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U.S. Politics, uno sguardo da Firenze verso le elezioni americane del 2012
Nove da Firenze
October 6, 2011
Il guru di Obama svela i suoi segreti
Corriere fiorentino
December 6, 2012
Inside American Politics - Fall 2014

Joel Benenson
Democratic Pollster and Political Strategist; founder and CEO of Benenson Strategy Group

Joel Benenson, founder and CEO of Benenson Strategy Group, is the only Democratic pollster in history to have played a leading role in three winning presidential campaigns — making him the “go-to guy for any politico wanting to take the public’s temperature,” according to GQ. Joel has been the chief pollster and a senior strategist for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential race and President Barack Obama from the beginning of his 2008 campaign, and worked on President Bill Clinton’s polling team during the 1996 race. Since founding the firm in 2000, Joel has served as a strategist and consultant to heads of state, domestic political leaders at all levels, Fortune 100 CEOs, and leaders of major advocacy and nonprofit institutions. His unique combination of communications expertise and astute analysis has led clients across sectors to win in the most challenging competitive situations. Joel’s corporate clients have included CEOs and top executives at Campbell Soup Company, HBO, Toyota, the NFL, Procter & Gamble, Panera Bread Co., Hearst, Blue Star Energy, and MSNBC. In the advocacy and nonprofit sector, he has worked with leading institutions including The Fairness Project, Story Corps. AARP, League of Conservation Voters and SEIU. Joel has been named “Pollster of the Year” by the American Association of Political Consultants, among the “most powerful” people in D.C. by GQ magazine, and a part of “the new lineup in Washington” by Newsweek magazine. He was also included on The New Republic’s “The O-List,” which identified the 30 most influential players in Obama’s 2008 run for office. Joel and the firm also won the Ogilvy Award Gold Medal for Government and Public Service. Before becoming a pollster in 1995, Joel was a political journalist for the Daily News in New York and served as communications director for Governor Mario Cuomo’s 1994 campaign. He was also previously a vice president at the New York ad agency FCB. 

Maria Cino
Vice President for Americas, Corporate Affairs, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Maria Cino is Vice President for Americas and is responsible for managing HPE’s relationships with governments and political stakeholders in Washington D.C. and throughout the Americas. She also oversees HPE’s U.S. political programs including the HPE political action committee. Maria has over two decades of experience in senior-level positions in the executive and legislative branches as well as the private sector. She joined HP in July 2012 from Pfizer where she held the position of Vice President for Federal Government Relations since 2009. At Pfizer, she led the Reimbursement & Regulatory Affairs, International Government Affairs, and Tax & Trade teams. Maria’s political experience includes a number of senior strategic positions with the Republican National Committee: Bush for President Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, and Chief of Staff for a Member of Congress. She served as President and CEO of the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis where she organized the successful four-day event supporting 45,000 delegates. In addition, Maria has held two Senate-confirmed, Presidential appointments: Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (2005-2007), and Assistant Secretary and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service at the U.S. Department of Commerce (2001-2003). At Transportation, Maria was responsible for the day-to-day management of a $61 billion budget, ten modal administrations and approximately 60,000 employees. At Commerce, Maria managed an annual budget of $200 million and supervised 1,700 employees at 105 domestic offices and 162 international offices in 85 countries. Maria is a native of Buffalo, New York and a graduate of St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York.

Stephanie Cutter
Founding Partner, Precision Strategies, and Former Deputy Campaign Manager and Senior Advisor to President Obama

