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2020 Election Speakers Series

2020 Election Speakers Series

You're invited to the 2020 Election Speakers Series put on by the School of Law and the Human Rights Center. The series will consist of political experts and officeholders discussing the most pressing issues leading up to the 2020 Election. The sessions will be available on Zoom and are free. You can attend all of them or just specific sessions. Please view the sessions below and register using the link provided for each session you wish to attend.

Please note that the views presented in the 2020 Election Speakers Series are solely those of the speaker and do not represent the views of the University of Dayton. The University neither supports nor opposes the candidates and/or parties mentioned within the Election Speakers Series.

Civic Engagement - Monday, September 14, 5:00-6:30 p.m.

This inaugural session focuses on how to get engaged in the 2020 election on the local, state, and national levels. 

Introductions & Moderator:

Shelley Inglis, Executive Director, University of Dayton Human Rights Center


Frank LaRose, Ohio Secretary of State


Ifeolu A.C. Claytor, All Voting is Local, Ohio Campaign Manager

Jo Lovelace Hill, Vice-President of Voter Services, League of Women Voters of Greater Dayton

Christopher Devine, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Dayton


UDayton Votes

Removing Barriers and Striving to Empower All to Participate - Rep. Charles Booker - Friday, September 18, 5:00-6:30 p.m.

This session features Rep. Charles Booker with the Kentucky State House of Representatives and a Community/Student Panel.

Introductions & Moderator:

Joel Pruce, University of Dayton Human Rights Center


Rep. Charles Booker, Kentucky State House of Representatives

Student and Community Panel: 

Zion Savory, President, Black Law Students Association, University of Dayton School of Law

Darius J. Beckham, Legislative Aide to Mayor Nan Whaley, City of Dayton

Maleah Wells, Vice President, Black Action Through Unity, University of Dayton

Yulianna Otero, Student Representative, Commission on Women, University of Dayton


Race and Gender in the Elections - Friday, September 25, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

This session examines issues of race and gender that impact elections in the United States. It features a special appearance and address by Ohio House Minority Leader Emelia Strong Sykes.


Khandice Lofton, Vice-President, Black Law Students Association, University of Dayton School of Law


Tiffany Taylor Smith, Executive Director for Inclusive Excellence Education and Professional Development, University of Dayton


Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes, Ohio House Democratic Leader


Reverend Peter Matthews, Pastor, Historic McKinley United Methodist Church and Director of the Center for Global Renewal and Missions at United Theological Seminary

Professor Neil G. Williams, Nathaniel R. Jones Professor of Law, Loyola University Chicago’s School of Law

Kira Romero-Craft, Esq., Managing Attorney for the Southeast Office, LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Voter Participation and Suppression - Friday, October 2, 5:00-6:30 p.m.

This session examines structural problems that undermine full enfranchisement in the United States. 

Introductions & Moderator:

Bob Taft, University of Dayton, Distinguished Research Associate


Kathay Feng, National Redistricting Director, Common Cause

Benjamin Cover, Associate Professor of Law, University of Idaho College of Law

Katy Shanahan, Ohio State Director, All on the Line

Rep. D.J. Swearingen, Ohio House District 89

Technology and Voting in 2020 – Problems and Promise - Friday, October 9, 5:00-6:30 p.m.

This session examines how new technologies are affecting the 2020 elections.


Wm. David Salisbury, Sherman-Standard Register Professor of Cybersecurity Management & Director, UD Center for Cybersecurity & Data Intelligence    


Aquene Freechild, Co-Director, Democracy Is For People Campaign


Charles Stewart III, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science, MIT

Dan Wallach, Professor, Rice University Department of Computer Science

Elizabeth Howard, Senior Counsel, Brennan Center’s Democracy Program

Campaign Finance and Other First Amendment Issues - Friday, October 16, 5:00-6:30 p.m.

This session examines the current law and practice of financing and conducting political campaigns in 2020. 


Professor Jeff Schmitt, Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs and Associate Professor of Law, University of Dayton School of Law


Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Professor of Law, Stetson University

Ann Southworth, Professor of Law, UC Irvine School of Law; Co-Director, Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession

Sen. Matt Huffman, Ohio Senate

Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen

Expectations, Emergent Issues, and Breaking News - Friday, October 23, 5:00-6:30 p.m.

This session includes a review of the election-related issues facing the nation and our community in the final days running up to Election Day. 


