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Center for Political Communication

  • Learning by Doing
    For UD alumna Sarah Fritz (AS18), the National Agenda program solidified a passion for politics and a commitment to civic engagement.
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  • Trail to the Voting Booth
    UD Library’s Trail to the Voting Booth showcases how Americans have talked about politics through pamphlets, buttons, fan gear, songs, and more.
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  • Keeping the Conversation Going
    During a year of unique challenges, the University of Delaware’s National Agenda program helped create a sense of community for students.
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  • Making Journalism Better
    ​“Americans deserve a press who is focused on them, their worries and their lived experiences,” said Yamiche Alcindor, PBS NewsHour correspondent.
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More News
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  • Joe Biden
    Vice President of the United States

    Joe Biden (AS '65) was elected as the 47th United States Vice President in 2008, together with President Barack Obama. Even before this, Biden had a long and illustrious political career. In 1970, Biden was elected to his first political office on the New Castle County Council. In November 1972, in an upset victory, Biden became the fifth youngest person to be elected to the US Senate.

    Biden has been one of the most important political figures in recent US history. During his 36-year Senate career, he served as leader of the Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees. In the Senate he advocated for strategic arms limitations with the Soviet Union, promoted peace in the Balkans, and fought for U.S. action to end the genocide in Darfur.

    Vice President Joe Biden and his fellow UD alumni, campaign strategists David Plouffe (AS '10) and Steve Schmidt (AS '13), inspired Bloomberg News to call University of Delaware the academic epicenter of national politics in 2008.

    Biden earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Delaware in 1965, then earned his law degree from Syracuse Law School.

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  • Lisa Blunt-Rochester
    Member of the US House of Representatives

    Lisa Blunt-Rochester (AS '02) is a member of the US House of Representatives, representing Delaware's at-large congressional district. She is the first woman and the first African-American to represent Delaware in Congress. Lisa's life has been about expanding opportunity for everyone.

    She began her professional career as a problem-solver and an advocate. Blunt-Rochester started as a caseworker for former Congressman Tom Carper. She served in the cabinets of two Delaware governors as Delaware's first African-American woman Secretary of Labor, and as Delaware's first African-American Deputy Secretary of Health and Social Services and State Personnel Director. She also served as the CEO of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League.  Blunt-Rochester holds a BA in International Relations from Fairleigh Dickinson University and her MA in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from University of Delaware. ​

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  • J. Caleb Boggs
    U.S. Representative, Senator, and Delaware Governor

    As U.S. Congressman, Governor, and U.S. Senator, James Caleb "Cale" Boggs (1909-1993) represented the people of the State of Delaware and embodied the spirit of public service. Cale Boggs graduated from the University of Delaware in 1931 and earned his law degree from Georgetown University in 1937 while working in Washington, D.C., for Delaware’s Senator John Townsend.

    From 1941 to 1946, Army Captain Boggs served during World War II under General George S. Patton in Normandy, the Rhineland, the Ardennes and central Europe with the U.S. Army’s 6th Armored Division, and earned the Bronze Star and the Croix de Guerre.

    Boggs served three terms as U.S. Representative from Delaware,  elected as a Republican to the Eightieth, Eighty-first, and Eighty-second Congresses (1947 to 1953). He served two terms as Governor of Delaware (1953 to 1960). He served two terms as U.S. Senator from Delaware (1961 to 1973). He was elected as a Republican in 1960 and re-elected in 1966. He practiced law in Wilmington, Delaware, until his death in 1993.

    In 2011, the family of Cale Boggs established a scholarship in his name to commemorating his service to the State of Delaware. The Center for Political Communication annually awards the scholarship to an undergraduate student at the University of Delaware who minors in Political Communication.

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  • John Carney
    Governor of Delaware

    Governor John Carney (MPA '87) has dedicated his career to public service since his graduation from the University of Delaware. Born in Wilmington and raised in Claymont, Gov. Carney has been working for the Delaware people for more than 30 years.

    He served as Staff Assistant to then Senator Joe Biden (1987 to 1989), Chief Administrative Officer for New Castle County (1989 to 1994), Chief of Staff and Secretary of Finance under Delaware Governor Tom Carper (1994 to 2000). As Delaware’s 24th Lieutenant Governor (2001 to 2009), he presided over the Delaware Senate and chaired the Board of Pardons. He also served as Chairman of the National Lieutenant Governors Association (2004 to 2005). From 2011 to 2017, John served as Delaware’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives. During his three terms in Congress, John worked with members of both parties to find solutions to the most important challenges facing the nation.

