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, though 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.
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, and week-long foreign trips in Asia and the Middle East.
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.
Criteria for Fellows and Nominating Process
Candidates for Fellowship should be holding elective public office at any level of American government (local, state, or federal) and between the ages of 25 and 50. They must be intelligent, thoughtful, and, regardless of political viewpoint, willing to engage in a civil manner even with those with whom they may disagree.
It is expected that Fellows will not only use the leadership training they received through the Fellowship for the betterment of their communities, but that they will also share with other public officials the insights gained through the Fellowship so that communities will more quickly realize the benefits of new approaches to problem-solving.
Please note that candidates may not nominate themselves.