Meet the Exec!

Ailsa Bryan

Co-founder / President

Ailsa Bryan is a second year student from Richmond, Virginia, majoring in Political Policy, Philosophy, and Law, along with Anthropology. Middle Grounds is her passion project – she is the founder and president of the organization, and is determined to accomplish the goal of reducing polarization on grounds through civil discourse and ideological acceptance. Outside of Middle Grounds, she has also served on the Board of Student Legal Services within the UVA Student Council, the professional development committee of Phi Alpha Delta pre-law Fraternity, and the editing team of the Virginia Undergraduate Law Review. She hopes to attend law school and continue her professional work in political law – she works as a junior analyst for a political redistricting company, and has contributed to a number of lawsuits and even supreme court cases, such as Merrill v. Milligan (2022), and also works alongside the Karsh Institute of Democracy as an intern. She is eager to continue cultivating unifying political activism in the community, and is willing to assist any members who have questions or want to get more involved.

Juliana Paine

Co-founder / Vice-President

Juliana Paine is a second year student from Dublin, VA in the McIntire School of Commerce and minoring in Spanish. Inside of Middle Grounds, she acts as Vice President and co-founder alongside President Ailsa Bryan. She firmly believes the CIO is a step towards healing the US’s splintering political divide. She holds the ideology that considerate discourse is the only means to political progression. Outside of Middle Grounds, Juliana is also the president and co-founder of Hoos Writing at UVA, the philanthropy chair for the Personal Finance Club at UVA, a volunteer at the LGBTQ Center, and an intern at the Karsh Institute of Democracy. Over the summers she has continuously served as the marketing coordinator for the nonprofit Go for the Gusto and has recently worked at United Airlines as an intern and shadow. She believes that, even though the world is ending and nihilism is on the rise, these conversations between differing ideologies do, indeed, matter.

Carina Velocci


Carina Velocci is a second year art history major from Richmond, Virginia. She is heavily involved in UVA’s arts community, and is a student docent, museum assistant, and member of the Student Engagement Council at the Fralin Museum of Art. In her role as Middle Grounds secretary, she is responsible for record keeping and for facilitating communication with other organizations both within the UVA community and external to it. She is interested in information accessibility and laying objective foundations for individuals to build their own thoughts upon. She loves that Middle Grounds seeks to educate and provide a space for conversation rather than push an agenda. She has been invested in politics for most of her conscious life and is passionate about creating change and building community in the process.

Alex Friedlander

Social Chair

Alex Friedlander is a second year applying to the McIntire School of Commerce and minoring in Business Spanish. Outside of the classroom, he has served on the professional development committee of the Phi Alpha Delta Pre Law Fraternity, is a member of the Sales and Trading Group at McIntire, and worked as part of the Association Council for Bonnycastle and Hancock in his first year. Outside of the University of Virginia, he has worked with the Unite the Games Foundation to help inner city residents in New Orleans combat obesity and lower crime rates. Additionally, he interned at a law firm, Flanagan Partners LLP, which focuses in corporate litigation. In Middle Grounds, he is the acting Social Chair, who coordinates meetings, community service, and social events. Additionally, he is more than happy to assist any members who have questions regarding anything from meeting time and location to ideas for growing the club.

Jacob Rabin


Jacob Rabin is a second-year student from Raleigh, NC, applying to the Political Policy, Philosophy, and Law major. Jacob has had a passion for politics for many years, highlighted by the fact that his favorite time of the year is Election Night. He recognizes the massive issues that polarization in the political sphere cause, and views Middle Grounds as an outlet to establish a new sense of bipartisanship on the ground level. In his role as Middle Grounds treasurer, Jacob is responsible for managing the finances of the club. Outside of Middle Grounds, he is a staff editor for the Undergraduate Law Review and a member of the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity. Outside of the University of Virginia, he has worked for multiple law firms, including working as a Legal Clerk at Stephenson Law, LLP for the last two summers.