    Congressman Carney earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Delaware School of Public Policy and Administration in 1987. He serves as an ex-officio member of the Center for Political Communication's Advisory Council.

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  • Tom Carper
    United States Senator

    ​Born in West Virginia and raised in Virginia, Senator Tom Carper (MBA '75) attended The Ohio State University on a Navy R.O.T.C. scholarship, graduating in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics. Tom Carper moved to Delaware in 1973 where he earned his Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Delaware. He served 23 years in the military, including three tours of duty during the Vietnam War. Senator Carper is an ex-officio member of the Center for Political Communication's Advisory Council.

    His career in public service began in 1976 when he was elected to the first of three terms as Delaware's state treasurer at the age of 29. Six years later, he was elected to Delaware's at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. After serving five terms as a U.S. congressman, Tom Carper was elected the 78th governor of Delaware in 1992 and served two terms in that role. As governor, he pursued a common-sense agenda that led to eight balanced budgets, tax cuts in seven of those eight years, and major increases in employment. On January 3, 2001, Gov. Carper stepped down two weeks early to become Delaware's junior senator. He was re-elected in 2006, and with his re-election in November 2012 he has been elected to state-wide public office in Delaware 13 times.

    When Senator Joe Biden stepped down to become vice president in January 2009, Tom Carper became Delaware's senior senator. Senator Carper is ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, after serving as chairman in the 113th Congress. He also serves on the Finance Committee and Environment and Public Works Committee, where he is ranking member on the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety. His ability to work across party lines has earned him a reputation for consensus-building that is unique in today's political climate. The Washington Post's late David Broder calls him "a notably effective and non-partisan leader, admired and trusted on both sides of the aisle."

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  • Chris Christie
    Former Governor of New Jersey

    University of Delaware alumnus Chris Christie (AS '84) earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, then went on to earn his law degree from Seton Hall University in New Jersey. When he became Governor of New Jersey in 2010, Gov. Christie upheld the University of Delaware's status as the academic epicenter of politics. He preserved that status in 2015 when he became the second UD graduate to run for president.

    Upon receiving his law degree, Gov. Christie joined the law firm of Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci in Cranford, N.J, where he established the firm's litigation department. In December 2001, Christie was nominated and unanimously confirmed to be the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and was sworn into office in January 2002. He was elected governor of New Jersey in November 2009.

    Gov. Christie is married to fellow alumna Mary Pat Foster Christie (BE '85). Both were active in student government, winning back-to-back class presidencies. Christie, who serves as an ex-officio member of the CPC's Advisory Council, received the University’s Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement in 2003. He spoke at winter commencements in 2004 and again in 2011, when he was presented an honorary doctor of laws degree.

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  • Frederick L. Cottrell, III
    Director, Richards, Layton & Finger

    Frederick L. Cottrell III (AS '85) is a lawyer with Richards, Layton & Finger and specializes in intellectual property, antitrust, products liability and commercial law. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude in biological sciences from the University of Delaware and his law degree cum laude from the Dickinson School of Law.

    He represents parties in important patent litigation before the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. He has represented industry leaders such as Google, AMD, Micron, and Cablevision Systems in defense of patent litigation in Delaware. He has won numerous awards and has been named one of the world’s leading litigators and patent practitioners.

    Mr. Cottrell serves as a member of University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication Advisory Council. He and his wife, Marian, are longtime supporters of the University of Delaware, serving as volunteers on the Parents Fund Council since 2011 and as National Co-Chairs. They are ardent supporters of Student Life and are advocates of student engagement and involvement outside the classroom.

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  • Claire M. DeMatteis, Esquire
    Commissioner, Delaware Department of Correction

    Claire DeMatteis (AS '87) is the Chair of the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication Advisory Council. A Delaware attorney, she has more than 25 years of experience working for the state and federal government and in the private sector on corporate governance, health care law, data privacy and regulatory compliance.

    DeMatteis was sworn in as the 9th Commissioner to lead the Department of Correction (DOC) on July 15, 2019, the first woman to hold the position in the Department's history. Previously, DeMatteis served as Special Assistant working with DOC's leadership team implementing a series of reforms to strengthen security, safety, officer training, recruitment and retention, prison-based programming and services and a comprehensive reentry plan.

