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Congressional Action Days: Speakers


Hear from Top Political Insiders

Charlie Cook                  Kelly O'Donnell                Stephanie Vance              Barry Lynn


Charlie Cook - The Cook Political Report/National JournalCharlie Cook speaker at SAF Congressional Action Days March 11-12, 2013

“There are political junkies, and then there’s Charlie Cook – the man who knows more about everything political than anyone else.” The Washingtonian

When Charlie Cook makes a pronouncement based on his analysis of the political scene in America, people who want to be “in the know” sit up and listen. For more than two decades he has been Washington’s most trusted – and most accurate – voice on all things political, whether it’s the outcome of a Congressional, gubernatorial, or presidential election.

As the editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report and a political analyst for the National Journal Group and NBC News, his prodigious writing is a direct line to the heart of politics. He writes weekly for National Journal magazine and National Journal Daily, and he also pens a regular column for The Washington Quarterly. Once deemed “the Picasso of election analysis” by The Wall Street Journal Cook produces the sharpest political handicapping in the business, serving as the one-man, go-to-source for Americans who want to be truly informed.

A Political Oracle. The plaudits for Charlie Cook are the best kind of broken record – an endless loop of praise. The New York Times has called Cook “one of the best political handicappers in the nation” and noted that The Cook Political Report is “a newsletter that both parties regard as authoritative.” Bob Schieffer of CBS News calls it “the bible of the political community,” and David Broder of The Washington Post said Cook is “perhaps the best non-partisan tracker of Congressional races.” In its feature “The Top 50 Journalists in Washington,” The Washingtonian called him a “master observer” and “the man who knows more about politics than anyone else,” and in 2010 Cook was a co-recipient of the American Political Science Association’s prestigious Carey McWilliams Award to honor “a major journalistic contribution to our understanding of politics.”

Cook’s expertise has been featured on the ABC, CBS, Good Morning America, TODAY, Nightline, Meet the Press, and This Week, and he is a welcome fixture on CNBC, MSNBC, C-SPAN, and National Public Radio. Cook founded The Cook Political Report in 1984, and became a twice-weekly columnist for Roll Call, Capitol Hill’s premier newspaper, before joining the National Journal Group in 1998. Cook has also been an election night analyst for CNN and CBS News and for every presidential election since 1994 for NBC News.

Keeping America Informed. Cook is a hugely popular speaker. With his encyclopedic knowledge, memorable stories, quick wit, and meaningful insights, his speeches focus on the broad implications of the latest election results. Using poll numbers, economic indicators, and historical data, Cook forecasts the fortunes of each party in a balanced, non-partisan manner and furnishes audiences with the concrete information they need regarding today’s political and legislative environments. 

Kelly O'Donnell Speaker at the SAFPAC dinner during SAF Congressional Action DaysKelly O'Donnell - NBC News

"I am a professional observer: I am given the gift of being on the edge of historic events." Kelly O'Donnell

Kelly O'Donnell is the Capitol Hill Correspondent for NBC News. She contributes to NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, TODAY, and MSNBC, and appears as a panelist on Meet the Press and The Chris Matthews Show. She has anchored NBC News broadcasts and produced long form pieces for Dateline. A veteran of presidential politics, O'Donnell covered the Inauguration of President Barack Obama and the 2008 presidential campaign traveling with John McCain and Sarah Palin. She served as White House Correspondent during the second term of President George W. Bush. From the Rose Garden to Baghdad, the Olympic Games to Capitol Hill, the scope of O'Donnell's assignments is uncommon, and her reports have taken her to all 50 states and 48 countries.  Kelly O'Donnell speaks with insight and ease about life spent in the trenches, in the courtroom, and in the political "war room." Not only is she in the public eye, she is the public's eye.

Meeting the Press. O'Donnell's political reporting background began in 1996 on the Dole campaign. In Iowa, she reported on the field of Democratic challengers, then on the campaign trail during Senator John Kerry's bid for the White House, through Election Day. In 2004 she also reported from the Democratic Convention in Boston, the Presidential Debates, during NBC News' Decision 2004 election night coverage, and President Bush's second inauguration. On other political fronts, she was on hand for the 2003 gubernatorial recall in California and the 2000 Florida recount. Among her other varied experiences: the September 11th attacks, Queen Elizabeth's 50th Jubilee, the CIA leak trial, the Oklahoma City bombing, four Olympic Games and four presidential elections. An award-winning reporter, O'Donnell's work on the 2008 presidential election earned an Emmy and National Headliner Award. She received the 2009 New Hampshire Primary Award for political reporting and was inducted into the Ohio Radio/Television Broadcasters Hall of Fame in September 2004. O'Donnell also received two first place awards from the Los Angeles Press Club for her feature reporting, and was part of the Nightly News team honored with multiple Edward R. Murrow Awards.

Beyond Borders. In addition to giving accounts on the war in Iraq from both Baghdad and U.S. Central Command headquarters in Qatar, she was embedded with the Third Infantry Division during operations in Fallujah and reported exclusively from the skies above Iraq on a classified combat mission during the air assault on Baghdad. O'Donnell also recounted the first meeting to form a new Iraqi government from the ancient city of Ur. She has reported on U.S. troops serving in the Middle East from aboard three aircraft carriers.

staphanie vanceStephanie Vance - Advocacy Associates

Stephanie D. Vance, the “Advocacy Guru” of Advocacy Associates, LLC is author of
Government by the People: How to Communicate with Congress, the fabjob.com guide, Get a Job on Capitol Hill, Citizens in Action and the recently released Advocacy Manual: A Practitioner’s Guide.

She has over 20 years of experience in Congressional affairs, having worked in a prominent DC law firm, lobbied for National Public Radio and worked in various Congressional offices, holding positions as Legislative Director and Staff Director.

Her work on congressional communications stems from a deep and abiding belief that
government is effective only when citizens are active participants. She has presented the concepts behind Citizens in Action at seminars and workshops around the country and she is a member of the National Speakers Association. 

Vance is also a member of the American Society of Association Executives and Women in Government Relations. Her website, advocacyguru.com, has won a number of awards, and her work has been the subject of s variety of print media stories, including a column in the Washington Post. 

A frequent guest on radio and television news shows around the country, Vance holds a Masters Degreed in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University and in Liberal Studies at Georgetown University. 

Barry Lynn - New America Foundation

Barry C. Lynn is director of the Markets, Enterprise, and Resiliency Initiative, and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.  Lynn’s groundbreaking writings on industrial interdependence among nations and the growing fragility of complex industrial systems have attracted wide attention, and he has been invited to present his work to high officials in Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Taiwan, and the European Commission, as well as in the White House and U.S. Treasury Department.

Lynn’s writings on the political and economic effects of the extreme consolidation of power in the U.S. and U.K. economies have influenced the thinking of policymakers and antitrust professionals on both sides of the Atlantic. Lynn has consulted with conservative and liberal political parties in America and Britain, as well as with Fortune 500 businesses, labor and industrial unions, and academic groups.

His articles have appeared in publications including Harper’s, the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, and The National Interest, and he has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Prior to joining New America, Lynn was executive editor of Global Business Magazine for seven years, and worked as a correspondent in Peru, Venezuela, and the Caribbean for the Associated Press and Agence France Presse.

He is author of Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction (Wiley 2010) and End of the Line: The Rise and Coming Fall of the Global Corporation (Doubleday 2005).