Spring 2012 Fellows

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Farai Chideya has combined media, technology, and diversity during her 20-year career as an award-winning author and journalist. Chideya is currently a political contributor to WNYC, where she also hosts a series of town hall meetings on public affairs, and is an advisor to the technology and ecommerce company Etsy. In the 2010-2011 school year, Chideya served as "Leader in Residence" at the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies, where she focused on media training the next generation of public policy leaders. The culmination of her work at the Powell Center was a forum at the Schomburg Library, "Civic Engagement in the Era of New Media." In 2010, in partnership with WNYC and American Public Media, Chideya produced multimedia political specials about the midterm election. The team behind "Pop and Politics with Farai Chideya" road-tripped through America to interview people about economic anxiety and national identity crises concerning religion, immigration, and race. The project aired on over 100 stations across America, and won "Best Radio Documentary" from the National Association of Black Journalists. Additional video and social media assets are archived at PopandPolitics.com, which Chideya originally launched as a blog in 1995. In conjunction with her student journalism training work via Pop and Politics, Chideya taught in previous years at the University of Southern California and San Francisco State University. From 2006 to early 2009, Chideya hosted NPR’s News and Notes. She interviewed candidates during the 2008 election including then-Senator Barack Obama; public figures including First Lady Laura Bush; covered the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina from the ground; and did a special series of investigative reports on drugs and homelessness on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. In previous years, she has been a reporter for Newsweek and ABC News, a political analyst for CNN, and a host for the Oxygen Network. She continues to appear on television and radio as a cultural commentator. Appearances have included ABC’s Nightline, CNN, MSNBC, and Real Time with Bill Maher. Chideya and the teams she has worked with have won awards including a National Education Reporting Award, a North Star News Prize, and a special award from the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association for coverage of AIDS. Chideya has written three nonfiction books: Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters; The Color of Our Future; and Don’t Believe the Hype: Fighting Cultural Misinformation About African Americans, plus a novel, Kiss the Sky. All four of her books have been taught at the college level in subjects from ethnic studies to pop culture. Chideya was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and graduated from Harvard University Magna Cum Laude (A.B. English) in 1990. Ten years later, she was awarded a distinguished alumna award for her work in journalism.


Artur Davis is a former four term member of Congress who represented the 7th District of Alabama from 2003 to 2010. In that role, Davis compiled a number of accomplishments, from being named to the prestigious Ways and Means Committee, to serving as the recruitment chair for the Democratic  Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2008 cycle, to a selection by Esquire Magazine as one of the 10 Best Congressmen in America.

After a defeat in the Alabama governor's race in 2010, Davis has remained a visible, articulate commentator on a wide range of public issues. He has been a contributor to a variety of forums, including Politico's Arena, the National Review Online, the blog The Recovering Politician, and has appeared as a guest analyst on MSNBC, CSNBC and the Fox Business Network.       
Davis, a 1990 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University and a 1993 cum laude graduate of Harvard law School, is a licensed attorney in Washington DC. He has previously served as a federal prosecutor with a near 100% trial conviction record and as a partner at the firm SNR Denton LLP.


Margaret A McKenna, a lawyer and educator, is a leading expert in educational opportunity and philanthropy. From 2007 to 2011, McKenna served as president of the Walmart Foundation, the largest corporate entity of its kind in the United States.  In 2010, the Foundation provided over $900 million dollars in cash and in-kind to non-profit organizations. McKenna developed the strategic priorities of the foundation and coordinated its international, national and local programs. Walmart has become the leader in fighting hunger and a major participant in educational opportunity in the United States.                                                                                                                                                       
McKenna, President Emeritus and Professor of Leadership at Lesley University, led Lesley from a small regional college to a nationally recognized university with one of the leading teacher training programs in the country.  The Student Center and a Chair in Leadership and Social Change were named to recognize her contributions during her twenty-two years as president.

McKenna came to Lesley from Radcliff College, Harvard University, where she served as director of the Bunting Institute and Vice President. Prior to Radcliff, she has a distinguished career in federal government as a civil rights lawyer with the Department of Justice, Deputy Under Secretary of Education and Deputy White House Counsel, under President Jimmy Carter. McKenna started her career as a civil rights lawyer in the United States Department of Justice.

