Vision & Values: Experiences that Shape Our Journey to Civic Empowerment

There is a civic empowerment gap that exists in America that profoundly impacts the engagement of citizens who identify as BIPOC. Research has shown repeatedly that there can be transformative experiences within a person’s life that support the development of a strong and secure civic mindset and increases the likelihood for someone to value and participate in volunteerism, service and other forms of civic action. Points of Light and Morehouse College led a conversation on April 20 that explored how family, school and places of work play a role in cultivating our civic attitudes and behaviors, influencing us either toward or away from a life of civic engagement.

Watch the Conversation On-Demand

Conversation Key Takeaways

  • We must invite young people into the conversation with us, listen to what they have to say and let them contribute to solving problems. By doing so, we can build a greater sense of civic empowerment among future generations.
  • While every child won’t grow up to be a professional athlete or mathematician, they will all grow up to be holders of civic rights and responsibilities. It’s important that we foster and build the same skills for our youth’s civic engagement that we do for other interests and areas of study.
  • Having a structure of service offers individuals an opportunity to create a community  with like-minded people, learn how to become servant leaders and inspire others to become more civically engaged. 
  • To create an involved and engaged citizenry, we must provide young people with the resources, motivation and opportunities to help them develop an identity as someone who wants to lend their talents to causes they care about.

Meet the Speakers

Meira Levinson, Ph.D., Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Meira Levinson is Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her areas of research include civic education, racial justice, and educational ethics. She is currently working to start a global field of educational ethics, modeled after bioethics, that is philosophically rigorous, disciplinarily and experientially inclusive, and both relevant to and informed by educational policy and practice.

Like many people, Meira has focused much of her work on COVID over the past two years. She serves on the Lancet COVID-19 Commission’s Committee on Safe Work, Safe School, and Safe Travel, has authored white papers, policy guidance, and articles on the ethics of school reopenings particularly in light of some families’ schooling hesitancy, and is currently conducting a research and professional development initiative with educators in ten countries on the ethical issues they face under COVID.

Meira has written or co-edited six books, includingDemocratic Discord in Schools”, “Dilemmas of Educational Ethics” and “No Citizen Left Behind.”

She shares educational ethics resources on, rich video materials to support higher education pedagogy at Instructional Moves, and resources for youth activists and teacher allies at Each of these projects reflects Meira’s commitment to achieving productive cross-fertilization—without loss of rigor—among scholarship, policy, and practice.

Meira earned a B.A. in Philosophy at Yale and a D.Phil. in political theory at Nuffield College, Oxford University. She also taught middle school for eight years in the Atlanta and Boston Public Schools. 

Noah McQueen, Government Public Services, Deloitte 

Noah McQueen, an experienced community leader with an extensive background in community leadership and program development. As a recent graduate of Morehouse College with a degree in sociology, the Washington, D.C. native became the first person in his family to attend and graduate college. While at Morehouse, Noah received a full scholarship for community service completing over 2,500 hours in leadership and servitude roles.

As a student, Noah’s agency has led him all over the globe working tirelessly for those in disenfranchised communities. During his final two collegiate Noah visited five countries including: Haiti, Dominican Republic, Israel, Netherlands and Costa Rica to gain a deeper global perspective. While serving, touring and studying in these countries, Noah observed the United States’ commitment to partnering with those nations and the diverse cultures that exist within those areas. This experience heightened Mr. McQueen’s interest in both domestic and global political affairs.

Noah was a special guest speaker for the Congressional Black Caucus Phoenix Award Dinner, 2016 Democratic National Convention, and I Have a Dream 2.0 STEAM Innovation White House Speaker during President Obama’s tenure. You can learn about Noah’s journey through his interviews with NPR’s Storycorp, MTV, BET or CNN outlets.

During the pandemic, Mr. McQueen founded Lifting Our Voices, Inc. to aid at-risk citizens in underserved communities. Over the past year, LOV has distributed more than 45,000 meals across seven major cities to those experiencing food insecurity. Last fall, his organization registered more than 250 voters in last year’s election. Additionally, they collected and dispersed over 3,000 clothing and toiletries items to those in need. For December, they collected more than 1,500 toys for families suffering from financial instability in impoverished areas.

Noah is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., which is a Black Greek letter organization centered around lifting as they climb. As a result, he saw the need to include mentorship in his advocacy work. As a result, Lifting Our Voices has taken an active role in educating and guiding Atlanta youth through our mentorship program in collaboration with Utopian Academy. This program focuses on the social, mental and scholastic advancement of young Black men. Lifting Our Voices, Inc. has also been featured in several projects, including articles on The Barack Obama Foundation’s website, My Brother’s Keeper and The Atlanta Voice’s documentary focused on highlighting the issues faced by people experiencing homelessness.

Mr. McQueen is a highly-skilled interpersonal communications professional with an innate commitment to advocacy, public service and guiding principles of preserving, protecting and informing the public of its rights to accurate and factual information.

His interests include STEM inclusion, community organizing and development, as well as legislation and policy. He’s fueled by his passion for studying history and examining socioeconomically disenfranchised communities through a sociological lens. He recently transitioned into his role as a Government Public Services Client Account Specialist for Deloitte Consulting Firm.

Dr. Wilbur M. Whitney, Director of the Bonner Office of Community Service, Morehouse College

Dr. Whitney is the Director, Bonner Office of Community Service at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. Previously he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Morehouse College.

He earned his Ph.D. degree from Michigan State University. His area of training and expertise is in Ecological Psychology, which is the study of the impact of culture and environment on individuals, groups and organizations.

He has co-authored several books on African-American issues in mental health, and is the former executive director for human relations for the City of Cincinnati and the former national president of the Association of Black Psychologists. Dr. Whitney conducts program evaluation research for nonprofit and profit organizations.