Conference Agenda

Tuesday Schedule

Wednesday Schedule

Click the links on the schedule below to watch video of the conference.

 Tuesday, March 8th

 8:30-9:30 Registration/Networking Breakfast

Welcome: Overview of Conference Goals

Miles Rapoport – President, Common Cause


Opening Plenary/Session: Plutocracy, Race & the 2016 Election
Journalists, thought leaders, and advocates will discuss the role that money and race are playing in the 2016 elections, through the lens of plutocracy and its effects on an inclusive, representative, and responsive democracy.

Ian Haney López
Professor, University of California, Berkeley   
Author of Dog Whistle Politics, White by Law, and Racism on Trial

Norm Ornstein
Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
Columnist, National Journal & The Atlantic

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy
Brennan Center Fellow
Associate Professor of Law at Stetson University College of Law

Moderator - Jonathan Capehart
Opinion Writer and Editorial Board Member
Washington Post


Table Discussions


Working Lunch Session: Issue Briefs

Inclusive Democracy
Jodeen Olguín-Tayler
Vice President, Policy and Strategic Partnerships, Demos

The Supreme Court
Caroline Fredrickson
President, American Constitution Society

 12:30–1:00 Special Guest Speaker - Marilyn Mosby: Criminal Justice and Democracy

Breakout Sessions: “This is What Plutocracy Looks Like”
These sessions will examine the ways democracy is failing people and communities; how issues are impacted by the structural impediments to democracy; and what opportunities are available for leaders to bring about change.

Session 1: Environmental Justice – Corporate Power and our Globe
This panel will examine how corporations are manipulating the democratic process. Panelists will discuss the effects of unchecked power and effective solutions to corporate greed.

Ilana Soloman
Director, Responsible Trade Program, Sierra Club

Eduardo Martinez
City Council Member, Richmond, California

Natalie Thompson
Project Coordinator, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Moderator - Frances Moore Lappé
Co-Founder, Small Planet Institute

Session 2: Safe Streets For All: Rebuilding Democracy to Ensure a Fair and Effective Criminal Justice System
This panel looks at the systemic racism in our criminal justice system, the history that led us here, and the government reforms and innovative solutions needed to ensure that the American justice system runs according to law and principles of fairness.

Jay Stanley
Senior Policy Analyst, Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, ACLU

Desmond Meade
President, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition

Darius Charney
Senior Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights

Moderator - Eddie Hailes
General Counsel/Managing Director, Advancement Project


Plenary Presentation: A Conversation on Surveillance, Democracy, and Civil Society

Edward Snowden
Whistleblower & Former National Security Agency contractor

Malkia Cyril
Executive Director, Center for Media Justice

Moderator - Dan Froomkin
Washington Editor of The Intercept


Breakout Sessions: Democracy’s Blockade
These breakout sessions will delve into specific barriers to advancing our agenda and what we can do to shift power back to people.

Session 1: Race, Redistricting, and Representation
Recent changes to the structure of the Pasadena, Texas city council threaten to disenfranchise the Latino community. This panel will discuss how the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the Voting Rights Act opened the door to this kind of manipulation, and how election rule manipulation affects Latino, black, and other communities.

Allison Riggs
Senior Attorney, Southern Coalition for Social Justice

Ernest Herrera
Staff Attorney, MALDEF

Kathay Feng
Executive Director, California Common Cause & National Redistricting Director

Moderator - George Cheung
Program Director, Joyce Foundation’s Democracy Program

Session 2: Why Big Data Is a Core Democracy Issue
This panel will assess how a variety of overlapping issues, including bulk data collection, algorithmic targeting, and new surveillance tactics pose a challenge to the democracy reform movement. We will pay particular attention to how these practices disproportionately affect communities of color. We will also explore whether Big Data collection can yield benefits, and if so, for whom.

Rachel Levinson-Waldman
Senior Counsel, Liberty and National Security Program, Brennan Center

Evan Greer
Campaign Director, Fight for the Future

Harlo Holmes
Digital Security Trainer, Freedom of the Press Foundation

Moderator - Corrine Yu
Senior Counsel and Managing Policy Director, The Leadership Conference


Issue Briefs                   

National Popular Vote

Pam Wilmot
Executive Director, Common Cause Massachusetts

Calls for an Article V Convention and Balanced Budget Amendment

Karen Hobert Flynn
Senior Vice President, Common Cause

Walter Olson
Senior Fellow, CATO Institute

 5:30–5:40 Closing Remarks
 5:40–6:30 Reception

 Wednesday, March 9th

8:00-9:00 Breakfast
9:00-9:15 Welcome/Recap

Plenary Panel: Democracy Undone
Flint, Michigan represents a perfect storm of systemic government failure; other impoverished cities have been feeling the effects of plutocracy for some time. This panel will explore how the democracy movement can better serve disadvantaged populations and help restore civil liberties

Kary Moss
Executive Director, ACLU of Michigan

Nayyirah Shariff
Activist, Flint Democracy Defense League

Michael Ettlinger
Director, Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire

Moderator - Wendy Fields
Vice President for Campaigns and Strategic Partnerships, Common Cause


Plenary Panel: Working Toward Reflective Democracy in Politics and In our Movement
Presenters will discuss strategies to recruit diverse candidates to run and serve in office as well as the need to engage diverse constituencies in the democracy reform movement.  

Sayu Bhojwani
Founder and President, The New American Leaders Project

Adriana Alvarez
Activist, Fight for 15

Fred Azcarate
Executive Director, US Action                    

Moderator - Gara LaMarche
President, Democracy Alliance

11:45-12:30 Lunch- Self-Organized Working Sessions

Plenary Panel: Bold Reforms to Engage a Changing Electorate
This panel will focus on bold reforms in voting rights and money in politics, with a look at the key messages that will help us move these reforms forward.

Ginna Green
Managing Director, Money in Politics and Fair Courts, Rethink Media

Stephen Spaulding
Senior Policy Counsel and Legal Director, Common Cause

Myrna Pérez
Deputy Director, Democracy Program, Brennan Center

Angela Kuefler
Director, Research, Global Strategy Group

Moderator - Scott Swenson
Vice President for Communications, Common Cause


Breakout Sessions: Increasing the Voice of the People
These breakout sessions will look at how citizen engagement in local and national campaigns can work to keep democracy alive.  

Session 1: People Powered Movements
Grassroots organizations are engaging people every day on the issues that impact people’s lives.  These activists will share their strategies on building long-term political power and creating change in their communities.  

Delvone Michael
Executive Director, DC Working Families

John-Henry Heckendorn
Projects Director at Ship Creek Group LLC 

April Goggans
Core Organizer, Black Lives Matter DMV

Moderator -Jamal Watkins
National Outreach Director, Campaigns, AFL-CIO

Session 2: Membership Engagement
This panel will explore how organizations and activists are using civic engagement and collective action to fight plutocracy and move beyond the moment to build a sustainable movement.  

Anastasia Khoo
Chief Marketing Officer, Human Rights Campaign

Ruth Martin
Senior Campaign Director, MomsRising

Greisa Martinez
Advocacy Director, United We Dream Network

Moderator - Michael Silberman   
Global Director, Greenpeace Mobilisation Lab


Democracy Awakening

Larry Cohen
President, Democracy Initiative


Closing Plenary: What’s at stake in 2016? How can we inspire and engage people in the face of our democracy challenges?

Karen Hobert Flynn
Senior Vice President, Common Cause

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