Ripon Society Hosts Legislative Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The top legislative aides for nearly 100 House Republicans met yesterday at the estate of our Nation’s first President for The Ripon Society’s first annual Legislative Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon. According to Jim Conzelman, the President & CEO of The Ripon Society, the purpose of the symposium was to provide Legislative Directors with briefings on some of the key challenges facing our Nation — and the new Republican majority — in the coming year.

“As someone who spent over 25 years on the Hill as a chief of staff, I know how important your position is to the success of a Congressional office, ” stated Conzelman, the longtime chief of staff to former Ohio Congressman Mike Oxley, in remarks to the LDs to open the symposium. “Your job is to anticipate, communicate and execute your boss’s priorities, while at the same time mastering every issue that comes across his or her desk. You’ve got committees to worry about, constituents to please, and, in all likelihood, at least one or two legislative aides who are your responsibility. In short, you’ve got your hands full.

“Our goal today is to hopefully make your job a little easier. Nearly every speaker or panelist today has walked in your shoes in that they have worked in a Congressional office and know the challenges you face. Our hope is that you walk away this afternoon with some insight or information that will help you as you meet these challenges down the road. At the same time, by meeting here at Mount Vernon, we also hope to remind you of the historical significance of the task in which you are engaged. You are walking in the footsteps of Washington — which is not something you’re likely to read about on Twitter, but is something worth remembering today.”

The topics and speakers featured in The Ripon Society’s Legislative Directors Symposium on Leadership included:

  • “George Washington’s Leadership Lessons” – featuring an address by James Rees, the President of Mount Vernon.
  • “How Policy Drives Politics” — featuring an address by Ed Gillespie, former Counselor to President Bush and currently the CEO of Ed Gillespie Strategies.
  • “A Clever Title is Not Enough” — featuring a panel discussion on effective legislative communication in a competitive political environment and rapidly changing new media world featuring: Torie Clarke, former Pentagon spokeswoman and current Senior Advisor of Communications and Government Relations at Comcast; John Feehery, former spokesman for the Speaker of the House and current President of Quinn Gillespie Communications; Matt Lira, the Director of New Media for Majority Leader Eric Cantor; and, Dan Mattoon, former Deputy Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee and current President of Mattoon & Associates.
  • “A View From The Media” — featuring Luke Russert, Capitol Hill Correspondent for NBC News.
  • “Working with Leadership Offices” – featuring a panel discussion with: Tim Berry, Chief of Staff for the House Majority Whip; Hugh Halpern, Staff Director of the House Committee on Rules; Michael Sommers, Deputy Chief of Staff for the Speaker of the House; and, Steve Stombres, Chief of Staff for the House Majority Leader.
  • “Channeling The Energy” — featuring an address on the Tea Party and the current Congress by Dick Armey, former House Majority Leader and currently the Chairman of FreedomWorks.
  • “Get Me My Legislative Director!” – featuring a discussion on what Members of Congress need – and expect — from their LDs with former House Members (and husband and wife): Bill Paxon, currently a Senior Advisor at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld; and, Susan Molinari, currently the President of Susan Molinari Strategies and a member of the Ripon Society’s Honorary Congressional Advisory Board.

A photo gallery from The Ripon Society’s 2011 Legislative Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon can be viewed by clicking here.

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.