Congressional Summit on Next Generation Leadership

  • Capitol Visitor Center First Street Northeast Washington, DC, 20002 United States

Thank you for attending and supporting our landmark Congressional Summit on Next Generation Leadership on December 2, 2014 which coincided with #GivingTuesday.

All images here are accredited to Liz Gorman Photography

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Event Highlights

From Actress Ashley Judd and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) to Congressional Future Caucus members Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Todd Young (R-IN) and John Delaney (D-MD), we brought together a wide range of leaders to instill a culture of pragmatic cooperation in government.

Over 300 policymakers, entrepreneurs and philanthropists concerned with political polarization came together to forge the next generation of innovative, bipartisan solutions, highlighting the role of public-private partnerships and need for new leadership from Millennials.

MAP Founder and President Steven Olikara welcomed attendees in the Congressional Auditorium with a spirit of optimism for the future.

The headlines in politics are conflict—absolutely. But the trend lines are toward cooperation.
— Steven Olikara

Noting that current levels of political polarization at their highest since Reconstruction and a plurality of Millennials now identify as independent, Olikara said “The future of Congress will be defined by cooperation and collaboration by Millennial leaders…and we must broaden our tent of support.”

Summit participants welcomed a surprising guest, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), to the stage following a bipartisan press conference with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) for a military sexual assault reform bill. In light of this, he said, “I’m driven by data and evidence and what works.”

Cruz answered questions from the audience ranging from human trafficking to the economy, and shared his frustration with gridlock by stating the need to re-open amendments in the Senate to promote bipartisan compromise.

The key to changing the system is the people in this room, our next generation of leaders.
— Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Following Cruz, Olikara moderated a discussion with Reps. Todd Young (R-IN) and John Delaney (D-MD) centered on their bipartisan Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) Act that aims to encourage better outcomes and innovation for government social programs through private sector partnerships.

In response to Olikara’s fun, on-stage experiment where Democrat Rep. John Delaney made the conservative argument for SIBs and Republican Rep. Todd Young made the progressive argument, Delaney said

Our jobs as policymakers should be to identify the best ideas from the right and left and fuse them together.
— Rep. John Delaney (D-MD)

We often think of bipartisanship as splitting the difference between two sides, leaving an unfulfilling result, Olikara said. “The next generation of bipartisanship takes the best ideas from both sides to achieve a better result. You can simultaneously make a conservative and progressive argument for this bill.”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Co-Chair of the Congressional Future Caucus spoke on the importance of relationship building in Congress. She shared the story of when she sent homemade toffee and personalized notes to every member of Congress when she first joined in 2013.

Change happens with true, authentic connections—not transactions.
— Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)

With the Summit coinciding with Giving Tuesday—the cause-driven antidote to Black Friday and Cyber Monday—Rep. Gabbard sponsored a bipartisan Congressional resolution commemorating GivingTuesday as a national day of volunteerism and philanthropy.

Eboo Patel of Interfaith Youth Core at the Congressional Summit on Next Generation Leadership.

Eboo Patel of Interfaith Youth Core at the Congressional Summit on Next Generation Leadership.

Eboo Patel of Interfaith Youth Core closed the morning plenary with a faith-based call-to-action for Millennials in moving the needle on major next generation issues. “The color line, the partisan line and the faith line are all still problems of the 21st century,“ said Patel.

Bridges don’t fall from the sky or rise from the ground. People build them.
— Eboo Patel
Actress Ashley Judd at the Closing Plenary of the Congressional Summit on Next Generation Leadership.

Actress Ashley Judd at the Closing Plenary of the Congressional Summit on Next Generation Leadership.

Following afternoon breakout sessions ranging from “common ground on climate change” to impact investing, Summit participants heard from actress and activist Ashley Judd, who is the Global Ambassador for Population Services International.
 
She spoke to the importance of our “personal narrative as central to why we do what we do in policy and in giving” in telling her story of overcoming hardships and a self-defeating mental state. Noting the contentious nature of the political advocacy work she does, Judd stated,
 

It’s none of my business what other people think of me.
— Ashley Judd
Several James Madison Fellows and State Future Caucus leaders at the Congressional Summit on Next Generation Leadership.

Several James Madison Fellows and State Future Caucus leaders at the Congressional Summit on Next Generation Leadership.

The Summit closed with an inspiring panel featuring “The Next Generation of Post-Partisan Leaders” from MAP’s James Madison Fellowship and State Future Caucus network. 

From left to right in the photo above, Olikara moderated a discussion with California Common Sense’s Autumn Carter; The Franklin Project’s Tara Maller; Mayor Alex Torpey of South Orange, New Jersey; Independent Congressional Candidate Nick Troiano (PA-10); and Representative Dan Pabon of the Colorado Future Caucus. 

Each panelist shared their successes in leading post-partisan initiatives on the state, local and national levels, leaving Summit participants with a moving call-to-action for the next generation of public servants.

In addition to Nexus, Children Uniting Nations, and Millennial Action Project, the Summit and associated events were supported by a diverse set of sponsors and partners including Google, Search for Common Ground, the Information Technology Industry Council, and the United Nations Foundation.