Inside American Politics 2020
November 9 and November 10
Political experts and strategists joined the John Brademas Center and NYU DC Dialogues for a dialogue to discuss the 2020 Presidential election results and on the current political landscape in Washington. This series provides students of New York University with the opportunity to learn from practitioners in order to gain an insider's view of the American political system. This event was held virtually using Zoom
Monday, November 9, 2020
- 12:30 PM Welcome
- Intro Remarks by Lynne Brown and Ellyn Toscano
- 12:40 PM Panel 1 commences
- 1:40 PM Audience Questions
- 2:00 PM Panel Ends
- 2:05 PM Panel 2 Commences
- Intro Remarks by Ellyn Toscano
- 3:05 PM Audience Questions
- 3:30 PM Event Ends
- 12:30 PM Welcome
- Intro Remarks by Lynne Brown and Ellyn Toscano
- 12:40 PM Panel 3 commences
- 1:40 PM Audience Questions
- 2:00 PM Panel Ends
- 2:05 PM Panel 4 commences
- Intro Remarks by Ellyn Toscano
- 3:05 PM Audience Questions
- 3:30 PM Event Ends
Day 1 - Monday, November 9, 2020
Panel 1: What Just Happened, and Why? What Were the Primary Issues and Demographic Trends that led to Joe Biden's Victory?
This panel will analyze the strategic campaign decisions and external events that had the most significant impact on shaping the outcome of the election. How much credit should the Biden campaign get for their victory, or was this election purely a referendum on the Trump presidency? How did the Trump campaign again defy expectations and perform much better than the media and polls suggested?
- Joel Benenson
- Jonathan Martin
- Steve McMahon (moderator)
- Todd Harris
- Betsy Fischer Martin
- Doug Thornell
Panel 2: Polls, Posts & Tweets: How Challenges in Modern Polling and Disinformation in Social Media are Impacting Elections
This panel will analyze how pollsters, again this year, inflated the strength of Democratic candidates. How did they get it so wrong and what changes are in store for the polling industry? Are efforts to spread political disinformation via social media now a permanent part of American elections?
- John Anzalone
- Lisa Benenson (Moderator)
- Rob Collins
- Pat Egan
- Karen Finney
- Michael Steele
Day 2 - Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Panel 3: The Grand Old Party? How Trump Has Reshaped the Republican Party
This panel will discuss the future of the Republican Party. Has Donald Trump permanently reshaped the party in his image? How does the party move beyond 2020 and build a national coalition to compete in the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election?
- Jonathan Caphart
- Rob Collins
- Todd Harris
- Kiki McLean (Moderator)
- Michael Steele
Panel 4: What's Next for the Democratic Party? How do They Balance the Progressive Wing with The Moderate Wing
This panel will discuss how the Democratic Party underperformed in several races, and what that means for the direction of party leadership. How does President-Elect Joe Biden work with the Progressive wing of the Democratic party? How does the party navigate its ascendancy and solidify recent electoral gains in more moderate southern and sun belt states?
- John Anzalone
- Jonathan Capehart
- Stephanie Cutter
- Pat Egan (Moderator)
- Karen Finney
- Doug Thornell
John Anzalone, Democratic Pollster
John Anzalone has over twenty-five years of polling experience and has polled for the presidential campaigns of both Barack Obama (2008 & 2012) and Hillary Clinton (2016). John has helped elect U.S. Senators, Governors and dozens of members of Congress. In 2018, John helped elect gubernatorial candidates in Michigan (Gretchen Whitmer), and Nevada (Steve Sisolak). In 2016, he polled for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and the fight against the state’s anti-LGBT laws and also polls for Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. During the 2018 midterms, John’s firm has flipped five congressional seats and four independent expenditure races across the country.
In the last two decades, John has helped beat more incumbent Republicans and take back more Republican seats than any other polling firm in the nation. ALG Polling works regularly with the DSCC, DGA, and DCCC, as well as with the Human Rights Campaign, Emily’s List, the AFL-CIO and Planned Parenthood.
Prior to his polling career, Anzalone was a campaign operative and was one of the first staffers in Iowa for Joe Biden for President in 1987. He also worked for democratic strategists James Carville in U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg’s 1988 campaign. He began his political career as an aide to David Wilhelm (who later became DNC Chairman) at Citizens for Tax Justice and the AFL-CIO, and then went on to manage campaigns in five states.