Stephanie Cutter is the founding partner of Precision Strategies, a leading communications, digital and data targeting consulting firm in Washington DC and New York City. At Precision, Stephanie has revolutionized the integration of data-driven communications with digital and campaign style organizing to improve reputations, manage crises and drive people to action. She has improved the brand of one of the nation’s largest health insurers during a controversial merger; successfully launched a news network; restored the reputation of a multinational financial institution; reshaped a national storyline on behalf of a leading NFL quarterback; and successfully managed a global crisis for a well known consumer tech platform. Called “one of the most prominent voices in the [Democratic] party, and one of its top strategists and crisis managers” by Politico, Stephanie has crafted high-level communications, reputation and crisis-management strategies for two U.S. Presidents, U.S. Senate leaders, and the nation’s highest profile political campaigns and Fortune 500 corporations. The New York Times called her “the polished, sometimes scarily organized strategist who gets things done” who “has a long and favorable reputation with some of the most influential journalists and opinion makers in Washington.” GQ named her one of “the 50 most powerful people in Washington.” Stephanie served as Deputy Campaign Manager for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, where she played a pivotal role in designing and executing a game-changing campaign that broke barriers in understanding, reaching, and connecting with more Americans than any election in history. Previously, Stephanie served in various senior positions within the Obama administration and campaign, from managing the President’s message strategy and issue development in the White House, to serving as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff, to counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Before the Obama administration, Stephanie served as a senior advisor to Minority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy. In 2004, she served as Communications Director for the John Kerry for President Campaign. She also held various positions within the Clinton Administration, including President Clinton’s White House Deputy Communications Director. A Massachusetts native, Stephanie lives in Washington, DC with her son, and is a graduate of Smith College and Georgetown University Law Center. Stephanie is currently a contributor to ABC News, and is a former co-host of CNN’s Crossfire show. Stephanie is represented by Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau in Washington, D.C.

Linda Douglass
Former ABC News Chief Capitol Hill Correspondent, former Director of Communications for the White House Office of Health Reform in the Obama Administration

Linda Douglass is the Global Head of Communications for Bloomberg Media, overseeing strategic communications for digital news and media, television, print, radio, events and business initiatives for Bloomberg Media worldwide. Prior to that, she was Senior Vice President for Global Communications at Atlantic Media, where she managed communications and messaging for all divisions of the company, including The Atlantic, National Journal Group, Quartz and Atlantic Media Strategies. She also served as the lead moderator for The Atlantic’s ‘Women of Washington’ series, where she did in-depth interviews with high-profile women leaders in government, media and business before live audiences in Washington D.C. Douglass joined Atlantic Media in 2010 after serving as Director of Communications for the White House Office of Health Reform, where she was President Obama’s primary spokesperson leading up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. During the 2008 campaign, she served as a senior advisor and traveling spokesperson for then-Senator Obama. Before working in government and politics, Douglass had a long career as a journalist. She spent 9 years as the Chief Capitol Hill Correspondent for ABC News and in 2000 received the National Press Foundation’s Everett Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting of Congress. Prior to joining ABC News, Douglass was a Washington-based correspondent for CBS News and was the lead reporter covering then-First Lady Hillary Clinton’s effort to pass health reform. Before moving to Washington D.C. in 1993, Douglass worked in Los Angeles, where she was a correspondent for CBS News and served as the political editor for KNBC-TV. She covered 6 presidential campaigns. Douglass is married to John R. Phillips, an attorney, who is the United States Ambassador to Italy. They have a married daughter, Dr. Katie Byrd, and a grandchild, Cullen.

Betsy Fischer Martin
Executive Director, Women & Politics Institute, American University and Former Executive Producer of “Meet the Press”

Betsy Fischer Martin is an Emmy-winning journalist and former TV news executive. Currently she is the Executive Director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University and a member of the International Advisory Council of APCO Worldwide. She also founded her own consulting business, Fischer Martin Media, where she specializes in providing media training to corporate executives. During the 2016 presidential campaign cycle, she was a contributor to Bloomberg Politics where she co-hosted “Masters in Politics” - a political podcast featuring interviews with presidential candidates, government officials and key strategists. She was also the Contributing Editor for Washington for MORE Magazine where she interviewed female political leaders about policy issues, women’s empowerment and leadership. Additionally, she traveled abroad extensively on behalf of the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, speaking to foreign journalists, students and political/civic organizations as an independent expert on U.S. elections, women in politics and women in media. During her earlier career in television news, she spent 23 years at NBC News serving as the longtime Executive Producer of Meet the Press with Tim Russert and as the Managing Editor of NBC News Political Programming. A native of New Orleans, Fischer Martin did her undergraduate and graduate work at American University in Washington, DC. She is a cum laude graduate of their School of Public Affairs and earned a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from the AU School of Communications.

