Moderators 2017-2018

All SD weekly groups are led by two trained student moderators. Get to know them and their stance on moderating here. 

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Alex Dimas

My role as a moderator: To help the group realize that while we have many bright opinions and thoughts on topics discussed (and can certainly use these to evoke change), we should not come to an overall consensus or conclusion on any given topic because we do not have the benefit of hearing from all aspects and views.
My stance on activism through SD: Ideally, I think SD should include activism, for the sake of growth and bettering the UVA community. However, with the limited time we have it is difficult to expect much to be done, and simply discussing these topics puts us in the right direction of change.
One fun fact: When I was 11, I got the cops called on me for standing on a frozen pond (they let me go once I explained I was collecting ice for my igloo). When I was 12, the exact situation occurred again, I never got to finish my igloo…

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Alex Spratley

My role as a moderator: I see myself as mainly a facilitator of discussion but also a participant; I want participants to feel like they are getting to know their mods just like we are getting to know all of them.
My stance on activism through SD: I think activism can be helpful, but I don’t think it is completely necessary for the success of the group. Dialogue itself can be incredibly effective and helpful and in certain situations, may be enhanced by activism. I am pretty much open to do whatever the participants are comfortable with.
One fun fact: In high school I ran a Twitter account that had 25,000 followers.

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Annelise Miranda

My role as a moderator: My role is to keep the conversation moving and encourage the sharing of new perspectives in the dialogue group.
My stance on activism through SD: My vision includes awareness and understanding of other perspectives. I participate in activism and encourage others to do so as well, but I don’t believe it is essential to effective dialogue.
One fun fact: I wrote one of my UVA application essays on how much I hate running.

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Ben Tobin

My role as a moderator: I like to let participants hash it out mainly and ask probing, guiding questions whenever the dialogue gets too shallow or off-topic.
My stance on activism through SD: I think activism allows for us to put actions to our words, so I do think it would be an ideal goal.
One fun fact: I have a collection of over 200 plastics wristbands and rotate which one I wear daily.

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Care Shoaibi

My role as a moderator: I believe the role of a moderator is to provide a comfortable and welcoming environment for participants to push themselves, challenge themselves, and look at things with a new perspective.
My stance on activism through SD: I think SD should definitely lead to activism– I think SD serves as a first step to get us talking. But eventually I think that can lead to brainstorming, planning, and action.
One fun fact: I played the trombone in elementary and middle school!

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Christopher Deal

My role as a moderator: My role is to facilitate healthy discussions that lead to learning something new, open participants to new viewpoints, and help them to become more aware of the world around them!
My stance on activism through SD: I’m definitely open to activism. Learning the viewpoints of others is essential in order to resolve a conflict, and I think that SD could help facilitate this.
One fun fact: David Beckham’s son hit me with a toy airplane in London.

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Danya Abutaleb

My role as a moderator: Bringing about the opportunity and space to realize there’s far more to transcend than to feel guilty about!
My stance on activism through SD: I don’t think they’re inherently tied to one another as people have to figure out their niche.
One fun fact: I can’t name a single friend who will have a movie night with me because they’ve all run for the hills due to my impeccable Harry Potter quoting and impressions (hands down the best franchise on earth :/ ).

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Emily Head

My role as a moderator: My main role is to gently steer the conversation into an open, thought-provoking, and challenging place
My stance on activism through SD: I think effective sustained dialogue can include activism, but it does not have to. Both dialogue and activism encompass so much it is difficult to definitively say whether activism and dialogue serve the same goal in every situation. In some situations, I see dialogue as a way to bridge the gap between polarizing stances, while at times activism can just polarize positions more. However, sometimes both dialogue and activism stimulate unity, belonging, and a sense of community and therefore are fantastic supplements for one another. Overall, I’m open to activism but also feel the need to analyze the effectiveness of dialogue and activism on a case by case basis.
One fun fact: I once survived an emergency plane landing

Hank Turner
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Hannah Maclellan

