Skip to content

Victor Reyes
GSPM online Political Management student Victor Reyes, who works as a lobbyist for The Roosevelt Group in Springfield, Illinois.

Our online Political Management student Victor Reyes had his capstone project profiled in Crain's Chicago Business Friday:

"Winning the Latino vote may well be the key to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's re-election, but he'll have change some things to actually reel in such support, starting with forming a "personal relationship" with Latino voters.

That's the advice for Chicago's CEO as he prepares to announce for a third term, and comes not in the form of a confidential memo from a high-priced outside consultant but a master's thesis written by Victor Reyes, who served as political consiglieri and chief lobbyist to Mayor Richard M. Daley during his tenure. Among his former duties was heading the Daley-allied Hispanic Democratic Organization.

'To win re-election in 2019, Emanuel must establish a supportive coalition that includes a large number of Latinos,' writes Reyes, who's now a lobbyist here and in Springfield but is getting a master's degree in political management from George Washington University in Washington, D.C."

Read the full piece at Crain's Chicago Business. 

One of our superstar alums, Dan Sena, Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was recently profiled by Roll Call's Nathan Gonzalez, another one of our superstar alums.

Sena is the first Latino to direct a campaign committee, and has been working on campaigns since his days as a student.

Read the entire profile at Roll Call.

The following post is from GSPM Adjunct Professor Chris Bender

We’ve reached a seminal moment in how advocacy is done.

Following the awful events at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, a garrison of outraged and determined students have used their phones and personal passion to do what scores of elected officials, professional activists, interest groups and community organizations couldn’t: Force cultural change on guns – and in less than three weeks’ time.

These students don’t have a paid campaign manager. There’s no donor strategy. No one is canvassing or thinking about microtargeting. They are doing something simpler and more organic: Speaking from the heart, using Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter to connect with millions of people who share their sadness and frustration, shifting the conversation and creating an imperative for change.

Read the full post on the Public Affairs Council website.

Argentine Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers Marcos Peña
Argentine Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers Marcos Peña addresses GSPM Seminar Students

The Graduate School of Political Management’s Latin American program hosted the Argentine Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers Marcos Peña at its 2017 fall semester Seminar on “Electoral Campaigns “ on Friday, December 1st. Peña is a core member of President Mauricio Macri’s campaign and political teams, providing key communications strategies and guidance. He runs the Jefatura de Gabinete de Ministros, which is responsible for coordinating the work of the cabinet of ministers, public communications and strategic affairs.

As a founding collaborator of the “Propuesta Republicana” party, also known as “PRO”, under which Mauricio Macri started his rise in South American politics, Peña has seen how nascent political organizations can grow quickly. The PRO party found its greatest success in the historic defeat of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in the country’s first runoff ballotage race. That success has continued for the party, and Peña shared some of those lessons with students.

One of Peña's points was about the importance of analyzing defeats as well as successes. He was asked about Mauricio Macri’s losing campaign for Mayor of Buenos Aires in 2003. Peña stated “This was absolutely shocking, but did learn a great deal about this loss. A big part of being living in a democracy is to be able to look back and find the reasons behind this loss, therefore, they we do not make the same mistakes again”

That lesson informed the Macri campaign's assessment of later races. In reference to the presidential election of 2015, Peña said, “Mauricio Macri expressed that this was not a victory coming from him, but rather from the whole party. This clearly reflects a contemporaneous leadership.

Now as president, Macri is dealing with a different set of priorities during his presidency, Peña stated “Macri is enjoying his presidency and is confident about Argentina’s future. There is a high level of hope in the country. The dynamics of this country are changing for the better.”

The Argentine government has assumed the presidency of the G20 for 2018 effective December 1. Peña said that the government’s focus would be to “build consensus for fair and sustainable development” and to advance three central priorities addressing the future of work, infrastructure for development, and food security. The administration also seeks to amplify the voice of the entire region on the global stage, not just Argentina.

 

The following post is from GSPM Research Director Prof. Michael Cornfield

In the space of three weeks Senator Al Franken (DFL-MN) plummeted in public standing from a presidential mentionable to a disgraced official on the verge of departure. Some blame his Democratic colleagues for abandoning him in the interest of political expediency. A review of Franken’s remarks indicates that the bulk of the responsibility belongs with him.

Al Franken was the first in the post-Harvey Weinstein sleaze parade to give a speech about his scandalous predicament. Previous celebrities exited in silence or under cover of brief released statements expressing combinations of apology, self-defense, and promises to rehabilitate, with the notably defiant exceptions of Roy Moore and Donald Trump.

