A Message from Our New Executive Director

A Message From Christopher R. Riano

June 26, 2020

To My Friends and Colleagues:

I am thrilled to have my first opportunity to write to everyone as the new executive director of the nation's Center for Civic Education. It is humbling to have the chance to join with each of you to amplify engagement with our fellow Americans, and all of those that we work with around the globe, around the civic and constitutional principles that we all hold dear.

We are in the midst of a sea change in our society. Since I started as executive director at the Center just a few weeks ago, we have continued to see momentous events that are reshaping public dialogue and reinvigorating civic participation. With the civic duty and public commitment we’ve seen in response to a number of national challenges, we find ourselves at an inflection point—one that has increased the urgency for innovative approaches to civic engagement and education for everyone of all ages.

The venerable writer James Baldwin wrote, "The purpose of education … is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for him or herself, to make his or her own decisions." At this high-stakes moment in our history, the work of the Center for Civic Education is as vitally important as ever. I have been fortunate to have had the time to speak with so many people who are engaged in our work, and I look forward to hearing even more thoughts and ideas as I begin to set forward a strategic vision for the future of the Center that celebrates our past and also harnesses the energy of this incredible moment to propel us forward into the future.

We at the Center for Civic Education believe that civic engagement is the cornerstone of democracy and paves the path toward justice. We believe, like Baldwin, that education should give people the tools they need to look at the world, to understand society, and to participate and engage in democratic practice.

That is why I am excited to build on the fifty-five-year legacy of the Center, right from the start of my tenure, to bolster our resources, redouble our efforts at programming and communications, and to embrace a diversity of ideas in order to strategically engage with all members of our society so that all can benefit from the ability to look at the world and understand the world for themselves.

As this moment in our history shows us, we cannot create change on our own, and we will always be stronger when we are indivisible in our shared ambitions. We rely on your invaluable work and partnership to promote the ideals of civic education and foster greater engagement with our communities. I am especially grateful to be a part of this journey and look forward to having the chance to speak and work together even further in the coming months.

Most Respectfully,
Christopher Riano Signature


Christopher R. Riano


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