Campus & Community

Diversity marks Institute of Politics’ spring fellows

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The former mayor of Knoxville, Tenn., the vice president of programs at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, and the former governor of Minnesota, among others, have been selected for fellowships this spring at Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP) at the Kennedy School of Government.

“This impressive group brings a diverse range of experience in federal, state, local, and international politics to Harvard,” said Dan Glickman, director of the IOP. “I am confident that our students will benefit greatly from the expertise and experience these practitioners can draw on to help engage and excite the next generation of American citizens and leaders.”

Each year, the institute invites political and governmental practitioners to spend a semester at Harvard as resident fellows. The fellows program is central to the institute’s dual commitment to encourage student interest in public life and to develop ways for the academic and political communities to share their resources. Fellows interact with students, participate in the intellectual life of the community, and pursue individual studies or projects. Resident fellows lead weekly study groups – informal, not-for-credit sessions covering a wide range of topics of interest to students.

This spring’s IOP resident fellows are as follows

Victor Ashe served for 16 years as the mayor of Knoxville, Tenn. Under his leadership, the city improved the delivery of services, and added parks and greenways. He is a past president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which awarded him its Distinguished Public Service Award. President Clinton appointed him to the National Service Corporation Board, and Presidents Reagan and Bush appointed him to the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. Ashe’s study group at the institute will focus on the role of mayors in the post-9/11 era.

Meredith Bagby is the author of six published works, including “We’ve Got Issues: A Young Adult Political Guide” and “The Annual Report of the USA.” She has testified from a youth perspective before the Senate Finance Committee, the Bipartisan Commission on Medicare, and the President’s Committee to Strengthen Social Security. Bagby worked as an on-camera reporter for CNN covering economic and political issues from a youth perspective. She is currently a creative executive at DreamWorks SKG. Bagby’s study group at the institute will focus on how the worlds of Hollywood and Washington intersect.

Gary Flowers is the vice president of programs at the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, a progressive organization fighting for social change. He has directed program development, message development, public policy analysis, and logistics for more than 400 direct action campaigns across the nation. Earlier in his career, he served as Virginia Gov. Lawrence Wilder’s special assistant; as the youngest executive director of a state bar association; and as a public policy analyst for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Flowers’ study group at the institute will focus on the science of mobilization.

Steve Jarding has spent most of the past 25 years studying, teaching, writing about, and working in American politics. He served as executive director of the South Dakota Democratic Party; communications director for Bob Kerrey’s successful 1988 U.S. Senate bid; communications director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; manager for Virginia businessman Mark Warner’s successful gubernatorial campaign; and executive director of Sen. John Edwards’ leadership PAC. In 2003, Jarding served as a consultant to the presidential campaign of Sen. Bob Graham. Jarding’s study group at the institute will focus on political strategy.

Lynn Sweet has covered politics from Chicago’s street brawls to the White House. Sweet is the Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times and writes a column for the paper. Sweet joined the Sun-Times in 1976 and has been in the Washington bureau for more than 10 years. In 2002, as the violence between Israelis and Palestinians was deepening, she was sent to the region to cover the conflict. In 1995, Sweet broke the story on the perks the Clinton White House offered major donors. In 1990, Sweet was one of the first journalists to analyze political ads for accuracy. Sweet’s study group at the IOP will focus on the 2004 presidential election in real time.

Jesse Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota, was the first Reform Party candidate to win statewide office. His campaign, which spent less than $400,000, was supported by thousands of new voters and sparked a renewed interest in making government work better. In 1990, Ventura was prompted to run for mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota’s sixth-largest city, by the imminent destruction of a treasured wetland. He served as mayor until 1995, championing crime reduction. After high school, Ventura joined the Navy and was trained as a SEAL. He served in the Navy for six years during the Vietnam era, including four on active duty and two in the Reserves. After his honorable discharge in 1973, Ventura attended North Hennepin Community College on the GI Bill. Ventura’s study group at the institute will focus on third-party politics.

The following visiting fellows will join the IOP for a part of the semester to lead discussion groups and interact with students, faculty, and Harvard research centers.

Alastair Campbell, former director of communications and strategy for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, will serve as a visiting fellow from April 12 to 14.

Bobby Jindal, former Republican candidate for governor in Louisiana and assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will serve as a visiting fellow from Feb. 23 through March 12.

Bill Luther, former Democratic congressman from Minnesota (1995-2003), will serve as a visiting fellow for an as yet undetermined part of the semester.

Antanas Mockus, the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, will serve as a visiting fellow from Feb. 16 to 27.

Kathleen Shanahan, the former chief of staff to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney during the 2000 election, will serve as a visiting fellow during the month of March.

The IOP was established in 1966 with an endowment from the John F. Kennedy Library Corp. to inspire undergraduate students to enter careers in politics and public service, and to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic community and the political world. For more information, visit