Andrew Strauss, Dean, University of Dayton School of Law


Sen. Sherrod Brown, U.S. Senator, Ohio


Malikeya Khantrece, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Dayton School of Law


Ellis Jacobs, Attorney, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc. (ABLE)

Paul Moke, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Dayton School of Law

Jonathan Winer, Fmr. Special Envoy for Libya and Fmr. U.S. Department of State
Deputy Asst. Secretary of State for International Law Enforcement

Staci Rhine, Professor of Political Science, Wittenberg University

Law School Democrats

Republican Law Society

Closing Keynote Event - Monday, October 26, 5:00-6:00 p.m.

This Closing Keynote Event features Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Buttigieg talks about the state of the race and his proposals for strengthening the U.S. democratic system in the final week before Election Day. 

Opening Remarks:

Shelley Inglis, Executive Director, University of Dayton Human Rights Center


Mayor Nan Whaley, City of Dayton


Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana


Darius J. Beckham

Legislative Aide to Mayor Nan Whaley, City of Dayton

Darius J. Beckham is a Dayton, Ohio, native and a graduate of the University of Dayton.

Throughout his undergraduate career, Beckham was president of the black student union, Black Action Through Unity, while also serving as a Dayton Civic Scholar and a neighborhood organizer with the Dayton Department of Planning and Community Development. With the city, Beckham worked to build capacity in various Dayton neighborhoods.

Upon graduation, Beckham became a legislative aide to the Dayton City Commission. He continues to focus on solving local issues.

Rep. Charles Booker

Kentucky State House of Representatives

Charles Booker was elected to the Kentucky State House of Representatives in 2018, making him the youngest black state legislator in 90 years. In 2020 he ran to represent Kentucky in the U.S. Senate. During his time in office, he has championed gun reform, voting rights, labor laws, and criminal justice, and passed bipartisan legislation to help Kentuckians get insulin in emergency situations. He is the founder of Hood to Holler, an organization focused on leveraging momentum for positive change in Kentucky and nationally to build coalitions, break down barriers of race and class, and build a people-centered movement for political change. Charles is a proud member of the Kentucky Black Legislative Caucus.

Sen. Sherrod Brown

U.S. Senator, Ohio

A lifelong Ohioan, Senator Sherrod Brown has spent his career fighting for the Dignity of Work – the idea that hard work should pay off for everyone, no matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of work you do. He has held nearly 500 roundtables across Ohio, because he believes the best ideas don’t come out of Washington – they come from conversations with Ohioans. Senator Brown serves as Ranking Member on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Finance Committee, the Agriculture Committee, and is the longest serving Ohioan on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Sherrod was born and raised in Mansfield, Ohio, where he earned his Eagle Scout award and spent summers working on his family’s farm. He is married to author and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz. They live in Cleveland, Ohio, with their rescue dogs, Franklin and Walter, drive Jeeps made by union workers in Toledo, and have three daughters, a son, a daughter-in-law, three sons-in-law, and seven grandchildren.

Pete Buttigieg

Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana

Pete Buttigieg has served as two-term mayor of South Bend, Indiana and was a Democratic candidate for president of the United States in 2020. A graduate of Harvard University and an Oxford Rhodes Scholar, Buttigieg enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve and became a lieutenant when he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014. In April 2019 he announced his candidacy for president and in February 2020 won the Iowa Caucuses, becoming the first openly gay person to ever win a presidential primary or caucus.

Ifeolu A.C. Claytor

All Voting is Local, Ohio Campaign Manager

Ifeolu A.C. Claytor is All Voting is Local’s Ohio Campaign Manager. Prior to joining the campaign, Claytor worked as the Ohio Campus Organizer for the Warren for President campaign. Previously, he worked as a research associate for Burges & Burges Strategists, conducting research focused on municipal and school levy issues. Additionally, Claytor has served as the campaign aide to Ohio Supreme Court Justice, Michael P. Donnelly. He also directed paid canvassers for the Safe & Healthy Ohio campaign, a ballot initiative focused on reforming Ohio’s criminal justice system. The campaign made Ohio history, resulting in the second-highest number of petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.

Benjamin Cover

Associate Professor of Law, University of Idaho College of Law

Benjamin Cover is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Idaho. He has served as a Visiting Associate Professor since 2014 and a tenure-track Associate Professor since 2017. He has written about the Petition Clause and partisan gerrymandering, and his work has appeared in the Stanford Law Review and the U.C. Davis Law Review. He has served as a peer reviewer for Election Law Journal and currently serves on the executive committee of the Election Law section of the American Association of Law Schools. His article on partisan gerrymandering was recently cited by a federal three-judge panel in the case of Ohio A. Philip Randolph Inst. v. Householder, No. 1:18-CV-357, 2019 WL 1969585 (S.D. Ohio May 3, 2019).

