Headshot of David Hoffman.

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 a member (and immediate past chair) of the Steering Committee for AASCU’s American Democracy Project, and previously served 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 colleagues 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.


Headshot of Romy Hübler.Romy Hübler (she/her)

Associate Director

Romy Hübler is Associate 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. Romy is UMBC’s campus liaison to the American Democracy Project (ADP) and serves on the organization’s Steering Committee. She was a 2021-2022 ADP Civic Fellow. 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 Tess McRae. Tess McRae (she/her)

Coordinator for Civic Design

Tess McRae is Coordinator for Civic Design with the Center for Democracy and Civic Life. She co-creates and supports the Center’s programs, initiatives, and communications with an emphasis on using creative expression as a vehicle for civic learning and democratic engagement. She also contributes insights to the Center’s overall direction and strategy grounded in aesthetics and design principles. During her time as an undergraduate student, Tess represented UMBC on the University System of Maryland (USM)’s Student Civic Leaders Committee, including as its co-chair; served as a coach and site coordinator for STRiVE; and participated in both STRiVE and Alternative Spring Break (ASB). She also served as the director of communications for UMBC’s Student Government Association (SGA). Tess is a recent UMBC alumna with a self-designed B.A. in Civic Renewal and Creative Expression through the Individualized Study program. She is a poet, visual artist, and musician who loves to sing and play piano. Tess can be reached by email at or by phone at 410-455-1808.


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. Markya can be reached by email at or by phone at 410-455-1815.


Adam Watkins (he/him)

Administrative Assistant

Adam Watkins is an Administrative Assistant with the Center for Democracy and Civic Life. He is an alum of Towson University, where he majored in History and Secondary Education. Previously he worked in non-profit licensed before and after-school care for students in grades K-6. Adam also works as an Administrative Assistant with UMBC’s i3b (Initiatives for Identity, Inclusion, and Belonging). In his free time, Adam enjoys cooking, tabletop roleplaying games, and Lego. He can be reached by email at