RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER / reneejones@startribune.com  

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges is headed to Aspen, Colo., later this month for a fellowship program that's meant to encourage bipartisan cooperation among the country's "rising political stars."

Hodges will join 23 other mayors, state legislators, school board members and state officials -- including the mayors of Cincinnati, Denver and South Bend, Ind. -- who were selected for the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership. They'll participate in three weekend seminars in Aspen, Colo., over the next two years, with the first taking place Jan. 29 to Feb. 1.

The class includes another Minnesotan: state Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley.

The fellowship program -- which covers participants' expenses, including travel -- is open to elected officials between the ages of 25 and 50. The Aspen Institute is a Washington, D.C.-based education and policy organization.

Hodges said she's excited to meet and work with the other fellows, half of whom are Democrats, and half Republicans. They represent states ranging from California to North Carolina, Michigan and Alaska.

"I am really looking forward to the bipartisan conversation, especially now when we have a Republican House and Senate in the state of Minnesota, and things are how they are in Washington," she said.

The mayor says she wants to hear about "success stories" of people on both sides of the aisle working together to "get things done."

Before she gets to Aspen, Hodges will have to complete a lengthy reading assignment on democracy and civics. 

"There's also a lot of homework, a lot of stuff to read and a lot of stuff to do and they really expect you to do it," she said. "And I will have done it. Hodges does her homework. Has done it her whole life."