McKenna serves on a number of boards: Dominion Resources; America’s Promise; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Boston Chamber of Commerce.  She has served previously on Stride Rite; Best Company; Bay Bank; United States Administrative Council; American Council on Education, among others.  She led Education transition teams for President Clinton and for the Mayor of Boston and   has served on national and state commissions and task forces on judicial appointments, early childhood policy, hunger relief, workforce programs and social philanthropy.

The recipient of nine Honorary Degrees, McKenna has received awards from a variety of national and regional organizations including Meals on Wheels, Feeding America, Women’s Equity Action League, Big Sister, Council of Independent Colleges, the International Tallories Network of Universities, City Year and the Boston Chamber of Commerce.
The author of numerous articles, McKenna has spoken at national and international meetings on issues of leadership, social justice, educational opportunity and the role and impact of philanthropy. Politics: participated in several presidential and state –wide election, serving as a state director in a presidential campaign, a voter fraud lawyer and a policy advisor.


George Nethercutt was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1994 when he unseated then Speaker of the House Thomas Foley. It was the first time a sitting Speaker had been defeated since 1860. Nethercutt served for ten years on the prestigious House Committee on Appropriations. He also served as a member of the House Science Committee and the Energy and Space & Aeronautics subcommittees.

Among Nethercutt's legislative accomplishments are historic legislation to open trade with foreign countries, appropriations to bring high technology capability to the U.S. Defense Department, and modern improvements to American agriculture. He has been nationally recognized for his accomplishments relating to efforts to cure diabetes. He left Congress in January 2005.

Born in Spokane, Washington, Nethercutt was educated at Washington State University, receiving a BA in English in 1967, and his Juris Doctorate degree from Gonzaga University in 1971. In 1971, he served as Law Clerk to a federal judge in the U.S. District Court, Anchorage, Alaska, and from 1972-77 worked as chief of staff for a U.S. Senator in Washington, DC where he focused on issues of oil and gas, natural resources, mining and commerce. From 1977-1994, Nethercutt practiced law with offices in Spokane, Seattle and Almira, Washington, focusing on corporate, estate and probate, and adoption law. During his years in private practice, he devoted himself to numerous community service organizations, including the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery for the prevention of child abuse (Co-Founder), the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Spokane Chapter (President), the Spokane Central Lions Club, and several Masonic organizations. He holds honorary degrees from Gonzaga University and Waynesburg University. In April 2005, President George W. Bush appointed him to serve as U.S. Chairman, Permanent Joint Board on Defense-U.S./Canada. He also served as a member of a congressionally-mandated defense advisory board reviewing the readiness of the United States to withstand a WMD attack.

Nethercutt is Chairman of Nethercutt Consulting LLC, a legislative consulting firm in Washington, DC. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Hecla Mining Company, The Washington Policy Center, ARCADIS NV, I P Street, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (2005-2011). He is the founder and Chairman of The George Nethercutt Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan charitable organization dedicated to enhancing the civics and leadership education of college students. He also serves Of Counsel to Lee & Hayes, an international intellectual property law firm, and Bluewater Strategies LLC in Washington, DC.

He is the author of a 2010 book, In Tune with America: Our History in Song, and lectures and writes on the subject of civics education in America and other topics. He produces and appears on television segments entitled "US History by the Minute."

Nethercutt has been married to Mary Beth S. Nethercutt since 1977, and they have two children, Meredith and Elliott.


Steven Schrage’s career has found him working in the middle of many of the major U.S. political and foreign policy events of the last two decades. This includes direct experience with major presidential campaigns and White House transitions, having served on the headquarters policy teams of leading presidential candidates during the last two open Republican presidential elections and with experience in both primary and general election contests. He served as the 2008 Foreign Policy and Trade Director for a current Republican frontrunner and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney where he did policy development and speechwriting on issues ranging from international economic crises and trade issues to counterterrorism, Iran and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that were at the center of the 2008 debate. Earlier, he served on the 2000 Republican presidential campaign headquarters policy team in Austin Texas and was part of the team sent to Palm Beach County during the Florida presidential recount. He also served on several presidential transition teams, working on the transitions of two White House departments, including the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) where he served as the Administration’s first senior political appointee placed in that 200-plus person, Cabinet-level office which leads U.S. international trade policy and oversaw operations until the USTR nominee, Robert Zoellick (the current World Bank President), was confirmed. His Congressional service began on then House Speaker (and current presidential candidate) Newt Gingrich’s policy team shortly after Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives for the first time in over forty years. Most recently, he served as Chief of Staff to the first Senator elected in 2010’s Tea Party/Republican “wave” election, Senator Scott Brown, while he was Congress’ key or deciding vote on major measures such as the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reforms and jobs/economic recovery legislation. At the end of his tenure as Chief of Staff, Senator Brown (a Republican) had become one of the most popular political figures in perhaps the “bluest” Democratic state, won praise from figures as diverse as leading conservatives and key Democratic Senators and was noted by several commentators as having had one of the best years in politics.                                        