My role as a moderator: To foster an environment where participants are comfortable enough to lean into discomfort
My stance on activism through SD: Yes, I believe that by doing nothing you are doing something.
One fun fact: I’m low key obsessed with Bonnaroo

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Isabelle Foley

My role as a moderator: As a SD moderator, I see myself as someone who facilitates challenging introspection and ultimately, a better understanding of others.
My stance on activism through SD: While I believe that exercises like sustained dialogue are the first step towards informed activism, I don’t believe that dialogues themselves should be geared towards activism. To me, activism necessitates a certain degree of consensus on a particular issue, and I don’t think an effective dialogue should strive for consensus (but rather, constructive controversy). Effective dialogues should, however, begin to generate solutions to whatever issues are being discussed, but without resolving to pursue one type in particular. I hope that sustained dialogue will continue to inspire and motivate student activists, but (at least for now) I would like to keep any personal involvement in activism separate from my role as a moderator.
One fun fact: I’ve never eaten anything from Taco Bell!!!!

Isabelle Lotocki de Veligost
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Isir Said
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My stance on activism through SD:
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Jack Wilkins
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Jared Ende

My role as a moderator: I give my participants a chance to talk about something they might never have discussed in a group setting before.
My stance on activism through SD: I don’t envision Sustained Dialogue, as an organization, being a formal platform for activism. That is not why everyone joins SD, so that is not the experience SD should try and push on everyone. That being said, I think SD is a great place for people to meet individuals or learn about groups that partake in activism.
One fun fact: I have only left the east coast of the U.S. one time.

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Jenna Goode

My role as a moderator: I want to make people feel comfortable in sharing their opinions and learning from others.
My stance on activism through SD: Yes – I think activism is an important way to bring dialogue to life.
One fun fact: I’m related to Jack Johnson through marriage

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Jenna Wichterman

My role as a moderator: As an SD moderator, I see my role as being the one who guides the dialogue with thoughtful questions, uses creative activities and questions in order to draw out all perspectives, pushes the group to think about root causes of the stories and experiences we hear about, and ensures that everyone feels empowered to speak.
My stance on activism through SD: To be honest, I’m still wrestling with whether or not SD groups should end with activism. I’m nervous that a goal of activism at the end of an SD group could pressure consensus and silence some people who might have different solutions to the same problem. On the other hand, I think individual or group action can be taken in response to an SD group if the moderator can ensure that all in the group are in genuine agreement about the action to be taken.
One fun fact: I graduated as one of 8 in the 3rd graduating class of my high school

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Joli Millner

My role as a moderator: As a moderator, I want to help create conversations that make it so people can learn something new about the way the world works and that are so interesting that people feel like they can’t help but contribute.
My stance on activism through SD: I think that dialogue and activism can and should coexist. Activism comes in many forms that can range from petitions to protests and other forms of direct action. To me, an ideal dialogue is a stepping stone that should help spur participants to action. As a moderator, I would love to let my dialogue participants know about the various forms of leadership and activism that are happening on Grounds, across the political spectrum. However, I would not want to force SD participants to participate in dialogue before they are ready or comfortable.
One fun fact: Only talk to me about Harry Potter if you don’t mind hearing my criticisms. I loved the series as a kid, but most of the things that JKR has added to canon just anger me. How is there only one wizarding school for all of North America? Our entire continent has like 10 times the amount of people as the United Kingdom, not to mention all of the various cultures that coexist.

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Jonathan Lee:

My role as a moderator: For the most part, the dialogue revolves around the participants, and it often progresses well naturally. However, when the dialogue does become too off-topic or comfortable, it’s the moderator’s job to keep the dialogue focused and push the conversation to new places. As a moderator, my role is to ask the hard questions, bring up the unfamiliar topics, and draw out the differences in experiences when dialogue grows stagnant.
My stance on activism through SD: I think that activism (both approaches to activism and tangible ideas for action) should be discussed in dialogue. However, I don’t think it’s realistic for most sustained dialogue groups to actually include activism efforts. Some people may not have time to commit above the 1.5 hours of dialogue each week (not to mention finding mutual meeting times), and others may be new to dialogue and not feel ready to jump into activism. I also think it’s easier to approach activism when you have a general issue you want to tackle and share common identities. As such, I think there’s more of a place for activism in affinity groups compare to standard dialogue groups. I think that if an activism effort arises in a group, it should be encouraged but that SD doesn’t need to include activism for the most part. There are other groups on grounds devoted to activism, and SD still has a positive impact even if it’s just engaging in indirect activism.
One fun fact: I’ve visited to San Francisco 7 times since starting college and counting!

