Leadership and Staff

Charles Peters, President Emeritus

Charlie founded Understanding Government in 1999. He began his career as a staffer and later an elected member of the West Virginia state legislature, where he authored the law establishing that state’s civil service. He was appointed director of evaluation for the Peace Corps during the Kennedy Administration, a position which gave him insights into the workings of the federal government and the Washington bureaucracy. In 1969, he founded The Washington Monthly, a main goal of which was to investigate what the government was doing right and wrong and how it could do a better job. Over the years, the Monthly produced influential articles on subjects in government ranging from the Foreign Service to the Food and Drug Administration. Alumni of the Monthly have won Pulitzer prizes and many now work as reporters and editors at America’s leading newspapers, magazines, TV and radio news programs, websites and blogs. Charlie is the author of several books, including How Washington Really Works, now in its fourth edition, Blowing the Whistle (with Taylor Branch), The System (with James Fallows), and Inside the System, fifth edition (with Jonathan Alter), and, most recently, Five Days in Philadelphia: The Amazing “We Want Willkie!” Convention of 1940 and How It Freed FDR to Save the Western World.  He recently completed work on a biography of Lyndon B. Johnson.

Detailed bio for Charles Peters available here.

Ned Hodgman, Executive Director

Ned Hodgman has been executive director of Understanding Government since 2007.  He has a bachelor’s degree in Russian studies from Harvard and a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Rochester.  He began his career as a coordinator of arms control, human rights and civil society projects in Russia and other countries of the former USSR, and worked in business as well, founding both a consulting and a manufacturing company and spending five years as vice-president of MASMI Research Group, a multinational market research firm.  In 2006, he decided to shift his focus to domestic policy issues in the United States. He has overseen the development of Understanding Government’s main programs, including GIMBY and Preventive Journalism, and has handled fund raising, strategic partnerships, and staff development.