Christopher Devine

Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Dayton

Christopher Devine is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Dayton. Devine is a leading expert on vice presidential candidates. He is the co-author, with Kyle C. Kopko, of two books on this topic, including Do Running Mates Matter? The Influence of Vice Presidential Candidates in Presidential Elections (University Press of Kansas, 2020) and The VP Advantage: How Running Mates Influence Home State Voting in Presidential Elections (Manchester University Press, 2016). Their research has been featured in numerous media outlets. Devine has also published journal articles and book chapters on several other topics including presidential campaign visits, partisanship, ideology, the Libertarian Party, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Kathay Feng

National Redistricting Director, Common Cause

Kathay Feng is the National Redistricting Director of Common Cause. In her time with Common Cause, Feng has challenged partisan and incumbent gerrymandering, state-based organizing around ballot initiatives and legislation, and created new platforms for community-based redistricting. As Executive Director of California Common Cause, she championed and won election and redistricting reforms, stronger government sunshine and accountability laws, campaign finance reforms, stronger net neutrality laws, and the voting rights of traditionally disenfranchised communities. Locally, Kathay helped lead successful efforts to improve Los Angeles’ matching funds campaign finance system, providing a super-match of public funds to city office candidates that raise small dollar donations from city residents.

Craig Holman

Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen

Craig Holman, Ph.D., serves as Public Citizen’s Capitol Hill lobbyist on ethics, lobbying and campaign finance rules. Craig is an expert on campaign finance reform, governmental ethics, lobbying practices and the impact of money in politics. Previously, Craig was senior policy analyst at the Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law. Craig worked closely with reform organizations and the Democratic congressional caucus of the 110th Congress in drafting and promoting the “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act,” the new federal lobbying and ethics reform legislation signed into law on Sept. 14, 2007. As a consequence of this legislation, Craig is also working with European nongovernmental organizations and members of the European Commission and Parliament in developing a lobbyist registration system for the European Union.

Elizabeth Howard

Senior Counsel, Brennan Center’s Democracy Program

Liz Howard serves as senior counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. Her work focuses on election security. Howard regularly comments for television, radio, and print media on issues relating to election security and election administration and has testified before U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security and in a variety of state legislatures. She has also co-authored multiple Brennan Center reports and white papers:  Better Safe Than Sorry (2018),  Defending Elections: Federal Funding Needs for State Election Security  (2019), Trump-Russia Investigations: A Guide Preparing for Cyberattacks and Technical Failures: A Guide for Election Officials  (2019). Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Howard served as deputy commissioner for the Virginia Department of Elections. Before that, she worked as general counsel at Rock the Vote. 

Sen. Matt Huffman

Ohio Senate

Senator Matt Huffman is currently serving his first term in the Ohio Senate, representing the 12th Senate district which includes all of Allen, Champaign, Mercer and Shelby counties, as well as portions of Auglaize, Darke and Logan counties. He previously served four terms in the Ohio House of Representatives, the last two in leadership positions, including being elected by his fellow legislators to serve as the second highest-ranking member, Speaker Pro Tempore. Born and raised in Lima, Ohio, Senator Huffman has practiced law for the past 30 years in his family’s private practice law firm in downtown Lima. He has been admitted to practice in all of the state and federal courts in Ohio and is an “AV” rated attorney by the Martindale-Hubbell rating service, the highest rating an attorney can receive. He has represented dozens of small businesses in West Central Ohio.

Ellis Jacobs

Attorney, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc. (ABLE)

Ellis Jacobs is an attorney with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc. (ABLE) in Dayton, Ohio. His law practice at ABLE includes telecommunications regulation and he is nationally recognized as a pioneer in efforts to overcome the digital divide. Jacobs has served on the Universal Service Administrative Company Board of Directors (USAC) since 2009. USAC is a nonprofit that administers telecommunications universal service programs to ensure that telecommunications networks are affordable and available in rural areas; that schools, libraries and rural health centers can access basic and advanced services at discounted rates; and low income consumers can afford basic phone service.

Frank LaRose

Ohio Secretary of State

Frank LaRose serves as Ohio’s 51st Secretary of State. A decorated combat veteran, Frank served in the United States Army’s 101t Airborne Division and as a green Beret in the Special Forces. During his deployments to Iraq and Kosovo, he witnessed people risking their lives to vote and participate in elections for the first time. As state senator, Frank has authored laws that encourage greater civic engagement, ensure every eligible Ohioan can vote, protect the integrity of the ballot box, modernize voter registration, prevent voter fraud, and ensure fair elections.

