Young People and the 2020 Election

Part of our "SNF Agora Conversations: Election 2020" series
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Young people are fueling so much of the political energy of this moment—from protests for racial justice to mobilizations for climate action—but their passion often does not show up at the polls. While they make up over a fifth of the electorate, they make up only 11-13 percent of the vote. This panel will focus on the role of young people in the upcoming 2020 election. Featuring a researcher, practitioner, and young person, we will explore youth attitudes towards the election and democracy writ-large, and the role they will play in determining the outcome of this election, and our future politics.


  • Brent J. Cohen is executive director of Generation Progress, a national advocacy and education organization that works with and for young people to promote progressive solutions to key political and social challenges. Prior to joining GP, Cohen  served as vice president and interim CEO of JustLeadershipUSA, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to cutting the U.S. correctional population in half by empowering the people most impacted by incarceration to drive policy change. During the Obama administration, he was an appointee and senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), where he led DOJ’s efforts under the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to advance criminal and juvenile justice reform with a focus on reducing incarceration among kids and young adults.
  • Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg is the director of CIRCLE, where she oversees a wide-ranging portfolio of research and impact projects with its diverse partners and for audience groups. Kawashima-Ginsberg has a background in community psychology and social-emotional learning, which she applies to various projects at CIRCLE. She has a PhD in clinical psychology (child and family subspecialty) from Loyola University Chicago but identifies as a community psychologist. Before coming to CIRCLE, she worked with young people and families at a public high school, and at an emergency room and community health center as a therapist in training. 
  • Quill Robinson is vice president of government affairs at the American Conservation Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing young people around environmental action through common-sense, market-based, and limited-government ideals. As an undergraduate at the University of Washington in Seattle, Quill interned in the U.S. Senate and conducted research for a local free-market think tank. After graduating in 2018, he studied and worked in Germany for a year as a fellow with the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals. At ACC, he connects students with their representatives in Washington and works toward turning ACC’s vision into real policy solutions.
  • Scott Warren, moderator, an SNF Agora Visiting Fellow. He is chief executive officer of Generation Citizen, an organization he co-founded at Brown University with fellow student Anna Ninan during their senior year, working with students in the local Providence community. From that starting point in 2008, Warren has grown Generation Citizen to become one of the preeminent civics education organizations in the country, promoting Action Civics across diverse geographies through best-in-class programming and concrete policy change.