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The Institute of Politics announced on Thursday its spring class of resident fellows, which includes a political journalist, a former U.S. senator, and Massachusetts’s outgoing attorney general, Martha M. Coakley.
The five fellows—Coakley, former U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan, former National Republican Senatorial Committee deputy executive director Matt Lira, TIME Magazine Washington correspondent Jay Newton-Small, and former New York City Council speaker Christine C. Quinn—will join the IOP from February to May and host study groups and office hours.
Coakley, the Democrat who lost to Charles D. Baker ’79 in Massachusetts’s gubernatorial election last fall, had filed a disclosure with the State Ethics Commission last month saying she was under consideration for a “short-term fellowship position” at an unnamed Massachusetts university. The Boston Globe subsequently reported that the university was Harvard.
There is a formal application process for the fellowship that can take several months, said Eric R. Andersen, the director of the IOP’s fellows and study groups program. He said applications are reviewed by the IOP’s staff as well as its undergraduate student advisory committee.
Andersen characterized this year’s fellows as a “dynamic” group, a “group of people who have made a significant difference in their various areas of expertise and in their jobs.” He pointed to Coakley and Hagan specifically as examples of having a “deep interest in working with people to better their lives” he said is present in all of the spring fellows.
Newton-Small will be leading a study group on women in the workforce, the topic of the book she is currently working on, focusing specifically on the sociological theory of “critical mass,” which she said examines the changes that happen when “you have somewhere between 20 percent to 30 percent of women in any working environment.”
“All three branches in the government are reaching critical mass at the same time,” she said, adding that the differences and changes in the gender balance of the public and private sectors was another potential topic for discussions.
Lira, who also served as a senior advisor to former U.S. House of Representatives majority leader Eric Cantor and former vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s digital director, will be exploring modern transformations in communication and organization and their impact on American political processes, campaigns, and government.
“I really want to explore the nature of that transformation, what exactly is happening, and then hopefully get to the point where we can talk about how we can leverage these changes to improve the system as a whole, to repair the relationship between the public and the [government],” Lira said.
IOP spokesperson Esten Perez said study group topics are still being finalized and will be made public in February.
—Staff writer Luca F. Schroeder can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @lucaschroeder.
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