Off-the-Record with Advisory Board Member Ambassador Paula Dobriansky

PSA hosted a private CPP reception with Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, PSA Advisory Board member and former Under Secretary of State. For information on PSA’s
Congressional Partnership Program, please click here.


Dr. Paula J. Dobriansky is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s JFK Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Chair of the National Board of Directors of the World Affairs Councils of America. From 2010-2012, she was Senior Vice President and Global Head of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Thomson Reuters. In this position, she was responsible for designing and implementing corporate strategy in Washington, DC and other key capitals around the globe. During this time, she also held the Distinguished National Security Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy.

From May 2001 to January 2009, Dr. Dobriansky served as Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs (longest serving in history.) In February 2007, she was appointed the President’s Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. Prior to her Presidential appointments, Dr. Dobriansky served as Senior Vice President and Director of the Washington Office of the Council on Foreign Relations. She was also the Council’s first George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

Her other government appointments include Associate Director for Policy and Programs at the United States Information Agency, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Deputy Head of the U.S. Delegation to the 1990 Copenhagen Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), Advisor to the U.S. Delegation to the 1985 U.N. Decade for Women Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, and Director of European and Soviet Affairs at the National Security Council, the White House. From 1997-2001, she served on the Presidentially-appointed U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

Dr. Dobriansky received a B.S.F.S. summa cum laude in International Politics from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Soviet political/military affairs from Harvard University. She is a Fulbright-Hays scholar, Ford and Rotary Foundation Fellow, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a recipient of various honors, including the Secretary of State’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, and high-level international recognition such as the Commander Cross of the Order of Merit of Poland, Poland’s Highest Medal of Merit, Grand Cross of Commander of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas, National Order “Star of Romania”, Hungary’s Commander’s Cross Order of Merit and Ukraine’s Order of Merit. She has also received three Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters and one Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

Dr. Dobriansky serves on various boards, including Freedom House, the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue, and American University in Afghanistan. Previous boards have included the Western NIS Enterprise Fund, National Endowment for Democracy (Vice Chair), and George Mason University Board of Visitors. She has lectured and published articles, book chapters, and op-ed pieces on foreign affairs-related topics. For three years, she hosted Freedom’s Challenge and co-hosted Worldwise, the international affairs programs on National Empowerment Television. She has been interviewed widely on television and radio and has testified frequently before the Senate Foreign Relations and House International Relations Committees.

Off-the-Record with Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes

PSA hosted a private CPP reception with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication. For information on PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program, please click here.

Ben Rhodes is Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, overseeing President Obama’s national security communications, speechwriting, and global engagement. Previously, he served as Deputy Director of White House Speechwriting, and as a Senior Speechwriter for the Obama campaign. Prior to joining Obama for America, he worked for several years as Special Assistant to Lee Hamilton at the Wilson Center, where he helped draft the Iraq Study Group Report and the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. He is the co-author, with Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean, of Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission. A native of New York City, Ben has a B.A. from Rice University, and an M.F.A. from New York University.

CPP Spring 2013: Retreat

PSA to hold Spring 2013 Congressional Partnership Program Weekend Retreat June 15-16. For more information on CPP visit

Guest Speakers:

Dr. Graeme Bannerman, Bannerman Associates, PSA Board of Directors, Former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Republican Staff

Abraham Denmark,VP for Political and Security Affairs, The National Bureau of Asian Research
Dr. Christos Kyrou, Research Director for the Center for International Relations, Adjunct Associate Professor at American University

Richard McCall, Creative Associates International (Retired), Former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic Staff

The Honorable Robert C. McFarlane, Former National Security Advisor

Ambassador Tom Miller, International Executive Service Corps, PSA Board of Directors, Former Ambassador to Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ambassador Ron Neumann, Former Ambassador to Afghanistan

Dr. Andrew Semmel, PSA Executive Director, Former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Republican Staff

PSA In Politco: Tom Kean Wants to Develop a Generation of Leaders Who Trust Each Other

Tom Kean Wants to Develop a Generation of Leaders who Trust Each Other

(This article originally appeared in Politico)

By Kathryn McGarr

July 20th, 2009

Perle Mesta would have been pleased. In a private room at Zola restaurant in the trendy Penn Quarter neighborhood, a handful of young Senate staffers — from both parties, mind you — dined recently with former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean to learn how to do things old-school.


Advisory Board Member Thomas Kean, former Governor of New Jersey

That is, in a civilized way, over a glass of wine, checking their partisanship at the door.

Kean had a mission: develop a new generation of Washington leaders who don’t instinctively distrust one another, and try to get more buy in for the Partnership for a Secure America, which advocates bipartisanship on foreign policy.

