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Grayson Tapped for Leadership Post at Aspen Institute

Former Kentucky Secretary of State and Northern Kentucky resident Trey Grayson was announced Thursday as the executive director of the Aspen Institute's Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership.

The Aspen Institute is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and the nonprofit focuses on "the creation of a free, just, and equitable society." It was founded 70 years ago and also has offices in Aspen, Colorado and New York City.

Grayson was a member of the fellowship’s inaugural class, and he will assume leadership of the program beginning in January, following a period working alongside founding Executive Director Mickey Edwards, a news release said.

The Rodel Fellowship was created in 2005 to bring together young elected officials who have shown an ability to work across partisan divisions and to bring greater civility to public discourse. Four Rodel Fellows are currently running for President of the United States.

Grayson served as secretary of state in Kentucky, an office to which is was first elected in 2003 and reelected in 2007, later serving as director of the Kennedy School's Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Grayson also served as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State and though a Republican, was appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

“Many of our nation’s most effective elected leaders are Rodel Fellows. Their willingness to put differences aside and bridge divides in order to improve the lives of their constituents is inspiring,” said Dan Porterfield, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “After years of exceptional leadership from Mickey Edwards, it is fitting that an inaugural Fellow with his own storied career in politics, Trey Grayson, should now be taking the helm.”

“It is an honor to be selected to lead the Aspen-Rodel Fellowship program,” said Grayson. “Participating in the inaugural class of Rodel Fellows has made me a better leader, more willing to think critically and boldly about public policy solutions, while seeking relationships across the political spectrum, all with an eye to improving our nation’s public policy and system of governance. I also cherish the lifelong friendships that I developed with my classmates and Fellows from other classes. I can’t think of a more rewarding position than helping the nation’s emerging political leaders fulfill their promise to their constituents and our country.”

Grayson is taking over from Mickey Edwards, a former member of Congress who served on the House Budget and Appropriations Committees and as a chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee. Edwards launched the Fellowship with critical support from Institute Trustee Bill Budinger, who conceived the idea for the Fellowship. The Rodel Foundation continues to generously serve as its principal funder.

“Trey was one of the very first people chosen for this very selective leadership program and I’m thrilled that we are able to bring him back to the program to steer it going forward,” Edwards said.” There could not have been a better choice and I’m looking forward to working with him as we make this transition.” 

The Rodel Program began in 2005 with a bipartisan class of 24 young elected officials. There are now more than 320 Rodel Fellows nationwide including seven who went on to become governors, 17 who were subsequently elected to Congress, three who became Cabinet secretaries, mayors of many of the country’s largest cities, and a host of state attorneys general, state treasurers, secretaries of state, and state legislative leaders, and four who are currently running for President of the United States.

-Staff report