Meet the Staff

John Forren

Dr. John Forren
Executive Director


A native of Pataskala, Ohio, Dr. Forren holds a bachelor's degree with College Honors from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in political science from Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to Miami in 1997, he taught at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, East Carolina University and the College of William and Mary. He currently serves as chair and associate professor of Miami’s Department of Justice and Community Studies and is a faculty affiliate of the Department of Political Science. He has served as the executive director of the University’s Menard Family Center for Democracy since its inception in 2019.

Dr. Forren's research and teaching interests lie in the fields of American constitutional law and history, criminal justice, judicial politics, public policy-making and civic engagement. In that vein, he has written on a range of issues including the development of federal and state statutory protections for civil liberties, the state of civic health in Ohio, the impact of college-based civic engagement programs on participants’ behaviors and attitudes, the evolution of legal policy in the lower courts and the federal government’s role in protecting Native American religious liberties. His writings and commentary have appeared in the "University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law," "Journal of Markets and Morality," "PS: Political Science and Politics, Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Law and History Review" and a number of edited volumes and reference works. He also co-authored the National Conference on Citizenship's "Ohio Civic Health Index Reports" in 2013 and 2016 and served from 2013-15 as the Academic Director of the U.S. State Department’s Study of the U.S. Institutes on Civic Engagement at Miami University.

Anne Whitesell

Dr. Anne Whitesell
Associate Director


Originally from Annapolis, Maryland, Dr. Whitesell received her B.A. in political science from Roanoke College. Prior to graduate school, she worked as a research assistant at the Urban Institute within its Income and Benefits Policy Center. In 2017, Dr. Whitesell earned a dual title Ph.D. in political science and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies from Pennsylvania State University. Prior to starting as an assistant professor of political science at Miami, she taught courses on public policy, gender and politics, and research methods at Penn State and Ohio Northern University.

Dr. Whitesell's research focuses on the relationship between political representation and public policy. In her work, she examines how individual citizens, advocacy organizations, and political parties represent the needs of marginalized groups within American society. Her research has been published in a variety of academic journals, including "Politics & Gender," "Interest Groups & Advocacy," "Policy Studies Journal" and "Politics, Groups, & Identities."