    As Senior Counsel to then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden from 1994 to 2004, she was instrumental in implementing laws and policies that enhanced law enforcement, women's rights and civil rights. From 2008 to 2016, DeMatteis served as a senior executive, general counsel and chief compliance officer for two multi-billion dollar corporations.

    DeMatteis is an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware and serves as a University of Delaware trustee. She was born, raised and lives in Delaware. DeMatteis earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and communication from the University of Delaware College of Arts & Sciences, and her law degree from Widener University's Delaware Law School.

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  • Ed Freel
    Instructor, School of Public Policy and Administration

    Ed Freel (AS ‘73, MEd ‘75), now retired, was an instructor for the Joseph R. Biden, Jr., School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware. He is a member of the Center for Political Communication Advisory Council. Freel served as Senior Advisor to his fellow University of Delaware alumnus, U.S. Senator Thomas Carper (MBA ‘75). Prior to that he served as Secretary of State for the state of Delaware from 1994 to 2001. He served as Chief of Staff during Thomas Carper’s tenure as governor of Delaware in 1993 to 1994, and Chief of Staff during Senator Carper’s tenure as U.S. Representative of Delaware in 1983 to 1991.

    Ed Freel has won numerous awards from the Delaware Maritime Society, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Gannon University, and Federal Department of Health & Human Services.

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  • Domenico Montanaro
    Supervising Editor, Lead Editor for Politics and Digital Audience, National Public Radio

    Domenico Montanaro (AS '01) is the National Public Radio (NPR) lead editor for politics and digital audience. Montanaro earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Delaware in 2001 and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in 2007. Based in Washington, D.C., he directs political coverage across the network's broadcast and digital platforms.

    Before joining NPR in 2015, Montanaro served as political director and senior producer for politics and law at PBS NewsHour. He led domestic political and legal coverage, which included the 2014 midterm elections, the Supreme Court, and the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Prior to PBS NewsHour, Montanaro was deputy political editor at NBC News, where he covered two presidential elections and reported and edited for the network's political blog, "First Read."

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  • Richard Mroz
    President, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities

    Richard Mroz (AS '83) is the President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and a Cabinet member for fellow UD alumnus and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (AS '84). He sits on the Center for Political Communication’s Advisory Council. Mroz studied political science at the University of Delaware, then received his law degree from Villanova University.

    From 1991 to 1993 Mr. Mroz served as the County Counsel for Camden County, New Jersey. In 1993, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman appointed him to the first of several senior positions in her administration. He was named Chief Counsel in 1999 and served as the Governor’s primary adviser for legislative affairs, judicial and prosecutorial appointments as well as legal, policy and management issues of the State government.

    Mroz has also served as counsel to President George W. Bush’s 2004 New Jersey Campaign and as State Campaign Coordinator for Senator John McCain’s Presidential campaign in 2008. In 2009 he worked as Policy Adviser for Gov. Chris Christie’s Gubernatorial Campaign.

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  • J. Matthew O'Donnell
    News Anchor/Reporter, WPVI Philadelphia Channel 6ABC

    J. Matthew (Matt) O'Donnell earned a bachelor's degree in English, with a concentration in journalism and a minor in political science, in 1994. Matt serves as Philadelphia's much-loved ABC Channel 6 Action News anchor and reporter.

    In 2006, Matt received the University of Delaware's Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement, and in 2011 he received the CAS Alumni Achievement Award. He remains involved with the University, volunteering his time speaking to UD audiences including the UD/DSU Cooperative Extension Celebration in Dover and the College's annual Networking Night for our students.

    Matt and his wife, Rebecca, live in Malvern, Pennsylvania, with their two children, Brendan and Kieran, and their pet dog. In his spare time, Matt loves playing golf, and he plays the drums in the rock band Champs at local clubs.

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  • David Plouffe
    Board Member and Adviser, Uber Technologies, Inc.

    Delaware native David Plouffe (AS '10) left University of Delaware before graduating to begin a career in politics. He was President Barack Obama’s campaign manager in 2008, helping steer victories over Hillary Clinton for the nomination and John McCain for the White House, and later became senior adviser to the president. Plouffe is now a University of Delaware graduate, having received his bachelor’s degree in 2010. He serves as a Senior Fellow for the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication. He is chief advisor and board member of Uber and also serves on the board of the Barack Obama Foundation.

    Plouffe and his fellow UD alumni Vice President Joe Biden (AS ’65) and Steve Schmidt (AS '13), who led the John McCain's 2008 campaign, inspired Bloomberg News to call University of Delaware the academic epicenter of national politics in 2008.