Jordan Arnold
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Jordan Bridges
My role as a moderator: I am a resource for when dialogue gets uncomfortable, while simultaneously encouraging participants to get to that point.
My stance on activism through SD: I believe that sustained dialogue and activism are intimately related. Making the decision to engage in dialogue is the first step to effective activism, but dialogue alone is not enough. For me, activism is an essential part of being a responsible member of a moral community. While dialogue tends to lead to actualized compassion, I will choose to actively strive to use my newfound understanding to fight for justice.
One fun fact: I grew up in one of the two towns that housed the Manhattan Project, which ended with the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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Jordan Rohrlich

My role as a moderator: In short, to build bridges and get over them. People need to understand the perspective of those that don’t look like them or talk like them, and nothing does that better than dialogue.
My stance on activism through SD: I think activism, although necessary and constructive when done well, is a task that can hurt the communication process. I believe everyone should stand up for the rights and well-being of others. But having activism be a co-requisite for mutual understanding can make the process feel like more of a burden. We should encourage understanding, in whatever capacity that may be.
One fun fact: I’ve been to 32 countries.

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Kate Bellows

My role as a moderator: SD is a home for me, and as a moderator, I want it to make SD a home for the students in my group – warm, inclusive, and acceptable to eat snacks in.
My stance on activism through SD: While I am not against activism in general, I would prefer my SD group to not include activism. To me, Sustained Dialogue is just about hearing others’ beliefs and considering them. Keeping it in this sphere ensures that no one feels attacked for their beliefs.
One fun fact: I am certified in Wilderness First Aid!

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Kate Lewis

My role as a moderator: We’ll be talking about some heavy and at-times emotional topics, and I see myself as a guide in navigating those murky waters, pushing us to dive deeper where we can and to take a step back when we might need to see if there’s another perspective at play here — but largely going with the natural flow of conversation.
My stance on activism through SD: The goal of sustained dialogue, in my mind, is not to arrive at some consensus that can be realized through action or activism, but to foster empathy among individuals and groups who may, at first glance, have little in common. Whether or not your perspective on the world changes in SD — I think expanding your own world-view is a tangible action in itself — and whether or not you choose to act on that change is up to you.
One fun fact: I’ve gone hiking in Death Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion and the Smokies, and I’m hoping to finish the AT once I graduate

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Katherine Liu

My role as a moderator: Being a positive and supportive influence to help facilitate and promote progressive discussion and thought.
My stance on activism through SD: Not necessarily, I think activism is certainly a positive result but not always the ultimate end goal.
One fun fact: I have double jointed elbows.

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Katie Brown

My role as a moderator: My role as a moderator is to help guide participants in creating a welcoming space where we can all learn from each other, express ourselves clearly and with intent, and be challenged by the dialogue in order to grow.
My stance on activism through SD: I think both participants and moderators should participate in activism if they feel empowered to do so. I think it’s important to remember that activism comes in many forms. I believe in activism, and my participation in activism has been influenced by my time as an SD participant. Dialogue can often be the spark that leads people to act.
One fun fact: I can wiggle my ears!

