Donald Baer, Elliot Gerson, James Bennet, and Mark Penn discuss the Aspen Institute / Atlantic annual survey on American values."
Don Baer is worldwide vice chairman and chief strategy officer of the strategic communications firm Burson-Marsteller, chairman of research firm Penn Schoen Berland, and founder and chairman of Palisades Media Ventures, a public affairs and news media development company. The firms are part of WPP, Inc. Baer has also been a top executive at global media company Discovery Communications, the White House communications director and chief speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, a journalist at US News & World Report, and a practicing lawyer. He is on the boards of PBS, the Urban Institute, and the News Literacy Project.
James Bennet has been editor in chief of The Atlantic since 2006. Before joining the Atlantic staff, Bennet was the Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times. During his three years in Israel, his coverage of the Middle East conflict was widely acclaimed for its balance and sensitivity. His much-lauded long-form writing for The New York Times Magazine was responsible for catching the eye of Atlantic owner David Bradley during his year-long search for a new editor. Upon accepting the position, Bennet told a Times reporter that he saw the Atlantic job as “a chance to help, encourage and preserve the practice of serious, long-form journalism.” Prior to his work in Jerusalem, he served as the Times’ White House correspondent and was preparing to join its Beijing bureau when he was offered the Atlantic editorship. Bennet began his journalism career at the Washington Monthly.
Elliot Gerson is an executive vice president at the Aspen Institute, responsible for Policy and Public Programs and relations with international partners. The Institute’s policy programs focus on important domestic and international issues and improve decision-making by providing neutral venues, nonpartisan analysis, and candid dialogue among leaders. The Institute’s public programs—including the Aspen Ideas Festival—open the Institute’s doors to a broader audience. The Institute also has international partners in France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Prague, Romania, and Spain. Gerson is the American secretary of the Rhodes Trust and manages the US Rhodes Scholarships. Previously, Gerson was a US Supreme Court clerk, practiced law, held executive positions in state and federal government and on a presidential campaign, and was president of leading insurance and health care companies.
Mark Penn is worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller, a leading global public relations and public affairs agency, and CEO of Penn Schoen Berland, a strategic research firm. He served as a key adviser in the 1996 re-election of Bill Clinton and as White House pollster for six years. He has helped elect over 25 world leaders, including Tony Blair’s re-election in 1995. He has also worked with major corporations and CEOs, including Bill Gates and Bill Ford. In 2008, Penn was chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Penn is also author of the 2007 best-selling book Microtrends, a look at the small forces behind tomorrow’s big changes.