Trey Grayson, Former Kentucky Secretary of State, to Lead Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership at Aspen Institute

October 17, 2019

Grayson to succeed founding Executive Director Mickey Edwards in January 2020

Contact: Jon Purves
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Aspen Institute

Washington, DC, October 17, 2019–The Aspen Institute announced today that former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson will become Executive Director of the Institute’s Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership. A member of the Fellowship’s inaugural class, Grayson will assume leadership of the program beginning in January 2020, following a period working alongside founding Executive Director Mickey Edwards.

The Rodel Fellowship is one of the signature leadership programs of the Aspen Institute. Since 2005, it has identified and brought together promising young elected officials who have demonstrated an outstanding ability to work responsibly across partisan divisions and bring greater civility to public discourse. Four Rodel Fellows are currently running for President of the United States.

A recognized leader in election modernization, Grayson, the youngest Secretary of State in the country at the time of his election, later served as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State and was appointed, as a Republican, by President Obama to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. He was a founding board member of Democracy Works and the Center for Election Innovation and Research. Grayson more recently returned to his alma mater, Harvard University, as director of the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.

“Many of our nation’s most effective elected leaders are Rodel Fellows. Their willingness to put differences aside and bridge divides in order to improve the lives of their constituents is inspiring,” said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “After years of exceptional leadership from Mickey Edwards, it is fitting that an inaugural Fellow with his own storied career in politics, Trey Grayson, should now be taking the helm.”

“It is an honor to be selected to lead the Aspen-Rodel Fellowship program,” said Grayson. “Participating in the inaugural class of Rodel Fellows has made me a better leader, more willing to think critically and boldly about public policy solutions, while seeking relationships across the political spectrum, all with an eye to improving our nation’s public policy and system of governance. I also cherish the lifelong friendships that I developed with my classmates and Fellows from other classes. I can’t think of a more rewarding position than helping the nation’s emerging political leaders fulfill their promise to their constituents and our country.”

Grayson is taking over from Mickey Edwards, a former member of Congress who served on the House Budget and Appropriations Committees and as a chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee. Edwards launched the Fellowship with critical support from Institute Trustee Bill Budinger, who conceived the idea for the Fellowship. The Rodel Foundation continues to generously serve as its principal funder.

“Trey was one of the very first people chosen for this very selective leadership program and I’m thrilled that we are able to bring him back to the program to steer it going forward,” Edwards remarked.” There could not have been a better choice and I’m looking forward to working with him as we make this transition.”

The Rodel Program began in 2005 with a bipartisan class of 24 young elected officials. There are now more than 320 Rodel Fellows nationwide including seven who went on to become governors; 17 who were subsequently elected to Congress; three who became Cabinet secretaries; mayors of many of the country’s largest cities; a host of state attorneys general, state treasurers, secretaries of state, and state legislative leaders; and four who are currently running for President of the United States. The Fellowship is designed to break down partisan barriers and to give the rising stars of American government opportunities to think more deeply about the challenges of public leadership.

The Aspen Institute is a nonprofit organization with global reach whose vision is the creation of a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change by inspiring dialogue, leadership, and action to address society’s greatest challenges. With headquarters in Washington, DC, the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado and New York City, as well as an international network of partners. Learn more at


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