Dr. Abraham Goldberg, Executive Director

Abraham Goldberg is the inaugural executive director of the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement, a nonpartisan academic entity at James Madison University with a mission to educate and inspire people to address public issues and cultivate a just and inclusive democracy.  He is also an associate professor of political science.  Prior to arriving at JMU in 2017, he was the director of the Office of Service-Learning and Community Engagement at the University of South Carolina Upstate. 

Abe recently co-authored a chapter in Democracy, Civic Engagement, and Citizenship in Higher Education: Reclaiming Our Civic Purpose with JMU President Jonathan Alger.  He also published a piece in the eJournal of Public Affairs arguing that colleges and universities can combat political inequality if civic education is prioritized.  Abe has written extensively about how the built environment of urban places and the accessibility of community amenities contributes to the social connectivity, health, and happiness of residents, as found in Social Science and Medicine, Urban Design and Planning, Urban Affairs Review, and Journal of Urbanism.  

Abe is a Civic Fellow with AASCU’s American Democracy Project, serves on the advisory council for Educating for American Democracy and co-hosts the Democracy Matters podcast.  He also teaches undergraduate courses in civic engagement, urban planning and policy and American politics.  Abe earned his doctorate from West Virginia University.

Dr. Carah Ong Whaley, Associate Director

Dr. Carah Ong Whaley is Associate Director of the JMU Civic at James Madison University where she works in partnership with students, faculty, staff and community partners to embed civic learning and democratic engagement across campus through curricular and co-curricular programming. Carah currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Civic Engagement Section of the American Political Science Association, a Civic Fellow at the American Association of State Colleges and University's American Democracy Project and is co-host of Democracy Matters. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Teen Vogue, NPR, Inside Higher Education, Education Dive, among others.

Carah has developed innovative pedagogy melding scholarship and experiential learning to teach courses on civic engagement, campaigns and elections, and state and local politics. At the heart of her research interests is a desire to understand and illuminate how the interactions of political actors and institutions structure public access and participation in policy- and decision-making processes. Her dissertation explored the politics of cleaning up the environmental contamination that resulted from the testing, development and production of nuclear weapons, with a focus on the role of community-based groups in developing expertise and engaging the public in policy- and decision-making processes.

Carah has previously worked at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and in the Governing America in a Global Era (GAGE) program at the Miller Center for Public Affairs. From 1999-2012, she worked as a research and program director for non-governmental organizations on nuclear and security issues, and traveled around the world to engage with communities on these issues.

Carah holds a PhD in American Government, and an MA in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. Recent research and publications include American Government: Roots and Reform (chapters on Political Parties, Campaigns, Elections and Voting, and The Media), Encyclopedia of American Political Parties and Elections, and guest editor and contributor, "Civic Engagement in an Era of Divisive Politics and Civil Unrest," special themed issue of the eJournal of Public Affairs, Missouri State University.

Logan Zeigler, Program Coordinator

Logan is the program coordinator for JMU Civic where she supports the mission and programming of the department. She is a graduate of Mary Baldwin College (now University) where she studied International Relations. Logan previously worked in JMU Student Affairs within the University Career Center (UCC), where she provided guidance on recruiting best practices to students and employers. During her time in UCC, Logan served as the department’s liaison to SOGIE Programming and stayed up to date on legislation impacting the LGBTQ community to inform student programming and employer education. Combining her expertise in employment legislation with her dedication to supporting LGBTQ students, Logan conceptualized and co-presented programs such as Career Decision-Making with a Queer Lens. This dedication to LGBTQ rights resulted in Logan’s nomination to the JMU SOGIE Advisory Board where she continues to serve as a representative of JMU Civic. Logan is an advocate for accessible and inclusive practices at JMU and has a strong commitment to equity and social justice.

Sarah Akers, Woodson Martin Democracy Program Fellow

Sarah Akers is the 2021-2022 Woodson Martin Democracy Fellow with JMU Civic. She is originally from West Virginia but now calls the Shenandoah Valley home. She graduated from JMU in December 2020 with a B.A. in Justice Studies concentrating in global justice and policy and a minor in Humanitarian Affairs. Sarah is incredibly passionate about environmental and immigration advocacy and justice. 

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Jacquelynn Dobrin, Communications Specialist

Jacquelynn is the Communications Specialist for JMU Civic. She is editor and producer of Democracy Matters and works to further develop relationships with media and the public. She graduated with her Bachelor's Degree in Telecommunications with a focus on audio and video from Ball State University in 2019. She has a passion for equal rights as well as caring for all people.


Angelina Clapp, Graduate Assistant

Angelina Clapp is the Graduate Assistant for JMU Civic. She is currently pursing a Master's in Public Administration at JMU and received her bachelor's degree in Political Science from JMU in 2020. She spent the past three years working with the Center and is passionate about civic engagement.

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