Policymakers and journalists from the National Journal discuss how to begin the task of tackling America's biggest challenges and issues.
Editorial Director, National Journal
Managing Editor for Domestic Policy, National Journal
Senior Correspondent, National Journal
Professor of International Relations, School of International Service, American University and Distinguished Fellow, Stimson Center
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.
Georges C. Benjamin, MD, is well-known in the world of public health as a leader, practitioner and administrator. Benjamin has been the executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA), the nation's oldest and largest organization of public health professionals, since December 2002. He came to this position from his position as Health Secretary for the State of Maryland. Benjamin became secretary of health in Maryland in April 1999, following four years as its deputy secretary for public health services. As secretary, Benjamin oversaw the expansion and improvement in the state’s Medicaid program.
Caren Bohan is managing editor for domestic policy at National Journal. Before that, she was a White House correspondent for Reuters. As White House reporter, she traveled around the world with Presidents Obama and Bush, covering topics ranging from international summits to the federal
budget to the policies on Afghanistan and the Arab Spring. In 2008, she was the lead correspondent for Reuters covering then-Senator Obama’s presidential campaign. She has interviewed President Obama three times, twice during his campaign and once during his presidency. Earlier in her career, Ms. Bohan covered economic policy and financial markets for Reuters, first in New York and then in
Washington. She was president of the White House Correspondents’ Association from July 2011 to July 2012. Born in Boston, Ms. Bohan earned her B.A. in English Literature from McGill University
and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
James Brown is the Executive Director of the STEM Education Coalition, an alliance of more
than 500 business, professional, and education organizations, that works to raise awareness in
Congress, the Administration, and other organizations about the critical role that STEM
education plays in enabling the U.S. to remain the economic and technological leader of the
global marketplace of the 21st century. Prior to joining the Coalition, he was Assistant Director
for Advocacy at the American Chemical Society. A nuclear engineer by training, he previously
worked as a Legislative Aide for Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, was Director of Policy and
Development at the Consumer Energy Council of America, and began his career as an engineer
with Newport News Shipbuilding, working on aircraft carrier construction. He received a B.S.
from the University of New Mexico and an M.S. from Penn State, both in nuclear engineering.
He also holds an MBA from George Washington University.
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.
Executive Director, Alliance to Save Energy
Matthew Cooper has worked for some of America's most prestigious magazines including Time, The New Republic, National Journal, U.S. News & World Report. He wrote for Newsweek in the 1990s and rejoined the magazine in 2014. A veteran White House correspondent, he's known for his in-depth reporting and analysis from Washington. Cooper also earned national attention during the CIA leak case where his refusal to name his sources went all the way to the Supreme Court. He has appeared on "60 Minutes," "Meet the Press" and a host of broadcast and cable shows.
Representative E. Scott Garrett
E. Scott Garrett is a member of the United States House of Representatives. He is a Republican and has represented New Jersey's Fifth Congressional District seat since January 2003. The district includes much of the northwestern portion of the state. Garrett serves as a member of both the House Budget Committee and the House Financial Services Committee.
Michael Hirsh is chief correspondent for National Journal. Hirsh previously served as the senior editor and national economics correspondent for Newsweek, based in its Washington bureau. He was also Newsweek’s Washington web editor and authored a weekly column for Newsweek.com, “The World from Washington.” Earlier on, he was Newsweek’s foreign editor, guiding its award-winning coverage of the September 11 attacks and the war on terror. He has done on-the-ground reporting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places around the world, and served as the Tokyo-based Asia Bureau Chief for Institutional Investor from 1992 to 1994.
Hirsh has appeared many times as a commentator on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and National Public Radio. He has written for the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Harper’s, and Washington Monthly, and authored two books, Capital Offense: How Washington’s Wise Men Turned America’s Future over to Wall Street and At War with Ourselves: Why America Is Squandering its Chance to Build a Better World. Hirsh has received numerous awards, including the Overseas Press Club award for best magazine reporting from abroad in 2001 and for Newsweek’s coverage of the war on terror, which also won a National Magazine Award.
James Kitfield has written on defense, national security and foreign policy issues from Washington, D.C. for over two decades. He is a three-time winner of the Gerald R. Ford Award for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense, most recently in 2008 for his first-hand reporting on the Afghan War and other ongoing conflicts and threats. He has won the Military Reporters and Editors Association award five times, most recently in 2011 for both Overseas and Domestic Coverage. He has also received the Medill School of Journalism’s top prize for excellence in reporting for his first hand coverage of the war in Afghanistan (2009) and the surge in Iraq (2008). He is a recipient of the 2002 Stewart Alsop Media Excellence Award, sponsored by the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, for his coverage of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and follow-on events. He received the 2001 Peter R. Weitz Prize from the German Marshall Fund for excellence in reporting on European affairs, and the 2000 Edwin Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence given annually by the National Press Club to recognize excellence in reporting on diplomatic and foreign policy issues.
Kitfield is the author of the books War & Destiny (Potomac Books, 2005) and Prodigal Soldiers (Simon & Schuster, 1995). He appears frequently on radio and television, including as a regular guest on National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show, on Public Broadcasting’s Washington Week with Gwen Ifill, and on The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer. His articles have appeared in The National Interest, Omni, Newsday, Los Angeles Magazine, Army Times, Air Force Magazine, The Stars & Stripes, Off Duty, and other publications. Kitfield is a 1978 magna cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism.
Jim Thomas is a Research Programme Manager and Writer with ETC group. His background is in communications, writing on emerging technologies and international campaigning.
For the seven years previous to joining ETC Group Thomas was a researcher and campaigner on Genetic Engineering and food issues for Greenpeace International - working in Europe, North America, Australia/New Zealand and South East Asia. He has extensive experience on issues around transgenic crops and nanotechnologies has written articles, chapters and technical reports in the media and online.
Trained as a historian to look back at the history of technology, Thomas is now busy communicating the future of technology.
Chris Van Hollen
Christopher "Chris" Van Hollen, Jr. is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Maryland's 8th congressional district since 2003. The district includes most of Montgomery County, a suburban county adjacent to Washington, D.C., as well as parts of Prince George's County, another county that borders Washington, D.C. Van Hollen was elected as the ranking member on the House Budget Committee on November 17, 2010.
After the Democrats regained control of the House in the 2006 elections, Van Hollen became the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the fifth-ranking position among House Democrats. In this post, Van Hollen is responsible for leading efforts to get more Democrats elected to Congress.