Nationhood Lab announces advisory council

March 30, 2023

NEWPORT, RI—Nationhood Lab, a project at Salve Regina University’s Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, unveiled its the center announced the membership of its advisory council today. 

The members of the council — a group drawn from across the United States with a diverse range of expertise, perspectives, and professions — provide the project with valuable advice, knowledge and perspectives, particularly as it develops and tests a story of America’s national identity that helps bind the union together in the 21st century.

The inaugural members are:

Dan Abbasi, a longtime investor in the cleantech sector and executive producer of Showtime’s Emmy Award winning documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously,” who now runs the Sustainable Equity Strategy at Douglass Winthrop Advisors.

Susan Eisenhower, president of the Eisenhower Group, an political consultant, author, and national security policy expert who is Chair emeritus of the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College and author of How Ike Led: The Principles Behind Eisenhower’s Biggest Decisions.

Theodore R. Johnson, a Senior Advisor at New America leading its flagship Us@250 initiative marking the nation’s semiquincentennial, contributing columnist at the Washington Post, and author of When The Stars Begin to Fall: Overcoming Racism and Renewing the Promise of the American Dream.

Désirée P. Jones-Smith is a senior program manager with the Citizenship and American Identity Program, where she leads Who is Us?: A Project on American Identity.

Dr. Jasmin Mujanović, a political scientist specializing in the politics of post-authoritarian and post-conflict democratization and author of Hunger and Fury: The Crisis of Democracy in the Balkans.

Farah Pandith, author, foreign policy strategist, former diplomat world-leading expert and pioneer in countering violent extremism and author of How We Win: How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs, Political Visionaries, Enlightened Business Leaders, and Social Media Mavens Can Defeat the Extremist Threat.

Dr. Emily Pears, Assistant Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College, an expert on 19th century U.S. federalism, American political development, American nationalism, and U.S. state-building and author of Cords of Affection: Constructing Constitutional Union in Early American History.

Juan Sepúlveda, President’s Special Adviser for Inclusive Excellence at Trinity University in San Antonio, political consultant, former PBS executive, and author of The Life and Times of Willie Velasquez—Su Voto Es Su Voz.

David Evans Shaw, managing partner of Black Point Group, an entrepreneur with wide-ranging interests in technology companies, impact investing and public service activism who founded IDEXX Laboratories, Covertus, and many other companies and investment firms.

Rajiv Vinnakota, president of the Institute for Citizens & Scholars, a former executive vice president for youth and engagement at the Aspen Institute and co-founder and CEO of The SEED Foundation, a network of public, college-preparatory boarding schools for underserved children.

Gleaves Whitney, executive director for the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and past irector of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University.

Additional information on the advisory council members can be found at

Nationhood Lab, which launched in January, will deliver more effective tools with which to describe and defend the American liberal democratic tradition and better understand the forces undermining it. The project includes a data journalism website where project director Colin Woodard and other authors reflect on the divisions in American society and what might be done to bind them; a narrative project to develop a new story of American civic nationalism; and an engagement agenda where that story is shared and spread across the United States to help address the divisiveness that plagues so much of American public life.