Civic Health Project Presents
Panel Participant Bios
Ben is an award-winning filmmaker of mixed Indian and American descent. After working with the Coen Brothers in the camera department of O Brother, Where Art Thou? Rekhi was hired by George Clooney to shoot the behind the scenes for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Rekhi went on to produce the Independent Spirit Award-nominated feature film Bomb the System, direct the SXSW Audience Award winner Waterborne,and write the English Dialogues for Ben Kingsley in the Bollywood film Teen Patti. Rekhi also directed The Ashram with Academy Award Winner Melissa Leo, Kal Penn, and Sam Keeley which was released by The Orchard in 2018. That same year he directed and produced a documentary series for PBS which profiles minority voters who support Trump called The Hidden Vote. His third feature Watch List, a crime thriller co- financed by Bron Studios (Joker, Leave No Trace, Fences) was set against the drug wars in the Philippines and will release across the US in August. The Reunited States is his first feature length documentary.
Susan honors the legacy of her daughter and civil rights activist Heather Heyer by empowering others to make a difference in the world by fighting for equal rights for all. Susan is the mother of Heather Heyer and the co-founder of the Heather Heyer Foundation (HHF). Susan launched the foundation to carry on the legacy of her daughter, Heather, a young paralegal for the Miller Law Group who had a love for all individuals regardless of race, religion or creed. Heather was slain while standing up for social justice with her friends on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, VA. The Heather Heyer Foundation is a 501(c)3. Susan formed the HHF to help provide scholarships for students seeking degrees or certifications in careers that work with social justice issues, such as paralegals, social workers, lawyers, educators, and other individuals who want to make positive social change. Susan serves as the foundation president and board chair. Based on her daughter’s motto, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention,” Susan brings Heather’s legacy alive by sharing a positive, non-violent message and call-to-action that inspires others to fight for social justice and civil rights issues while encouraging dialogue and understanding in our communities.
Steven is the Founder & President of Millennial Action Project (MAP), the largest nonpartisan organization of young lawmakers in the U.S. Working with over 800 policymakers in Congress and state legislatures, MAP is building a new generation of leadership to transcend the partisan divide and strengthen our democracy. A nationally-recognized political commentator, Steven has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NBC News, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, and other national outlets. He is also co-author of the new book, JFK: The Last Speech, published in 2018. Steven has been named a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum, a Forbes 30 Under 30, the Millennial of the Year, an Aspen Institute Ideas Scholar, and one of the Most Influential Leaders Under 40 by Washington Life magazine.
Dave and Erin Leaverton
After spending years creating divisions working on political campaigns, David left politics and, with his wife Erin and three kids, journeyed to all 50 states over the course of a year to find out why America is coming apart at the seams. Now, Erin and David are co-founders of Undivided Nation and co-host the weekly podcast, Hello My Name is America, while Erin finishes her book about the experience entitled “Finding Home.”
Mark has been working to bridge the partisan divide in the U.S. for a very long time; several years ago (1997 and 1999) he co-designed and facilitated two U.S. House of Representatives Bipartisan Congressional Retreats designed to help House members deal with conflict in order to work together more effectively. These efforts were followed by numerous other bi-partisan and trans-partisan activities, including most recently co-founding The Bridge Alliance, a diverse coalition of more than 80 respected organizations committed to revitalizing democratic practice in America. In his 2016, book The Reunited States of America: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide, Mark not only explains realistic steps that we all can take to bridge gaping partisan differences, but he also tells story after story about how this is already being done.