Rodel Fellowship 2023 Reunion

More than 100 Rodel Fellows, representing 39 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, gathered in Washington, D.C. in October 2023 for a weekend of workshops, group discussions, plenary sessions, and informal networking.

The weekend kicked off with the presentation of Rodel’s inaugural Edwards Book Award to Dr. Francis Fukuyama for his 2022 book Liberalism and Its Discontents published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Lizzy McCourt Noonan, the executive director of Rodel’s Edwards Book Award, moderated a conversation with Dr. Fukuyama about liberal democracy, classical liberalism, and growing authoritarianism around the globe. The next morning began with breakout discussions on selections from Dr. Fukuyama’s award-winning book.

Rodel Fellows Bill Gates, Nellie Gorbea, and Jeff King then led a concurrent session on promoting public trust in elections while Fellows Michael Bishop, Emily Cain, John Chiang, and John Kroger led a conversation on life after elected office. Pew’s Director of Political Research Carroll Doherty then presented recent polling data on Americans’ attitudes about politics. The afternoon featured a lively and engaging workshop on adaptive leadership with Dr. Kaye Monk-Morgan, CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center.

Saturday evening’s dinner program honored the Rodel Fellowship’s founders Bill and Don Budinger for their nearly two decades of continuous support of the Rodel Fellowship. Rodel Vice President and COO Jeff King moderated a discussion on trends in American politics and the impact of the Rodel Fellowship with Rodel Fellows Fiona Ma, Tom Perez, and Michael Steele.

In the final session of the weekend, Rodel Fellows considered their obligations as leaders in a compelling conversation guided by a selection from Richard Haass’s 2023 book The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens and moderated by Ian Solomon, Rodel Board Member and Dean of UVA’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

Many Fellows described the weekend as inspiring, including one fellow who continued that “the extent of the connection between fellows was deeper than ever before and left me hopeful for future progress.”