About TDC

About TDC

As we move forward in an increasingly contentious global era and face a civic learning gap nationally, the United States must make civic and democratic learning for all students a top national priority. The Democracy Commitment (TDC) is a national initiative dedicated to the cause of democracy in higher education, and to make democratic skills available to all individuals who desire a voice and a seat at the table of local, state, and national discourse and action.  To such end TDC provides a platform for the development and expansion of community college programs, projects, and curricula aimed at engaging students in civic learning and democratic engagement.

The goal of TDC is that every student of an American community college graduates with an education in citizenship and democracy. This goal includes ALL of our students whether they aim to transfer to university, achieve an associate degree, or obtain a certificate.  The future of our democracy and our shared futures depend on a more informed, engaged, and globally responsible citizenry.  We strive to close the gap between the democracy we have and the democracy we seek.


TDC is celebrating its 5th Anniversary as it was launched on November 11, 2011, at The New York Times headquarters in New York City.  Presidents and chancellors from 50 community colleges and districts nationwide were early signatories, and we have nearly doubled our network of committed member institutions progressing to realize our goal.

The Democracy Commitment is modeled after the American Democracy Project, a national coalition of public state colleges and universities committed to civic and democratic work, sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU.)

TDC is headquartered in Washington, D.C., at the offices of AASCU where this partnership enriches both 2-year colleges and 4-year colleges and universities in their efforts to enhance civic engagement on campus and in student life by creating complementary projects and goals.

National Leadership Team


Verdis LeVar Robinson

Interim National Manager

Verdis joins TDC as the interim National Manager after serving as a tenured Assistant Professor of History and African-American Studies having taught writing-intensive, web-enhanced, service-learning courses at Monroe Community College (MCC) in Rochester, New York, for ten years. In addition to serving as MCC’s TDC Campus Coordinator since the beginning of the initiative, he has served on TDC National Steering Committee and on the Advisory Council for its Economic Inequality Initiative.  Verdis holds a B.M. in Voice Performance from Boston University, a B.S. and an M.A. in History from SUNY College at Brockport, and an M.A. in African-American Studies from SUNY University at Buffalo. See his blog post to learn more about him.

Brian Murphy, president of De Anza College, and co-founder of The Democracy Commitment, addresses the conference.

Brian Murphy


Dr. Brian Murphy is president of De Anza College in Cupertino, California. In 2011, he was instrumental in the development of The Democracy Commitment, a national project aimed at ensuring that every community college student has an education in democratic practice.  Murphy has been president of De Anza College since 2004. A key focus of his presidency is the preparation of students to be active, involved citizens committed to transforming their communities. This vision lead to the creation of De Anza’s Institute for Community and Civic Engagement.  He earned a bachelor’s degree from Williams College and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, all in political science.


John J. Theis

Chair, Executive Committee

Dr. John J. Theis is the Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Lone State College in Texas after serving as a political science professor. Theis has presented numerous papers which include: “Split Ticket and Divided Government” to the American Political Science Association in 1994; “The Institutionalization of the American Presidency” to the Midwest Political Science Association; and “Split Ticket Voting in American Elections: A Pooled-Time Series Analysis” to the Southwestern Social Science Association, which he co-authored.  Theis received a Bachelor of Administration degree from the University of Tulsa. He also earned a Master of Arts degree from Oklahoma State University. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.

TDC Executive Committee

The Democracy Commitment (TDC) Executive Team is a decision-making body with the primary function of taking responsibility for the feasibility, business, and the achievement of outcomes of TDC.  TDC Executive Team regularly monitors and reviews the initiative’s status as well as provide oversight.

William Coppola
Tarrant County College, TX

Fagan R. Forhan
Assistant Dean, K-12 Partnerships & Civic Engagement
Mount Wachusett Community College, MA

Eddie Genna
Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs & Collaborative Governance
Maricopa County Community Colleges, AZ

Kurt Hoffman
Senior Vice President of Instructional and Student Affairs
Allegany College of Maryland, MD

Lisa Lawrason
Associate Professor, Political Science
Delta College, MI

Lavita McMath Turner
Director of Government and External Relations
CUNY Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, NY

TDC National Steering Committee

TDC National Steering Committee is primary responsibility for leading, advocating, and coordinating national efforts to realize the goals and objectives of the initiative.  With the Executive Committee, the Steering Committee provides a stabilizing influence so that organizational strategies and directions are established and maintained with a visionary view.

Mary Frances Archey
Vice President, Student Success & Completion
Community College of Allegheny County, PA

Tamarra Coleman-Hill
Assistant Professor of English
Moraine Valley Community College, IL

Reza Fakhari
Vice President for Continuing Education, Workforce Development, and  Strategic Community Partnerships & Professor of Politics
CUNY Kingsborough Community College, NY

Kim Klein
Assistant Professor, Political Science
Delta College, MI

Lawrence Robinson
Director of Center for Civic Participation
Maricopa County Community Colleges, AZ

Brett Rowlett
Director of Governmental & Community Relations
Lane Community College, OR

Normah Salleh-Barone
Vice President of Student Development
Moraine Valley Community College, IL


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