Weekly discussion groups are one of the cornerstones of the Fellows Program. Over the course of eight weeks, each Fellow will lead a weekly 90-minute discussion with students on a current political topic. No required readings. No papers. Just lively discussions open to the entire university community.

The Fellows bring their unique perspective. All we ask is that you bring yours!

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MJ Lee (C’09) Anchor

MJ Lee (C’09)

Monday 2:00 – 3:30 PM

Note: Due to the President’s Day holiday, a dicussion group will take place on Wednesday, February 22 at 3:45 – 5:15 PM.

Topic: Political Reporting in a Time of Chaos

MJ Lee is a Senior White House correspondent for CNN based in Washington, DC, where she has broken news on some of the most consequential policy issues facing the Biden administration, including the nationwide baby formula shortage, student loan debt forgiveness, and public health emergencies like monkeypox and COVID. She has traveled abroad on Biden’s key foreign trips, covering the president’s relationship with world leaders and his position on the global stage. Previously, Lee was a political correspondent based in CNN’s New York bureau, where she covered the 2020 presidential campaign, as well as the national #MeToo movement and its implications on Capitol Hill and in government.

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Elaine Luria Anchor

Elaine Luria

Monday 4:00 – 5:30 PM

Note: Due to the President’s Day holiday, a dicussion group will take place on Tuesday, February 21 at 2:00 – 3:30 PM.

Topic: Bipartisanship in a Post-January 6 World

Elaine Luria represented Virginia’s Second Congressional District from 2019-2023. She served as the Vice Chair of the House Armed Services Committee and as a member of the House Committees on Homeland Security and Veterans’ Affairs as well as the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol. In Congress, Luria focused her work on increasing the defense budget to meet challenges in the Pacific, granting access to care for toxic exposed veterans through the PACT Act, and for funding advanced nuclear technology. Luria served two decades in the United States Navy, serving at sea on six ships and culminating her Navy career by commanding a combat-ready unit of 400 sailors.

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Michael Ricci Anchor

Michael Ricci

Thursday 2:00 – 3:30 PM

Topic: Comms in Crisis: Navigating Disasters, Disillusionment and Disinformation

Michael Ricci has worked in political and government communications for 17 years, most recently as communications director for Governor Larry Hogan and the State of Maryland. He has extensive experience in crisis communications and management, including overseeing Maryland’s public relations response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to working in Annapolis, he was a longtime leadership aide on Capitol Hill, serving in senior roles in the speakerships of John Boehner and Paul Ryan. He was selected by The Daily Record as a 2022 Influential Marylander.

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Mike Shields Anchor

Mike Shields

Tuesday 4:00 – 5:30 PM

Topic: The Role of Political Parties in the Era of Polarization

Mike Shields is a founder and partner at Convergence Media and a political commentator at CNN. He has more than 20 years of strategic experience at the highest levels of national campaigns, Capitol Hill, and influential outside groups. He previously has served as Chief of Staff at the Republican National Committee, Political Director at the National Republican Congressional Committee, president of the American Action Network and the Congressional Leadership Fund, and as a top aide to several members of Congress, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The American Association of Political Consultants named him “Most Valuable Player” of the 2012 elections. He currently serves as a political strategist to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

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Chris Stirewalt Anchor

Chris Stirewalt

Wednesday 2:00 – 3:30 PM

Topic: Broken News; Broken Politics

Chris Stirewalt is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he focuses on American politics, voting trends, public opinion, and the media. He is concurrently a contributing editor and weekly columnist for The Dispatch and political editor at NewsNation. Before joining AEI, he was political editor at Fox News Channel, where he helped coordinate political coverage across the network and specialized in on-air analysis of polls and voting trends. A well-known political commentator, Stirewalt wrote about his personal experience in the 2020 election for the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of “Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back” (Center Street, 2022), a new book on media and politics.

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Jonae Wartel Anchor

Jonae Wartel

Thursday 4:00 – 5:30 PM

Topic: Ground Game: An In-depth Analysis of the Power or Organizing and How it will Impact the 2024 Elections

Jonae Wartel is an organizer, trainer and innovative leader with nearly 15 years of experience training leaders, empowering communities and inspiring change. She is currently a Partner at Arc Initiatives, a public affairs and communications firm based in Washington, D.C. Most recently, she served as Senior Advisor for the Georgia Senate Runoff election. Previously, she served as the 2020-21 Runoff Director and led the Democrats’ efforts to elect Senators Warnock and Ossoff. During the 2020 election cycle, she served as Vice President of Elections and Advocacy at More than a Vote, a coalition of athletes combating voter suppression and systemic racism. She has held leadership roles with Stacey Abrams’ 2018 gubernatorial campaign, the Democratic National Committee and Organizing Corps, an initiative focused on training organizers for the 2020 presidential election in battleground states. Additionally, she served in management roles on the 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns.

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