Ripon Society Hosts Legislative and Communications Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of nearly 200 top House Republican policy and communications aides gathered this past Friday at the historic home of our Nation’s first President for The Ripon Society’s 2012 Legislative and Communications Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon. According to Ripon Society President & CEO Jim Conzelman, the purpose of the symposium was to provide Legislative and Communications Directors with briefings on some of the key challenges facing our Nation and the House majority this year.

“As someone who spent 25 years as a Chief of Staff on Capitol Hill,” stated Conzelman, the longtime Chief of Staff to former Ohio Congressman Mike Oxley, in remarks to the aides to open the symposium, “I know first-hand how important it is to have a good policy and communications operation in each congressional office. I also understand how those who work and manage that operation are often squeezed for time trying to get the job done.

“One of our goals today is to give you an opportunity to step back and look at some of the more critical aspects of your job. From dealing with adversity in a volatile political environment to leading and mentoring younger members of your staff, your responsibilities in all likelihood are not only increasing, but are growing more varied with each and every day. Our hope is that today’s symposium will help make those responsibilities a little bit easier when you return to the office next week.

“At the same time, by meeting here at Mount Vernon, we also hope to remind you of the historical significance of your job. You are walking in the footsteps of George Washington – which is not something you’ll read about on Twitter, but is something worth remembering today.”

The agenda for The Ripon Society’s 2012 Legislative and Communications Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon this past Friday, Feb. 10th, included:

  • “From the Hall of Fame to the Halls of Congress” – address by The Honorable Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association, former U.S. Representative and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

  • “Perspectives on Adversity” — presentation by Bryan Anderson, author of “No Turning Back: One Man’s Inspiring True Story of Courage, Determination, and Hope.”

  • “Crisis 101: Preparing for Adversity in a Volatile Political Year” — whether it’s a controversial quote or an unpopular vote, when a negative story erupts, do you know what to do? A panel of policy pros and communications veterans share their thoughts on the keys to crisis management, the importance of getting ahead of the story, and why getting back and staying on message requires a combination of both substance and spin. Panelists: Torie Clarke, Senior Advisor, Comcast & former Spokesperson, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Michele Davis, Managing Partner, Brunswick Group & Former Policy Director, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson; Rich Galen, Owner, Barrington Worldwide, LLC & Former Spokesman, Newt Gingrich; and, Kevin Madden, Executive Vice President, Public Affairs, JDA Frontline & former Spokesman, Mitt Romney.

  • “Lessons on Leadership” – Keynote Address by The Honorable Bob McDonnell, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

  • “The Enduring Revolution and the Politics of Today” – presentation on the media’s role in the policymaking process and the impact that 24/7 news coverage has had on politics today. Also, a look at how the Republican class of 2010 compares with the class of 1994. Speaker: Major Garrett , White House correspondent for National Journal and author of the 2004 book on the Republican Class of 1994, The Enduring Revolution.

  • “The 2012 Political Landscape” – presentation examining the forces and issues that will shape the political environment next year and how these forces and issues will impact the debate in Washington and campaigns around the country. Speakers: Ed Goeas, President and CEO of The Tarrance Group; and, Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners.

  • “12 for ‘12” – staff leaders from four key congressional committees discuss 12 upcoming pieces of legislation that will not only help create jobs and spur economic growth, but provide Republicans with a positive vision to present and discuss this year. Speakers: Jim Coon, Chief of Staff of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; Jim Clinger, Chief of Staff of the Financial Services Committee; Mike Bloomquist, General Counsel of the Energy and Commerce Committee; and, Sage Eastman, Strategy and Public Affairs Director of the Ways and Means Committee.

  • “A Discussion with Leadership Staff” — Panelists: Barry Jackson, Chief of Staff for Speaker of the House John Boehner; Steve Stombres, Chief of Staff for Majority Leader Eric Cantor; Tim Berry, Chief of Staff for Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy; and Dee Buchanan, Chief of Staff of the House Republican Conference.

  • Closing Remarks – Susan Magill, Vice President of Advancement at Historic Mount Vernon, George Washington’s Estate and Gardens, and former Chief of Staff to Senator John Warner (R-VA).

A photo gallery from The Ripon Society’s 2012 Legislative and Communications Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon can be viewed by clickinghere

Conzelman noted that this is the second year The Ripon Society has hosted a Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon for top House Republican aides. Last year’s symposium was held on February 4th.

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.