The Leeann Tweeden accusation hit on November 16, fortified by an incriminating photo. Franken questioned her interpretation of their encounters but apologized, in public and in personal communications (as he told the public). She accepted his apology. So far, so good.

Senators McConnell and Schumer initiated a Senate Ethics Committee review of the incident. Franken embraced the move and went silent under the pretext that the review would afford him “due process.” This damage control strategy was terribly flawed. More accusations surfaced, turning a one-off incident into a pattern that a fuller statement by Franken about his behavior in his pre-Senate days could have mitigated.

It’s also hard to see how a Congressional panel could rule fairly on he-said she-said conduct that occurred before the accused was a member of the body to whose rules he would be accountable. A more cynical perspective would interpret the referral as a stall. Given the performance of Congress in recent years, earning the institution job approval ratings in the same number range as the age of Roy Moore’s victims, cynicism is justified.

Twitter data show the stonewall held for a short while. Here are the number of times Franken’s name was mentioned between November 16 and December 5. The public eye went elsewhere, even on November 23 when Franken surfaced to issue what now sounded like excuses: "I've met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I'm a warm person; I hug people. I've learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too many.” In other words, only under public scrutiny did Franken become aware that there are certain places his hands and tongue should not go when he was in close proximity to women.

On December 6, the wall collapsed. A seventh accusation appeared in Politico, and it came from a Congressional staffer. Time valorized the “silence breakers” as “Persons of the Year.” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand declared that “enough is enough” and called for Franken to resign. A cascade of more than thirty Senatorial dittos fell within hours.

Senator Franken now had a huge audience for his goodbye and, if he chose, a farewell address that would put his troubles in a larger context.

------

He opened well, harkening back to the post-Weinstein pre-Tweeden weeks:

We were finally beginning to listen to women about the ways in which men's actions affect them. The moment was long overdue. I was excited for that conversation and hopeful that it would result in real change that made life better for women all across the country and in every part of our society.

Then the conversation turned to me, Franken continued, and I was shocked. In being a respectful listener “I think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that in fact I haven't done.”

Franken was walking back his culpability as a misunderstanding on the part of “some people,” as the hellacious price paid by a well-intentioned “respectful listener.”

He then widened his attention from himself to include two other accused sexual harassers:

I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.

The bitter comparison was easy to see as a self-exculpating “whataboutist” diversionary tactic, but hard to accept as helpful to the conversation, given Franken’s refusal to clarify the differences between what he had done, as he saw it, and what Trump and Moore are accused of doing. Instead of setting forth categories, he asked people to take his innocence on faith in his character.

“I know who I really am,” Franken asserted. I knew I was joking around or just being warm, he implied, and so did the women. Or so they should have. After all, he’s famous.

He was resigning, he said, because he could not remain effective for the people of Minnesota while defending himself before the Ethics Committee. Then why did he approve of the committee referral in the first place? Because exoneration was no longer a foregone conclusion?

This speech was Senator Franken’s last best chance to frame the sexual harassment issue moving forward. But he talked about himself instead of his accusers and others in similar situations. In all likelihood, his conduct WAS different from that of Trump and Moore in many respects. But on the crucial matter of refusing to apologize to all he had offended, intimidated, confused, and disappointed, he was, ultimately, the same.

-----

Sometimes in life we fixate on what we are about to lose and fail to see what we could gain. A different speech would have imbued Franken with the moral authority to go on this Sunday’s (December 10) news programs and blast Roy Moore, Donald Trump, and all the Republicans who are enabling their aberrant behavior toward women. From there, he could have rebuilt his political career by adopting the role of the reformed man who gets it. (For different reasons, Senator Jeff Flake is in this very position. He is departing the Senate with long-term potential. He was the only Republican who attended Franken’s speech.)

“I'm going to be just fine,” Franken said at one point.

It’s not you I’m worried about, Senator Franken.

Trailblazers in Politics
The inaugural winners of Trailblazers in Politics awards on front row starting third from left: Samantha Joy Fay, DeJuana Thompson, Jeanine Henderson Arnett and Keysha Brooks-Coley.

The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) and the Virginia Leadership Institute (VLI) launched the inaugural Trailblazers in Politics award Wednesday, honoring diverse GSPM students and alumni who have made significant contributions to the field of politics.

