“In-Depth” is the Yale Politics Initiative’s series of conversations with senators, representatives, governors, and other politicians focused on political practice. Guests come to campus to participate in a candid, off-the-record master class with a highly selective group of twenty-five students and moderated by a leading professor.
To apply for master classes with our upcoming guests, click the buttons below. You must apply separately to each class that you are interested in taking. Acceptance to one class does not affect your chance of acceptance to another. Our master classes are comprised of students with a wide range of academic and extracurricular interests. We are primarily looking for students who have creative, specific, well-informed questions for our guests.
Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY)
Date: March 29 (Application Deadline: March 23)
Representative Sean Patrick Maloney currently represents New York’s 18th district in the U.S. House of Representatives and was first elected in November 2012. His top priorities include national security, protecting our drinking water, ensuring our veterans get the benefits they earned, and combating the heroin and opioid epidemic.
Rep. Maloney currently serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the House Agriculture Committee. On the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Maloney serves as the Chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, which is responsible for overseeing and supporting the Coast Guard, regulating shipping, ports and waterways, and protecting the environment.
Rep. Maloney also serves on the House Agriculture Committee, where he fights to protect important and unique programs which benefit local farmers in the Hudson Valley.
He has a distinguished background in business and public service. He served as a senior advisor in President Bill Clinton’s White House as part of a team that balanced the budget and paid down the debt, all while creating over eight hundred thousand jobs here in New York. When Sean left the White House, he built his own business from scratch. His high-tech startup created hundreds of New York jobs.
Rep. Maloney then served as a senior staff member to two Democratic governors of New York, focusing on education and infrastructure projects. He oversaw 13 state agencies and departments, including those responsible for all homeland security, state police and emergency management operations. Rep. Maloney and his husband, Randy Florke, have 3 children together and currently reside in Cold Spring, NY.
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
Date: March 29 (Application Deadline: March 23)
Chellie Pingree has lived on the offshore island of North Haven, Maine, since she was a teenager. On North Haven she has been an organic farmer, raised three children and started two successful small businesses. After serving as the town’s tax collector, she became the chair of the local school board and eventually was elected to the State Senate from a predominantly Republican district. In 2008 she was elected to Congress to represent Maine’s First District. With Chellie’s election that year, Maine became the first state in American history to have a majority female Congressional delegation.
In 2006, Chellie started Nebo Lodge—now a successful and popular inn and restaurant on the island. Chellie has put an old North Haven farm back into production. Now Turner Farm produces organic vegetable, meats and cheeses and in addition to a thriving farmers market and CSA, supplies much of the food served in the restaurant at Nebo.
In Congress, Chellie currently sits on the powerful Appropriations Committee, where she has fought to expand opportunities for working families, protect our veterans and worked to expand access to health care.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Date: March 30 (Application Deadline: March 24)
Moderator: Professor Jacob Hacker
A third-generation Marylander, Ben Cardin has been a national leader on health care, retirement security, the environment and fiscal issues while representing the people of Maryland in the U.S. Senate, and before that in the House of Representatives. He has worked across party lines to further U.S. national security and to ensure that good governance, transparency and respect for human rights are integrated into American foreign policy efforts.
First elected to the Senate in 2006, Senator Cardin currently serves as Ranking Member of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee. He is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Environment & Public Works committees. He also serves on the Senate Finance Committee.
A member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee since arriving in the Senate, Senator Cardin was responsible for the extension of increased guarantees and reduced fees in the Small Business Administration's two largest loan programs. He has been working to find better ways to provide access to credit for qualified small businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as expanding access to contracts for women-owned, minority owned and veteran-owned businesses. He consistently is urging federal agencies to take all steps possible to meet or exceed their modest small business contracting goals. He also has been a strong defender of the federal workforce and has fought to end the harmful effects of sequestration.
From 1987-2006, Ben Cardin represented Maryland's Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and served for 17 years on the Ways & Means Committee. He was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1967-1986. During his time as Speaker from 1979-1986, he reformed Maryland's property tax system, the school financing formula and the ethical standards for elected officials.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)
Date: April 2 (Application Deadline: March 27)
Trey Gowdy served as the U.S. Representative for South Carolina's 4th congressional district from 2011 to 2019. His district included much of the Upstate region of South Carolina, including Greenville and Spartanburg.
Before his congressional career, Gowdy served as a federal prosecutor in the District of South Carolina from 1994 to 2000 and then as the solicitor (district attorney) for South Carolina's Seventh Judicial Circuit, comprising Spartanburg and Cherokee counties, from 2000 to 2010. From 2014 to 2016, Gowdy chaired the United States House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi which was partly responsible for discovering the existence of Hillary Clinton's private email server. His investigative committee spent over two and a half years and $7.8 million investigating the events surrounding the 2012 Benghazi attack, ultimately finding no evidence of specific wrong-doing by then-Secretary of State Clinton. Gowdy pressed for the prosecution of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign. From 2017, he chaired the House Oversight Committee.
