May 21, 2019
Read time : 7 min

This year’s competition, now in its seventh year, welcomed its largest cohort to date. The 2018-2019 Up to Us Campus Competition ended with 125 teams from schools across the country completing their campaigns and qualifying for evaluation for the top prizes. A panel of expert judges reviewed the top reports and selected the winning team based on criteria such as innovative campaign design, student engagement, and effective use of traditional and social media to raise awareness.

This year’s diverse panel of judges have expertise spanning civic engagement, economic policy, education and strategic communications. Keep reading to learn more about each of the Year 7 judges:

Shai Akabas - Us to Us Competition judge.

Shai Akabas is the Director of Economic Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a non-profit think tank with a mission to combine the best ideas from both political parties to promote health, security, and opportunity for all Americans. In this role, Shai conducts research on economic policy issues including the federal budget, retirement security, and the financing of higher education. He has also staffed the Domenici-Rivlin Debt Reduction Task Force and assisted Jerome H. Powell, now Chairman of the Federal Reserve, in his work on the federal debt limit. For the past several years, Akabas has steered BPC’s Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings.


Fatema Basrai - Up to Us Competition Judge

Fatema Basrai is the Assistant Director of InnovateHealth at Yale University. In this role, she works with students, faculty, staff and community members to support social ventures in health and education across the globe. She also served as the Vice Chair for the San Antonio ISD's 2016 Bond Committee which oversees a $450 million-dollar bond and was a founding member of SA RISE, an educational equity community organizing group. Forbes recognized Fatema on its 2018 30 Under 30 list for her dedication to ensuring educational equity for students globally.  Fatema participated in CGI U 2011 as a student from the University of Texas, Austin with a Commitment to Action focused on reforestation efforts in Cameroon.


Up to Us Competition - Kristen Dupard

Kristen Dupard is currently a JD candidate at Columbia University. She participated in the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) in both 2015 and 2016 as a student from the University of Southern Mississippi with her Commitment to Action “Empower the Vote, Save the Vote,” which focused on engaging and registering young voters from Hattiesburg, Mississippi through registration drives, seminars, and debates with local and state politicians. Through her commitment, Kristen registered more than 500 people to vote. She has also held positions at the United States Senate and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.


Tony Pennay - Up to Us Competition Judge

Tony Pennay is the Chief Learning Officer at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. In this role, Tony works with a team of educators to help cultivate the next generation of citizen-leaders. Each year, the Reagan Foundation works with more than 40,000 students and 2,000 teachers through various educational programs. Tony was the 2012 recipient of the Civic Action Award from the California Council for the Social Studies. He currently serves at the Chair of the Education Committee for the American Alliance of Museums and as Vice-Chair of the Awards Committee for the National Council for the Social Studies. 


James Roland - Up to Us Competition Judge

James Roland is the Senior Director of Civic and Community Engagement (CCE) at Emory University. The CCE houses several distinguished and signature service-learning programs that work collaboratively with Emory staff, faculty, alumni and more than 200 community partners in the metro Atlanta area and beyond. James is also a nationally recognized communicator and has served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of State, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta Housing Authority, Open Society Institute, and Urban Debate Leagues across the country. 


Nitiya Walker - Up to Us Competition judge.

Nitiya Walker is the Founder of Seeds of Fortune, an organization that empowers young women of color through financial literacy and management skills, particularly as it relates to college scholarships and student loan debt. Since its founding, Seeds of Fortune has graduated 50 scholars from all 5 boroughs of New York City, garnering $3 million in university scholarship opportunities. Nitiya was awarded the 2018 Educational Leadership Award from State Senator Kevin Parker (D-NY), and was invited to attend the 2016 White House United State of Women Summit. She participated in CGI U 2014 as a student from Babson College, where Seeds of Fortune was her Commitment to Action.


Thank you to our dedicated panel of judges in addition to everyone who participated in Year 7 of the Up to Us Campus Competition! We were impressed by every team’s creativity and dedication in developing and executing inspiring campaigns to raise awareness of our long-term fiscal challenges.  Keep a close eye on our blog and social media channels for exciting updates and profiles on the Year 7 finalists and winners!