is a social historian, writer, educator and Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley residing in Northern California. His project seeks to excavate the carceral history of California, from Spanish missions to American prisons.

Beata Siemieniako

Beata Siemieniako is an attorney and activist based in Warsaw, Poland. Her project “Legal Self-Care” is a platform where individuals or groups can mutually teach and learn the law by meeting and sharing their know-how; participate in workshops; create handbooks in specific fields of activities; and develop social campaign strategies.

Cesy Leonard

Cesy Leonard is an action artist, speaker, and founder of Radikale Töchter. Her project “Rebel Planner”, is an empowering workbook for more political engagement. It is meant to inspire anyone who would like to become more politically active and needs help with the first step, containing tips on how to create change step-by-step.

Deborah Tien

Deborah Tien works at the intersection of regenerative networks, participatory design, and technology for impact. Her project aspires to create an operating system for the 21st century neighborhood, starting with supporting Block Stewards in United States municipalities. Block Stewards welcome new neighbors, organize community events and liaise with their city officials.

Elisabeth Becker-Topkara

Elisabeth Becker-Topkara is an Assistant Professor/Freigeist Fellow at the Max-Weber-Institute-for-Sociology, Heidelberg University. Her project “Inscribing Plurality” unites young Jews and Muslims who live in Berlin, Germany and are interested in a career in journalism, aiming to write their future and the future of our society together.

Emanuel Yekutiel

Emanuel Yekutiel is the owner of Manny’s – a physical civic gathering space in San Francisco. Manny’s project is to create a set of pop up social-civic events with the goal of showcasing programming that is fun to attend, informational, inspiring, and a first step into civic involvement.

Farah Abdi

Farah Abdi is a feminist, journalist, blogger, author, researcher, human rights activist, motivational speaker and youth education advocate. She came to Europe at the end of 2012, fleeing out of fear of persecution because of her gender identity. Her project focuses on telling a series of personal stories from the refugee community.

Florin Badita

Florin Badita is a Romanian activist, data-scientist, social entrepreneur, and artist who uses the internet as a playground. His project “Civistarter” focuses on a series of events where representatives of the youth can learn how to be more civically involved.

Gregory Guggenmos

Greg Guggenmos is a Statistical Consultant at the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center in Dallas, Texas. His project is to build a platform that will center the human stories behind AI in criminal justice and fight to prioritize democratic and anti-racist standards in AI development.

Hui-Hui Pan

Hui-Hui Pan is the founder of PAC (Pan Asian Collective). Her project aims to create a shared community and network space where members of Asian communities in the Netherlands can connect in order to accelerate visibility and create more awareness to the many Asian voices and people that are at the moment invisible.

Jasper Schmidt

Jasper Schmidt works as a program head and facilitator of a public Makerspace at the German American Institute in Heidelberg and is the co-founder of the Youth Think Tank. His project includes a series of events that will take place in Heidelberg, Germany aiming to re-invent public spaces by designing prototypes of places made for and by the people.

Jelle Zijlstra

Jelle Zijlstra is a Dutch-Jewish activist and community organizer working for Greenpeace Netherlands. His project wants to increase knowledge about anti-Semitism, its differences from other forms of racism and discrimination within the social justice movement in the Netherlands.

Kacper Dziekan

Kacper Dziekan is a European Projects Senior Specialist at the European Solidarity Centre. His project is set to create a structured, well-planned, coherent program based to support new Belarussian residents of Gdansk that had to abandon their homes due to repressions.

Karol Wilczynski

Karol Wilczynski is an educator, peace journalist, and communication strategist, and provides media and social media training. His project aims to train young leaders from Poland with various backgrounds in creating communication strategy as well as equipping them with community organizing skills.

Kazmyn Ramos

Kazmyn Ramos is the Director of Services at Merchants Affordable Housing Corp. in Carmel, Indiana. The goal of Kazmyn’s project “Seeking 1610" is to make the home search easier for low-income renters with barriers to housing. The main objective is to decrease the amount of time spent searching for, applying to, and being approved for affordable housing.

Kris Coffield

Kris Coffield is the Executive Director of the non-profit-organization Imua Alliance. His project “Platforming Peace” will convene a cohort of activists who represent different communities impacted by violence. Together, they will cultivate anti-violence narrative strategies.

Lauren Mickelson

Lauren Mickelson is a public servant and the Director of Housing Security Initiatives at the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office. Her project, By The People, is a dynamic learning collective of public sector and community leaders who are working together to realize a radically inclusive vision for 21st century local government in America.

Lumir Lapray

Lumir Lapray is a French rural organizer and a consultant in social innovation. Her Project “GOTV (Get out to vote)” aims to create innovative democratic and bold spaces that bring together rural youths to learn about and engage on voting, to foster discussion on civic participation and craft grassroots propositions to increase voter turnout.

Magdalena Wilczynska

Magdalena Wilczynska is a legal expert in the Polish Ombudsman Office, the Constitutional, International and European Law Department. Her project “Elves against disinfo” aims to teach young people how to detect and debunk disinformation.

Maia Ferdman

Maia Ferdman is the founder and principal of Bridges Intergroup Relations Consulting. Her Project “The Los Angeles Bridge Builders Collective” will promote the practice of “bridge building” as indispensable social infrastructure for addressing LA’s greatest challenges.

Mamobo Ogoro

Mamobo Ogoro is a Nigerian-Irish social psychologist and social entrepreneur. Her project “This is ‘Them’” is a digital series that highlights the voices of different and diverse communities in Ireland and aims to create a fun, fresh, open & accessible way to see the beauty in diversity but also the humanity in people.

Marissa Gutierrez-Vicario

Marissa Gutierrez-Vicario is the Founder and Executive Director of Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE). Her project, ARTE’s Youth Voices Lead program, is a paid, digital community and training program for youth organizers to strengthen their artistic tools and human rights knowledge to advocate for racial justice change.

Nasim Forootan

Nasim Forootan is the Director of Culture at Umega in Edinburgh, Scotland. “The Humanise Project” aims to create spaces, in the shape of workshops, for young people to enable them to find the tools and the voice to feel empowered to reshape the structures and institutions that surround them.

Sebene Eshete

Sebene Eshete is a political scientist focused on matters of immigration, citizenship, and social rights. Sebene’s project aims to promote social cohesion and tackle xenophobia by fostering a public discussion about the importance of migration in our society and by giving more positive visibility to migrant communities.

Shawn Reilly

Shawn Reilly is a Program Coordinator for LGBTQ Health at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Shawn develops and facilitates a digital and physical map creation project, which simultaneously enlists the knowledge and skills of queer youth and adults.

Wilhemina Agbemakplido

Wilhemina Agbemakplido is a PhD Student at the New School for Social Research. “Boston Busing Blues” is an oral history project that aims to collect and archive the memories and narratives of multi-racial Bostonians who were involved in integrating the Boston Public school system.

Yonatan Miller

Yonatan Miller is a tech worker and trade union organizer from New York who considers Berlin home. His project is set to empower content moderators and other workers behind the scenes of large social media companies to disincentivize tech companies from engaging in illegal behavior and abolishing hate speech and fake news.

Explore what we do

Confront the past

Combat antisemitism

Protect minorities

Strengthen democracy

Reinforce critical thinking

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