Questions? Contact us at info@civics4action.org.

The Rationale for and the Development of the Collaborative

Nationally, a movement is occurring, shining a spotlight on the need for universal civic education and informed, actively engaged citizens. An array of prominent individuals, organizations, foundations, colleges/universities, state departments of education, and the U.S. Department of Education are working, through various means, to increase and improve civic education throughout the country. These diverse efforts are based on the fact that there is a serious decline in fundamental civic learning at all levels of our educational systems.

Additionally, in 2020-2021, ongoing political and public health crises strained the nation’s civic infrastructure. The global pandemic highlighted an array of social inequalities that require citizen action to solve. Simultaneously, antidemocratic movements/forces showed distrust in elections and have prompted a wave of voter suppression tactics. This is the context for our work.

The time is ripe for the Civics4Action Collaborative. Based on their research, analysis and experience in their communities and in their classrooms, members of the Collaborative recognize that there is an urgent need in the Greater Southern Tier of New York for an independent, nonpartisan organization to create, plan, and implement multiple, diverse, and replicable civics learning, civic action, and civil discourse opportunities. We came together initially because of a shared view of the current poor state of civics education in our home region with the commitment to take action.

Members and supporters of the Collaborative include college faculty, staff, and students; K-12 teachers, staff, and students; representatives from library systems, museums, and other non-profits; management consultants; and other committed individuals. We are designing and testing pertinent, replicable programs, including, A Future Leaders Program, Moderated Community Conversations, Relevant Video Programming. The multi-county region’s libraries and museums will be the primary venues for events and programs co-sponsored by the Civics4Action Collaborative.

We will pilot programs in Chemung, Steuben, and Schuyler Counties. This initial stage will be accomplished by the Spring of 2024. Once tested and refined in these three counties, we will then phase in programs throughout the remaining eleven counties comprising what we call the Greater Southern Tier: Allegany County, Broome County, Cayuga County, Chenango County, Cortland County, Delaware County, Otsego County, Seneca County, Tioga County, Tompkins County, and Yates County. (See New York State map below. The Greater Southern Tier is colored in maroon).

Affiliate of the South Central Regional Library Council

As of October, 2021, the Civics4Action Collaborative became an Affiliate Member of the South Central Regional Library Council (scrlc.org/memberdirectory). This is significant, because the Collaborative’s Strategic Plan calls for the cultivation of working relationships and strategic partnerships with libraries and library systems across a multi-county region. The Collaborative’s Affiliate membership gives us standing with the SCRLC member libraries, public library systems, and school library systems, and thereby facilitates our work.

In cooperation with both libraries and museums, the Civics4Action Collaborative aims to create, sponsor, and host civics events, about topics and issues which relate to local residents’ lived experiences. The Collaborative’s stated missions and values are similar to those of libraries and museums. By working together, we believe that the Collaborative and the Greater Southern Tier’s many libraries and museums will strengthen each other in our pursuit of common objectives. (Please note that we have adopted the geographic footprint of the SCRLC, but, have renamed it, the Greater Southern Tier).

Map of the Greater Southern Tier, indicated in red.

For more information, click on the Three Year Strategic Plan (2021-2024).

Board of Directors as of January, 2023

Attorney Aaron Alsheimer
Sayles and Evans
One West Church Street
Elmira, New York 14901

Andrew Baron, CFP, EA
Certified Financial Planner, and Enrolled Agent
Associate Advisor
John G. Ullman and Associates
Horseheads, New York

Christine Brown
Outreach Services Librarian
South Central Regional Library Council (SCRLC)
Ithaca, New York

Erin Cannan
Vice President For Civic Engagement
Bard College
Annandale-on-Hudson, New York

Dr. Melissa A. Gaeke
Director, Center For Civic Engagement and Leadership
Senior Professional Lecturer in Political Science
Marist College
Poughkeepsie, New York

Kerri Green
Senior Economic and Community Development Specialist
Schuyler County Partnership For Economic Development (SCOPED)
Watkins Glen, New York

Kelly Houck
District Superintendent
Greater Southern Tier BOCES
Painted Post, New York

Abby Lane
Events and Membership Manager
Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce
Watkins Glen, New York

G. Peter Lederer, Ed.D., Retired
Founder and President
Civics4Action Collaborative, Inc.
Big Flats, New York

Taytum Markee
Visitor and Community Relations Manager
National Women’s Hall of Fame
Seneca Falls, New York

Joseph Panzarella. PMP (Project Management Professional)
Project Manager and International Sales
Hilliard Corporation
Elmira, New York
Chairman of the Board, Wings of Eagles Discovery Center

Dr. Grant Reeher
Professor, Political Science
Director, Campbell Public Affairs Institute
Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York

Bruce Whitmarsh
Chemung County Historical Society and Museum
Vice President, Museum Association of New York
Elmira, New York

Special Advisors To The Board of Directors:

Mary-Carol Lindbloom
Executive Director
South Central Regional Library Council
Ithaca, New York

Claire Lovell
Digital Services Librarian
South Central Regional Library Council
Ithaca, New York

Sally Jacoby Murphy
Fred and Harriett Taylor Memorial Library
Hammondsport, New York

Natalie Stetson
Executive Director
Erie Canal Museum
Syracuse, New York

Jeffrey Urbin
Education Specialist
Franklon D. Roosevelt Library and Museum
Hyde Park, New York

Collaborative Members Emerita:

Denise W. King
Retired Middle School Teacher
Member and Past President,
Southern Tier Library System Board of Trustees

Carla M. Michalak
Professor, History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences
Civic Engagement Coordinator
SUNY Broome Community College
Binghamton, New York

Scarlett Rebman
Formerly, Director of Grants

Judy Rowe
Principal, JA Rowe Consulting. LLC
Board of Directors, The Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes

Jennifer Sellers
Director of Innovative Learning Sites
Corning Community College

Dr. Jim Twombly
Professor of Political Science
Elmira College
Political Analyst, WENY TV
@JimTwombly on Twitter