PSA-Harvard Negotiation Program 2018


Bipartisan solutions start with engagement in productive conversations, aiming to understand each other’s priorities and a willingness to find common ground. With this in mind, Partnership for a Secure America is excited to kick off its third round of the PSA-Harvard Negotiation Program, integrating new methods, case studies, and simulations into the curriculum designed specifically for Capitol Hill audiences.

This joint program with Harvard trains congressional staff in legislative negotiation skills and strategies during two 1.5 day courses. Unlike previous training programs, this iteration is handcrafted specifically for Congressional staff to directly connect negotiation lessons to their unique workplace. Taking place this summer, the first course will use new materials designed by the Harvard Kennedy School to teach the participants legislative negotiation techniques and how such lessons can be applied to their work in the legislative arena every day. Upon the completion of the fundamentals course, the staffers will participate in an advanced lesson this winter.

The participants in the program include individuals from both sides of the aisle in both the House and the Senate.

As a joint program with the Harvard Kennedy School, the Negotiation Program is made possible in part to the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Madison Initiative, a nonpartisan initiative supports organizations that foster bipartisan problem-solving, strive to strengthen Congress as an institution, improve campaign finance, and set the stage for negotiation and compromise in Congress.


Fundamental Negotiations Course:  August 7-8, 2018


On August 7th and 8th, the PSA-Harvard Negotiation Program met for the first course in fundamentals in the Library of Congress.  Training was led by Brian Mandell, Director of the Harvard Kennedy School Negotiation Project, and Bruce Patton, Distinguished Fellow of the Harvard Negotiation Project.


Bruce Patton- Distinguished Fellow of the  Kennedy School Negotiation Project




The first session covered the application of negotiation techniques to the high-stakes legislative environment.  Participants explored how to strategically prepare for negotiations and leverage alternative methods of communication. Instructors also evaluated examples of significant historical negotiations at the state, federal, and international level.


Brian Mandell- Director of Harvard Kennedy School Negotiation Project


Breakout Sessions: 

Throughout the program, participants applied course content to legislative simulations.  Staffers divided into bipartisan groups to practice negotiation techniques in a series of guided simulations, each varying in complexity of issues addressed and in the number of parties represented.





PSA Awarded Grant for Bipartisan Congressional Negotiation Program with Harvard University

For Immediate Release: April 27, 2018

PSA Awarded Hewlett Grant for Bipartisan Congressional Negotiation Program with Harvard Kennedy School

Washington, DC – Today, Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) announces a new grant award from the Hewlett Foundation’s Madison Initiative. This year-long grant will support PSA’s partnership with the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) to pilot an original negotiation program for Congressional staff. It will be the third PSA-Harvard negotiation course. The upcoming program will integrate new learning, case studies and simulations into the curriculum designed specifically for Capitol Hill audiences.

“We are thrilled to continue PSA’s important work on Capitol Hill thanks to this generous support from the Hewlett Foundation. At a time when partisan politics continue to challenge our national institutions and the role of Congress, bipartisan programs like this are important bridge-builders,” said Nathan Sermonis, PSA Executive Director. “Partnering with renowned experts at the Harvard Kennedy School, we aim to improve the environment for collaborative policy solutions on Capitol Hill.”

The joint program will enlist HKS faculty to pilot newly-designed course materials built in the legislative context. Unlike previous training programs, this iteration is handcrafted specifically for Congressional staff to directly connect negotiation lessons to their unique workplace.

The Hewlett Foundation’s Madison Initiative focuses on strengthening the values of U.S. democracy in this highly polarized political climate. The nonpartisan initiative supports organizations that foster bipartisan problem-solving, strive to strengthen Congress as an institution, improve campaign finance, and set the stage for negotiation and compromise in Congress.

Partnership for a Secure America is a nonprofit founded by former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton (D-IN) and the late former U.S. Senator Warren Rudman (R-NH) to advance bipartisanship on today’s critical national security and foreign policy challenges. Leveraging the leadership of its distinguished Advisory Board, PSA has unique credibility and access to forge common ground and fashion thoughtful, fact-based policy that promotes America’s national interests.