On January 31, 2018, Gowdy announced he would not seek re-election in 2018 and that he intends to pursue a legal career instead of politics. He has since joined Fox News as a contributor.
Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO)
Date: April 5 (Application Deadline: March 30)
Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay was first elected to the U. S. House of Representatives in 2000, succeeding his father, the Honorable Bill Clay, who served for 32 years and was a founding Member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Prior to his election to the U.S. House, Mr. Clay served for 17-years in both chambers of the Missouri Legislature.
The Congressman, who is serving his 8th term in the U.S. House, is a senior member of the powerful House Financial Services Committee where he serves as the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. This key subcommittee has major oversight responsibilities over banks, credit unions, brokerage houses, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and credit rating agencies. Mr. Clay is also a senior member on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has major oversight and investigative responsibilities for the operations of the federal government.
Recently, Congressman Clay expanded his congressional portfolio to include a seat on the House Natural Resources Committee where he is working to combat climate change, protect wilderness areas, safeguard clean water and clean air and make sure that future generations enjoy America’s remarkable natural assets.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
Date: April 8 (Application Deadline: April 2)
Moderator: Professor Walter Shapiro
Congressman Jamie Raskin proudly represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district includes parts of Montgomery, Carroll, and Frederick Counties. Congressman Raskin was sworn into his second Term at the start of the 116th Congress on January 3, 2019.
Congressman Raskin is a returning Member of the House Judiciary Committee, the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and the Committee on House Administration. He is a new Member of the House Committee on Rules. Raskin is Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Vice Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution. Raskin is also serving as Caucus Leadership Representative in the 116th Congress, a role in which he represents Junior Members of the Caucus (those who have served five or less Terms) at the leadership table.
Prior to his time in Congress, Raskin was a three-term State Senator in Maryland, where he also served as the Senate Majority Whip. He quickly earned a reputation for building coalitions in Annapolis, and delivered a series of landmark legislative accomplishments. He was also a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law for more than 25 years. He authored several books, including the Washington Post best-seller Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court versus the American People and the highly-acclaimed We the Students: Supreme Court Cases For and About America’s Students, which has sold more than 50,000 copies.
Congressman Raskin is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School. He and his wife, Sarah Bloom Raskin, live in Takoma Park with their dog, Potter. They have three children: Tabitha, Tommy, and Hannah.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Jeff Flake served as a United States Senator from Arizona from 2013 to 2019. A Republican, Flake previously served in the United States House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013.
Born in Snowflake, Arizona, Flake attended Brigham Young University, from which he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations and later his Master of Arts degree in political science. In the early 1980s he became a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Africa, where he learned to speak Afrikaans. After returning to the United States, Flake served as Executive Director of the Goldwater Institute before being elected as a Republican to the House of Representatives from Arizona's 1st congressional district in 2001. He served as the representative for the 1st district until renumbering following the 2000 census redefined the district to be Arizona's 6th congressional district, which he then represented until he entered the Senate in 2013.
Flake sought the Republican nomination for the 2012 Senate election after incumbent Jon Kyl announced his retirement. He defeated Democratic candidate and former Surgeon General Richard Carmona in the general election. Flake was one of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" U.S. senators that pushed an immigration reform bill through the Senate in 2013.
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI)
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell represents the 12th District of Michigan in the U.S. House of Representatives. Before being elected to Congress, Debbie was the Chair of the Wayne State University (WSU) Board of Governors. An active civic and community leader, she is a recognized national advocate for women and children.
For more than 30 years Debbie served one of Michigan’s largest employers, the General Motors (GM) Corporation, where she was President of the GM Foundation and a senior executive responsible for public affairs. In her commitment to job creation, Debbie led the effort to bring the 10,000 Small Businesses initiative, a $20 million partnership designed to help create jobs and economic growth, to southeast Michigan. She is a past chair of the Manufacturing Initiative at the American Automotive Policy Council.
Debbie has led a number of efforts and initiatives related to young people and education stemming from her role as a WSU Governor and co-chair of the Children's Leadership Council, a business-led advocacy group that promotes investment in early childhood education. She chaired the Michigan Infant Mortality Task Force, the Baby Your Baby public education campaign that reduced infant mortality rates in Michigan, and has served on the board of Michigan’s Children, the only statewide independent voice working to ensure that public policies are made in the best interest of children from cradle to career. She was appointed by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to serve on the Early Childhood Investment Corporation and the Cherry Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth.
Much of Debbie's recent work has been focused on ethical issues and social responsibility as they relate to government and business. She co-chaired One United Michigan, which sought to preserve and support programs that ensure equal opportunity in Michigan. She chairs the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, a statewide organization that brings business, labor and government together to find commonality on issues. She continues to serve on the Parade Company board of directors of which she is past chair, where she helped save America’s Thanksgiving Parade, an important Detroit tradition. A known “bridge-builder,” she continues to promote and lead efforts toward greater understanding among people of differing points of views and backgrounds.
