Gov. M. Jodi Rell Center for Public Service

The Governor M. Jodi Rell Center for Public Service was established at the University of Hartford in 2011. The purpose of the Rell Center is to promote the values exemplified by the life and career of the 87th Governor of Connecticut M. Jodi Rell—specifically the values of integrity in government and public service and responsible participation in public life.

The mission of the Governor M. Jodi Rell Center for Public Service at the University of Hartford is to provide a community and academic forum for the discussion of:

  • Ethics in government
  • The importance of civil discourse in politics
  • Citizen involvement in public service and government

The Center also seeks to encourage students and others to pursue careers in public service and to assist in providing a clearinghouse for student public service internships.

What’s Happening at the Rell Center

Annual Civility Awards

The Governor M. Jodi Rell Center and Connecticut Public, with the support of The Connecticut Association of Schools, are sponsoring an award to recognize K-16 classrooms, clubs, or schools that encourage dialogue, action, education, or engagement around integrity in public discourse and civility.

Nominate your class, school, or club by April 30, 2024!

Learn more about last year’s winners under Past Events below. See additional information about the award and complete the application here. Send questions to


Election 2022

Debate Series

September 15 - October 27

The Rell Center is a proud supporting sponsor of debates for key office of the 2022 midterm elections. This series of debates is hosted by Connecticut Public and the League of Women Voters of Connecticut (LWVCT). The series includes debates for statewide offices of Governor and Secretary of the State, as well as U.S. Senate and Connecticut’s five U.S. Congressional districts.

Campus Debate-Watching Parties

September 27, October 25and October 27

This series of casual get-togethers for University of Hartford students combine debate-watching with food, drink, and free t-shirts. The Governor M. Jodi Rell Center hosts student engagement parties for debates.

Listen to our Podcast

The Rell Center has created a podcast on civility in public life, available on Spotify.

Rell Center Past Events

Moving Beyond Polarization: Making Politics Work
September 8, 2022 from 7:30 p.m.–9 p.m. on Zoom
Hosted by Braver Angels Connecticut Alliance and co-sponsored by Connecticut Public.

Civility in Public Life
May 26, 2022 from 10 AM–11:30 A.M. on Zoom
Free training workshop led by the Institute for Civility in Government and co-sponsored by Connecticut Public, Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, Connecticut Council of Small Towns, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, and Connecticut General Assembly leadership, including Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly, House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora and Speaker of the House Matt Ritter.

Annual Civility Award Through this award, the Governor M. Jodi Rell Center recognizes K-16 classrooms, clubs, or schools that encourage dialogue, action, education, or engagement regarding integrity in public discourse and civility. First Annual Winners were the Farmington High School Political Action Club led by Lance Goldberg and the Changing the World through Spoken Word Poetry Project led by Mary Nelson of Spring Glen School in Hamden.

Celebrating the 19th Amendment: Connecticut Women Leading in Public Service
November 18, on Zoom
Including Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management Melissa McCaw, First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick, Former Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, and former House Republican leader Themis Klarides. The event included opening remarks by former Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell and was moderated by WTNH's Jodi Latina.

Watch Celebrating the 19th Amendment: Connecticut Women Leading in Public Service

Here and Now: Social Media and Public Service
April 16
Panel discussion with Connecticut Democratic Party Executive Director Jacqueline Kozin, Connecticut Republican Party Digital Director Patrice Thibodeau, and University of Hartford Applied Assistant Professor of Communication Adam Chiara, moderated by Associate Professor of Political Science Bilal Sekou.Topics included Connecticut's November election and the long-term impact of social media on political parties and public service.

Networking and Interning for Success
February 14
Three UHart alumnae shared tips and insight on how to use connections to launch your career, and how they benefited from internships and networking.Panelists (from left) Amanda Schoen '14, Deputy Executive Director, Connecticut League of Conservation Voters; Taylor Zitkus '18, Administrative Assistant, Office of the President; and Hailey Gagnon '16 Legislative Aide, Connecticut General Assembly.Co-sponsored by the Rell Center for Public Service and the Department of Career Services.