Off-the-Record Discussion with Sec. Madeleine Albright

On December 13th,  Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, met with alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program for an off-the-record dinner, where she discussed today’s foreign policy and national security issues.


This was a closed event for alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program.


Secretary Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright

Madeleine K. Albright is Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm, and Chair of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm focused on emerging markets. Dr. Albright was the 64th Secretary of State of the United States.

In 1997, she was named the first female Secretary of State and became, at that time, the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. As Secretary of State, Dr. Albright reinforced America’s alliances, advocated for democracy and human rights, and promoted American trade, business, labor, and environmental standards abroad. From 1993 to 1997, Dr. Albright served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and was a member of the President’s Cabinet. From 1989 to 1992, she served as President of the Center for National Policy. Previously, she was a member of President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Council and White House staff and served as Chief Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Edmund S. Muskie.

Dr. Albright is a Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. She chairs both the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and the Pew Global Attitudes Project and serves as president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation. Dr. Albright serves on the Boards of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Aspen Institute and the Center for a New American Security. In 2009, Dr. Albright was asked by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to Chair a Group of Experts focused on developing NATO’s New Strategic Concept.

Dr. Albright is the author of four New York Times bestsellers: her autobiography, Madam Secretary: A Memoir, (2003); The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs (2006); Memo to the President: How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership (2008); and Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box (2009).

Dr. Albright received a B.A. with Honors from Wellesley College, and Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Columbia University’s Department of Public Law and Government, as well as a Certificate from its Russian Institute.

PSA-Harvard Complete the 2015/2016 Program

Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) and Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation (PON) completed the second negotiation training series for foreign policy and national security staff on Capitol Hill. Through lectures and workshops, instructors from PON and PSA worked to train more effective negotiators on Capitol Hill.

The program was launched in 2014 with the first series focusing on classroom instruction. Learning negotiation vocabulary and the fundamental principles of negotiation were the focus of the classroom instruction. The 2015/2016 series built upon those skills and shifted the emphasis to individual student development. Through bipartisan small group negotiations, students applied lessons from classroom instruction to substantive policy issues. The small groups tacked issues including combating ISIS, addressing the Syrian refugee crisis, developing a U.S. cyber security policy, and deterring Russian involvement in Syria. This approach allowed students to gain greater facility with the tools and concepts of negotiation.

The program allowed students to learn from, as well as instruct, each other with the goal of making negotiation skills more natural and automatic when opportunities for deal making arise,

Participant Presentation Night

June 13— In the final session of the PSA-Harvard Negotiation Program, Robert Bordone, Director of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinic, reviewed the skills and steps discussed throughout the program and participants presented their final projects to the class. Throughout the program, participants have been working together in small groups made up of House and Senate staffers from both parties to identify possible solutions to a foreign policy or national security problem of their choosing.

During their presentations, the groups discussed their negotiation processes, highlighting what went well, where they ran into problems, and how they overcame them.

Robert Bordone

Robert Bordone is the Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Founding Director of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program. He teaches several courses at Harvard Law School including the school’s flagship Negotiation Workshop. Bob also teaches in the Harvard Negotiation Institute and the Harvard Program on Negotiation’s Senior Executive Education seminars.

In 2007, Bob received The Albert Sacks-Paul Freund Teaching Award at Harvard Law School, presented annually to a member of the Harvard Law School faculty for teaching excellence, mentorship of students, and general contributions to the life of the Law School. He was a finalist for the same award in 2012 and 2013. In 2010 the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) awarded Bob its Problem Solving in the Law School Curriculum Award for his innovative work in creating and building the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program. In 2012 and 2013, Bob was selected by the graduating class as one of three Harvard Law School faculty members to deliver a “Last Lecture” to the class prior to graduation.