It’s a lofty goal in a town where young Republican and Democratic staffers are hardened early by their partisan identities. These partisans work separately, happy hour separately and rarely even engage in interparty dating. Whereas members of Congress at least have the opportunity to work together if they choose to do so, staffers are rarely forced to remove their partisan blinders.

Until now.

Kean serves on the advisory board of PSA, which just launched a project known as the Congressional Fellows Program, which gives staffers on both sides of the aisle a rare chance to see how the other half lives. Twenty-six 20-something Hill staffers were chosen for the summer session this year, and part of the program is spending quality time with political veterans like Kean, a moderate Republican known throughout his career for being a reach-across-the-aisle sort of guy.

During dinner, served at one long table that seated 14 people, the 74-year-old Kean spoke wistfully about growing up in a Washington where the two parties worked together in (almost) perfect harmony.

He began with stories of his father, a congressman of 20 years who was a top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee during the ’50s.

“The committee chairman used to come to the house,” Kean recalled. “And they’d sit there, and over a drink or a cup of tea they’d discuss the agenda for the week and what they could get along with and what they could get done.”

Sounds almost quaint compared to the modern Ways and Means Committee, which has been the scene of some of the past few years’ most vicious partisan battles over tax policy.

Democrats on that committee later endorsed Kean’s father for Senate. “Now, that would be incredible today — those kinds of friendships and that kind of respect across the aisle,” Kean said. “But that’s just the way I was brought up.”

This bit of nostalgia is aimed at inspiring the staffers.

“For me, some of the stories are stories I’ve heard hundreds of times since I’ve been in D.C.,” said Pablo Duran, who has worked for Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), formerly a House member, for six years. “I want to find out if there’s a way back to that.”

Duran lamented that outside of this fellowship program, there are few chances for him to meet Republican staffers.

Brandon Andrews, who works for Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), said his experience as an African-American Republican makes him naturally more bipartisan, but he sees few opportunities for his colleagues to cross the aisle — both socially and professionally.

“I don’t know that anyone makes a concerted effort to not do it,” Andrews said. “I just think it doesn’t happen, because people travel in different circles.”

CFP was the brainchild of PSA Board of Directors Chairman Chip Andreae, who worked for Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) for 13 years, beginning in 1977. Andreae attributed much of his bipartisan work on foreign policy issues to the time he spent with fellow junior staffers on trips abroad.

Stricter ethics regulations make that kind of travel all but impossible these days. But in establishing its fellowship program in 2009, with a $250,600 grant from the Carnegie Foundation, PSA staffers hoped to recreate Andreae’s experience for a new generation.

Dinner with Kean, the third event for Senate fellows, was a throwback to the Washington of yesteryear. “I think this is, in a positive way, a mock-up of the good old days,” said current Lugar aide Jonathan McCaskey Rosenbaum.

The staffers have also gone through exercises in negotiation and have staged a mock National Security Council meeting.

PSA Executive Director Matthew Rojansky said that the idea behind CFP was “to reach people before they think they know how business is done.”

Kean tried to share more recent experiences in which bipartisanship actually worked — and in which nobody was accused of being a sellout to the other party. Kean co-chaired the 9/11 Commission with former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), who co-founded PSA with former Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) in 2005.

Kean emphasized the social aspect of getting along with the other party on the professional front.

“It’s hard to get terribly upset or nasty with someone if your children are friends, if your spouses are friends,” Kean said in an interview with POLITICO at the Melrose Hotel. He repeated this quote twice during the dinner at Zola.

As Kean pointed out, though, a compressed workweek and more demanding fundraising schedule means members of Congress and their families spend less time in D.C., especially on weekends. Most members of Congress race for the airports on the last votes of the week so they can fly home, and their families rarely socialize in Washington.

There’s been another generational shift on the social front. Washington wives, as defined by their politician husbands, don’t exist on as large a scale as they did pre-1970s. There are of course more women in Congress and more female staffers than in either Kean’s or his dad’s generation, so the social dynamic has changed as well. Only three of the 11 Senate fellows in CFP, however, are women.

As Kean made his plea for a more bipartisan atmosphere away from the Capitol dome, the fellows dined on a three-course meal that included a field-green salad, a choice of chicken breast or ricotta-stuffed shells and a pastry topped with berries and whipped cream.

It may not have been the event that Mesta, the legendary “hostess with the mostess” would have planned for the D.C. elite, but there were votives and multiple forks. Besides, these guys aren’t the D.C. elite. Not yet, anyway.