Newly Elected Members of Congress Invited to Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics for Bipartisan Orientation Program


Program connects new U.S. Representatives with practitioners and academics, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Harvard experts, former Obama and Trump White House aides and Fortune 50 executives from December 4-6, 2018

CAMBRIDGE, MA – The Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School today announced details of their 2018 Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected Members of Congress. The IOP will welcome newly elected U.S. Representatives from December 4 to 6 for sessions designed to forge bipartisan relationships and learn practical skills of lawmaking just one month prior to taking the oath of office. Since 1972, the IOP program has hosted nearly 700 current and new Members of Congress.  

“The Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected Members comes at an historic time as our nation is looking to its elected leaders on key issues,” said Mark D. Gearan, Director of the Institute of Politics.  “For more than 45 years, the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School has convened newly elected Members of Congress of both parties to ease the transition from the campaign to service in the Congress by sharing the intellectual resources of Harvard as well as government and private sector leaders.  We are honored to host this extraordinary class of Members who will soon bring their talents and perspective to our nation’s capital.”

New Members in attendance will gain insights on governing from former elected office holders, current and former senior White House and administration officials, diplomats, economists, business leaders, lobbyists, and academics. Discussion topics include civility and democracy, the budget and appropriations process, White House and Congressional relations, navigating Washington and Capitol Hill, and America’s role in the world. Calling on the resources of Harvard University and the Kennedy School, newly elected Members of Congress will have the opportunity to hear from distinguished scholars, professors of practice, and College administration officials, including President Lawrence S. Bacow and Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf – all of whom will provide important insight and expertise to the program participants.

“Harvard is honored to host newly elected U.S. Representatives on our campus each election,” said President Lawrence Bacow. “Welcoming public servants to our campus and encouraging them to build relationships with one another enriches not only our community but also our country. I am pleased that previous participants used their time with us to get to know their colleagues, and I look forward to addressing the members of the 116th Congress and to speaking with them about the challenges and opportunities ahead.” 

Participating speakers include: 

Hon. Elaine Chao, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, former Secretary of Labor and Director of the Peace Corps
Hon. Ash Carter, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Belfer Professor of Technology and Global Affairs
Hon. Mitch Landrieu, former Mayor of New Orleans, IOP Visiting Fellow
Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.
Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors
Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School
Gary Cohn, former Director of the National Economic Council 
Douglas Elmendorf, former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Dean of Harvard Kennedy School
David Gergen, former Presidential adviser, Public Service Professor of Public Leadership, Director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School
Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson

“As a new Member-elect, the IOP helped prepare my colleagues and I for our time here in Congress,” said Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA-44), who attended the conference in 2016 and was elected co-President of the Freshman Class of the 115th Congress. “It was one of the first opportunities we had to meet our colleagues across the aisle and it paved the way for some of the bipartisan relationships we have with each other today.”

“This IOP program helped us transition from campaigning to governing, ensuring our dialogue was more civil and our eyes more open to finding common ground,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI-8), who attended the 2016 program. “Getting to know my fellow freshmen as people before politicians and forging bipartisan relationships that are often hard to come by in this political climate is something we need more of in Washington.”

Established as a living memorial to President Kennedy, part of the IOP’s mission is to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic world and the world of politics and public affairs. The IOP also hosts similar conferences for newly elected mayors and presidential campaign staff. 

The IOP will share more details about the conference and attendees in the coming days. For more information, visit:

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