Richard Nephew Discusses the Iran Nuclear Agreement

On May 19, Richard Nephew, lead sanctions expert for the U.S. team negotiating with Iran, met with participants in the PSA-Harvard Negotiation Program and alumni and current participants of the Congressional Partnership Program, where he discussed applying the tools and techniques of negotiation to reach a deal. In this off-the-record dinner, Nephew discussed his role in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the negotiation process, and gave participants advice in future negotiations.


Richard Nephew

Richard Nephew served as the lead sanctions expert for the US team negotiating with Iran from August 2013 to December 2014. At the same time, he served as the principal deputy for the inaugural Coordinator for Sanctions Policy at the State Department, where he briefed senior officials on a range of sanctions policy issues–including those involving Russia, North Korea and the Islamic State. Nephew was the director for Iran at the National Security Council from 2011 to 2013, where he was responsible for the development and execution of the sanctions strategy toward Iran. He is currently a research scholar and program director at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

Brian Mandell Leads PSA-Harvard Negotiation Event

On April 25th, Dr. Brian Mandell returned to the PSA-Harvard Negotiation Program to continue his discussion of negotiation skills. Mandell focused on active listening and emphasized the new school approach to negotiations.

The session consisted of a presentation on negotiation skills and best practices, and also highlighted negotiation mistakes. After the lecture, participants broke into small groups to come to a resolution on foreign policy and national security issues that they face today.

Brian Mandell

Brian S. Mandell is Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, Chair of the Wexner-Israel Fellowship Program, and Director of the Harvard Kennedy School Negotiation Project. His teaching and research address the theory and practice of negotiation, emphasizing third-party facilitation and consensus building in domestic and international protracted policy disputes. He writes about contentious disputes and is completing a book on scenario planning for conflict managers and negotiation practitioners. Before coming to Harvard, Brian Mandell taught at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa. Previously, he was a strategic analyst for the Canadian Department of National Defense, specializing in UN peacekeeping and the implementation of arms control agreements. A Pew Faculty Fellow, a faculty member at Harvard’s Program on Negotiation (PON) and at the Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership (CPL), as well as a Senior Research Associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Brian Mandell holds a PhD from the University of Toronto.

Jonathan Burks and John Righter discuss the Murray-Ryan Budget Deal

On March 10, Mr. Jonathan Burks, National Security Advisor to the Speaker of the House, and Mr. John Rigther, Deputy Staff Director, Senate Committee on Health, Education, and Labor (HELP), Minority Staff, met with participants in the PSA-Harvard Negotiation Program to discuss negotiating the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. In this off-the-record dinner, Burks and Rigther discussed their role behind the scenes and lessons learned from negotiating this bipartisan bill, also known as the Murray-Ryan Budget.


Mr. Jonathan Burks

Mr. Jonathan Burks is the national security advisor to the Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan. During his nearly two decades in public policy, he has been the policy advisor for budget and appropriations issues to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the policy director for the House Budget Committee, the deputy policy director for the Romney for President campaign, the director of the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the senior advisor (chief of staff) to the Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, a special assistant to the President of the United States, a deputy assistant to the Vice President of the United States, and a policy analyst on the House Republican Policy Committee.


Mr. John Rigther

Mr. John Rigther is the deputy staff director of the Democratic staff of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, a position he has held since January 2015.  In this position, he supervises a staff of 50 to 60 employees and helps oversee a broad and diverse portfolio of domestic policy programs and issues.  Prior to his current position, he was the deputy staff director of the Senate Budget Committee, a position he held from 2005 through January 2015, serving two Chairs.  In that role, he supervised a staff of 30 employees; helped formulate and enforce the annual budget resolution; and advised the Chairman on budget and procedural issues.  From 2001 through 2005, he was an analyst for the Senate Budget Committee, with a portfolio that included general government, commerce and housing credit, and appropriations issues.  Prior to his employment in the Senate, Mr. Righter worked for six years as an analyst with the Congressional Budget Office.



1129 20th St., NW, Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20036
tel: +1202-293-8580