Peter Matthews

Pastor, Historic McKinley United Methodist Church and Director of the Center for Global Renewal and Missions at United Theological Seminary

Rev. Peter Matthews is an author and speaker who has preached and lectured throughout the United States, India, Jamaica, England, Switzerland and South Africa over the past two decades. Matthews currently serves as the pastor for McKinley United Methodist Church, the oldest African-American church in Dayton, Ohio. He is also the co-founder of the Global Village, a Methodist church collective. Through this, he has raised over $400,000 to innovate solutions to persistent problems in urban areas. Matthews the founding director for the Center for Global Renewal and Mission at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, where he leads a staff dedicated to renewing the historic Methodist faith from an international context while developing a pipeline for a new generation of individuals to work in historic African-American congregations.

Paul Moke

Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Dayton School of Law

Paul Moke is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Dayton School of Law. He is an attorney and professor of social and political studies at Wilmington College. His civil litigation experience includes work in the fields of voting rights, bankruptcy, probate and personal injury law. His administration experience features service as vice president for academic affairs at Wilmington College, legislative affairs work on Capitol Hill and in the Ohio General Assembly, and volunteer work as president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. He currently teaches undergraduate courses in American politics, constitutional law, criminal law and coaches an intercollegiate mock trial team. Professor Moke has co-authored several articles on voting rights law and judicial selection systems with professor Richard Saphire. Currently, he is working on a biography of Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Staci Rhine

Professor of Political Science, Wittenberg University

Staci Rhine is a Professor of Political Science at Wittenberg University. She has a B.A. from The University of Iowa and a Ph.D. The Ohio State University. Her current research interests involve studying the media's effect on political knowledge and participation. She is interested in patterns of media consumption and their effect on citizenship.

Kira Romero-Craft, Esq.

Managing Attorney for the Southeast Office, LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Kira focuses on immigrants’ rights, voting rights, economic justice and criminal justice reform. Kira began her legal career as an equal justice works fellow for the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association in Orlando, Florida where she focused on representation of undocumented immigrant children in juvenile and immigration court.

Prior to joining LatinoJustice, she was the program director for the children's legal program at Americans for Immigrant Justice where she led a team of lawyers representing immigrant children in dependency and removal proceedings. Kira is the co-chair of the advocacy committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Central Florida Chapter.  She is a graduate of Rollins College and Florida State University, College of Law.

Zion Savory

President, Black Law Students Association, University of Dayton School of Law

Zion “Ze” Savory is a third-year law student from Miami, Florida. Zion graduated from Florida International University’s Landon School of Business in 2017 with a bachelor’s of business administration in management and entrepreneurship. Known to be a social butterfly, Zion is a very involved individual, he currently serves as the President of the Black Law Students Association, the 3L Class Vice President, and the Chairman of the Board for the Business Law Society at the University of Dayton School of Law. Outside of his studies, Zion holds multiple board member seats with organizations in the Dayton legal community and he enjoys all things business, sports, and health & fitness!

Katy Shanahan

Ohio State Director, All On The Line

Katy Shanahan is an attorney and activist who has been involved in her home state of Ohio for more than a decade. She’s focused her work on protecting the fundamental right to vote and to ensuring that all voters have an equally accessible path to the voting booth and to fair representation.

Katy received both her law degree and graduate degrees from The Ohio State University, where she wrote a thesis on redistricting and which entity draws the fairest maps. Spoiler: it’s not legislatures!

Ann Southworth

Professor of Law, UC Irvine School of Law; Co-Director, Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession

Ann Southworth is a Professor of Law at UC Irvine School of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession. Professor Southworth teaches and writes on the legal profession and lawyers who serve causes, with an emphasis on lawyers’ norms, professional identities, practices, organizations, and networks. She participated in designing UC Irvine School of Law’s required first year course on the American legal profession, and is the co-author, with Catherine Fisk, of an interdisciplinary textbook, The Legal Profession, which is now in its 2nd edition. She has published numerous articles on civil rights and poverty lawyers, lawyers involved in national policy-making, and advocates for conservative and libertarian causes, as well as a book on the conservative legal movement, Lawyers of the Right: Professionalizing the Conservative Coalition. Her current research interests include the discourse, resources, strategies and networks of public interest law organizations and their lawyers. Most recently, she is studying lawyers and organizations involved in campaign finance litigation in the Roberts Court.

Charles Stewart III

Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science, MIT

Charles Stewart III is the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science at MIT, where he has taught since 1985, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His research and teaching areas include congressional politics, elections, and American political development. His current research about Congress touches on the historical development of committees, origins of partisan polarization, and Senate elections. Since 2001, Professor Stewart has been a member of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, a leading research effort that applies scientific analysis to questions about election technology, election administration, and election reform. HE is currently the MIT director of the project. 

