Press Advisory

Governing for the Common Good

A Conversation with Governors Napolitano and Sebelius

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Governors Janet Napolitano and Kathleen Sebelius have used pragmatic, common-sense leadership to move their states forward on energy, education and a host of other issues that benefit the common good. Their ability to build coalitions across partisan and ideological lines has allowed them to implement effective progressive policies that improve the lives of their constituents. That’s one reason each enjoys broad support within their states, and it’s why they represent a new generation of strong, progressive female leaders.

Please join the Center for American Progress for a conversation with these remarkable governors as they discuss approaches to effective progressive governance that transcend political ideology and work for the common good.

February 2, 2007, 2:00pm3:00pm

Refreshments will be served at 1:30 PM

Keynote Speakers:
Governor Janet Napolitano (AZ)
Governor Kathleen Sebelius (KS)

Introduction by:
Melody Barnes, Executive Vice President for Policy, Center for American Progress

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Governor Janet Napolitano has made the education and protection of Arizona’s children the driving force of her administration. She is an effective chief executive who has focused on moving Arizona forward and preparing our state’s families for the new economy and the New Arizona. Reelected in 2006 with 63% of the vote, Governor Napolitano has made history as the first woman chair of the National Governors’ Association. Governor Napolitano’s chair’s initiative, Innovation America, seeks to provide governors with the tools they need to develop and implement strategies to enhance the innovative capacity of their states to compete in this global economy.

When Governor Napolitano took office in January 2003, the state faced a billion dollar deficit. In that first year in office, she erased that deficit without raising taxes or cutting funding for public schools or other vital services.

Under her leadership, the state has begun the phase-in of voluntary full-day kindergarten. When complete, every parent in every family in Arizona will have the choice of sending their children to full-day K. Governor Napolitano believes that while we prepare students for life in the real world, we must create real jobs that will be there when they graduate. That demands a rethinking of the way we teach our children – from elementary school, through high school, college and workforce training. The Governor has never wavered in her support of higher education, and she created the P-20 Council to specifically to align elementary, secondary and higher education to the workforce – in other words, ensure that what children and young adults study in school reflects the skills and knowledge they will need to be successful in business.

These efforts in the area of education and her work to build trade – particularly in high-tech industries – are part of her strategy to secure the stability and growth of Arizona’s economy for the long term.

Prior to her election as Governor of Arizona, she served one term as Arizona Attorney General and four years as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. Born in New York City and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she is a distinguished alumna of Santa Clara University and the University of Virginia Law School. She has lived in Arizona since 1983, when she moved to Phoenix to practice law.

Governor Napolitano is a serious sports fan – the Arizona Diamondbacks are her favorite – an avid reader and moviegoer, a friend of the arts and a friend to all Arizonans.

Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as the 44th Governor of Kansas in January 2003, and just under three years later, Time magazine named her one of the nation’s top five governors, citing her work to cut waste in government and bridge the partisan divide. Governor Sebelius was reelected to a second term in 2006.

A hallmark of Sebelius’ first term was the historic commitment made to Kansas schoolchildren, as well as audits to ensure those resources were being spent effectively. She also led efforts to create jobs and improve the safety and security of Kansans. These initiatives continue in her second term, with helping more families afford health insurance and taking advantage of Kansas’ opportunities in renewable energy being key priorities as well.

In 2006, Governor Sebelius was elected chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association. She also chairs the Education Commission of the States, as well as serving on the National Governors Association’s Executive Committee.

Sebelius served four terms in the Kansas House of Representatives, two terms as the state’s insurance commissioner, and is the first daughter of a U. S. governor to serve in that same position.

Kathleen has been married to her husband, Gary, a federal magistrate judge, for 32 years, and they have two sons: Ned and John, both college graduates.

Melody Barnes is the Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress where she coordinates and helps to integrate all of the Center’s policy work, from the policy departments, fellows, and the Center’s network of outside policy experts.

From December 1995 until March 2003, Ms. Barnes served as chief counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee. As Senator Kennedy’s chief counsel, she shaped civil rights, women’s health and reproductive rights, commercial law, and religious liberties laws, as well as executive branch and judicial appointments. Ms. Barnes’ experience also includes an appointment as Director of Legislative Affairs for the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and serving as assistant counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. During her tenure with the Subcommittee, she worked closely with Members of Congress and their staffs to pass the Voting Rights Improvement Act of 1992, which was signed into law.

Ms. Barnes began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City and is a member of both the New York State Bar Association and the District of Columbia Bar Association. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of The Constitution Project, EMILY’s List, The Maya Angelou Public Charter School, and The Moriah Fund. She received her law degree from the University of Michigan and her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated with honors in history.

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