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Is Everything Really Red or Blue? (And Should We Care?)

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First panel of "An Era of Polarized Politics -- and Does it Matter?" Panelists include Donna Addkison, Senior Associate, Lake Research Partners; Kat Barr, Director of Education, Rock The Vote; Peter Harkness, Editor, Governing Magazine and Nancy Tate, Executive Director, League of Women Voters of the United States.

Panelist Bios

Donna Addkison, Senior Associate, Lake Research Partners
Donna recently joined Lake Research Partners as a Senior Analyst after a 15-year entrepreneurial career spanning higher education, political consulting, public service, economic and community development in several Southern states.  Most recently she served as Chief Development Officer for the City of New Orleans, overseeing the reorganization of economic development, workforce and talent development, housing and neighborhood services, environmental affairs and a dozen other offices, property management boards and commissions.  Returning to New Orleans required that she leave a successful legal marketing and strategic communications firm which she started.

Ms. Addkison remained committed to active service in education as an adjunct faculty member for many years, teaching both political science and criminal justice courses for community and senior colleges in Mississippi and Alabama.  She is well-known for papers, articles and chapters published on an array of subjects related to political structure and political economics.  Donna holds a B.A. in English and Political Science from Mississippi University for Women, M.A. in Political Science from Mississippi State University and M.S. in Criminal Justice from Troy State University.

Kat Barr, Director of Education, Rock The Vote
Kat Barr is the Director of Education at Rock the Vote (RTV).  Ms. Barr is one of the country’s foremost experts on young voters, appears frequently in the press, and is the author of several publications, including most recently Young Voter Mobilization Tactics II and Polling Young Voters Volumes I – VI.

Ms. Barr comes to RTV from Young Voter Strategies (YVS), a clearinghouse of young voter research which integrated its programs with those of RTV in August 2007. Ms. Barr has a wide variety of experience in politics and advocacy. Prior to YVS, Ms. Barr founded and ran the Advocacy Project of the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness.

Ms. Barr is a long-time actor in the youth vote community, having served on the Executive Committee of the Youth Vote Coalition's Board of Directors from 2002 to 2004. She is originally from Santa Rosa, California, and graduated from Cornell University in 2000 with a degree in psychology.

Peter Harkness, Editor, Governing Magazine
Peter Harkness has been editor and publisher of Governing, a magazine for leaders of state and local governments, since it was founded 20 years ago.  Before that, he was editor and deputy publisher of the Congressional Quarterly, a Washington information company known for publishing what is regarded as the unofficial and independent "bible" covering the U.S. Congress.

Mr. Harkness has watched government at all levels, from Washington to the states, cities and counties, for 35 years. His reporting assignments for CQ  included the White House, Congress and national politics.  In 1987, he founded Governing magazine on the premise that much of the responsibility and authority for governing the country had moved down to the state and local level, yet no one in the national press was paying any attention.

Mr. Harkness is a recipient of the Raymond Clapper Award for investigative reporting, awarded by the White House Correspondents Association, and is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, one of the few journalists to be inducted into its membership. Governing’s circulation has grown to more than 85,000 state, city and county leaders across the nation. Governing has been nominated four times as a finalist for the National Magazine Award, the highest honor in the industry. 

Nancy Tate, Executive Director, League of Women Voters of the United States
Nancy E. Tate is the Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) and the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF). Ms. Tate joined the League staff in October 2000. 

From 1994 until accepting the top staff position at the League, Ms. Tate was the Chief Operating Officer of the National Academy of Public Administration. Previously, Ms. Tate held a senior position in a management-consulting firm, where she managed a large multi-year contract focusing on the design and roll-out of a state-of-the-art computer system for all military hospitals. 

Before joining the private sector, Ms. Tate had a distinguished career in the federal government in the Department of Energy (where she specialized in energy conservation), the Department of Education, and the Office of Economic Opportunity.  Ms. Tate has a B.A. in political science from Stanford University and a Masters degree in public administration from George Washington University. She is active in numerous professional and civic organizations.