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Michael Signer

Mike is a technology executive, former mayor, and public scholar whose leadership on issues including innovation, democracy, opportunity, and national security has been recognized at the local, state, and national levels. He is the author of two books, Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies and Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Lease Likely Founding Fathers, which have been assigned in classes at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, James Madison University, and George Mason University. Mike served as Mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, from 2016 to 2018, a AAA-bond-rated city of nearly 50,000 that is frequently ranked among America’s best places to live and that has Virginia’s lowest unemployment rate. He continues to serve on the City Council. He is Vice President and General Counsel of WillowTree, Inc., one of central Virginia’s major employers, where he serves on the firm’s executive team. He is a lecturer at the University of Virginia, where he teaches a seminar titled “Leadership, Statesmanship, and Democracy.” 

He has been profiled by CNN, The New York TimesThe 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 written opinion pieces and essays for The AtlanticThe Washington PostTimeVoxDemocracy, and The New Republic, among others. Mike and the people of Charlottesville received the Anti-Defamation League’s Levenson Family Defender of Democracy Award in 2017. He is a member of the 2018 class of Aspen Institute Rodel Fellows. He was recognized by Forward Magazine in its “Forward 50” 2017 list of the 50 most influential Jewish leaders in America. He was a 2009 candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia. He has received senior appointments from three Virginia governors and has directed several nonprofit and civic organizations. He 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.  He lives in Charlottesville with his wife and twin boys.

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