Aspen Institute Announces 2020 Rodel Fellows in Public Leadership

December 28, 2020

Twenty-Four Political Leaders from Both Parties to Join the Esteemed Aspen Institute Program

Contact: Jon Purves
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Aspen Institute
[email protected]

Washington, DC, December 28, 2020 – The Aspen Institute announced today that it has selected the new Class of 2020 for its Rodel Public Leadership Fellowship.  The 24 “rising stars” from both political parties were selected from hundreds of nominees based on their reputations for intellect, commitment to civility, and potential for significant future impact on American public life.

The new Rodel Fellows join a cohort of America’s most talented and experienced elected officials.  Members of the Rodel Fellowship have been elected to the highest levels in American politics, and include Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, six sitting Governors, three members of the incoming U.S. Senate, mayors of America’s largest cities, and a nominated member of President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet.

“The Aspen Institute’s Rodel Public Leadership Program brings together the nation’s most promising political leaders at the state and local level to explore the underlying principles of American democracy and the responsibilities of public leadership,” said Dan Porterfield, Aspen Institute President and CEO.

John Kroger, who serves as Vice President at Aspen and leads the Rodel program, added: “The Rodel program seeks to enhance American democracy, inspire high ethical standards, and advance thoughtful and civil bipartisan dialogue.  We are proud of the new class and look forward to their work together to help strengthen our shared commitment to American democracy.”

The new Rodel Fellows will meet several times over a two-year period to read and discuss important theoretical and historical texts that help them explore their personal and political values, deepen their understanding of the principles of American democracy, and cultivate a deep sense of respect for persons from different communities, with very different values and life experiences.  The texts include the Declaration of Independence, selections from the Federalist Papers, and writings by historians, philosophers and contemporary political theorists.  Because of COVID-19, the new class will not meet in person until it is safe from a public health perspective.

Members of the 2020 class include:

Nevada State Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson; Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson; Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron; North Carolina State Senator Jay Chaudhuri; Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida Lenny Curry; North Carolina Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson; Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman; and Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway.

Also, Maricopa County, Arizona Supervisor Bill Gates; Wisconsin Treasurer Sarah Godlewski; California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara; Indianapolis, Indiana City-County Council Member Maggie Lewis; Teton County, Wyoming Commissioner Natalia Macker; Minnesota State Senator Jeremy Miller; Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody; and Mayor of Amarillo, Texas Ginger Nelson.

Also, Maryland Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford; Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge; Mayor of Richmond, Virginia Levar Stoney; Connecticut Attorney General William Tong; Oklahoma State Senator Greg Treat; Arizona State Representative Michelle Udall; West Virginia State Senator Ryan Weld; and Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama Randall Woodfin.

About the Rodel Public Leadership Program

The Aspen Institute’s Rodel Public Leadership Program is a nongovernmental, nonpartisan education and leadership development program for American leaders holding elected office at the state or local level. The Rodel Fellowship program provides an opportunity for our country’s rising leaders to analyze and discuss theoretical texts and contemporary commentaries on topics such as democracy and leadership. Political neutrality is essential to the educational mission of the program, which is not identified or associated with any political or party viewpoint. The program does not receive funding from any corporations or political organizations. The program does not endorse legislation or policy proposals, and no lobbyists, staff members, or outside observers are permitted to attend fellowship programs.

The program is led by John Kroger, a Rodel Fellow from the class of 2010. John has had a distinguished career in government and higher education, including service as a United States Marine, Attorney General of Oregon, President of Reed College, Chief Learning Officer of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, Hauser Leader in Residence at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School.

About the Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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