This year’s winners are DeJuana Thompson, M.P.S. ’17; Samantha Joy Fay, M.P.S. ’17; Keysha Brooks-Coley, M.A. ’00; and Jeanine Henderson Arnett, M.A. ’04. The four women have led drives for change inside and outside of local and federal government.

The Trailblazers in Politics award was born from the desire of GSPM and VLI to recognize and amplify the message that governments that reflect the diversity of their communities better serve society.

“Leadership is a collection of character traits, and it comes in all packages. If we’re going to have a country that represents all people, we need to recognize leadership in everyone that steps up to the plate,” said GSPM Director Lara Brown.

VLI founder Krysta Jones said the idea for her institute was born from a GSPM project. During a thesis discussion with a professor, Ms. Jones noted that Northern Virginia’s political culture was much more homogeneous than surrounding areas such as the District and Prince George’s County, Md. “My professor said instead of making a thesis why don’t you do something to solve the problem. VLI comes directly as a result of my GSPM education,” said Ms. Jones.

The organization currently has a goal to help elect 500 black officials in Virginia by 2026 by providing training and resources for candidates.

This year’s honorees were introduced during a ceremony at GW's City View Room by colleagues and mentors from the highest levels of government and advocacy.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) was on hand to present the award to Ms. Fay, who serves as a legislative aide in his office. He said that in politics “it is easy to lose faith, but when I see young people and the people in this program…I am optimistic.”

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall presented the Trailblazers award to Ms. Arnett, her former chief of staff who is now the executive director of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Ms. Randall said that the essence of politics is “working hard for the many people who need us the most. The ones who don’t know we’re even doing it.” She said that Ms. Henderson Arnett embodied that ethos through her work for the county and her role as a mentor.

A leadership and mentorship role was key in the success of honoree Ms. Brooks-Coley, director of Federal Relations at the American Cancer Society Action Network. “I have never seen her turn down a request for an informational interview. She leans in. She’s a connector,” said Dick Woodruff, the society’s vice president of Federal Relations.

Ms. Thompson gave back to her community through politics and public service, serving as a senior adviser for Public Engagement at the U.S. Small Business Administration and the national deputy director for Community Engagement at the Democratic National Committee. “She is one of the most tireless workers in the field to push for change to ensure that communities of color have a space, access, and opportunities,” said Stephanie Gidigbi, a former colleague and director at the National Resources Defense Council.

GSPM and the VLI have committed to working together to train and advocate for the next generation of political and advocacy leaders, and the first generation of Trailblazers in Politics award will be there to help lead the charge.

Colonials Weekend is a time to reconnect and celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni. The Graduate School of Political Management is proud to honor two alumni who are receiving awards this weekend. Their dedication to public service is an inspiration to us and we look forward to witnessing their future accomplishments.

Mindy Finn, Political Management 2010, winner of the GW Recent Alumni Achievement Award

Finn is an experienced digital politics operative, working in national campaigns, party headquarters, and in the private sector.

Finn established the first new media division at the Republican National Committee in 2005 after leading similar efforts for President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, and went on to become a senior digital strategist for the 2008 Mitt Romney presidential campaign.

She later founded Empowered Women, a non-profit working to give “voice to a bold new generation of American women (and) identify emerging leaders and provide the resources to promote them into civic life.”

Sensing a need for a conservative alternative to the Donald Trump campaign for president in 2016, Finn became independent candidate Evan McMullin’s running mate. They continue their work to “lead Americans in the promotion of liberty, equality, and truth in America” through Stand Up Republic, a political non-profit.

The Recent Alumni Achievement Award is one of the highest forms of recognition given annually by the university and the George Washington Alumni Association to a graduate, and seeks to honor those that have achieved notable accomplishments in their field.

Lt. Col. Steven Coffee, USAF, Legislative Affairs 2008, winner of the GW IMPACT Award

Lt. Col. Coffee is the Manpower Analyst (J1 Human Capital Division) at the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In that role he serves as the chief human capitol expert for the heads of the armed forces.

Coffee previously served as a Force Support, Squadron Commander, providing assistance and training to more than 1,100 active duty and reserve Air Force members. He has served in the White Houses of George W. Bush and Barack Obama as the White House Military Social Aide, which assists in the planning and executions of official events for the president and first lady.

Coffee is receiving the GW IMPACT Award, which is given by the George Washington Black Alumni Association (GWBAA), and is “the highest form of recognition bestowed on distinguished Black alumni by the GWBAA Executive Committee” to those who have cultivated a history of commitment to the university.

