Ripon Society Hosts 2013 Legislative and Communications Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of over 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 2013 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 top aide to former Congressman Mike Oxley, in remarks to the staff members to open the symposium, “I understand 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 decisions we face as a majority, and some of the choices you face in your career. From expanding our political base to expanding your professional network, our hope is that today’s symposium will provide you with information that is beneficial to your decision-making in the coming year.

“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 Washington, which is easy to forget in this age of Twitter and Facebook, but is worth considering while you are here today.”

The agenda for The Ripon Society’s 2013 Legislative and Communications Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon featured Keynote Addresses by former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who shared their own lessons on leadership and discussed the challenges facing America — and the Republican Party — in the coming years. The agenda also included:

• “Beyond the 47 Percent” — with the American electorate changing, a panel of political pros and veteran communicators discuss how Republicans can use the principles that unite the party to broaden the party’s base, and the tactics and strategies that can be put in place to help achieve that goal. Panelists: Kim Alfano, President & CEO of Alfano Communications; Alex Castellanos, Founding Partner of Purple Strategies; Mark McKinnon, Senior Advisor at Hill Knowlton Strategies and co-founder of No Labels; and, Robert Traynham, D.C. Bureau Chief for Comcast. Moderator – Maria Cino, former Deputy Chairman of the RNC and currently the Vice President for Americas and U.S. Government Relations at HP.

• “A Discussion with Leadership Chiefs of Staff” — the top aides for the House Majority discuss the political environment on Capitol Hill and goals for House Republicans this year. Panelists: Mike Sommers, Chief of Staff for Speaker John Boehner; Steve Stombres, Chief of Staff for Majority Leader Eric Cantor; Tim Berry, Chief of Staff for Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy; and, Jeremy Deutsch, Staff Director of the House Republican Conference.

• “Policy Priorities for 2013” — the policy directors for the House Republican Leadership discuss the legislative agenda for the coming year. Panelists: Brett Loper, Deputy Chief of Staff for Speaker Boehner; Neil Bradley, Deputy Chief of Staff for Majority Leader Cantor; Steve Pinkos, Policy Director and General Counsel for Majority Whip McCarthy; and, Kim Betz, Policy Director for the House Republican Conference.

• “Life After the Hill” — a group of veteran Washington hands discuss the importance of professional development and career planning by congressional staff. Panelists: John Feehery, President of Quinn Gillespie Communications and Director of QGA Government Affairs; Nels Olson, Vice Chairman and Co-Leader of Korn/Ferry International’s Board & CEO Services Practice; John Sampson, Director of Federal Government Affairs for Microsoft Corporation; and, Gregg Ward, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for United Technologies. Moderator – Leigh Ann Pusey, President and CEO of the American Insurance Association.

A photo gallery from The Ripon Society’s 2013 Legislative and Communications Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon can be viewed by clicking here.

Conzelman noted that this is the third year The Ripon Society has hosted a Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon for top House Republican aides. He also noted that Curtis G. Viebranz, the President & CEO of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, welcomed the aides to this year’s event and presented them with an update on the new Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, which is scheduled to open this fall and announced its first class of seven fellows last month.

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.