It has been an honor for me to serve on the National Board of the Institute since its inception. I want to share an exciting addition to the National Board - my friend, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
Gabby and I met in 2005 when we were both named Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellows in Public Leadership. This fellowship identifies young elected officials committed to sustaining the vision of a political system based on thoughtful and civil bipartisan dialogue.
At the time, Gabby was a Democrat and was serving as Arizona State Senator but had her eyes on a 2006 Congressional campaign, which she eventually won. I was a Republican, and was serving as Kentucky's Secretary of State. We quickly became friends and supporters and crossed party lines to cheer for each other in our respective races with encouraging emails and text messages.
The day that Harvard announced my appointment as the Director of its Institute of Politics, I sent an email to many of my closest friends with the great news, including Gabby.
Gabby wrote back that night, Friday, January 7th, 2011. I remember reading the message to my wife Nancy as she was driving us to Birmingham to watch the University of Kentucky play in a bowl game. We were both excited to hear from Gabby and her husband, Mark Kelly.
In the message, Gabby congratulated me, and added, "After you get settled, I would love to talk about what we can do to promote centrism and moderation. I think that we need to figure out how to tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."
"Mark and I will come visit after you get settled. Again, congratulations. This is truly an incredible opportunity that will lead to wonderful things."
While Gabby, Mark, Nancy and I haven't had a chance to get together for that visit, I know that we will. In the meantime, I am excited that we are going to be able to work together to accomplish her goal to "tone" our rhetoric and partisanship down" through the National Institute for Civil Discourse.
Welcome to the Board, Gabby!