Application for Legislative Commission for Caitlin Ryan

Contact Information

Full Name

Caitlin Ryan

Other Names
Caitlin Micaela Ryan

Eligible for commission

eligible

Party Affiliation

Unafffiliated

Occupation

For the last year, I have been a part-time instructor at the University of Colorado Boulder, teaching undergraduate courses in human geography through Continuing Education, which is a fully online mode of learning. For the foreseeable future, I am teaching a course in Global Public Health, but I have also recently taught courses in Introduction to Human Geography and International Development. CU-Boulder has been my employer since 2011, when I first started my PhD program and began working as a Teaching Assistant. Prior to that I worked for the Eurasia Foundation in the South Caucasus (2005-2008) and Transparency International’s office in the Republic of Georgia (2009-2011) on issues of civil society and democratic strengthening.

Educational Background

I completed my PhD from the University of Colorado Boulder's Department of Geography in May 2019. I also hold a BA in Geography and Russian language from Middlebury College (Vermont) and an MA in International Affairs/Development from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. At CU-Boulder, I earned a Certificate in College Teaching and a Certificate in Development Studies. I have completed graduate coursework in GIS and spatial statistics, and undergraduate coursework in cartography.

Zip Code

80305

Congressional District
2

Background

Past Political Activity

I think I donated about $15 to Elizabeth Warren’s bid for the Democratic Party nomination in 2019. I had never donated money to a political campaign before that. While it was a small sum, Warren’s fundraising tactics inspired me. She was mobilizing many small donations while eschewing large corporate donations, and I wanted to show support for that principle. I also participated in about 8 hours of phone banking to get out the vote in 2020 in Colorado and Arizona. These initiatives were organized by Colorado Victory 2020 and Mission Arizona.

List of Political and Civic Organizations belonged to

Working farm member, Stonebridge Farm and CSA (Lyons, Colorado); and a volunteer and participant with Studio Arts Boulder. Member of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) -- I regularly attend their annual meetings and organize paper sessions. I also work as a blind peer-reviewer of journal articles in human geography, write book reviews for journals, mentor undergraduate students and serve on the MA Committee of a student in the Netherlands. I volunteer with my undergraduate Alma Mater, Middlebury College, to conduct admissions interviews across Northern Colorado. Member of the American Alpine Club, The Access Fund, and Friends of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Organization and Advocacy Experience

As a graduate student at CU Boulder, I was elected to a 1-year term as one of the Geography department’s Graduate Representatives. We solicited graduate student feedback on departmental issues, including new faculty hiring. I also volunteered my time and research skills with the Boulder Affordable Housing Research Initiative (BAHRI). I worked with a number of community organizations including the Boulder Public Library, Meals on Wheels, the Coalition of Manufactured Homeowners, Thistle (a low-income housing developer), and the City of Boulder. I conducted client surveys, participated in meetings with community organizers, conducted interviews with residents of low-income housing, took oral history interviews, and observed City Council meetings. Our team’s research was designed in consultation with partner organizations and a number of our reports were shared with them.

Statement

I was thrilled to see Amendments Y and Z on Colorado’s 2018 ballot and told myself that if it passed, I would put my name into the lottery for the redistricting commission. I firmly believe that partisan politics have corrupted our country’s voting system, and I am proud that Colorado voted in favor of moving towards a more transparent and independent system that will guarantee the essential principle of “one person, one vote.” I believe I have much to contribute to such a commission. In addition to the skills outlined below, I was born and raised in Fort Collins, and have lived in the Boulder area for the last 9 years. I feel a strong affinity with the diverse communities that make up our state, from the western slope to the San Luis Valley to the Front Range and Eastern Plains – I have spent significant time across all these areas.

Statement on Working with Consensus

The Redistricting Commission will need to make some difficult decisions through the course of its work that cannot be decided through mathematical models or technological solutions alone. These decisions will have significant consequences for Colorado’s population, since they will determine how voting takes place for the next decade. To promote consensus in an environment where there are no easy answers will require that the 12 Commissioners agree on a set of fundamental principles to guide their determination of the final map. While some of these principles may be obvious or part of Colorado law – preserving the concept of “one person, one vote,” keeping communities of interest intact, maintaining contiguous areas – other principles may only become apparent during the course of the Commission’s work. None of them will be simple to apply in practice. I believe that consensus is best achieved when there is mutual respect and a shared sense of purpose, and as a Commission member, I would seek to promote these two qualities. I try to approach all my work in a fair and impartial manner. I have to do this nearly every day as I evaluate the work of my students, which requires that I separate my personal opinion and implicit biases from my evaluation of their performance. I believe that I take this job more seriously than do most teaching faculty, and while I probably can’t completely rid myself of bias, I believe I do a very good job. Each term, I carry out an anonymous survey to ask my students for feedback on my performance. My students overwhelmingly say that they “agree” or “highly agree” with the statement that they receive fair and useful feedback, and that their grades reflect their level of effort.

Relevant Analytic Skills for Commission

I have graduate training in spatial statistics and GIS, including the ESRI products that I believe the Commission will be using, as well as experience with cartography. In my teaching, I aim to help my students develop a critical awareness of maps and the visual presentation of data. I use analytical and reasoning skills regularly as a college instructor and as a scholar. I designed and carried out a major research project for my dissertation, based on 16 months of qualitative fieldwork in Kyrgyzstan. I conducted background research and defined a set of research questions, designed and carried out a study using a variety of research methodologies, and successfully defended my dissertation in front of a Committee of senior scholars.

Demographics

Racial categories the applicant identifies with:
Caucasian
Applicant identifies with the following gender

Female