Young Leaders Network: Is Congress Broken?
June 9, 2017
As part of the Young Leaders Network, the John Brademas Center hosted a dialogue with former Democratic Whip of the United States House of Representatives, The Honorable David Bonior, as he addressed the question: Is Congress Broken? This timely discussion focused on how the personal relationships forged in Congress between Members of different parties has drastically changed over time, creating a climate on Capitol Hill where colleagues barely know each another. This discussion was moderated by the Brademas Center's executive director, Dr. Lynne Brown.
The Honorable David Bonior
Born in Detroit, Michigan on June 6, 1945, David Bonior was educated in Catholic schools that included Sacred Heart Seminary and Notre Dame High School. He received a football scholarship from the University of Iowa, graduating in 1967 with a BA in political science and sociology.
From 1968-1972 he served as an enlisted airman in the United States Air Force. During that period he earned his MA in history from Chapman College in California. After military service he worked as an adoption caseworker.
In 1972 David launched his first campaign for public office; that November he was elected to the Michigan state legislature. In 1976 he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he quickly developed a reputation as one of Washington's foremost champions of progressive causes and issues. In 1991 his colleagues in the Democratic Caucus elected him their Whip, a position he held for eleven years.
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After leaving Congress in 2002, David founded American Rights of Work, a worker's rights advocacy organization that a decade later he merged into Jobs With Justice on whose board he serves. In 20003 he was appointed Professor of Labor Studies at Wayne State University. Today he serves as the chair of the Mikva Challenge in Washington DC, working to engage Washington DC students in civic action. He has authored three previous books: The Vietnam Veteran: A History of Neglect; Walking to Mackinac; and Eastside Kid: A Memoir of My Youth from Detroit to Congress. His new book, Whip, awaits publication.
David and Judy Bonior have combined family of three children and eight grandchildren. David is a member of the advisory board for the NYU Brademas Center.
Dr. Lynne P. Brown, Ph. D.
Lynne P. Brown, Ph.D., is the Senior Vice President for University Relations and Public Affairs. In that position, Dr. Brown is responsible for the University's interaction with government at all levels, outreach to the community, strategic communications, and university events. She oversees the offices of: Government and Community Affairs, Civic Engagement, University Events, Advertising and Publications, Web Communications, Media Production, and Public Affairs. She serves as the Executive Director of the NYU Brademas Center.
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A political scientist by training, Dr. Brown received her B.A. from Smith College, where she was elected Phi Beta Kappa, and went on to receive her Ph.D. in political science from The Johns Hopkins University. At NYU, she taught a graduate seminar on the politics of higher education for twenty years.
Before coming to NYU, Dr. Brown worked on Capitol Hill for Congressman (and now NYU President Emeritus) John Brademas and Congressman Thomas S. Foley during their tenures as Majority Whips in the House of Representatives.
Each year, hundreds of students from across the country descend on Washington, D.C. for internships with Members of Congress and the Federal Government. Building on a program which for 10 years has successfully placed NYU students in the office of Senators and Representatives, the Brademas Center, partnering with other Centers for the Study of Congress, developed a this program to enrich the Congressional internship experience for students from NYU, and other schools. Over the course of the Summer interns in the Young Leaders Network join in conversations with Members of Congress, House and Senate staffers, Executive Branch officials, journalists and scholars. At these and other YLN events interns also get an opportunity to meet their peers and begin developing a professional network which they can tap for support and advice after they graduate and consider careers in public service.