Debbie resides in Dearborn with her husband, retired Congressman John D. Dingell of Michigan. She holds both a B.S.F.S. in Foreign Services and an M.S. in Liberal Studies from Georgetown University.
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Joe Donnelly represented Indiana in the U.S. Senate from 2013 to 2019. He previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives (2007–13).
Donnelly was born in New York City and raised on Long Island. He attended the University of Notre Dame, receiving a bachelor’s degree (1977) in government and a law degree (1981). During that time, Donnelly married (1979), and he and his wife, Jill, later had two children. He worked for a law firm in South Bend, Indiana, before opening a printing business in nearby Mishawaka in 1996. He served on the state election board for a year (1988–89) and then on a local school board for four years (1997–2001), having lost bids to become Indiana’s attorney general (1988) and a state senator (1990). Undeterred, he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004 but lost to a well-funded Republican candidate. In 2006, however, he built solid support in predominantly Democratic South Bend and defeated the same opponent.
Donnelly was twice reelected to the House before running for the U.S. Senate in 2012. A moderate in a state long divided between largely Democratic urban areas and Republican suburban and rural districts, he won endorsement from newspapers and business organizations throughout the state. His opponent was Richard Mourdock, a Tea Party candidate who had defeated longtime incumbent Richard Lugar in the Republican primary. Donnelly won the general election, becoming the first Democrat to win a statewide race in Indiana in more than 10 years.
After taking office in 2013, Donnelly positioned himself as a conservative within the Democratic Party while usually voting with it. Breaking with his party on occasion, though, Donnelly, a Roman Catholic, opposed federal funding for abortions and defined himself as pro-life. He also endorsed gun rights. At the same time, he reversed his earlier opposition to same-sex marriage. He took particular interest in military and agricultural affairs, and in 2014 he helped enact a bill requiring annual mental-health evaluations for members of the armed services; it was intended to prevent military suicides.
Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT)
Congresswoman Jahana Hayes was elected to represent the Fifth District of Connecticut in November 2018, making her the first African-American woman to ever represent the state of Connecticut in Congress. Hayes first garnered widespread notoriety while serving as a teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, when she was selected as the Connecticut Teacher of the Year, before going on to earn the distinction of 2016 National Teacher of the Year, leading to an invitation to the White House by then President Barack Obama. In her capacity as NTOY, Hayes traveled the country and the world as an ambassador for public education engaging all stakeholders in policy discussions meant to improve outcomes for students.
Congresswoman Hayes’ story is one of achievement despite the odds and overcoming the obstacles that life can place before you. She has been quoted as saying that “education saved her life” and is a fierce advocate for ensuring that equitable access to educational opportunities exists for all students and families.
She is a graduate of Naugatuck Valley Community College, Southern Connecticut State University and the University of Bridgeport. Having earned a BA in history and secondary education, an MA in curriculum and instruction and a degree in administrative leadership.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
Moderator: Professor Graeme Wood
Matt Gaetz is a member of the 115th Congress and serves on the Budget, Armed Services, and Judiciary Committees. His work in Congress focuses on national security, tax reform, regulatory reform and adherence to constitutional principles.
Prior to serving in Congress, Matt represented portions of Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties in the Florida House of Representatives, beginning in 2010. He was chairman of the Finance & Tax Committee, using this position to author and pass $1 Billion in tax cuts while balancing the state budget and repealing or replacing over 4,000 regulations. Matt also served as chairman of the criminal justice subcommittee where he authored and passed the toughest penalties in America against violent sexual predators while making it easier for Florida patients to receive medical cannabis.
Matt is active in Northwest Florida as an attorney with the Keefe, Anchors & Gordon law firm where he advocates for more open and transparent government. He is the son of Don and Vicky Gaetz and is a graduate of Bluewater Elementary, Ruckel Middle School and Niceville High School. He holds degrees from Florida State University and the William & Mary College of Law.
Matt is a Lifetime Member of the National Rifle Association and is a member of First Baptist Church in Fort Walton Beach.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Moderator: Professor Jacob Hacker
Chris Murphy, the junior United States Senator for Connecticut, has dedicated his career to public service as an advocate for Connecticut families. Senator Murphy has been a strong voice in the Senate fighting for job creation, affordable health care, education, sensible gun laws, and a forward-looking foreign policy.
Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Murphy served Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District for three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his time in the House, Murphy worked to improve access to housing for homeless veterans, foster job creation and advocate for affordable healthcare for all Americans. Murphy authored the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act to revitalize housing programs for people with disabilities. The bill was signed into law by the president in 2010.
Before getting elected to Congress, Murphy served for eight years in the Connecticut General Assembly where he was the author of the state's historic stem cell investment legislation and the state's workplace smoking ban. Senator Murphy grew up in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and attended Williams College in Massachusetts. He graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law and practiced real estate and banking law with the firm of Ruben, Johnson & Morgan in Hartford, Connecticut.
He is married to Catherine Holahan, an attorney. They have two young sons, Owen and Rider, and a cat, Ramona.