The son of two union members, John grew up in St. Joseph, Michigan and graduated from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, MI. John is married and has four children and lives in Montgomery, AL.
Joel Benenson, Democratic Pollster and Political Strategist; founder and CEO of Benenson Strategy Group
Joel Benenson, founder and CEO of Benenson Strategy Group, is the only Democratic pollster in history to have played a leading role in three winning presidential campaigns — making him the “go-to guy for any politico wanting to take the public’s temperature,” according to GQ. Joel has been the chief pollster and a senior strategist for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential race and President Barack Obama from the beginning of his 2008 campaign, and worked on President Bill Clinton’s polling team during the 1996 race. Since founding the firm in 2000, Joel has served as a strategist and consultant to heads of state, domestic political leaders at all levels, Fortune 100 CEOs, and leaders of major advocacy and nonprofit institutions. His unique combination of communications expertise and astute analysis has led clients across sectors to win in the most challenging competitive situations. Joel’s corporate clients have included CEOs and top executives at Campbell Soup Company, HBO, Toyota, the NFL, Procter & Gamble, Panera Bread Co., Hearst, Blue Star Energy, and MSNBC. In the advocacy and nonprofit sector, he has worked with leading institutions including The Fairness Project, Story Corps. AARP, League of Conservation Voters and SEIU. Joel has been named “Pollster of the Year” by the American Association of Political Consultants, among the “most powerful” people in D.C. by GQ magazine, and a part of “the new lineup in Washington” by Newsweek magazine. He was also included on The New Republic’s “The O-List,” which identified the 30 most influential players in Obama’s 2008 run for office. Joel and the firm also won the Ogilvy Award Gold Medal for Government and Public Service. Before becoming a pollster in 1995, Joel was a political journalist for the Daily News in New York and served as communications director for Governor Mario Cuomo’s 1994 campaign. He was also previously a vice president at the New York ad agency FCB.
Lisa Benenson, Vice President for Communications and Strategy, Brennan Center for Justice
Lisa Benenson is the Vice President for Communications and Strategy at the Brennan Center for Justice. In that role, she serves on the organization’s executive management team, and leads the Brennan Center’s communications strategies and initiatives, marketing and brand, and digital presence. She was previously the Deputy Director of Communications for UNICEF’s global operations, leading the organizations media, digital and internal communications teams. Lisa had previously served as the Chief Communications Officer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, and as Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications, at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Before embarking on her career in non-profits, Benenson was a journalist. She was a consulting editor at Newsweek and The Daily Beast; was the founding editor of Hallmark Magazine, and was the editorial director at Working Mother and Working Woman magazines. At Hallmark, she played a key role in shaping business strategies to leverage the Hallmark brand and developed and supervised the magazine’s digital and social media operations. At Working Mother, she created the “Take Your Kids to Vote” campaign, a joint initiative with the Council for Excellence in Government. Earlier in her journalism career, Benenson worked for Newsday, where she was a reporter and served as the Assistant National Editor, and for The Denver Post, where she held positions including Metro Editor and Sunday Editor. Benenson has appeared on NBC’s Today Show and was a contributor for the Weekend Today Show. She has also appeared on NBC Nightly News, the CBS Evening News, Oprah, Good Morning America, The Fox Report and other national broadcast programs. She is a board member at P olaris, a leading nonprofit in the fight to eradicate modern slavery, and at Riverkeeper, a New York organization that defends the Hudson River and its tributaries, protecting the drinking water supply of 9 million New Yorkers.
