2014 Congressional Summit on Next Generation Leadership

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

From Actress Ashley Judd and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) to Congressional Future Caucus members Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Aaron Schock (R-IL), 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. 

Couldn’t join us in person? We’ve made it easy for you to catch up:

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,” Olikara said, noting that current levels of political polarization at their highest since Reconstruction and a plurality of Millennials now identify as independent. “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, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), to the stage following a bipartisan press conference with Democratic 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. Cruz pledged that “the key to changing the system is the people in this room, our next generation of leaders.”

Following Cruz, Olikara moderated a discussion with Future Caucus Congressmen 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.

“Our jobs as policymakers should be to identify the best ideas from the right and left and fuse them together,” said Rep. Delaney in response to Olikara’s fun, on-stage experiment where Democratic John Delaney made the conservative argument for SIBs and Republican Todd Young made the progressive argument. 

“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, Co-Chair of the Congressional Future Caucus spoke on the importance of relationship building in Congress. “Change happens with true, authentic connections—not transactions,” said Gabbard who remarked that she sent homemade toffee and personalized notes to every member of Congress when she first joined in 2013. She proudly spoke of her working relationship with Future Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Aaron Schock as being rooted in a friendship that grew out of early morning gym workouts.

Gabbard embraced Congressman Aaron Schock in a big hug as he took to the podium and encouraged Millennials to engage in politics. “There aren’t consequences in the political world for neglecting young people,” Schock said of traditional Washington thinking. “But the times have changed. Millennials are now the largest demographic in America.” In discussing the importance of bipartisan cooperation, Schock said, “There is nothing worse than having power and doing nothing about it.”

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

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.”

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.”

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; civic entrepreneur 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. 


Click here to view more photos from the Summit.

Visit our Summit website for more details about the event.