Inaugural Building Bridges Discussion Series, 04/25



Sen. Kelly Ayotte ’93 (R-NH)


Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI)

Tuesday, April 25
4:00–5:00 PM

Arthur M. Goldberg '66 Commons
John F. Scarpa Hall


Join Villanova Law for our inaugural "Building Bridges" discussion series, featuring former United States Sens. Kelly Ayotte ’93 (R-NH) and Russ Feingold (D-WI). Mark C. Alexander, the Arthur J. Kania Dean and Professor of Law, will moderate a discussion as the panelists explore how they built bridges across partisan divides while in office, and how we can move forward in finding what unites us rather than what divides us.

This is the inaugural event of Villanova Law’s “Building Bridges” series, which provides a public forum to bring together leaders with differing views to engage respectfully with each other on important topics while demonstrating civil discourse within our community. This event is open to the entire Villanova community.


Kelly Ayotte was elected to the United States Senate in 2010, where she was ranked as one of the most bipartisan senators working across party lines to find solutions to our nation’s biggest challenges. Most recently, Senator Ayotte served as “Sherpa” for Judge Neil Gorsuch, leading the effort for the Trump Administration to secure his confirmation as an Associate Justice to the United States Supreme Court. During her tenure in the Senate (2011-2016), Senator Ayotte chaired the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and the Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations. Senator Ayotte is a leading voice on national security and was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the top 50 Republicans on national security affairs in the country. She is a strong advocate for our nation’s military readiness and our service men and women.

Having seen the effects of heroin and opiate addiction in New Hampshire and across the country, Senator Ayotte took a lead role in passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, a national response to improve prevention, treatment and recovery efforts to stem the tide of addiction. She also worked to address gaps in our nation’s mental health system by passing legislation to improve mental health first aid training, suicide prevention programs and treatment of eating disorders.

Prior to serving in the United States Senate, Senator Ayotte served as New Hampshire’s first female Attorney General from 2004-2009. First appointed to that position by a Republican governor, she was twice reappointed by a Democratic governor. Senator Ayotte also served as the deputy attorney general, chief of the homicide prosecution unit, and as legal counsel to Governor Craig Benson. She began her career as a law clerk to the New Hampshire Supreme Court and as an associate at McLane Middleton.

Senator Ayotte currently serves on the board of News Corp, the advisory boards of Blink Health and Revision Military and on the boards of the International Republican Institute, the McCain Institute and NH Veterans Count.

Senator Ayotte is married to Joseph Daley, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force, who flew combat missions in Iraq. They live in Nashua, New Hampshire with their two children, Katherine and Jacob.

Russ Feingold is the President of the American Constitution Society. He served as a United States Senator from Wisconsin from 1993 to 2011 and a Wisconsin State Senator from 1983 to 1993. From 2013 to 2015, he served as the United States Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

During his 18 years in the United States Senate, Senator Feingold was ranked 6th in the Senate for bipartisan voting. He is a recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award and cosponsored the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain-Feingold Act), the only major piece of campaign finance reform legislation passed into law in decades. He was the only Senator to vote against the initial enactment of the USA PATRIOT Act during the first vote on the legislation and was well-known for his opposition to the Iraq War and as the Senate's leading opponent of the death penalty. He served on the Judiciary, Foreign Relations, Budget, and Intelligence Committees. Senator Feingold was Chairman or Ranking Member of the Constitution Subcommittee.

For the better part of the last 10 years and in addition to his congressional and diplomatic career, Senator Feingold has taught extensively at various American law schools including Stanford Law School, Yale Law School, Marquette University Law School, and Harvard Law School. In this capacity, he has played a significant mentoring role to law students, preparing him for his role as President of the American Constitution Society. He has also taught foreign policy to graduate and undergraduate students at Stanford University, University of Wisconsin, Yale University, Lawrence University, and American University.

Senator Feingold is the Honorary Ambassador for the Campaign for Nature which is a global effort calling on policymakers to commit to address the growing biodiversity crisis. The Campaign seeks a science-driven, ambitious new deal for nature at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China, in 2021. Senator Feingold holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a BA and an MA from the University of Oxford (as a Rhodes Scholar), and a JD from Harvard Law School, all degrees awarded with honors.