Jonathan Capehart, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and member of The Washington Post editorial board
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart is a member of The Washington Post editorial board, writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog and hosts the “Cape Up” podcast. He is also an MSNBC Contributor, who regularly serves as a substitute anchor, and was the host of “America on the Line,” a news and national call-in show from WNYC New York Public Radio. Capehart is a regular moderator of panels at the Aspen Ideas Festival and for the Aspen Institute, the Center for American Progress and at the Brussels Forum of the German Marshall Fund. He has also moderated sessions at the Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum and for the Connecticut Forum. Between his column, podcast, panel moderating and substitute hosting, Capehart has interviewed important political leaders and cultural icons. Among them include, Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin. Capehart has also interviewed actor Mark Hamill, actress Sonia Braga, jazz greats Wynton Marsalis and Nancy Wilson, Academy Awardwinning actor Christoph Waltz, dancer and choreographer Savion Glover and Bravo television’s Andy Cohen. In September 2014, the Advocate magazine ranked Capehart 9th out of 50 of the most influential LGBT people in media. In December 2014, Mediaite named him one of the “Top 9 Rising Stars of Cable News.” Equality Forum made him a 2018 LGBT History Month Icon in October. In May 2018, the publisher of the Washington Post awarded him an “Outstanding Contribution Award” for his opinion writing and “Cape Up” podcast interviews. Capehart was deputy editorial page editor of the New York Daily News from 2002 to 2004, and served on that paper’s editorial board from 1993 to 2000. In 1999, his 16-month editorial campaign to save the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem earned him and the board the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. Capehart left the Daily News in July 2000 to become the national affairs columnist at Bloomberg News, and took a leave from this position in February 2001 to serve as a policy adviser to Michael Bloomberg in his first successful campaign for New York City mayor.
Ron Christie, Founder and President of Christie Strategies LLC
Ron Christie, founder and President of Christie Strategies LLC, is a veteran senior advisor of both the White House and the Congress, brings years of government relations and media experience.
Previously, Christie served as Vice President of Navigators Global LLC - a strategic consulting and communications firm. He previously served as Executive Vice President and Director of Global Government Affairs at Ruder Finn and Of Counsel at the Washington D.C. law firm Patton Boggs, LLP. From 2002 to 2004, he was Acting Director of USA Freedom Corps and special assistant to President George W. Bush. He began service at the White House in 2001 as deputy assistant to Vice President Cheney for domestic policy, advising the Vice President on policy initiatives in healthcare, budget, tax and other policy areas.
Prior to joining the Vice President's staff, he briefly served as counsel to U.S. Senator George Allen (R-VA). He previously served as a senior advisor to former House Budget Committee Chairman and current Ohio Governor John Kasich from 1992-1999.
Christie served as a Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University for the Fall 2011 term. He was appointed as an Adjunct Professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University in 2014. He also teaches The Business of Lobbying at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business He was appointed last year to the advisory board of the Georgetown University Institute of Politics.
Additionally he has also served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Haverford College as well as an adjunct professor at The George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management and was a visiting assistant professor of Political Science at Haverford College in 2009 and 2011. He has also served as a guest lecturer at University of Virginia's Center for Politics.
Rob Collins, Republican Political Strategist and Partner in S-3 Public Affairs
Rob Collins is a veteran strategist and partner at S-3 Public Affairs. In the Spring of 2017, the Trump Administration asked Collins to ‘quarterback’ the successful bipartisan nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court. In that role, Collins worked directly with West Wing senior staff, the Office of the Vice President, the White House Counsel, the Department of Justice, the White House Office of Legislative Policy, Legislative Affairs, the Inter-governmental Office, the White House Public Liaison Office, and the White House Communications Office. Additionally, Collins worked closely with Senate Leadership, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office, the Senate Judiciary Committee, over 20 outside advocacy groups, and Judge Gorsuch’s team. Prior to S-3, Collins was the Executive Director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), a $125 million, 80-person organization responsible for electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate. During his tenure at the NRSC he helped reelect 12 incumbents and elect 12 new Republicans. These pickups were a part of a historic 9-seat gain for the Republicans, the largest GOP-gain in over 35 years. Before taking over at the NRSC, Collins was a partner at Purple Strategies, a bipartisan consulting firm. He also ran the American Action Network (AAN), which raised over $30 million for advocacy in 5 Senate races and 35 House districts that helped the Republicans retake the House of Representatives in 2010. While at AAN, he created the Hispanic Leadership Network co-chaired by Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Before starting the Network, Collins spent 7 years as Chief of Staff for Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Collins has been chosen by Roll Call Newspaper as a member of the ‘Fab 50 Staffers in DC’ 4-times, twice he has been selected to be on the ‘Power 100’ by Washingtonian Magazine and Recently Fortune Magazine cited him as the ‘Top Strategist’ for Republicans in 2016.
