Michael Signer

Education & Training
J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 2004
Ph.D. (Political Science), University of California at Berkeley, 2001
A.B. (Politics), Princeton University, 1995
Courses Taught
Leadership, Statesmanship and Democracy
Race, Policy, and the Past

Michael Signer’s scholarship and teaching concentrate on democratic theory and practice, leadership, ethics, governance, social justice, regulation, and state and local government.  He is the author of two books: Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies (Palgrave Macmillan 2009) and Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father (PublicAffairs 2015).  He has published articles in the University of Richmond Law Review, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, and Democracy & Society.  At the Batten School, he teaches the classes, “Leadership, Statesmanship, and Democracy” and “Race, Policy, and the Past.”  He previously served as Visiting Full Professor at Virginia Tech’s School in Public and International Affairs. 

In November 2015, Signer was elected to Charlottesville’s City Council and was unanimously selected for a two-year term as Mayor in January 2016.  A practicing lawyer, Signer is managing principal of Madison Law & Strategy Group, PLLC, which he founded in 2010 and where he practices corporate and regulatory law.  His career has included work at several levels of government, think tanks, and political campaigns.  He has been appointed to senior positions by three Virginia governors: by Mark Warner to one of two counsel positions in his Richmond office, by Tim Kaine to the Board of Medicine, and by Terry McAuliffe to the Council on Virginia’s Future.  He has also served as Senior Policy Advisor at the Center for American Progress and on the Boards of Directors of the Center for National Policy and the Truman National Security Project Educational Institute.  He served as chief national security advisor to the 2008 John Edwards for President campaign and as senior strategist on the 2008 Tom Perriello campaign for Congress. 

He has helped directed several voter protection programs in Virginia and in 2010 traveled with U.S.AID to wartime Afghanistan to serve as an election monitor in Kabul and Panjshir Province for the country’s parliamentary elections.  His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New Republic, and USA Today, among others. He has been interviewed by CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR’s Morning Edition, and the BBC.  He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley, a J.D. from the University of Virginia, and graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in politics from Princeton University.  He lives with his wife and twin boys in Charlottesville.