Understanding Our Privileges to Become Better Allies Presenters: Undergrads of the Student Leadership Program

Breakout Option 2
Day 1: November 14, 2023 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m., Northwoods

Session Video

Session Description

The lecture will begin by discussing various definitions of allyship and privilege and provide the framework of how to be an ally in today’s complicated society. We will focus on situations of allyship as it relates to political issues, religious issues, and educational issues. Attendees will be divided into groups and discuss the implications of what they learned through researching, deliberating, and presenting on a current event that relates to one of the subtopics. After presenting to the larger group their collaborative findings, there will be the ability to have an open discussion to share stories, express ideas, and collaborate to work towards a common goal. The hope is that through learning new concepts and ideas, and listening to one another, attendees will gain a greater understanding of their own privilege and how it relates to society, and how to become a better ally to those who might not benefit from the same privileges that they do. Facilitation will be an option if an open discussion is unable to occur due to lack of participation, or continued silence.

We want participants to leave our workshop with a better understanding of privilege and allyship. We want to connect the ideas of privilege and allyship to real life current events and issues that are prevalent in our lives. After this workshop, participants will be able to act as an active ally to encourage belonging although they may be different. They will become more aware of how everyone is able to stand up for what they believe and work for a common goal while engaging and embracing their differences.


Elena McCosh

Fall semester will be Elena’s first semester as Empower apprentice, where she hopes to learn more of the necessary tools to help shed light and start much needed conversations on a variety of social justice issues that are not talked about enough. Elena was born and raised in Mexico City to a Bolivian mother and an American father. Coming to Madison as a multicultural student has given her a different perspective to better understand certain deeply rooted issues. In high school Elena was involved in PHFEM, an organization that helped educate and understand what gender equality meant, and it hosted open forums to discuss past experiences, educate, and create a sense of community. Elena is passionate about improving public policies in terms of race and gender, to create a more inclusive environment that highlights the valuable differences in our society.

Thumbnail of speaker Elena McCosh.

Lilia Moynihan

Lilia will be entering her first semester as an Empower apprentice this fall, after graduating from the program in the spring. Lilia has been in various clubs supporting inclusivity and leadership throughout her education, including Student Council, National Honor Society, Club UNIFY, Leo Club, and more in high school. Lilia held leadership positions in almost half of these clubs, meaning she got to be a part of a group of students who were committed to bringing positive change to the community. Being both a first-generation college student and part of the LGBTQ+ community, it has been a goal of hers to bring these values into college; not only to become more aware herself, but also open the minds of other students around her as to how to be more inclusive and create a safer, more diverse campus here at UW-Madison and beyond.

Thumbnail of speaker Lilia Moynihan.

Lincoln Peckenpaugh

Lincoln will be entering his second semester as an Empower chair, where their mission is to provide access to social justice in leadership throughout campus, the community, and beyond. In High School, he led as a Drum Major and Band Board President to help shed light on disparities that exist within 9-12 music programs and helped lead efforts to combat these issues. Lincoln also was a member of “Changemakers”, where he attended various diversity training workshops and led a “Student Congress” where members of various school groups brought forth social justice issues they faced in their organization and helped to brainstorm ideas on how to react and respond to these conversations. Lincoln is a staunch advocate of equal rights and uses privilege to attempt to improve the lives of others. He is especially passionate about implementing government policy to bring us closer to the ideal state of equity.

Thumbnail of speaker Lincoln Peckenpaugh.

Emma Reismann

Fall semester will be the start of Emma’s second semester as a chair of Empower within the Student Leadership Program. Having this opportunity as a chair has allowed her to learn a lot about social justice and leadership. Emma is looking forward to growing in her abilities further. The Student Leadership Program (ELP) also gave Emma the opportunity to be a part of the Emerging Leaders Program. ELP is a 7 week program centered around the Social Change Model of Leadership Development. Each week Emma attended a workshop focusing on one of the 7 C’s involved in this model. Emma was able to learn a lot about individual values, group values, and society’s values.

Thumbnail of speaker Emma Reismann.