Stephanie Cutter, Founding Partner, Precision Strategies, and Former Deputy Campaign Manager and Senior Advisor to President Obama
Stephanie Cutter is the founding partner of Precision Strategies, a leading communications, digital and data targeting consulting firm in Washington DC and New York City. At Precision, Stephanie has revolutionized the integration of datadriven communications with digital and campaign style organizing to improve reputations, manage crises and drive people to action. She has improved the brand of one of the nation’s largest health insurers during a controversial merger; successfully launched a news network; restored the reputation of a multinational financial institution; reshaped a national storyline on behalf of a leading NFL quarterback; and successfully managed a global crisis for a well known consumer tech platform. Called “one of the most prominent voices in the [Democratic] party, and one of its top strategists and crisis managers” by Politico, Stephanie has crafted high-level communications, reputation and crisis-management strategies for two U.S. Presidents, U.S. Senate leaders, and the nation’s highest profile political campaigns and Fortune 500 corporations. The New York Times called her “the polished, sometimes scarily organized strategist who gets things done” who “has a long and favorable reputation with some of the most influential journalists and opinion makers in Washington.” GQ named her one of “the 50 most powerful people in Washington.” Stephanie served as Deputy Campaign Manager for President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, where she played a pivotal role in designing and executing a game-changing campaign that broke barriers in understanding, reaching, and connecting with more Americans than any election in history. Previously, Stephanie served in various senior positions within the Obama administration and campaign, from managing the President’s message strategy and issue development in the White House, to serving as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff, to counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Before the Obama administration, Stephanie served as a senior advisor to Minority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy. In 2004, she served as Communications Director for the John Kerry for President Campaign. She also held various positions within the Clinton Administration, including President Clinton’s White House Deputy Communications Director. A Massachusetts native, Stephanie lives in Washington, DC with her son, and is a graduate of Smith College and Georgetown University Law Center. Stephanie is currently a contributor to ABC News, and is a former co-host of CNN’s Crossfire show. Stephanie is represented by Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau in Washington, D.C.
Patrick Egan, Associate Professor of Politics and Public Policy, Director of Undergraduate Studies, New York University
Patrick J. Egan, Associate Professor of Politics and Public Policy at
NYU, specializes in U.S. political attitudes and behavior, and their
consequences for public policy, partisanship and identity. He is author
of /Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts
American Politics/, and his peer-reviewed research has appeared in
journals such as /Nature/, the /American Political Science Review/, and
the /American Journal of Political Science/. He is the recipient of the
NYU Golden Dozen Award in recognition for his outstanding contribution to learning in the classroom.
Egan holds a Ph.D. in political science from UC Berkeley and a master’s
degree in public affairs from Princeton. Before entering academia, he
served as an Assistant Deputy Mayor of Policy and Planning in the office of Philadelphia Mayor Edward Rendell. For the past few election cycles, he has worked as an elections analyst for NBC News as part of the network's Exit Poll Desk team.
Karen Finney, Democratic Strategist and Political Commentator for CNN
A leading democratic strategist and Political Commentator for CNN, Karen Finney is an independent consultant working with political and corporate clients on crisis communications, branding, public affairs, polling and strategy. She was a Senior Advisor to Stacey Abrams’ Gubernatorial campaign, the Democratic National Committee and AL Media in the 2018 election cycle. Finney served as Senior Advisor and Senior Spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
From her experience working in media, national politics, political and communications strategy in both the public and private sectors, Finney brings a unique perspective to her work. She was a political analyst and hosted her own show on MSNBC, “Disrupt with Karen Finney,”. Her experience includes work on four presidential campaigns, the Clinton Administration, and she was the Democratic National Committee’s first African American spokeswoman, helping to lead the DNC’s communications strategy for the “50 State Strategy,” successful 2006 Congressional elections and 2008 presidential campaign.
