The idea for the Bipartisan Dinner Group began years before its inception. As a junior senate aide riding the senators-only elevator, Michael Hardaway once bumped into the late Senator Ted Kennedy.

Sensing his chance to learn from someone he’s admired his entire life, Michael asked Senator Kennedy how he became such an effective dealmaker with longstanding relationships across the aisle.

Mr. Kennedy looked at Michael, paused and began to tell the story of how he built those relationships over private dinners in Washington.

That conversation ignited the fire years later for the Bipartisan Dinner Group, an invitation-only gathering of lawmakers, lobbyists, reporters and senior staff committed to strengthening personal relationships across the aisle.