Additionally, GSPM grad Erin Houchin, currently serving as an Indiana State Senator for the 47th District, will participate in the Sunday Political Discourse, which will provide insights on the latest developments in politics and governance.

We hope to see you all this weekend and if you can’t make it please take a moment to update your contact information with us. For a complete listing of Colonials Weekend activities click here.

 

The Graduate School of Political Management is proud to announce its newest fellows and Alumni Achievement Award winners.

Our fellows are leaders in politics and advocacy chosen by the school to serve 18 month terms contributing as adjunct professors, guest lecturers, panel speakers, and case study contributors. They serve an invaluable role in helping us give our students the best education in applied politics, communications, and advocacy. Previous fellows include U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., former U.S. Senator Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Amy Walter, National Editor at the Cook Political Report.

Our current fellows:

Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.: Cantor’s career in politics has stretched over two decades, serving in the United States House of Representatives and the Virginia House of Delegates. Cantor was a member of the House Republican leadership team for 11 years, starting as Chief Deputy Whip and ending as House Majority Leader after the historic 2010 midterm election cycle. Cantor currently serves as Vice Chair and Managing Director at Moelis & Company, a leading global independent investment bank.

Sarah Chamberlain: Chamberlain serves as the President and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership, which she helped to establish and grow into a thriving organization with more than seventy members of Congress as part of its network. A leading advocate for women in politics, Chamberlain established the Women2Women Conversations Tour in 2014 to spark dialogue between legislators and everyday citizens. Chamberlain is the only woman in the country who serves as the CEO of a major Republican organization. Prior to joining the partnership she served as the first Executive Director of the John Quincy Adams Society.

Former Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA): Landrieu continued her family’s tradition of public service as a three-term United States Senator following terms as Louisiana State Treasurer and State Representative. Landrieu made history with her 1996 Senate election, becoming the first woman from Louisiana to serve a full term in the chamber. A strong advocate for her state, Sen. Landrieu played a key role in helping Louisiana recover from Hurricane Katrina and shepherded passage of the RESTORE Act, which was designed to help the Gulf Coast region recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Landrieu now serves as a Senior Policy Advisor at Van Ness Feldman.

Our Alumni Achievement Award winners represent the best of GSPM. They exemplify our values through their career accomplishments, contributions to their communities, GSPM, or GW.

Our 2017 Alumni Achievement Award winners:

Lindsey Schuh Cortés: Cortés is the CEO of BlueLabs, a data and analytics strategy consulting firm in Washington, DC. Prior to joining BlueLabs, she served as Director of Strategic Partnerships and Deputy Political Director at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Barrett Karr: Karr serves as Chief of Staff for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. In addition to other legislative roles, Karr has extensive executive branch experience as well working as the Deputy Assistant for Legislative Affairs for President George W. Bush.

Liz Reicherts: Reicherts is the head of U.S. Government Affairs at Siemens, leading its strategy on U.S. policy and international affairs and managing the U.S. Government Affairs team. Prior to Siemens, Reicherts enjoyed a 22-year career at BP, with a decade spent advocating for its international businesses.

We thank both our fellows and our award winners for their contributions to the school and we look forward to their continued involvement and counsel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obama White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest shared political and career advice with GSPM students.

Former White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told a group of students at George Washington University that taking a variety of jobs is key to career success in political communications.

During a recent appearance at the Graduate School of Political Management’s (GSPM) Ethical Standards in Public Relations course, Mr. Earnest told students that one of the key components of his professional career has been shifting from large organizations to smaller ones in order to learn and refine new skills.

He said that system was essential to landing one of the most well-known communications jobs—White House press secretary.

Read more at GWToday.

On Twitter, Trump Moments Resembled a Series of Seinfeld Highlights

by Prof. Michael Cohen

We could discuss a more substantive analysis of Twitter conversation around these important issues (we will) but, let’s face it, most of us are exhausted from the 2016 campaign and the first few months of the Trump presidency. So let’s have some fun, instead. Let’s look at the trip’s moments that Twitter obsessed over, in chronological order, most of which will mean nothing long-term but were as entertaining as some of the best Seinfeld episodes.

I promise to honor the Seinfeld credo, in part, with no hugging but we will add some learning. Let’s see how much of an imprint each of the following 10 moments had on Twitter when they were connected to President Trump. For the purposes of our research, I’ll limit the time frame of our data to May 20 to 27, the length of the trip. I won’t restrict the tweets to the U.S. as the trip was international news.

Read the full post on Medium.