Betsy Fischer Martin, Executive Director, Women & Politics Institute, American University and Former Executive Producer of "Meet the Press"
Betsy Fischer Martin is an Emmy-winning journalist and former TV news executive. Currently she is the Executive Director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University and a member of the International Advisory Council of APCO Worldwide. She also founded her own consulting business, Fischer Martin Media, where she specializes in providing media training to corporate executives. During the 2016 presidential campaign cycle, she was a contributor to Bloomberg Politics where she co-hosted “Masters in Politics” - a political podcast featuring interviews with presidential candidates, government officials and key strategists. She was also the Contributing Editor for Washington for MORE Magazine where she interviewed female political leaders about policy issues, women’s empowerment and leadership. Additionally, she traveled abroad extensively on behalf of the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, speaking to foreign journalists, students and political/civic organizations as an independent expert on U.S. elections, women in politics and women in media. During her earlier career in television news, she spent 23 years at NBC News serving as the longtime Executive Producer of Meet the Press with Tim Russert and as the Managing Editor of NBC News Political Programming. A native of New Orleans, Fischer Martin did her undergraduate and graduate work at American University in Washington, DC. She is a cum laude graduate of their School of Public Affairs and earned a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from the AU School of Communications.
Todd Harris, Republican Strategist and Partner, Something Else Strategies
Todd Harris is one of the nation’s preeminent media and communications strategists. Roll Call dubbed him “A spinner extraordinaire in the world of political communication,” while Buzzfeed wrote his media work belongs in the “Political Advertising Hall of Fame.” Todd served as senior strategist and media consultant for Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 campaign for president. He has produced award-winning media for leading Republican candidates and causes, and served as a senior strategist for a who’s who of GOP officials including Senator Joni Ernst, Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. John McCain, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has advised some of the nation’s largest corporations, political committees and trade associations including Wal-Mart, Pfizer, Calpine Energy, Magnolia Pictures, the RNC, NRCC, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and many others. He is a sought-after media source, appearing regularly in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press and many others, and is a regular guest on several political news programs on MSNBC, FOX News and CNN. Harris is a California native. He lives with his wife and two daughters in McLean, VA.
Jonathan Martin, National Political Correspondent, The New York Times
Jonathan Martin is a national political correspondent for The New York Times. Before joining The Times, he had served as senior political writer for Politico since its inception in 2007. He began covering politics for National Journal’s political publication, The Hotline, and then reported on party politics and the aftermath of the 2006 midterm elections for National Review magazine. Mr. Martin is a co-author of the New York Times best seller “The End of the Line: Romney vs. Obama: The 34 Days That Decided the Election” (December 2012), the fourth and final e-book in Politico’s 2012 series on the race for the presidency. His work has been published in The New Republic, National Journal, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. He has appeared frequently on television and radio as a political analyst and commentator, including on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, MSNBC and NPR.
Catherine “Kiki” McLean, Director, Walton Family Political and Communications Office
Catherine “Kiki” McLean is a leading public affairs and political strategist. She is the director of the Walton Family Political and Communications Office. Previously, she served as counsel for the Washington, D.C., office of Porter Novelli and the agency’s global public affairs efforts. She assumed this role after four years leading the Washington, D.C., and global public affairs practices and serving as a member of Porter Novelli’s Executive Committee.
In her work, Kiki’s expertise is in strategic communications and public affairs. A veteran of six presidential campaigns, including the historic 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign, Kiki has more than 25 years of experience leading strategic communications initiatives. She served as senior advisor to the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign in 2008, and has served as spokesperson and led communications for Vice President Al Gore, Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democratic National Committee and others.
Kiki McLean is a native of San Antonio, Texas, and received her Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in Communications from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. She serves on several not-for-profit and corporate boards of directors.
Steve McMahon, Democratic Strategist and Co-Founder of Purple Strategies
Steve McMahon is an attorney and co-founder of Purple Strategies, LLC, a firm that applies politically-inspired solutions to corporate reputation and business challenges. He’s advised Senators, Governors, CEOs and presidential candidates on political and communications strategies for over thirty years. McMahon began his professional career working on the Senate and political staff of Senator Edward M.Kennedy, where he served as Assistant Press Secretary and later, as Deputy Director of Kennedy’s PAC, the Fund for a Democratic Majority. McMahon began working as a political strategist and media consultant in 1987, and has worked on dozens of Senate, Gubernatorial and Mayoral campaigns across the country. McMahon worked in the U.S. presidential campaigns of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, served as senior political strategist and media consultant for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, and produced the advertising in support of then Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic National Committee in the 2008 presidential campaign. He has also produced issue advertising for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). On the international front, McMahon and his partners worked as strategic advisors or campaign consultants on successful presidential campaigns in Nicaragua for Violetto Chamarro and in Greece for Andreas Papandreaou. For the past decade, McMahon’s principal focus has been on providing comprehensive reputation, brand image, crisis, and issue advocacy campaigns to companies and industries operating in challenging environments. Their clients have included many of the best-known brands in the world, including McDonald’s, BP and Coca-Cola. He and his colleagues have also handled numerous and initiative and referenda campaigns on a wide range of subjects and helped develop litigation communication strategies for companies engaged in significant class action and government-initiated litigation. Steve McMahon appears often as a political commentator on television network and cable stations, and appears regularly as a Democratic Strategist on MSNBC and other political programming. Steve is married to Cynthia Alksne, a former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst. The couple has four daughters.
