Washington, DC – The U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission announced today that prominent advocates for improving American civic life, Victoria Hughes of Millwood, Virginia and Rajiv Vinnakota of Yarmouth, Maine, will serve as volunteer co-chairs of its Civics & Civic Engagement Task Force. In this role, Hughes and Vinnakota will provide counsel on nonpartisan, civic-minded America250 programming that furthers the Commission’s vision to actively engage all Americans in the multiyear commemoration.
The Civics & Civic Engagement Task Force will focus on helping to broaden our shared understanding of self-governance as a means to encourage civic dialogue, participation, and service, and empower each American’s individual role in “government by consent of the governed.” As co-chairs, they are also tasked with recruiting other leading experts that will help facilitate the broadest possible participation in civics and education programming.
“As we approach the five year countdown to America250, we are eager to establish task forces aimed at diversifying the planning and programming for our nation’s most inclusive commemoration yet,” said Daniel M. DiLella, Chairman of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission. “America 250 promises to draw increased attention to civics and civic engagement across the nation, and we know Victoria, Raj, and their task force colleagues will help foster that interest into a legacy of informed and engaged citizens well beyond 2026.”
Victoria Hughes began her career as a classroom teacher in Covington, Kentucky, which led to her founding the nonprofit Bill of Rights Institute in Arlington, Virginia. Hughes served as president of the institute for 11 years, preparing thousands of educators to teach the Constitution more effectively. She held a variety of senior executive roles and worked to increase the private funding available for civics education. From 2015-2016, she served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Recently retired from her role as senior director at the Ashbrook Center in Ashland, Ohio, she is enthused to continue the work of educating and engaging Americans about the nation’s founding principles through America250.
Rajiv Vinnakota is the president of The Institute for Citizens & Scholars (formerly known as the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation), a 75-year-old organization that has played a significant role in shaping higher education. With an expanded mission, Citizens & Scholars is now rebuilding how we develop citizens in our country. Prior to his current role, Vinnakota served as the executive vice president of the Youth & Engagement division at the Aspen Institute. He co-founded and remains a board member of The SEED Foundation, the nation’s first network of public, college-preparatory boarding schools for underserved children. In 2019, Vinnakota, under the auspices of the nonprofit Red & Blue Works, led a research initiative analyzing the civic education landscape. The resulting white paper From Civic Education to a Civic Learning Ecosystem: A Landscape Analysis and Case for Collaboration closely aligns with the America250 vision by calling on America to imagine a lifetime of civic learning and practice to “produce citizens who are well-informed, productively engaged in working for the common good, and hopeful about our democracy.”
The Civics & Civic Engagement Task Force is one of several task forces created by the Commission to extend its reach and resources. Advisory in nature, these task forces are of immense benefit to the Commission, increasing inclusiveness by enlisting many different voices to serve, expanding its capacity and connection to potential partners, and facilitating program development to support America250’s positive social impact.
More information about the Commission’s vision and approach to programming can be found in Inspiring the American Spirit, its report submitted to the President on December 31, 2019.
About the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission
The U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission was established by Congress as the official body tasked with planning and orchestrating the 250th anniversary of the United States of America. The Commission’s commemorative period runs from 2020 to 2027. The Commission aims to inspire all Americans and each American to participate in the largest and most inclusive commemoration in our nation’s history. For more information visit www.america250.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.