A Job Like No Other
June 7
Connecticut voters had a candid and first-of-its-kind glimpse of all qualifying Democratic and Republican candidates for Governor during a program broadcast on Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) Candidates: Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Mark Boughton, and two Republican candidates who qualified for the primary without petitioning, Tim Herbst and Steve Obsitnik. Interviewer: Chris Ulrich.


Photos from A Job Like No Other

About Gov. M. Jodi Rell

Gov. M.  Jodi Rell Portrait

M. Jodi Rell served as the 87th Governor of Connecticut from 2004–11. She was the second woman and first Republican woman to serve as governor of the state. Her administration is known for its strong advocacy on behalf of the state of Connecticut and for restoring trust in Connecticut government.

A native of Virginia, Rell relocated to Connecticut in 1967 with her late husband Lou, a commercial airline pilot. In Connecticut, she became involved in community organizations including the Parent Teachers Organization and the fire department auxiliary. This community activism led her to politics. She served as a member of the Republican Town Committee in Brookfield, Connecticut and worked on local campaigns.

In 1985, Rell was urged to run for the 107th District legislative seat being vacated by Rep. David Smith. She was elected and served in the Connecticut General Assembly from 1985–1995. While in the General Assembly, she became a valued member of the leadership, rising to the position of Deputy House Minority Leader. In 1994, she was nominated by the Connecticut Republican party as its candidate for Lieutenant Governor. She served as Lieutenant Governor from 1995–2004. She became governor upon the resignation of Gov. John Rowland in 2004, and she was re-elected to a full term as governor in 2006.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell Accomplishments

  • Led a successful bipartisan effort for a historic Connecticut campaign finance reform bill outlawing contributions by lobbyists and state contractors and enacting public financing for state campaigns. (2005)
  • Ended the controversial practice of housing Connecticut prisoners in out-of state facilities. (2004)
  • Signed a bill enacting civil unions for same-sex couples. Connecticut was the first state to adopt civil unions without a court order. (2005)
  • Successfully championed enactment of the Charter Oak Health Plan providing low cost health coverage for many uninsured adults. (2007)
  • Led the bipartisan effort to prevent the closure of the Groton/New London Submarine base. (2005)
  • Reached agreement with legislative leaders on a number of criminal justice reforms which were responsive to the systemic failures prior to the Cheshire home invasion. A special session in late January passed laws to toughen penalties for home invasion and tighten parole procedures. (2008)

Rell Center Leadership

  • M. Jodi Rell, 87th Governor of Connecticut 2004-11
  • Katherine A Black, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Hartford
  • Michael Clancy, Professor and Chair, Department of Politics, Economics & International Studies, University of Hartford
  • Marshall Collins, Attorney and Lobbyist, International Governmental Strategies, LLC
  • Liz Kurantowicz, The Drury Group
  • Paddi LeShane, Chief Executive Officer and Lobbyist, Sullivan & LeShane, Inc.
  • Grace Lewis '22, University of Hartford, Politics and Government, and Psychology Major
  • Michael Rell, Lobbyist, International Governmental Strategies, LLC
  • Herbert J. Shepardson, Partner, Cooney, Scully and Dowling Attorneys at Law
  • Lon Seidman, Lon.TV, LLC


Katharine OwensProfessor Katharine A. Owens is the Director of the Governor M. Jodi Rell Center for Public Service. She also serves as Director of University Interdisciplinary Studies and is a Professor in the Department of Politics, Economics, and International Studies at the University of Hartford.

Contact Information

Governor M. Jodi Rell Center
University of Hartford
200 Bloomfield Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06117

Telephone: 860.768.4234
Fax: 860.768.4251  

Pamela Masi
Office Coordinator
Hillyer Hall 126


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