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Leanna Yevak:

My role as a moderator: I think of myself as a facilitator who has the privilege of listening to and learning from my participants.
My stance on activism through SD: While I am an advocate for several social issues, I do not always* identify as an activist for those issues. In my experience, I’ve found it to be more effective to address complex situations free of labels or agendas and truly hear the other’s point of view without influencing the interaction with my ideology. But activists are welcome!!
One fun fact: Listening to people speak French kinda makes me nauseous

Lucy Catlett
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My stance on activism through SD:
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Lucy Fitzgerald
My role as a moderator: I see my role as a facilitator and mentor to the participants; to be a resource as much as a friend and guide.
My stance on activism through SD: I do believe any effective dialogue leads to activism, whether in the group or outside of it. Dialogue leads to expanded perspective and greater awareness of the problems that exist for many different kinds of people. My hope is that, upon experiencing dialogue, participants will feel encouraged to become activists in whatever sphere they deem it most necessary.
One fun fact: I know how to fly a 4-person airplane

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Luke McPhillips

My role as a moderator: To responsibly provoke engaging conversation and critical thought on concepts and topics that have infinite facets in a space where people feel comfortable being vulnerable.
My stance on activism through SD: My vision of dialogue is that it is inherently independent of activism just by being called dialogue. Dialogue is the sharing of knowledge and growth and alteration of personal viewpoints through critical thoughts and sharing of experiences. But my vision of effective dialogue requires supports activism, as I believe for dialogue to truly resonate and provoke personal development, it must be reinforced by action. Effective sustained dialogue challenges us to work for societal change.
One fun fact: I practice singing Glamorous by Fergie every night before bed.

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MacKenzie Hodgson

My role as a moderator: As a moderator, I aim to ask questions and guide the dialogue in ways that allow each participant to have a thought provoking and Illuminating experience.
My stance on activism through SD: To me, the mission of SD is to create a space for self expression and learning, not necessarily consensus building. I am open to activism if it is a natural extension, but I would be hesitant to create a dialogue with activist overtones as that may alienate group members who stand on different sides of an issue.
One fun fact: This summer I got to ride in a self driving car!

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Maddie Conroy

My role as a moderator: To create a context that inspires participants to listen, share, and understand, both comfortably and deeply.
My stance on activism through SD: While I don’t see activism as an inherent part of Sustained Dialogue, I believe an effective dialogue can and, at times, should motivate participants to engage in activism in whichever form they choose.
One fun fact: I’m a triplet!

Maeve Hickey
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My stance on activism through SD:
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Marlina Mejia

My role as a moderator: As a moderator, I find myself uniting students despite cultural, racial, socioeconomic, sexual orientation, religious, and gender differences through the cultivation of an appreciation for diversity of thought and perspective.
My stance on activism through SD: My vision of effective sustained dialogue does include activism. I believe that dialogue is the root of activism and can bring to light both societal issues and the ways we as individuals and groups can combat those complications in our communities.
One fun fact: I’ve been dancing since the turn of the century!

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Mary Garner McGehee

My role as a moderator: As a moderator, my role is to create a community in which people bond over what makes them different from each other rather than their similarities.
My stance on activism through SD: I think the goal of effective sustained dialogue is to complicate people’s beliefs. Personally, I think activism is important and very powerful, but I think sustained dialogue is an opportunity to help us get a more nuanced understanding of our beliefs and where they come from, rather than a place act on those beliefs.
One fun fact: I am the ninth generation of my family to grow up in the same county.

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Mary Grace Sheers

My role as a moderator: As a moderator, my main role is providing support to everyone in the room, so they feel comfortable taking the conversation further and bringing in controversial ideas.
My stance on activism through SD: Dialogues is an important step to activism. Activists need dialogue to understand each other and those they are working to change. Dialogue can help plan an act of activism or empower its participants to do so.
One fun fact: I am currently learning to juggle.

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Max King

My role as a moderator: I want to be an active participant in the group and try to challenge others’ assumptions and delve into their unexamined beliefs.
My stance on activism through SD: I’m all for activism.
One fun fact: There’s a video out there of 6th-grade me singing “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” somewhere in the world.

