The Aspen Institute selected Attorney General Rob McKenna for a new fellowship program honoring public leaders the international organization has identified as "the true rising stars" of American politics, the institute announced this week.
McKenna is one of 24 young elected officials – 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans – selected after an eight-month search. They will form the second two-year class of the Aspen-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership, designed to bring together the very best of the nation's emerging leaders to discuss broad issues of democratic governance and effective public service.
McKenna and other fellows will meet for the first time in late November for a three-day conversation centered on the underlying values and principles of a democratic society.
"I am extremely honored to be chosen for this fellowship and excited to join respected leaders from across the nation in what will surely be an enriching conversation about democracy and public service," McKenna said. "I greatly respect the Aspen Institute’s mission to foster enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue, as well as its goal to promote appreciation for timeless values. All of us at the core want to do work that’s worthy and meaningful."
Former Congressman Mickey Edwards, the program's director, said the new fellowship class "represents the true promise of America – an outstanding group of young leaders with a clear commitment to putting the nation's interest ahead of partisan considerations."
The Aspen Institute, founded in 1950, has headquarters in Washington, D.C. Its fellowship program brings together young political leaders to explore western democracy, the relationship between individuals and their community, and the responsibilities of public leadership. The program aims to support and inspire political leaders committed to sustaining the vision of a political system based on thoughtful and civil bipartisan dialogue.
Edwards described the program's goals as twofold: "in a political world in which partisanship has become increasingly bitter and public decision-making has become increasingly polarized, we're working to help a new generation of public leaders build lasting relationships across party lines, and at the same time, we're trying to sharpen the focus of the political conversation on our common goals as members of a diverse democracy."
The nomination and selection process involved advice from more than 1,400 business, political, and civic leaders, and an advisory committee of more than 50 leading political figures. Edwards said the selection process involved looking for young officials who had not only earned reputations for thoughtfulness and intelligence, but who had also been recognized for "their willingness to cross party lines and their ability to remain focused on the ideals that had led them into public service in the first place."
Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson said the Rodel Fellows "represent the best hope for America's future – upcoming leaders committed to working together for the common good."
Additional fellows include:
Texas State Representative Rafael Anchia;
Andre Bauer, Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina;
Laura Brod, Assistant Majority Leader of the Minnesota state House of Representatives;
Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr.;
Jeff Cloud, chairman of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission;
Eric Garcetti, president of the Los Angeles City Council;
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris;
Jon Husted, Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives;
Judge Dianne Jones, Dallas County Criminal Court;
New Jersey State Senator Ellen Karcher;
Chuck Larson, former Iowa State Representative and State Senator;
Lisa Madigan, Attorney General of Illinois;
Delaware State Treasurer Jack Markell;
Vermont Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz;
Lynette Boggs McDonald, county commissioner, Nevada;
Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita;
Andrew Roraback, Connecticut State Senate;
State Representative Deborah Ross of North Carolina;
Pennsylvania State Representative Josh Shapiro;
Greg Stanton, Phoenix City Council;
Arizona State Representative Leah Landrum Taylor;
Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh;
Darren White, Sheriff of Bernalillo County (Albuquerque), New Mexico.
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