Speakers

Rebecca Thompson, Elect Her Facilitator

For more than three generations, Rebecca Thompson’s family has called the East Side of Detroit home. Raised by a single mother with three siblings, Rebecca went from growing up in a thriving working class family to one struggling with unemployment, poverty -- and at times -- homelessness. Despite those challenges, Rebecca learned the value of hard work and determination early. She took her first job when she was just 14 years old. By the time she graduated from the Detroit School of Arts, she had interned at a nonprofit organization (New Detroit) dedicated to eliminating racial disparities in the region and later for the Wayne County Commission.

That same determination led her to the campus of Northern Michigan University. While at NMU, Rebecca was active in numerous student organizations and was elected the first African-American female student body president in the school’s 100-year history. She also went on to become Chair of the Association of Michigan Universities, which represented all 15 public universities and over 350,000 students across the state. During her tenure, she lobbied the State Legislature, Governor, and U.S. Congress to make Michigan’s colleges more affordable and accessible. While in school, she balanced her classes, three jobs, and was one of the first in her family to earn a college degree.

After college, Rebecca discovered her passion for public service and left for Washington, D.C. to experience the legislative process firsthand. She began her career as the Legislative Director for the United States Student Association -- the voice of students on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and the Department of Education. In this role, Rebecca fought to increase funding for Pell Grants, critical recruitment and retention programs for first generation and low-income students, to lower student-loan interest rates, and expand student loan forgiveness to public service employees. Rebecca has been featured on C-SPAN, in the Washington Post, and the New York Times discussing college affordability and access issues.

Rebecca continued her career in public service by joining the District of Columbia Youth Advisory Council in the Executive Office of the Mayor as its Program Manager. She provided leadership development to youth across the city and connected them with policy makers such as the mayor, chancellor and chief of police to help improve the lives of youth in the city.

After working with the Advisory Council, Rebecca became the Director of Young People For, a national long-term leadership development initiative that works to identify, engage and empower the newest generation of progressive leaders to create lasting change in their communities. In this role, she provided mentorship, training and leadership development to young leaders across the country committed to social justice.

Ready to honor her commitment to Detroit, Rebecca joined the United Way for Southeastern Michigan as the Senior Director of Engagement, where she currently oversees the organization’s Community Engagement and Public Policy and Advocacy efforts. Rebecca’s work focuses on ensuring that Southeastern Michigan families have access to the resources they need to thrive by supporting initiatives that prepare students for kindergarten, college and careers and providing families across the region with access to food and financial stability.

Passionate about changing the face of leadership across the country, Rebecca has dedicated her career to training and electing more diverse candidates to elected office. She led the Front Line Leaders Academy, a national nine-month program that trains young progressive candidates to run for office and become campaign managers. She simultaneously also serves as a National Trainer for Elect Her, which trains college women to run for student government.

Judge Cheryl Hill, Marquette County Probate Judge Judge Cheryl Hill, Marquette County Probate Judge
Kat Klawes, ASNMU President

Kat is currently a junior studying Secondary Education English and Theatre with a minor in Secondary Education History. I served as the Arts and Science Representative in 2014 to 2015, after which I decided to run for President. I ran for President because I was empowered by the Elect Her speakers, notably a state representative said to me "Kat, you are a leader. Why don't you run for President?" I told her I would consider running, and she asked me what was stopping me. I realized that nothing was stopping me but my own fear. By far that is one of the best decisions I have ever made and I am very grateful for the experiences I have had the last year in office.

Katelyn Liubakka, ASNMU Vice President Katelyn Liubakka, ASNMU Vice President
Kristi Evans, NMU News Director Kristi Evans, NMU News Director