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Monica Marciano

My role as a moderator: to listen to and to facilitate a conversation that helps all SD participants feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.
My stance on activism through SD: I think that moderators should make their participants aware of activism events on Grounds, especially as they pertain to recently-covered topics in SD. This way, SD participants are armed with the knowledge needed to take further steps on SD topics that intrigue them. However, I don’t necessarily think SD should become a forum where all participants are required to participate in activism, since this might push some people away from joining the organization.
One fun fact: I can stand on my head for around 3 minutes!

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Nick Frady

My role as a moderator: I see my role as a moderator as an active bystander, one who interjects enough to guide the discussion but ensuring that the focus is on the participants.
My stance on activism through SD: My vision of effective sustained dialogue does not include activism. I am however open to activism because it can precipitate necessary change.
One fun fact: I’m an excellent cook and my specialties are scrambled eggs and grilled cheese.

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Nick Shafik

My role as a moderator: As a moderator, I believe my role is to offer questions that engage the whole group and push beyond the topics and ideas participants have already encountered.
My stance on activism through SD: My view is that dialogue should equip everyone involved with the tools they need to engage in activism, but should first and foremost provide a space for participants to share their views and hear the views of others.
One fun fact: I still love Shania Twain.

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Noah Olson

My role as a moderator: Helping people open up
My stance on activism through SD: I think activism means different things to different people. My definition would be continuing conversations with people whom you otherwise would not. I believe in this kind of activism.
One fun fact: I have met the creators of game of thrones

Pearl Risberg

My role as a moderator: Each group of participants that I sit down with is vastly different and includes people with valuable and unique life experiences. I intend to make all participants feel able to share those experiences and empowered to do so, especially when they may be the only person in the room who feels the way they do. Ideally, if I can create a space where this can happen, participants begin to see each other in entirely new ways. The result is typically a room full of close friends equipped with a broader understanding of each other and their community than they had before SD.
My stance on activism through SD: I believe that activism is an extremely important force in our society today, but I see engaging in dialogue as a different or preliminary necessity. SD participants should feel informed and able to participate in all forms of activism, but they should never feel obligated or forced to do so.
One fun fact: I can walk on my hands for over a minute.

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Rachael Smith

My role as a moderator: To encourage flow in the dialogue when/if necessary but otherwise let the dialogue grow and evolve on its own.
My stance on activism through SD: My personal vision of dialogue does not involve activism. The appeal of dialogue is that there is no goal or agenda. There is no conclusion you are trying to reach or debate you are trying to win. I believe that trying to include activism in dialogue goes against my vision of what dialogue is.
One fun fact: I’ve known how to ride a unicycle since I was 7 years old

Rawda Fawaz

My role as a moderator: I see my role as someone who guides people through difficult conversations and encourages uncomfortable dialogue in order to help people learn something new about themselves or others.
My stance on activism through SD: Yes; I believe that one of the main goals of dialogue is to encourage action from participants and create allies.
One fun fact: I speak 3 languages

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Sam Coppel

My role as a moderator: Associative and ready to roll with the punches.
My stance on activism through SD: Activism comes in many forms, and I’d argue that dialogue in & of itself can reorient discourse around Grounds. This is activistic in my book. However, I’m also into encouraging my participants to attend protests, etc. like the Old Cabell die-in last fall.
One fun fact: According to former SD Chair Mary Russo, the way I move my body is “gross.”

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Sarah Yang

My role as a moderator: Providing an environment where people are comfortable sharing.
My stance on activism through SD: I consider dialogue a form of activism that is important and eye-opening.
One fun fact: Allergic to mangoes. 😦

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Shweta Tembe

My role as a moderator: Being a moderator for SD opens up opportunities to talk about topics that we normally can’t or won’t explore in our daily lives.
My stance on activism through SD: Yes, I’m open to activism.
One fun fact: I’m a graduated student living in Charlottesville and working in Louisa.

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Tarin Jones

My role as a moderator: My role as a SD moderator is to initiate, direct, understand, and sustain dialogue.
My stance on activism through SD: Yes! I am open to all forms of activism because I want to exercise my right to have and to express an opinion

Taylor Trumble
My role as a moderator:
My stance on activism through SD:
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