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David Hoffman (he/him)


David Hoffman is Director of the Center for Democracy and Civic Life. He develops and teaches courses about civic communication and culture as a Faculty Fellow in UMBC’s Honors College, and has created and facilitated dozens of programs in which students develop the knowledge, skills, dispositions, and relationships needed to help their communities thrive. He serves as Chair of the Steering Committee for AASCU’s American Democracy Project, and as a member of the National Advisory Board for Imagining America. As a member of the inaugural cohort of American Democracy Project Civic Fellows, he led the development of the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Theory of Change, and works with Center for Democracy and Civic Life colleague Romy Hübler and national partners to amplify and implement it. David’s research and publications explore civic agency, civic pedagogy, democratic communication styles and techniques, and culture change within institutions. He is an alum of UCLA, where he served as Student Body President and University of California Student Regent. He earned J.D. and M.P.P. degrees at Harvard University, and his Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Culture at UMBC. When he’s not working, David often can be found setting his fantasy baseball lineups or taking photos; his practice of taking pictures on the UMBC campus once got him labeled as “the #UMBCsky guy.” David can be reached by email at or by phone at 410-455-1565.


Romy Hübler (she/her)

Assistant Director

Romy Hübler is Assistant Director of the Center for Democracy and Civic Life and an Honors College Faculty Fellow. Through immersive programs, workshops, and courses, Romy works with students, staff, and faculty to develop the skills, knowledge, and dispositions needed to build thriving communities at UMBC and beyond. She serves as co-principal investigator for the PLACE Collaboratory at UMBC, a project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that uses community organizing and humanities methods to address community-identified issues in South Baltimore. Romy is UMBC’s institutional representative for the NASPA LEAD Initiative. She works with the American Democracy Project (ADP) as a Civic Fellow and UMBC’s campus liaison. Romy’s recent publications include co-authored articles about the CLDE Theory of Change in the Leadership Exchange, eJournal of Public Affairs and NASPA Knowledge Community Publication, and a chapter about democratic teaching practices in the edited volume Creating space for democracy: A primer on dialogue and deliberation in higher education. She earned her B.A. in Modern Languages and Linguistics, M.A. in Intercultural Communication, and Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Culture at UMBC. Romy is an avid hiker and enjoys indoor bouldering, reading, and trying new recipes. She can be reached by email at or by phone at 410-455-3457.


Headshot of Markya Reed.Markya Reed (she/her)

Graduate Assistant

Markya Reed, ‘18, M.A. ‘23, Applied Sociology, is a Graduate Assistant with the Center for Democracy and Civic Life. She supports the Center’s immersive experiences, workshops, and programs. Markya hopes to foster opportunities for cross-sector collaboration and create environments which allow all members of the UMBC community to come together and create positive change both on and off campus. She also serves as a Peacework Fellow through the Shriver Center. As an undergraduate student, Markya participated in and facilitated Alternative Spring Break (ASB) programs related to disability rights, food security, and homelessness in Baltimore City from 2014 to 2017; participated in the STRiVE leadership for social impact retreat in Summer 2014; and served as a STRiVE Coach from 2015 to 2018. She also served as a Senator and Vice President of UMBC’s Student Government Association. She graduated from UMBC with a B.A. in Psychology. Over the past few years, Markya has worked with immigrant youth in Baltimore City through various nonprofits and has served as a Youth Development Promoter with Peace Corps, Costa Rica. During her service, she discovered a passion for writing and spends her free time writing screenplays for small film festivals.


Tess McRae (she/her)

Senior Intern for Civic Design and Engagement

Tess McRae, ‘22, is a Humanities and Kaplan Scholar majoring in Civic Renewal and Creative Expression through the Individualized Study program. In her role as Senior Intern for Civic Design and Engagement with the Center for Democracy and Civic Life, she envisions and supports activities that foster community such as the Civic Courage Journaling Project, Retriever Tales, and STRiVE; helps to develop, apply, and share the Center’s civic tools on campus and in national forums; and develops visuals that communicate the Center’s philosophy, including the logo for the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Theory of Change. She also represents UMBC on the University System of Maryland (USM)’s Civic Engagement Student Leadership Committee. Tess was the Site Coordinator at STRiVE 2021 and a Coach at STRiVE 2020, and she will be a Coach at STRiVE 2022. She attended STRiVE as a participant in 2018, and also participated in Alternative Spring Break (ASB) 2021 with a focus on food justice. Tess served previously as the Director of Communications for UMBC’s Student Government Association (SGA). She has also held positions as a Graphic Designer for commonvision, a Peer Facilitator for the Introduction to an Honors University (IHU) program, and a Study Abroad Ambassador with the Education Abroad Office. Tess is a poet, artist, musician, and theater fan who loves to sing and play piano… sometimes simultaneously.