Rep. D.J. Swearingen

Ohio House of Representatives

State Representative D.J. Swearingen (Republican) is currently serving his first term in the Ohio House of Representatives. He represents the 89th House District, which encompasses both Erie and Ottawa counties.

Representative Swearingen received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Bowling Green State University, cum laude, with a minor in General Business and his Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Dayton School of Law, cum laude. He currently practices law with the firm Wickens, Herzer, Panza with offices in Sandusky and Avon where he advises business owners on transactions, daily operations, and future initiatives.

He volunteers in his community and previously sat on several area boards and leadership committees. He has been married to his wife Angela for 9 years and they reside in Huron, Ohio with their three daughters. They are active members of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Sandusky, Ohio.

Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes

Ohio House of Representatives, Democratic Leader

Ohio House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes was elected to represent her hometown of Akron, OH (OH-34) in November 2014. As a representative, Sykes has fought to keep local jobs for local workers and expand opportunities for working and middle class families. She has supported young leadership and mentorship programs to inspire young people to reach their goals. Rep. Sykes has also worked with healthcare professionals and colleagues to improve public health, increase access to care, and combat Ohio’s high infant mortality rate. Her passion for social justice extends to issues such as voter rights, criminal justice reform, a more efficient social safety net for struggling Ohioans, and an end to domestic violence.

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy

Professor of Law, Stetson University

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy is a Professor of Law at Stetson University. Prior to joining Stetson's faculty, Professor Torres-Spelliscy was counsel in the Democracy Program of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law where she provided guidance on the issues of money in politics and the judiciary to state and federal lawmakers. She was an associate at Arnold & Porter LLP and a staffer for Senator Richard Durbin. Professor Torres-Spelliscy has testified before Congress, and state and local legislative bodies as an expert on campaign finance reform. She researches and speaks publicly on campaign finance law as well as judicial selection. She is the author of the book Corporate Citizen? An Argument for the Separation of Corporation and State (Carolina Academic Press, 2016), and the book Political Brands (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2019).

Dan Wallach

Professor, Rice University Department of Computer Science

Dan Wallach is a professor in the systems group at Rice University’s Department of Computer Science and manages Rice’s computer security lab. His research interests include mobile code, wireless and smartphone security, and the security of electronic voting systems. His work on voter security includes his testimony before the Texas Senate Special Committee on Election Security, his testimony before the U.S. Congress Space, Science, & Technology Committee on Voting Security, and his publication on Voting Systems Risk Assessment via Computational Complexity Analysis.

Mayor Nan Whaley

Mayor, City of Dayton

Nan Whaley is proud to choose Dayton as her home. Originally from Indiana, Nan attended the University of Dayton where she graduated in 1998 and soon settled in the Five Oaks neighborhood where she and her husband Sam reside today. Her career is distinguished by her commitment to public service, civic involvement and interest in local government. First elected to the Dayton City Commission in 2005, Nan was the youngest women ever chosen for a commission seat. She was proud to be elected as Dayton’s mayor in 2013 by a double-digit majority. As mayor, she has focused on the areas of community development, manufacturing, and women and children. Nan is a national leader among her peers serving as the Second Vice President for the US Conference of Mayors as well as the Chair of the International Committee for the conference. Nan is also a founding board member for the Ohio’s Mayor Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of Ohio’s 30 largest cities. 

Neil Williams

Nathaniel R. Jones Professor of Law, Loyola University Chicago’s School of Law

Neil Williams is a Professor of Law at Loyola Law School. Professor Williams received his undergraduate degree summa cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Following his graduation from law school, he served as law clerk to the Hon. George N. Leighton of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. After his clerkship he joined the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin, where he handled general corporate finance and securities law matters. Professor Williams joined the full-time School of Law faculty in 1989.

Jonathan Winer

Fmr. Special Envoy for Libya and Fmr. U.S. Department of State Deputy Asst. Secretary of State for International Law Enforcement

Jonathan M. Winer has been a journalist, litigator, Senate counsel, investigator, diplomat, regulatory lawyer, and international consultant. He served for many years as counsel to Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA), where he worked on campaign finance and election law issues. His regulatory practice has covered lobbying and election compliance at both the federal and state levels. At the conclusion of his tours at the State Department, he was awarded its two highest awards, one of which stated that “the scope and significance of his achievements are virtually unprecedented for any single official.” He currently cohosts a podcast series called “Unconventional Threat,” which is sponsored by Keep Our Republic, an organization focused on promoting fair and free voting, counting, and certification of our upcoming elections.


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