Michael Steele, Former RNC Chairman, Former Lt. Governor of Maryland, Host "Man of Steele" podcast
When he was elected Lt. Governor of Maryland in 2003, Michael Steele made history as the first African American elected to statewide office; and again with his subsequent chairmanship of the Republican National Committee in 2009. As chairman of the RNC, Michael Steele was charged with revitalizing the Republican Party. A self-described “Lincoln Republican,” under Steele’s leadership the RNC broke fundraising records (over $198 million raised during the 2010 Congressional cycle) and Republicans won 63 House seats, the biggest pickup since 1938. His commitment to grassroots organization and party building at the state and local levels produced 12 governorships and the greatest share of state legislative seats since 1928 (over 760 seats). As Lt. Governor of Maryland, Mr. Steele’s priorities included reforming the state’s Minority Business Enterprise program, improving the quality of Maryland’s public education system (he championed the State’s historic Charter School law), expanding economic development in the state and fostering cooperation between government and faith-based organizations to help those in need. Mr. Steele’s ability as a communicator and commentator has been showcased through his current role as a political analyst for MSNBC. He has appeared on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. In addition to his work in television, Mr. Steele co-hosted the daily radio program, Steele & Ungar on the POTUS Channel on SiriusXM and is the host of the podcast Man of Steele. Mr. Steele’s writings on law, business and politics have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Hill.com, The Grio.com, Politico.com, The Root.com, BET.com, Townhall.com, The Journal of International Security Affairs and Catholic University Law Review, among others. He is the author of Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda, which is a call to arms for grassroots America and co-author of The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis. Born at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George’s County, Maryland, Mr. Steele was raised in Washington, DC. Upon graduating Johns Hopkins University (‘81’), he entered the Order of St. Augustine where studied for the priesthood. He is a graduate of Georgetown Law Center (’91), an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership and a University of Chicago Institute of Politics Fellow.
Doug Thornell, Managing Director Washington, D.C. at SKDKickerbocker
Doug Thornell is responsible for developing and executing sophisticated communications, crisis management, and earned and paid media campaigns for political candidates, major non-profit organizations and Fortune 100 companies at SKDKnickerbocker. Doug has worked on civil rights and social justice, voting rights, taxes, telecommunications and health care issues. He has launched multiple coalitions, worked closely with companies and organizations to communicate on complicated legislative and regulatory issues, managed corporate and political crisis situations, and worked directly with CEOs and candidates on media training, reputation management and strategic visioning. He currently serves as the firm’s on-the-record spokesman.
Doug brings years of experience working on Capitol Hill and political campaigns to his current work. He has served as the Congressional Black Caucus’ communications director, traveling press secretary for Gov. Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, deputy political director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, lead spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a top adviser to Rep. Chris Van Hollen. While working for Rep. Van Hollen, Doug was integral in developing press and messaging strategies to pass the Affordable Care Act, Wall Street reform and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. He started his political career on the Gore for President Campaign in 2000.
In 2015, he was named one of PRWeek’s top young communicators in the country on the 40 under 40 list. In 2007, he was named a Politico to Watch by POLITICO for his messaging expertise. He is a frequent political analyst on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News Channel and his opinion pieces can be found in the Huffington Post, CNN.com, Roll Call and The Hill. Doug serves on the board of Stone Soup Films and the Sidwell Friends School Alumni Association. Doug is proud to hail from the Washington, D.C. area and has a degree in Government from Cornell University, where he played varsity football.
The Inside American Politics series originated by NYU La Pietra Dialogues, and now in partnership with NYU DC Dialogues and the John Brademas Center of New York University, this series provides students of New York University with the opportunity to learn from political experts in order to gain an insider's view of the American political system.