Reinvigorating Democracy: Constitutional Origins & Evolution

September 29, 2022

Arterton and Penn

Founding GSPM Dean Chris Arterton (left) discusses the 2022 release of the "American Government in the 21st Century" poll with Mark Penn, Chairman & CEO, Stagwell Group (right).

In celebration of Constitution Day, the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) organized “Reinvigorating Democracy,” an event consisting of scholar and practitioner panels on the constitutional origins and modern evolutions of U.S. democracy. The September 14 event was held at GW’s Milken Institute School of Public Health in Washington, D.C.

The conference was launched by Founding GSPM Dean Chris Arterton, who interviewed pollster Mark Penn about his recent survey on the public's views of the institutions of democracy, which remain low and unchanged from the prior year.

They discussed the 2022 release of the "American Government in the 21st Century" poll (.PDF), the results of the annual Poll sponsored by The Fund for the Society of Presidential Pollsters Endowment.

Following the poll release, two panels of GSPM alumni and students, sponsored by the Frank J. Fahrenkopf and Charles T. Manatt Endowment, provided insights and personal perspectives.

“The GSPM students and alumni discussed ways in which they were individually approaching the issues of the decline in support for institutions, as well as hyperpartisanship, in order to counteract these effects and to advance the public good,” according to Dr. Todd Belt, professor and political management program director.

5 person panel discussion in professional attire

Panel 1 participants from left to right: Simone Henderson (MPS '22), Heather Aliano (MPS '19), Molly Ringel (MPS '21, moderator), Jeremy Christopher (MPS '21), Kyle Johnson (current student).

Panel 1: Insights from Practitioners

  • Simone Henderson, Advance Associate, White House; MPS, '22
  • Heather Aliano, Senior Communications Director, One America Movement; MPS '19
  • Molly Ringel, Senior Communications Strategist, Stand Together Foundation; MPS '21 (moderator)
  • Jeremy Christopher, Legislative Liaison, U.S. National Guard; MPS '21
  • Kyle Johnson, Chief of Staff, U.S. Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN)

Panel 2: Perspectives from Students

  • Christina Barone, Policy Advisor, Akin Gump; MPS '16 (moderator)
  • Melissa Brown, Policy Analyst, Maryland Dept. of Commerce; MPS, '22
  • Megan Fosha, Global Affairs Intern, U.S. Dept. of State
  • Nicholas Foster, LA State Strategist, Majority Strategies


Melissa Brown (MPS '22) speaking on Panel 2: Perspectives from Students.

Melissa Brown (MPS '22) speaking on Panel 2: Perspectives from Students.

The panels took questions from the audience, which included local activists and leaders.

The day concluded with a student/alumni networking reception on the rooftop of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute Building, which was also sponsored by the Frank J. Fahrenkopf and Charles T. Manatt Endowment.

The conference underscored GSPM's commitment to democracy, bipartisanship and providing future leaders with the tools to affect change through the political system.

Fund for the Society of Presidential Pollsters Endowment: The Fund for the Society of Presidential Pollsters Endowment was established by Mark J. Penn in 2009. The fund provides annual income to create and promote a professional and honorary association of men and women who have served as pollsters to the President of the U.S. The endowment also funds the production of an annual poll. The Society's activities include an annual symposium on presidential polling and the promotion of presidential polling archives at GW and at presidential libraries across the country. Membership to the Society is extended to those who have served in the capacity of pollster to the president. In recognition of his lead gift, Mark Penn serves as the founding member of the Society.

Frank J. Fahrenkopf and Charles T. Manatt Endowment: This endowment fund was established in 1999 by gifts from Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. and the late Charles T. Manatt. Income earned by this fund was originally used to attract GW former members of Congress, administration officials, and political managers to teach a one-semester course in the GSPM. The Fund was amended in January 2009 and is now being used to support an annual Fahrenkopf Manatt lecture given by a prominent political practitioner that often coincides with the annual board meeting. The endowment supports the lecture, a reception to follow and/or dinner, which is known as the Fahrenkopf Manatt dinner.