Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership

The 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

After an intensive year-long search, the Aspen Institute has named 24 of America’s rising political stars to its prestigious Rodel Fellowship, a program designed to bring together elected officials who have demonstrated an outstanding ability to work responsibly across partisan divisions and bring greater civility to public discourse.

Members of the twelfth class of Rodel Fellows are:

Kentucky State Senator Julie Raque Adams; Lincoln, Nebraska, City Council Chair Leirion Gaylor Baird; South Carolina State Senator Sean Bennett; Texas State Representative César Blanco; Hartford, Connecticut, Mayor Luke Bronin; Denver, Colorado, City Council President Albus Brooks; New York State Senator Tom Croci; Minnesota House Speaker, Kurt Daudt;

King County (Seattle) Councilman Rod Dembowski; Colorado House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran; Washington Senate Majority Floor Leader Joe Fain; Hawaii House Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto; Cook County (Chicago) Commissioner Bridget Gainer; Long Beach, California, Mayor Robert Garcia; Tennessee Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris; Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey;

Oklahoma State Senator David Holt; Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller; Alabama State Representative Bill Poole; California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon; Delaware State Treasurer Ken Simpler; San Antonio, Texas, Mayor Ivy Taylor; Burlington, Vermont, Mayor Miro Weinberger; New Mexico State Representative Monica Youngblood.

“These men and women represent the very best among the new generation of America’s political leadership,” former Congressman Mickey Edwards, the program’s director, said in announcing the new class. “They have each won the notice and praise of their constituents and their colleagues and have shown a dedication to public service that is an encouraging sign in a time of great challenge. There are now nearly 270 Rodel Fellows, at all levels of government, working to ensure that Americans receive thoughtful and responsive leadership. We are very proud to have these outstanding leaders join their ranks.”

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.

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.