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A bipartisan group of soon to be Washington legislators gathered at Harvard Kennedy School this week (December 3-5) for the bi-annual Newly Elected Members of Congress orientation session, hosted by the Institute of Politics (IOP).
Founded in 1972, the program offers invaluable resources for new Members of Congress looking to maximize their impact during their first days and months of service. This year's session included panels focusing on domestic economics, federal budgets, foreign policy, cyber security, global economics, communications, and relationship building. Panelists included a wide range of Kennedy School faculty as well as current and former government officials, political strategists, and leaders from the non-profit and for-profit sectors.
"What's most unique about this program is it puts you in an environment that is very respectful. It's very civil, and you get to have discourse on policy issues across the aisle, and this is before you're even taking office," said Elise Stefanik '06, a Harvard College graduate and former IOP student who, at age 30 is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress representing New York's 21st Congressional District as a Republican. "We face similar challenges and you go through this together. You build a camaraderie [and] hopefully...we'll continue those relationships once we're sworn in."
Seth Moulton MPA 2011, both a George and Zuckerman Fellow during his time at the Kennedy School, who won election in November as a Democrat to Massachusetts' 6th Congressional District, says the lessons he learned at the New Members session will serve him well in Washington.
"I am going to take away a lot because the panels that the Kennedy School put together are extraordinary," Moulton said. "We're all learning a ton, but perhaps most importantly we are going to get to know each other and in the long run although what we learn here is very important, the relationships that we establish may have the most profound effect on actually getting things done for the American people."
More than 600 current and former members of Congress from both parties have attended the Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected Members of Congress since its inception.
Elise Stefanik (R-NY)
Seth Moulton MPA 2011, (D-MA)
"I am going to take away a lot because the panels that the Kennedy School put together are extraordinary," Moulton said.