Schrage has also taught Economics and National Security at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, which was recently rated as the top global foreign policy masters program, and founded Delphi Strategy International LLC, a strategic advisory and consulting firm. His previous policy and political analysis experience includes serving as the Scholl Chair in International Business at the Center for Strategic and\\ International Studies (“CSIS” is a nonpartisan think tank whose bipartisan board includes former officials such as Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski) where he led work on the economic, political and security dynamics surrounding the global financial crisis. He also served as one of the youngest Deputy Assistant Secretaries under Secretary Colin Powell at the State Department, where he oversaw over a thousand personnel across the globe and more than $2 billion in some of America’s top priority global operations in the Middle East, Latin America and Afghanistan, including the training of civilian security and law enforcement to successfully secure that nation’s first democratic election. During this time, he was selected to serve a leadership role for all G8 countries as the international co-chair of the G8 Anti-Crime and Terrorism Group, where he launched G8 multilateral initiatives and conducted policy coordination in these priority areas following 9/11. His wide-ranging experience in Congressional roles also includes key positions for Senate Leadership, Armed Services and Homeland Security Committee Members and serving as international trade counsel for the Ways & Means Committee (the committee which initiates U.S. tax and trade laws) and as counsel for a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee responsible for U.S. policies on global terrorism and on Latin America.
Schrage conducted MBA and doctoral studies at Harvard Business School, earning distinction (honors) on his general doctoral qualifying exam, before returning to public service in 2000. He is an honors graduate of both Duke University and the University of Michigan Law School, and was awarded life membership in the Council on Foreign Relations for his foreign policy work. Following his undergraduate studies, he worked to save money for perhaps his most rewarding educational endeavor--spending a year backpacking around the world using local transport and learning through first-hand experiences as diverse as riding camels alongside whiskey smugglers on the India/Pakistan border; spending time with Chinese students and citizens in the wake of early economic reforms; traveling by motorcycle in the “Golden Triangle” region bordering Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam; and sleeping on rooftops in Old Jerusalem. As an expert appearing on major media, his commentary has appeared on or in U.S. and international outlets including NBC’s Nightly News, CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the Washington Post and Bloomberg News.


Ted Strickland didn’t come to public service as a lawyer or an investor, but as the son of a steelworker. He was born on August 4, 1941 in Lucasville, Ohio, one of nine children.  Like many children of Southeast Ohio, as a young man he never imagined he’d be able to go to college until a high school teacher took him on a trip to visit a small college in Kentucky.  It was a visit that changed his life.  Although he was the only child in his family to go to college he earned two masters degrees and a PhD.  He received a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and a PhD. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kentucky in 1980.                                                                                               
Professionally, Strickland has served as an ordained United Methodist minister, a psychologist, and a college professor. He was an administrator at a Methodist children’s home, an assistant professor of psychology at Shawnee State University, and a consulting psychologist at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, a maximum security institution.             

Strickland is married to Frances Smith Strickland.  Frances is an educational psychologist and the author of a widely-used screening test for kindergarten-age children.                                                                                                                      

Elected to Congress in 1992, Strickland has represented twenty Ohio counties stretching from the Cincinnati suburbs to the suburbs of Youngstown.  He narrowly lost reelection in 1994, only to be successfully re-elected in 1996 and to each subsequent congress before he ran successfully for governor in 2006.                                                                                 

During his six terms in Congress, Strickland built an impressive record on behalf of the people of Ohio. He was instrumental in expanding access to health insurance for children, ensuring that America kept its promises to our veterans, and in bringing home millions in investments for roads, technology, and economic development and health initiatives.  He helped author the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a federal initiative that provides health insurance to millions of children nationwide.                                                                                                                                      
Strickland was elected Ohio’s 68th governor and was sworn into office on January 8, 2007.  As governor, he charted a steady course guided by his belief that there is nothing wrong with Ohio that can’t be fixed by what’s right with Ohio.                                                                                                                                                                      

