Aspen Institute Names New Class of Leadership Fellows

The Aspen Institute today announced the names of 24 elected officials who have been selected as the newest members of its Rodel fellowship program for the nation's most promising young political leaders.

The fellowship selects officials who have won recognition for their commitment to effective and principled bipartisan governance. "These are men and women who have forged records of excellence at all levels of American government," said former Congressman Mickey Edwards, the program's director. "All of them have been nominated for the fellowship by their peers and by political observers and community leaders who have singled them out as the best of the best of our emerging political leadership."

The Aspen Institute program was established in 2005 and today includes Fellows who have since gone on to serve as governors, members of Congress, high-ranking local and state officials, and members of the President's cabinet.

Members of the new leadership class include:

Stacy Abrams, minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives; Justin Alfond, president of the Maine Senate; Andy Berke, the mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Oklahoma state representative Lisa Billy; Pennsylvania state representative Kevin Boyle; Arizona state representative Heather Carter, and Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox of Utah.

Also, Colorado state representative Brian DelGrosso; Risa Ferman, district attorney of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania; Nevada state representative Lucy Flores; San Diego City Council President and interim Mayor, Todd Gloria; Texas state representative Eric Johnson, and Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander.

And, Nevada senator Ben Kieckhefer; Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza; Nebraska state senator Amanda McGill; West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey; Kraig Paulsen, speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives; Minnesota state senator Roger Reinert; Missouri state senator Ryan Silvey; Shap Smith, the speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives; Dayne Walling, the mayor of Flint, Michigan; Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley of North Dakota; and Kim Wyman, the Washington secretary of state.

For more information on the Aspen-Rodel Fellowship Program, visit or contact: Mickey Edwards Vice President, The Aspen Institute (202) 736-5823;


Nomination ButtonThe Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership program seeks to enhance our democracy by identifying and bringing together the nation's most promising young political leaders to explore, through study and conversation, the underlying values and principles of western democracy, the relationship between individuals and their community, and the responsibilities of public leadership; to support and inspire political leaders committed to sustaining the vision of a political system based on thoughtful and civil bipartisan dialogue; and to help America's brightest young leaders achieve their fullest potential in public service.

About the Program

Download "Politics of the Future"
by Congressman Mickey Edwards,
Director of the Rodel Fellowship:

Politics of the Future

The Rodel Fellowship program is open by invitation only to men and women who are in publicly elected office and who are ideally between the ages of 25 and 50. Selected on an annual basis, each class consists of 24 Fellows, identified by the program's leadership as America's emerging political leaders with reputations for intellect, thoughtfulness, and a commitment to civil dialogue. The 24-month fellowship program consists of three weekend-long seminars, generally held in Aspen, Colorado, and week-long foreign trips in Asia and the Middle East.

The Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowship program recognizes that by working to develop thoughtful, committed political leaders, it will also help to produce a more bipartisan approach to America's most important domestic issues such as health care, public education, and the environment. All of these issues transcend the usual partisan political divide and are central to fostering a better society for future generations. While the participants in this program are all elected, and therefore political, leaders, the Rodel Fellowship is not a political program but an educational and leadership training program based on the belief that by exposing participants to a variety of philosophies, viewpoints, and strategies, we will improve the quality of problem-solving in the states and in our local communities.

William D. Budinger, an Aspen Institute Trustee and president of the Rodel Foundations, is the program's chief source of inspiration: "The United States," he says, "is founded on two bedrock ideas -- freedom and democracy. It's important to make sure our political leaders understand the degree to which America's unique character rests on those two principles...It is in keeping with this vision that our goal is nothing less than to begin a reshaping of the American political dynamic."

Former Congressman Mickey Edwards is the program's Director. Edwards served in Congress for 16 years and was Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-ranking Republican leadership position and a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees. Since leaving the Congress Edwards has taught at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the Harvard Law School, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute.

Participation and Funding Participation.
The Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership is a nongovernmental, nonpartisan educational program for men and women, ideally under age 50, holding elective office at the state, local, or federal level. The Rodel Fellowship program provides an opportunity for our country’s young leaders to analyze and discuss historical texts and contemporary commentaries on topics such as democracy and leadership. Political neutrality is essential to the educational mission of the program and there is no identification with any political or party viewpoint and no endorsement of legislation. No lobbyists, staff members, or outside observers are permitted to attend fellowship programs. Fellows must be nominated to be considered for participation.

Funding. The Aspen-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership are funded solely by the Rodel Foundation. Funding is not accepted from lobbyists, governments, corporations, or special interests.