Cocktails and Conversations: Democracy Matters

Thursday, 21 May 2020 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM EST

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Thursday, 21 May 2020 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM EST

This panel is meant to energize voters through a discussion about what it means to live in a democracy. The conversation will include protecting our democracy, resources for people to help protect our voting rights and how to support candidates in times of COVID

Moderator: Kimberly Conway Dumpson, VP of College Advancement and External Relations at Rhode Island College


- Erin Vilardi from VoteRunLead

- Taylor Dumpson, American University Student President who won neo-nazi discrimination case    

- Vimala Phongsavanh, Congressional Progressive Caucus Center

The event is co-hosted by Rhode Island College. It is free and open to the public. Funding for the event is made possible through support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Council seeds, supports, and strengthens public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders.

Cancellation policy

If you need to, please cancel 24 hours before the event to allow others to attend in your place. Thank you.

Women's Fund of Rhode Island

The mission of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island is to invest in women and girls through research, advocacy, grant-making, and strategic partnerships designed to achieve gender equity through systemic change.

Contact the Organizer

Erin Vilardi
Founder and Director, Vote Run Lead

Erin Vilardi is the founder and executive director of VoteRunLead, a national organization leveraging technology and training to accelerate the number of women in political leadership. She first launched VoteRunLead as vice president of program and communications at The White House Project, establishing the largest national political program readying women for public office and civic life, training over 15,000 women. She co-authored The Athena CORE10©: Reimagined Leadership – an innovative set of leadership competencies for the 21st century – with the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University. She has served as a leadership development consultant for a range of clients including Fortune 100 companies, global girls' initiatives and the United States Department of State, reaching women leaders in a dozen international cities. Vilardi serves on the advisory board of Girl Meets World,, the New American Leaders Project, and is the New York Delegate for Vision 2020, a 50-state initiative to increase women in leadership by the year 2020. She is a producer of All About Ann: Governor Richards and the Lonestar Star, a forthcoming documentary about the late pioneering governor. She has appeared on CNN, BBC, Fox News and her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine and in numerous international and domestic publications on women, politics, and leadership.

About Erin Vilardi

Founder and Director, Vote Run Lead
Taylor Dumpson
Law Student and Activist

Taylor A. Dumpson is a rising third-year Juris Doctorate Candidate and Public Service Scholar. Ms. Dumpson has interned with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Stop Hate Project (Washington, DC), Capitol Hill Office of Congresswoman Fredericka S. Wilson (D-FL) (Washington, D.C.), Wicomico County Office of the State’s Attorney (Salisbury, MD), and the Office of Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes of Maryland’s District 37-A (Salisbury, MD). In Spring 2017, while pursuing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Law and Society at American University in the Nation’s Capitol, Ms. Dumpson became the first black woman to serve as president of the Student Government in the University’s 124-year history. In the wake of her ground-breaking election, she was the target of a racially-motivated hate crime on her first day in office, followed by cyber-harassment by members of white supremacist groups. Since then, and in an effort to raise awareness about the physical, emotional and mental health impacts of hate crimes, Ms. Dumpson has given a TEDx Talk, testified before Congress, and been featured in interviews with various print, television and radio broadcast media such as CNN, NBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, WTOP, and WAMU. Ms. Dumpson’s personal story is featured along with the narratives of other survivors of hate crimes in a newly released book, “American Hate: Survivors Speak Out,” edited by Arjun Singh Sethi. In her spare time, Taylor enjoys focusing on social justice issues specifically concerning girls, women, and people from marginalized identities, as well as youth leadership, and higher education. Following law school, she plans to pursue a career in civic-engagement and civil rights litigation, with a long-term goal of opening a non-profit community center.

About Taylor Dumpson

Law Student and Activist
Vimala Phongsavanh
Organizing Director

Vimala comes to Congressional Progressive Caucus Center having served as the Director of Programs and Community Engagement at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), the Policy Director at the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), and the Assistant Director at Common Cause Rhode Island. She got her start as a youth organizer in Chinatown Boston, and as a community organizer in the Southeast Asian community in Rhode Island. Vimala proudly served two terms as an elected school committee member in her hometown of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, where she eventually became the Chairwoman. She is a founding board member of New Leaders Council Rhode Island and currently serves as a board member of the Laotian American National Alliance (LANA). She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Providence College and her Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Rhode Island.

About Vimala Phongsavanh

Organizing Director