Strickland took office as the nation teetered on the brink of economic collapse.  He worked to tackle this crisis with a plan to ensure Ohio emerged from the recession even stronger than it was before by laying a foundation for economic progress and a thriving middle class. He made strategic investments in job creation, improved Ohio’s business climate, reformed education, and he made government live within its means.                                                                          

Brought together by a sense of common purpose, legislators from both parties worked closely with the governor to strengthen Ohio.   He passed two balanced budgets, without raising taxes.  His first budget – the slowest growth budget in 42 years – passed both the majority Republican Ohio House and Senate with only one dissenting vote.                                          

Strickland passed legislation that gives the state the resources and authority to provide health care coverage to all Ohio children. He reduced property taxes for those on fixed incomes.  He implemented the largest tax cut in Ohio history.  He reduced the state workforce to its smallest size since Ronald Reagan was president.  And in response to rapidly increasing tuition rates at Ohio’s public colleges and universities, he froze tuition for two years to help make college more affordable for the state’s residents.                                                                                                                                  

In July 2009, Strickland signed a historic education reform bill to make Ohio’s funding system constitutional, and reform the way schools teach in order to prepare Ohio young people for the new kinds of jobs our economy is creating.  His education reform plan was recognized by the Education Commission of the States with their innovation award for, “bold, courageous, and nonpartisan new policies.”  And, during his four years as governor, Ohio leaped over 22 other states to claim a spot among the top five school systems in the country according to Education Week.     
Strickland led the development of a strong and growing new energy economy in Ohio.  He introduced and signed legislation that mandates that 25 percent of all electricity sold in Ohio must come from advanced energy sources by 2025 – which will make Ohio the 3rd largest producer of renewable energy in the nation.  He signed a 1.57 billion dollar state stimulus package aimed at creating tens of thousands of new jobs in growth sectors like advanced energy.  And he secured funding to accelerate the construction of 250 new elementary, middle and high schools in the state, all of which are being built to meet nationally recognized energy-efficiency standards. 


While Kathy Taylor is known for her experience as an international business executive, state and municipal public servant and private practice attorney, the role for which she's probably best known is that of change agent, navigating through status quo forces to help the private and public sectors to work together for meaningful community improvement.                   

Taylor began her business career as a corporate attorney in private practice centered in franchising and distribution, corporate and commercial transactions and mergers and acquisitions.  She subsequently served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, navigating it through public company regulations, international franchise expansion and acquisitions, as well as its sale to the Chrysler Corporation.  Taylor then became a member of an ownership team that successfully negotiated the purchase of National Car Rental from General Motors and served on its board of directors. Upon the sale of National to AutoNation, she and her husband established the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, focusing on education and entrepreneurial support in Oklahoma.           
Taylor entered public service in 2003 at the state level when she was appointed Oklahoma's Secretary of Commerce, Tourism & Workforce Development.  She was the first State Secretary with responsibility for leading three separate governmental agencies.  Simultaneously, Taylor also served as Executive Director of the Department of Commerce, where she led the unprecedented recruitment of Dell to Oklahoma with its second largest U.S. facility and chaired a statewide initiative to build an economic development plan that included a major research endowment to support job development.   
In 2006, she was elected Mayor of Oklahoma's second largest city – Tulsa -- in its largest voter turnout for a mayoral election.  She combined her experience as attorney, business executive and state agency leader to bring significant improvement to Tulsa.  This  included negotiating the acquisition of Tulsa's first public hospital, passing the largest investment in streets in the City's history, successfully re-negotiating union contracts with seven municipal labor unions simultaneously during times of financial difficulty, leading an effort to garner state support to complete a new hangar for the City's largest employer (securing 7,000 jobs for the area), completing the first redesign of the City's land use plan in 30 years ("Planitulsa")and launching public private partnerships that leveraged  education opportunities.               

Just prior to returning to private practice at Oklahoma's largest law firm where she is today, Taylor served on the Oklahoma gubernatorial cabinet as Chief of Education Strategy and Innovation, leading the bipartisan passage of one of the most significant pieces of education reform legislation in the nation, calling for a mandatory statewide framework for teacher and principal evaluation. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of publicly traded Sonic Corp. as well as numerous non-profit boards.