Todd Harris
Republican Strategist and Partner, Something Else Strategies

Todd Harris is one of the nation’s preeminent media and communications strategists. Roll Call dubbed him “A spinner extraordinaire in the world of political communication,” while Buzzfeed wrote his media work belongs in the “Political Advertising Hall of Fame.” Todd served as senior strategist and media consultant for Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 campaign for president. He has produced award-winning media for leading Republican candidates and causes, and served as a senior strategist for a who’s who of GOP officials including Senator Joni Ernst, Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. John McCain, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has advised some of the nation’s largest corporations, political committees and trade associations including Wal-Mart, Pfizer, Calpine Energy, Magnolia Pictures, the RNC, NRCC, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and many others. He is a sought-after media source, appearing regularly in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press and many others, and is a regular guest on several political news programs on MSNBC, FOX News and CNN. Harris is a California native. He lives with his wife and two daughters in McLean, VA.

David Kochel
Founder of Redwave Communications and Redwave Digital and Senior Advisor to the 2008 and 2012 Romney for President campaigns

David Kochel is the founder of Redwave Communications and Redwave Digital. With more than 30 years of political and public affairs experience in Iowa and around the nation, Kochel has been a senior consultant to a who’s who of successful political and corporate clients. A sought-after media source for political reporters across the nation, Kochel’s analysis and commentary has appeared in New York Times, theWashington Post, Politico, the Wall Street Journal and many others. Kochel served as a senior advisor to the 2008 and 2012 Romney for President campaigns, providing strategic advice and marketing support in Iowa, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Colorado, Virginia and nationally. He has also served as Executive Vice President at one of the nation’s leading grassroots/public affairs firms, running an innovative and highly effective federal grassroots effort for AT&T in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. In 2014, Redwave Communications helped guide the senate candidacy of Joni Ernst as an early advisor and direct mail vendor. Redwave also handle voter contact services for the 2014 Senate campaign of Scott Brown. Kochel is also a key member of the Branstad Iowa campaign team. He was on the RNC voter contact team in 2010, producing direct mail creative for 72 winning congressional races.

Kevin Madden
Republican Strategist and Partner at Hamilton Place Strategies

Kevin Madden is a partner at Hamilton Place Strategies [HPS], serving as an adviser and counselor to a client roster that includes the nation’s top corporations, business associations, industry coalitions, foundations and non-profits. Building off of over 20 years of experience operating in some of the most high-profile debates from Wall Street to Washington, Kevin leads HPS teams in the design and management of comprehensive, modern and effective public affairs campaigns, working with CEOs and their executive teams to navigate today’s challenging media environment. Prior to his leadership role as a partner at HPS, Kevin served as a senior strategist and spokesman on three presidential campaigns from 2004 to 2016. In addition to his national campaign experience, Kevin was a top congressional leadership staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives, serving as spokesman and communications strategist in the Office of the House Majority Leader. Kevin also served as Deputy Director of Public Affairs and national spokesman for the Department of Justice. Kevin’s experience with today’s modern media, as a frequent guest on national and international cable and broadcast news outlets, has earned him a reputation as a sought after media strategist and crisis communications manager. He also serves on the advisory board of the Bipartisan Policy Center Action Network.

Jonathan Martin
National Political Correspondent, The New York Times

Jonathan Martin is a national political correspondent for The New York Times. Before joining The Times, he had served as senior political writer for Politico since its inception in 2007. He began covering politics for National Journal’s political publication, The Hotline, and then reported on party politics and the aftermath of the 2006 midterm elections for National Review magazine. Mr. Martin is a co-author of the New York Times best seller “The End of the Line: Romney vs. Obama: The 34 Days That Decided the Election” (December 2012), the fourth and final e-book in Politico’s 2012 series on the race for the presidency. His work has been published in The New Republic, National Journal, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. He has appeared frequently on television and radio as a political analyst and commentator, including on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, MSNBC and NPR.

