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A User’s Guide to Government

May 30, 2020 @ 11:45 am - 1:00 pm


Nolan McCarty, Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs and Chair of the Department of Politics



Deni Taveras *03, Council Member, Prince George’s County, Maryland

Steven Forbes ’70, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Forbes Media

Ben Dworkin ’90, Director, Rowan University Institute for Public Policy & Citizenship

Jennifer Greenlief ’05, Assistant Commissioner and General Counsel, West Virginia Department of Agriculture

Michael Signer ’95, Former Mayor of Charlottesville and VP and General Counsel, WillowTree, LLC



Nolan McCarty
Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs and Director of the Initiative for Data-Driven Social Science

Nolan McCarty is the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs and Director of the Initiative for Data-Driven Social Science. He was formerly the associate dean at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. His research interests include U.S. politics, democratic political institutions and political game theory. He is the recipient of the Robert Eckles Swain National Fellowship from the Hoover Institution and the John M. Olin Fellowship in Political Economy. He has co-authored three books: “Political Game Theory” (2006, Cambridge University Press with Adam Meirowitz), “Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches” (2006, MIT Press with Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal) and “Political Bubbles: Financial Crises and the Failure of American Democracy” (with Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal). In 2010, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He earned his A.B. from the University of Chicago and his PhD from Carnegie Mellon University.


Deni Taveras *03
Council Member, Prince George’s County, Maryland

Deni Taveras was re- elected to her second 4-year term on the Prince George’s County Council in 2018. As councilmember she has attracted $10 billion worth of investments from both private and public sources and has put eight schools and two libraries in the pipeline for construction in her district.

Deni currently serves as Chair of the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment committee, and is Vice-Chair of the Education and Workforce Development Committee, as well as the General Assembly Committee. Deni is focused on school and Purple Line light rail construction and developing our Transit Centers in Prince George’s Plaza, West Hyattsville, and future Purple Line stops. She is a strong advocate for education equity and social justice issues, seeking to improve the lives of working families and diverse communities.

She holds a dual Master’s degree in public affairs and urban regional planning from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, a Master’s degree from the University of Utah, and a Bachelor’s degree from Barnard College; the latter two in chemistry.


Ben Dworkin ’90
Director, Rowan University Institute for Public Policy & Citizenship

Since January 2018, Dr. Benjamin Dworkin has served as the founding Director of the Rowan Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship (RIPPAC) at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ. As an astute and widely-quoted political analyst, Dr. Dworkin serves as a non-partisan commentator on political developments for media in New Jersey and nationally, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times. At Rowan University, Dr. Dworkin focuses on informing, engaging and training Rowan students, faculty and the public in political matters, policy analysis and citizen participation. Additionally, he teaches courses in Rowan’s Department of Political Science. In 2016, Dr. Dworkin was named one of the 100 most powerful unelected people in New Jersey politics. In 2018, he was selected for the prestigious National Security Seminar hosted by the US Army War College in Carlisle, PA. Dr. Dworkin has also worked as Deputy Research Director for the New Jersey General Assembly Minority office in Trenton.  He helped oversee a staff of several other policy analysts. Through much of his early career, Dr. Dworkin worked on political campaigns, focusing on message strategy and development, press relations, advertising, debate preparation and field operations.


Steven Forbes ’70
Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Forbes Media

Steve Forbes ’70 has spent his career at Forbes Media. He saw the company successfully navigate the stormy transition to the digital era, where Forbes.com now has over 100 million unique visitors a month. He vigorously sought the Republican nomination for President in 1996 and 2000 on the platform of a flat tax, health savings accounts, a new Social Security system for working Americans, term limits and a strong national defense. He has written or co-authored a number of books. He regularly does a podcast and a webcast. He enjoys bicycling and watching baseball.


Michael Signer ’95
Former Mayor of Charlottesville and VP and General Counsel, WillowTree, LLC 

Michael Signer is a public scholar, practicing attorney and executive who served as mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia (2016-2018). He currently serves as VP and General Counsel of WillowTree, the country’s largest digital design agency, where he is on the executive team. In 2018, he founded and chaired Communities Overcoming Extremism, a bipartisan capacity-building project for leaders in the public and private sectors.  He is the author of two previous books, “Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies” and “Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father.” He has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, Time, Vox and Democracy. He has been profiled by NPR, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Guardian and interviewed by Meet the Press, Face the Nation, The Rachel Maddow Show and NPR’s Morning Edition. He has received awards from the Anti-Defamation League, the American Society for Yad Vashem and the Matthew Shepard Foundation. He was recognized by The Forward magazine in its “Forward 50 2018” list of the 50 most influential Jewish leaders in America. He is a member of the 2018 class of the Aspen Institute’s Rodel Fellows. In 2009 he was a candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Signer holds a Ph.D. in political science from U.C., Berkeley, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow; a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law; and a B.A. in politics, magna cum laude, from Princeton University, where he was a work-study student.  He lives with his wife and their twin five year olds boys in Charlottesville.


Jennifer Greenlief ’05
Assistant Commissioner and General Counsel, West Virginia Department of Agriculture 

Jennifer Greenlief ’05 never envisioned a career in state politics, and certainly not in West Virginia. Raised in South Florida, Jennifer studied German Literature and Finance at Princeton before completing her law degree at the University of Virginia. Following a one-year stint in Houston, Texas, Jennifer moved to West Virginia, her parents’ home state, to complete a federal clerkship, and ended up staying.

Jennifer first joined state government following the 2012 election, when West Virginia elected its first Republican Attorney General in 80 years. She joined the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, serving for two years, before assuming the role of Counsel to the West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee immediately after the Legislature changed control for the first time since the 1930s. Two years ago, Jennifer left the Senate to become Assistant Commissioner and, later, General Counsel for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture under an elected Commissioner of Agriculture — one of only 12 such offices in the nation. In each these positions, Jennifer has worked with elected and appointed officials at the local, state and national levels, and on both sides of the political aisle.

Jennifer remains active in politics even off the clock. She has volunteered on numerous campaigns and also serves as an election poll worker. Jennifer has previously served Princeton as a Class Officer (Reunions Co-Chair) and currently chairs West Virginia’s Alumni Schools Committee. In what spare time remains, Jennifer enjoys taking time to experience the natural beauty, rich culture and culinary delights of the Mountain State.


May 30, 2020
11:45 am - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08540 United States
(609) 258 - 3000