Senator attends leadership conference in Colorado

State Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth and Mercer) was selected to take part in the second class of the Aspen-Rodel Fellowships for Public Leadership, and attended a conference last week to engage in a bipartisan discussion of democratic values and effective public service with the other 23 members of the program.

“I’m honored to be a part of the Rodel fellowship program and to meet with distinguished leaders from across the nation to further the discussion on the core values of democracy,” Karcher said. “This gives me an excellent opportunity to represent our home state, and work with some of the brightest young leaders in the country to improve our understanding of democratic governance and the issues impacting democracy in the 21st century.”

According to a press release, the Aspen Institute is a nationally recognized organization devoted to promoting open discussion about public policy and service. The Rodel fellowship program is specifically geared toward public leaders between the ages of 25 and 45, and is designed to foster a civil, bipartisan discussion on the core issues of western democracy. The 24-month-long program consists of three weekend-long seminars at the institute’s campuses in Maryland and Colorado, and two week-long conferences in China and the Middle East.

According to the Aspen Institute’s Internet Web site, the program is by invitation only, with 24 “rising political stars” – 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans – selected by an advisory committee of more than 50 leading political figures across the nation.

“I look forward to some interesting conversations with leaders across the political spectrum, and I hope to bring back the lessons learned to benefit the people of the Garden State,” Karcher said.

According to the press release, Karcher’s work as a leading ethics watchdog in the New Jersey Senate was a consideration in her selection to the program.

“In New Jersey, too often public service is frowned upon because so many have abused the public trust for so long. We need to restore the dignity and honor to public service, and put government to work for the people of our state,” she said.

The Rodel fellowship program is funded entirely by the Rodel Foundation and no funding is accepted from lobbyists, governments, corporations or special interests, according to the press release.