Catherine McLean
Leading Public Affairs and Political Strategist and Director of the Walton Family Political and Communications Office

Catherine “Kiki” McLean is a leading public affairs and political strategist. She is the director of the Walton Family Political and Communications Office. Previously, she served as counsel for the Washington, D.C., office of Porter Novelli and the agency’s global public affairs efforts. She assumed this role after four years leading the Washington, D.C., and global public affairs practices and serving as a member of Porter Novelli’s Executive Committee. In her work, Kiki’s expertise is in strategic communications and public affairs. A veteran of six presidential campaigns, including the historic 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign, Kiki has more than 25 years of experience leading strategic communications initiatives. She served as senior advisor to the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign in 2008, and has served as spokesperson and led communications for Vice President Al Gore, Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democratic National Committee and others. Kiki McLean is a native of San Antonio, Texas, and received her Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in Communications from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. She serves on several not-for-profit and corporate boards of directors.

Steve McMahon
Democratic Strategist and Co-founder of Purple Strategies

Steve McMahon is an attorney and co-founder of Purple Strategies, LLC, a firm that applies politically-inspired solutions to corporate reputation and business challenges. He’s advised Senators, Governors, CEOs and presidential candidates on political and communications strategies for over thirty years. McMahon began his professional career working on the Senate and political staff of Senator Edward M.Kennedy, where he served as Assistant Press Secretary and later, as Deputy Director of Kennedy’s PAC, the Fund for a Democratic Majority. McMahon began working as a political strategist and media consultant in 1987, and has worked on dozens of Senate, Gubernatorial and Mayoral campaigns across the country. McMahon worked in the U.S. presidential campaigns of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, served as senior political strategist and media consultant for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, and produced the advertising in support of then Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic National Committee in the 2008 presidential campaign. He has also produced issue advertising for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). On the international front, McMahon and his partners worked as strategic advisors or campaign consultants on successful presidential campaigns in Nicaragua for Violetto Chamarro and in Greece for Andreas Papandreaou. For the past decade, McMahon’s principal focus has been on providing comprehensive reputation, brand image, crisis, and issue advocacy campaigns to companies and industries operating in challenging environments. Their clients have included many of the best-known brands in the world, including McDonald’s, BP and Coca-Cola. He and his colleagues have also handled numerous and initiative and referenda campaigns on a wide range of subjects and helped develop litigation communication strategies for companies engaged in significant class action and government-initiated litigation. Steve McMahon appears often as a political commentator on television network and cable stations, and appears regularly as a Democratic Strategist on MSNBC and other political programming. Steve is married to Cynthia Alksne, a former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst. The couple has four daughters.

Joe Pichirallo
Chair of Undergraduate Film and Television at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, former reporter for The Washington Post

Joe Pichirallo is a veteran studio executive, film producer and a former Washington Post reporter. He began his film career as a creative executive with HBO Pictures and was one of the original executives hired by Fox to set up Searchlight Pictures, where he worked for nearly eight years and rose to be a senior vice president. He later was an executive vice president at Universal´s Focus Features. He also was head of the feature film unit for Overbrook Entertainment, Will Smith´s company, where he produced "The Secret Life of Bees" with Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Dakota Fanning and Jennifer Hudson and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and executive produced "Lakeview Terrace," directed by Neil LaBute and starring Samuel L. Jackson. While at Focus Features, he executive produced "Hollywoodland," starring Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck and Diane Lane, and directed by Allen Coulter and "Something New," with Sanaa Lathan, Simon Baker and Alfre Woodard. At Searchlight his films included "Antwone Fisher," the directorial debut of Denzel Washington, "One Hour Photo," starring Robin Williams and directed by Mark Romanek, "The Banger Sisters," with Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon, "Quills," which was nominated for three Academy Awards, starring Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet and Michael Caine and directed by Philip Kaufman, "The Slums of Beverly Hills," with Alan Arkin and Marisa Tomei and directed by Tamara Jenkins, "Girl Six," directed by Spike Lee and "The Brothers McMullen," a Grand Jury prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival. Joe Pichirallo is currently the chair of undergraduate film and television at NYU´s Tisch School of the Arts. Previously, he taught at the American Film Institute (AFI) for 14 years and also at Chapman University´s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and UCLA´s School of Theater, Film and Television. Prior to his career in the entertainment business, he was on the staff of the Washington Post, where he covered national security, the criminal justice system and politics. He made the transition into the film business by spending a year as a screenwriting fellow in the AFI´s graduate film program. He has an A.B. in Journalism from the University of California at Berkeley, where he was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, "The Daily Californian."

