San Jose Speaker Series
Donna Brazile & Michael Steele
Former Chair, Democratic National Committee & Former Chair, Republican National Committee
Thursday, February 6th, 2020
Veteran political strategist Donna Brazile is the former interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the author of the New York Times bestseller Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House and the 2004 best-selling memoir Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics. She is a co-author of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics.
Ms. Brazile has devoted her life to working for progressive change, responsible governance, and the advancement of all people in a society that is fair and equitable. Brazile first got involved in politics at the age of nine when she worked to elect a City Council candidate who had promised to build a playground in her neighborhood; the candidate won, the playground was built, and a lifelong passion for political progress was ignited. Brazile has worked on every major presidential campaign since 1976 and in 2000 Ms. Brazile became the first African American woman to serve as the manager of a major party presidential campaign, running the campaign of former Vice President Al Gore.
Ms. Brazile loves working with young people, encouraging them to vote, to run for office, and to work within the system to strengthen it. She has lectured at over 200 colleges and universities across the country on such topics as “Inspiring Civility in American Politics,” “Race Relations in the Age of Obama,” “Why Diversity Matters,” and “Women in American Politics.” In 2013, Ms. Brazile was appointed by President Obama to serve on the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. She is also the proud recipient of more than ten honorary doctorate degrees from major colleges and universities, including her alma mater Louisiana State University. In October 2017, Ms. Brazile was the recipient of the W.E.B Du Bois Medal, Harvard’s highest honor in African American studies. Brazile has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University since 2002 and spent the fall of 2017 serving as a Joan Shorenstein
fellow in Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Howard University appointed Ms. Brazile as the 2018-2019 Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy. In this role, Brazile will develop and host a five-part lecture series to engage the Howard community on several subjects, including politics, voting, criminal justice reform, and civility.
O, The Oprah Magazine chose Ms. Brazile as one of its 20 “remarkable visionaries” for the magazine’s first-ever O Power List. In addition, she was named among the 100 Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian magazine, Top 50 Women in America by Essence magazine, and received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s highest award for political achievement. In 2016, Ms. Brazile was awarded Wonk of the Year from the Kennedy Political Union at American University. In March 2018, Black Enterprise awarded Ms. Brazile with the Barbara Graves Legacy Award.
Ms. Brazile has worked passionately on behalf of her beloved hometown of New Orleans. In the aftermath of the two catastrophic hurricanes that devastated the Gulf region, Ms. Brazile was appointed by former Governor Kathleen Blanco to serve on the Louisiana Recovery Board to work for the rebuilding of the state and to advocate for the Gulf recovery on the national stage. Ms. Brazile was also appointed by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to serve on the Tricentennial Commission.
Ms. Brazile was formerly a contributor to ABC News and CNN. Ms. Brazile was the recipient of a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Daytime Program, Good Morning America (2016-2017) in connection with her work with ABC. She has also been a syndicated newspaper columnist for Universal U’Click and a prolific writer with articles appearing in nearly every major newspaper in the nation. She moonlights as an actress and is especially honored to have made three cameo appearances on CBS’s The Good Wife, and two cameo appearances on Netflix’s series House of Cards. She most recently appeared on BET's Being Mary Jane. Ask her and she’ll tell you that acting, after all, is the key to success in politics.
Ms. Brazile is the founder and director of Brazile & Associates LLC, a general consulting, grassroots advocacy, and training firm based in Washington, DC.
Michael S. Steele
When he was elected Lt. Governor of Maryland in 2003, Michael Steele made history as the first African American elected to statewide office; and again with his subsequent chairmanship of the Republican National Committee in 2009.
As chairman of the RNC, Michael Steele was charged with revitalizing the Republican Party. A self-described "Lincoln Republican," under Steele’s leadership the RNC broke fundraising records (over $198 million raised during the 2010 Congressional cycle) and Republicans won 63 House seats, the biggest pickup since 1938. His commitment to grassroots organization and party building at the state and local levels produced 12 governorships and the greatest share of state legislative seats since 1928 (over 760 seats).
As Lt. Governor of Maryland, Mr. Steele’s priorities included reforming the state's Minority Business Enterprise program, improving the quality of Maryland's public education system (he championed the State’s historic Charter School law), expanding economic development in the state and fostering cooperation between government and
faith-based organizations to help those in need.
Mr. Steele’s ability as a communicator and commentator has been showcased through his current role as a political analyst for MSNBC. He has appeared on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, and Comedy Central's The Daily Show. In addition to his work in television, Mr. Steele co-hosted the daily radio program, Steele & Ungar on the POTUS Channel on SiriusXM and is the host of the podcast Man of Steele.
Mr. Steele’s writings on law, business and politics have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Hill.com, The Grio.com, Politico.com, The Root.com, BET.com, Townhall.com, The Journal of International Security Affairs and Catholic University Law Review, among others.
He is the author of Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda,
which is a call to arms for grassroots America and co-author of The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis.
Born at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George’s County, Maryland, Mr. Steele was raised in Washington, DC. Upon graduating Johns Hopkins University (‘81’), he entered the Order of St. Augustine where he studied for the priesthood. He is a graduate of Georgetown Law Center (’91), an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership and a University of Chicago Institute of Politics Fellow.