Senior Campaign Strategist and Former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama
President, CEO, and Director, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; former US Representative (D-CA)
Chief Media Advisor, George W. Bush; Co-Founder, No Labels
Managing Partner, Clark & Winestock; Former US Representative (R-MN); Trustee, The Aspen Institute
THMOS J. WILSON
Chairman, President, and CEO, The Allstate Corporation
Entering its seventh year, the Aspen Ideas Festival will gather some of the most interesting thinkers and leaders from around the US and abroad to discuss their work, the issues that inspire them, and their ideas. Presented by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, the Festival is unique in its dedication to dialogue and exchange, and in its commitment to bringing ideas to the public at large. FORA.tv is pleased to present Festival programs taking place at the Aspen Institute's Paepcke Auditorium.
David Axelrod served as senior advisor to President Barack Obama and senior strategist to Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Axelrod also co-founded AKPD Message and Media, a political consulting firm. In that capacity, he managed media strategy and communications for more than 150 local, state, and national campaigns, with a focus on progressive candidates and causes. In 2004, when Obama was a member of the Illinois State Senate, Axelrod helped him win his US Senate campaign. Before entering politics in 1984, Axelrod spent eight years as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Active in charitable work in Chicago, Axelrod has supported Special Olympics and Misericordia. In 1998, he and his wife, Susan, helped found Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE), which has raised over $15 million so far for scientists searching for a cure. Axelrod currently serves as a senior strategist to President Obama's reelection campaign.
Ronald Brownstein, a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of presidential campaigns, is Atlantic Media’s editorial director, in charge of long-term editorial strategy. He also writes a weekly column and regularly contributes other pieces for both National Journal and The Atlantic, and coordinates political coverage and activities across publications produced by Atlantic Media. Mr. Brownstein also writes for 2012 Decoded.
Prior to joining Atlantic Media, Brownstein was the national affairs columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He has also served as the Times' national political correspondent and the author of the weekly Washington Outlook column. Brownstein is a National Journal alumnus, having served as the magazine's White House and national politics correspondent from 1983-1986, and then as its west coast correspondent through 1989. He appears regularly on national television, including NBC, ABC, CBS, and MSNBC, and served as a political analyst for CNN from 1998 through 2004. His sixth and most recent book, The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America, was published by Penguin in November 2007.
Jane Harman is president, CEO, and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She is a former US representative (D-CA). Representing the aerospace center of California during nine terms in Congress, she served on all of the major security committees: six years on Armed Services, eight years on Intelligence, and four years on Homeland Security. She has made numerous congressional fact-finding missions to hot spots around the world, including North Korea, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Guantánamo Bay, to assess threats against the United States. Harman has received numerous awards, including the Defense Department Medal for Distinguished Service, the CIA’s Agency Seal Medal, and the National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal. Prior to serving in Congress, she was a top aide in the United States Senate, deputy cabinet secretary to President Jimmy Carter, special counsel to the Department of Defense, and in private law practice.
Mark McKinnon is vice chairman of Public Strategies Inc., where he helps solve complex strategic challenges for causes, companies, and candidates. His clients have included President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, Governor Ann Richards, Congressman Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, and Bono. He is an award-winning media producer and communications strategist who has served as principal media advisor for hundreds of corporate and political campaigns around the world. McKinnon has helped engineer five winning presidential primary and general elections. He is co-founder of No Labels, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bipartisanship and civil discourse in politics, and is co-chair of Arts+Labs. President Bush appointed McKinnon to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and he currently serves on the boards of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Change Congress. McKinnon teaches at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
Vin Weber is co-chairman and partner of Mercury/Clark & Weinstock and Mercury in Washington, DC. He provides strategic advice to institutions with matters before the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. Weber has successfully advised numerous clients on matters pertaining to mergers and acquisitions, crisis management, and strategic communications. Weber served in the US House of Representatives from 1981 to 1993, representing Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District. He was a member of the Appropriations Committee and an elected member of the House Republican leadership. Weber is one of the most prominent and successful strategists in the Republican Party and enjoys strong bipartisan relationships across the legislative and executive branches of government. He serves as a trusted advisor to senior officials in the administration and on Capitol Hill and has counseled numerous presidential campaigns. In 2004, Vin was the Bush-Cheney ’04 plains states regional chairman.
Thomas J. Wilson is chairman, president, and CEO of The Allstate Corporation and Allstate Insurance Company. Wilson has served as president and CEO of Allstate since 2007. He became chairman of The Allstate Corporation’s board of directors in 2008. From 2002 to 2006, Wilson was president of Allstate Protection, responsible for the company’s property-casualty insurance operations. In 2005 and 2006, he also served as president and chief operating officer of The Allstate Corporation. From 1999 to 2002, Wilson was chairman and president of Allstate Financial, which provides life insurance, supplemental accident and health insurance, annuity, banking, and retirement products. From 1995 to 1998, Wilson served as Allstate’s chief financial officer. Wilson is chairman-elect of the Property and Casualty CEO Roundtable, chairman-elect of the Financial Services Roundtable, and vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
A panel of Washington insiders discusses whether the divisive attitudes present in American politics emanate from the voting public, or from the politicians themselves. "A very fringe minority have a very dominant voice," says No Labels co-founder Mark McKinnon. "At a time when we have arguably some of the greatest challenges in our history, we have a system that is more paralyzed than ever."