Joshua Tucker
Professor of Politics, Director of Jordan Center for Advanced Study of Russia, co-Director of the SMaPP Laboratory and co-editor of award-winning blog The Monkey Cage at The Washington Post

Joshua A. Tucker is Professor of Politics, affiliated Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, and affiliated Professor of Data Science at New York University. He is the Director of NYU’s Jordan Center for Advanced Study of Russia, a co-Director of the NYU Social Media and Political Participation (SMaPP) laboratory, and a co-author/editor of the award-winning politics and policy blog The Monkey Cage at The Washington Post. He serves on the advisory board of the American National Election Study, the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, and numerous academic journals, and was the co-founder and co-editor of the Journal of Experimental Political Science. His original research was on mass political behavior in post-communist countries, including voting and elections, partisanship, public opinion formation, and protest participation. More recently, he has been at the forefront of the newly emerging field of study of the relationship between social media and politics. His research in this area has included studies on the effects of network diversity on tolerance, partisan echo chambers, online hate speech, the effects of exposure to social media on political knowledge, online networks and protest, disinformation and fake news, how authoritarian regimes respond to online opposition, and Russian bots and trolls. His research has appeared in over two-dozen scholarly journals, and his most recent book is the co-authored Communism’s Shadow: Historical Legacies and Contemporary Political Attitudes (Princeton University Press, 2017). Professor Tucker’s research on social media and politics has been supported by over $2.7 million in grants and gifts in the past 18 months from five philanthropic foundations and the National Science Foundation. Follow him @j_a_tucker.

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Students meet U.S. Ambassador to Italy John R. Phillips. Ambassador Phillips was introduced by Lynne P. Brown NYU Senior Vice President for University Relations and Public Affairs and joined by Executive Director of NYU Florence Ellyn ToscanoNYU Florence Executive Director Ellyn Toscano introduces the Inside American Politics conferenceLinda Douglass former ABC News Capitol Hill correspondent moderates the first panel The Media´s Role in Voter Decision-MakingWith David Kochel, Stephanie Cutter, Jonathan Martin, Betsy Fisher Martin, and Todd HarrisAmbassador Phillips and U.S. Consul General Abigail Rupp listen to the morning´s panelNYU Florence sophomore Kevin Ditzler talks to Kevin Madden during the coffee breakSteve McMahon moderates our second panel The Midterm Results: What Can We Learn? with Kiki McLean, Todd Harris, Maria Cino, Stephanie Cutter and Joshua TuckerNYU Florence Professor Bill Klein asks a questionStudents have lunch with Kevin Madden, Partner at Hamilton Place Strategies in Washington D.C., Senior Advisor to Mitt Romney´s 2012 presidential campaignDale Hemmerdinger moderates the panel Money and Messaging in the Wake of the Supreme Court Campaign Finance RulingWith Joel Benenson, Betsy Fischer Martin, David Kochel, Stephanie Cutter and Kevin MaddenMaria Cino asks a questionNYU Florence freshman Opheli Garcia Lawler asks a questionSteve McMahon makes a pointJoe Pichirallo, Chair of undergraduate film and television at NYU´s Tisch School of the ArtsAfter the day´s last panel democratic strategist and public affairs consultant and co-founder of Purple Strategies Steve McMahon talks to students about study away and internship opportunities at NYU´s Washington D.C. campus NYU´s Joshua Tucker, Professor of Politics and co-Director of NYU´s SMaPP lab, moderates the Friday morning panel on ´Issues and Polling: What Will Matter to Voters Between Now and 2016?´
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