    Plouffe has managed campaigns at all levels of politics, served as an award-winning producer of television advertisements, served as a consultant to leading Fortune 500 companies and has been a ubiquitous presence on national news shows.

    In 2010, Plouffe was number four on Newsweek’s list of “New Thought Leaders,” and The Daily Beast named him as one of the “25 Smartest People of the Decade.” GQ named Plouffe in 2012 the third most powerful person in Washington.

    Plouffe is the author of The New York Times best seller, The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory and has been a contributor for ABC News and Bloomberg Television. In 2013, he was inducted into The American Association of Political Consultants’ Hall of Fame.

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  • Steve Schmidt
    Campaign Strategist

    Steve Schmidt (AS '13) is one of the premier public affairs and campaign strategists in the country. Schmidt has worked on numerous high-profile political campaigns, most notably managing daily operations of John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. He serves as a Senior Fellow for the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication.

    Schmidt was the Communications Director for the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2002. He served as a member of the senior strategic planning group that ran the George W. Bush re-election campaign in 2004. He served as the White House strategist for the Supreme Court nominations of Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. He also worked on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2006 re-election campaign as campaign manager.

    Schmidt and his fellow UD alumni Vice President Joe Biden (AS ’65) and David Plouffe (AS '10), who led President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, inspired Bloomberg News to call University of Delaware the academic epicenter of national politics in 2008.

    Steve Schmidt attended University of Delaware from 1988 to 1993, where he majored in political science. He left UD one math class short of graduation, but then completed the three-credit course in 2013. He went on to graduate and deliver the convocation address to his fellow graduates.

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  • Andrew M. Stern
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sunwest Communications

    Andy Stern (AS '70) is a member of the Center for Political Communication Advisory Council. Stern earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and international relations from the University of Delaware. From 1975 to 1977, he served as staff assistant to President Gerald R. Ford at the White House and then held senior corporate positions until he founded Sunwest Communications, a public relations and communications firm, in 1982.

    Stern is a board member of San Diego-based AMN Healthcare, the nation's largest healthcare staffing company; Medical City Dallas Hospital, where he is a past chairman; and has served as chairman of the Texas Healthcare Trustees. He is currently serving as a member of the American Hospital Association’s Committee on Governance.

    Active in community affairs, he was the first public relations agency executive to become a member of the Dallas Citizens Council. Additionally, he is a member of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, Dallas Assembly, Leadership Dallas Alumni, and Public Relations Society of America. He was founding chairman of the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center and chaired the Sixth Floor Museum, North Dallas Chamber, and Salesmanship Club Charitable Golf.

    Stern was instrumental in efforts to maintain, refurbish and update the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, which commemorates the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. He also helped establish the George W. Bush Institute on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

    While attending the University of Delaware, Stern was active in student government and was editor-in-chief of The Review, the student-managed newspaper. In 1993, he was the speaker for UD's Winter Commencement. He received UD's College of Arts & Sciences Alumni Achievement Award in May 2016.

    Stern and his wife, Sabina (AS '71), are long-time supporters of the University of Delaware, regularly returning to their native Delaware from their Texas home. They have two married sons and four grandchildren.

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  • Joan Wainwright
    President, Channel & Customer Experience, TE Connectivity

    Joan E. Wainwright (AS '82), a member of the Center for Political Communication Advisory Council since its founding in 2010, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication from the University of Delaware in 1982 and a Master of Business Administration degree from Temple University. She has served on the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Advisory Council since its inception in 2009.

    Joan Wainwright and her husband, Jerome LeBlond (AS '94), established the Theodore and Lillian Wainwright Scholarship in Political Communication to support undergraduate students with financial need who are minoring in political communication. The scholarship was first awarded in 2011.

    She has been President of Channel and Customer Experience for TE Connectivity Ltd. (formerly Tyco Electronics) since January 2013. She joined TE Connectivity in June 2006 as Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs and then as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications. In her current role, Joan leads a team of nearly 1,000 sales, customer care, pricing and marketing professionals who are focused on growing TE's revenues, market share and relationships with approximately 300 distributors around the world. Today, revenues generated from distribution sales represent about 15 percent of total TE sales.

    Before joining TE Connectivity, Joan served as Vice President of Public Affairs for Merck & Co. During the Clinton administration, she served as deputy commissioner of communications for the U.S. Social Security Administration. She has worked in the communications and public relations department at the University Health System of New Jersey, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Delaware, and Villanova University.

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