David Axelrod
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David Axelrod and Ari Fleischer were great together! The speakers were gifted at sharing what they experienced and how they worked within the White House. They were perfect with the students. Texas A&M University
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David Axelrod

Senior Strategist, 2012 Obama Re-election Campaign; Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama (2009-2011); Director, University of Chicago, Institute of Politics and Senior Political Commentator, CNN

One of President Obama’s longtime closest advisors, David Axelrod examines the accomplishments, lessons learned and the way forward for the Obama Administration in final two years.

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Witness to History: Leadership Lessons from a Presidential Advisor

From the financial crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the fight for health care reform and an unsettled situation in the Middle East, the Obama Administration has been tested with issues of enormous consequences. As President Obama’s senior advisor, David Axelrod worked 20 feet from the Oval Office. Now he brings his perspectives on leadership as someone who was in the room as monumental decisions were made affecting the lives of millions, around the world. Drawing on his years as a top strategist and spokesman for the President, Axelrod gives audiences a behind-the-scenes look at life in the White House and what he has learned from his experiences on the world stage.

The Evolving Media and Political Landscape

The 24/7 media cycle, social media and a culture where information is currency have completely changed the face of politics—in some cases for better and in others for worse. A veteran strategist in the field of political communications who started out his career as a newspaperman and political writer for the Chicago Tribune, David Axelrod reflects on the changes that have taken root in the media and what the evolution of technology has meant for the direction of our political discourse at home and abroad. Has our sound-bite culture drowned out thoughtful discussion? Does a culture that embraces talking heads over substance make us less apt to listen to opposing viewpoints? How can we better use new mediums to advance issues of immense importance to our future? Axelrod shares the answers to these questions as he reflects on a rapidly shifting media and political landscape.

Meet David Axelrod


One of President Obama’s longtime closest advisors, David Axelrod examines the accomplishments, lessons learned and the way forward for the Obama Administration in final two years.

When President Obama chose a senior strategist to guide the strategy and communication efforts of his re-election campaign, he turned to his closest advisor, David Axelrod, who navigated his administration through the daunting challenges it faced during his first term in office. A respected journalist, political strategist and award-winning ad maker, Axelrod was the sage architect of Obama’s improbable four-year march from the Illinois State Senate to the White House, and again served as the mastermind in securing Obama’s second term in office. As senior advisor to the President, he was a key figure in shaping—and selling—the administration’s agenda and its significant legislative victories, including the economic stimulus program, health-care reform and financial regulator reform. From his unique vantage point, Axelrod analyzes the major issues of the day and the leadership lessons he has learned working alongside the President in turbulent times. Axelrod is a senior political commentator for CNN. He formerly served as a senior political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. In 2013, he was inducted into The American Association of Political Consultants’ Hall of Fame. His New York Times best-selling memoir, BELIEVER: My Forty Years in Politics  (February, 2015), spans forty years which include corruption and transformation, turmoil and progress, offering a look behind the closed doors of politics while offering a thrilling call to democratic action. This powerful and inspiring memoir is enlivened by the charm and candor of one of the greatest political strategists in recent American history.

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Anchor and Washington Bureau Chief, CNN (1984-2009) and Director, George Washington University's School of Media & Public Affairs

Best-Selling Author, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (2014) and Steve Jobs (2011); Acclaimed Historian and Journalist; President and CEO of the Aspen Institute

Director, Central Intelligence Agency (2011-2012); Commander of U.S. and International Security Assistance Forces-Afghanistan (2010-2011); Commander, U.S. Central Command (2008-2010); Commander, Multinational Force-Iraq (2007-2008). Currently Partner, KKR and Chairman, KKR Global Institute and a Professor at CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College and the University of Southern California