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2022 Socrates Emerging Governance Leaders August Seminar


Emerging Governance Leaders Seminar

This annual series features seminars beginning on Friday afternoons and concluding on Sunday afternoons, following a closing lunch. Our partnership with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Democracy Fund covers seminar tuition lodging, materials, meals, and an outing at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for Congressional staffers.

Article 1, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states, “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” The creation of this legislative body marked a departure from past governance systems and the start of the “American experiment.” 230 years later, how do the foundations of the U.S. government inform and influence the role of Congress today – and the responsibilities and expectations of those who serve within? In this seminar, we will examine governance systems, the creation of Congress, and precedent-setting legal interpretations of the role of Congress. This seminar will build on these foundations to consider governance and responsibilities in pursuit of an inclusive republic.

This professional development experience will focus on three aspects: 1) developing skills that are applicable to the legislative body; 2) building informal networks that are key to career advancement and support, and 3) and providing participants access to a range of Aspen Institute programming. This opportunity will provide staffers with experiences and tools to help them thrive in their current roles and better position themselves for longer, more impactful careers in the U.S. Congress.

Colleen Shogan joined the White House Historical Association in the winter of 2020 after almost fifteen years of federal government service. She previously worked in the United States Senate and as a senior executive at the Library of Congress. Colleen was the Vice Chair of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and now serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors at the Women’s Suffrage National Monument Foundation, designated by Congress to build the first Washington, D.C. memorial dedicated to the early movement for women’s equality. Colleen teaches at Georgetown University in the Government Department and is a member of the History Education Advisory Board for America250.

Eligibility and How to Apply

Those that have been a staffer in a Congressional office or committee for 3 years or less, a federal and state civil servant, a White House Fellow, a member of the military, or an individual working close with our government can attend and are interested in this seminar, please email with your CV or resume.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a Socrates seminar?

The Socrates Seminar is a roundtable discussion / collaborative weekend-long event for participants from different fields. Participants are asked to contribute their understanding of and reactions to carefully selected readings, with the guidance of moderators who are experts in their sector. This is not a panel discussion, nor is it a tutorial where the experts share their knowledge.  The roundtable discussion format is a multilateral debate moderated by the moderator(s).  

What is the Emerging Governance Leaders Seminar series? 

The Emerging Governance Seminar series is a bi-annual series hosting by the Socrates Program with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Democracy Fund. This is a professional development opportunity for young leaders to meet in a relaxed setting, make connections, and discuss the most pressing issues of our day.

Who can attend the Emerging Governance Leaders Seminar? 

Congressional staffers, federal and state civil servants, White House Fellows, and other individuals working close with our government can attend. We ask those in an internship not apply.

How do I apply?

If you are interested in this seminar, please email with your CV or resume. Those who work as a Congressional staffer will also be subjected to an ethics committee review.

Is this event really free?

Yes, this event is free. We are grateful to our partners, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Democracy Fund, for their generous support which allows us to provide this programming at no cost to our attendees.

Can I bring a guest?

Unfortunately, no. Space is limited to the above mentioned.

What transportation will be provided at the event?

Yes, we provide transportation to and from the Capitol building and the location of the event. All other needed transportation is also provided. Attendees are welcome to drive themselves if they wish.

What is the dress code for this seminar?

Although we do not require a specific dress code, most people dress nice casual (i.e. jeans, khakis, button-down, etc.) in the seminar rooms and bring something a bit more business casual for the Saturday dinner. We want this to be an opportunity for our attendees to participate in our seminars in a relaxed setting.

Health and Safety Guidelines for In Person Events

The Aspen Institute is committed to creating a safe seminar experience for all participants. Please see our COVID-19 safety guidelines here.

These guidelines will be regularly updated to meet the latest health and safety guidance of the CDC and local authorities. If you anticipate any issues or have any concerns, please contact us at

Event information
Fri Aug 26, 2022 - Sun Aug 28, 2022
Thomas Jefferson's Monticello
931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy
Charlottesville, VA 22902