Obama Foundation Summit
Breakout Sessions

Jump to: Block 1 | Block 2 | Block 3 | Block 4

Breakout Block 1 – Oct. 31st, 4:45-6:00pm


The Adventure of Civility

Krista Tippett Founder @ On Being and The Civil Conversation Project
Malka Fenyvesi Director @ The Civil Conversation Project

In this “how to” session, Krista and Malka will share their insights and tips on how to best create spaces for new conversations and relationships with people you don’t agree with. This is about grounding virtues instead of ground rules and speaking together differently in order to live together differently. Session participants will walk away with new ways to find common ground with others and forge diverse and new connections that are important now more than ever.


Getting Women in the Room Where it Happens

Rashida Jones Actress, Writer, and Producer
Manal Al-Sharif Co-Founder @ Women2Drive
Dolores Huerta President and Founder @ Dolores Huerta Foundation
Susan Rice 24th US National Security Advisor, US Ambassador to the UN

From farm workers’ rights to the right to drive, listen to hard-earned wisdom from women who have broken down barriers and pushed for change on the issues they care about. In this session, we’ll discuss what it means for women to take a seat at the table and how they can get others to join once they have.


Civic Tech: What’s Working and What Needs to Change

Christie George Director @ New Media Ventures
Emily Jacobi Founder and Executive Director @ Digital Democracy
Jen Pahlka Founder and Executive Director @ Code for America
Perry Rosenstein Chief Evangelist and Co-Founder @ Hustle
Adrian Reyna Director of Membership & Tech Strategies @ United We Dream

By many measures, civic tech is thriving: unprecedented numbers of people mobilizing and exciting innovations in both tools and strategies. Come hear civic tech pioneers discuss critical questions: How do we sustain momentum? Where do we double down? And, importantly, can we anticipate limitations to maximize civic tech’s true potential?


Media Literacy: How to Get Your Story Straight

Deborah Douglas Senior Leader @ Op-Ed Project
Steve Grove Director @ Google News Lab
Ellen Pack Chief Program Officer @ Common Sense Media
Mimi Pickering Director of Community Media Initiative @ Appalshop

Going online used to offer such promise. It was supposed to help us reach across differences, understand challenging new information, and connect with people from diverse geographic and ideological backgrounds. Instead, we now live in our own bubbles and are easily vulnerable to manipulation. Join this session to discuss news and media literacy in our hyper-connected world, what organizations and platforms are trying to do to strengthen it, and the role each of us plays in improving our digital culture.


Activating Young People for Your Cause

Aria Finger CEO @ DoSomething.org
Royce Mann DoSomething.org Member
Taquari Milton My Brother’s Keeper Boston
Shantenae Robinson Peer Advisor @ Obama Foundation

Myths about GenZ and Millennials are constantly flying around the internet. In this session, we’ll be hosting an interactive discussion with some bonafide GenZ activists, as well as sharing the facts about how DoSomething.org has become an expert in activating this generation (and how you can, too!).


The Art of Seeing People: A Crash Course in Illustrated Journalism

Wendy MacNaughton Artist, Illustrator, and Graphic Journalist

Learn how to tell true stories using hand-drawn images and text from one of the country’s most beloved illustrated journalists (no drawing expertise or experience required!). By learning to really look, we see the world with fresh eyes. People, places, and communities we might overlook gain depth and dimension. Voices we might not otherwise hear gain a platform.


Building Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Emerging Markets

John McIntire Chairman @ Cuba Emprende Foundation
Dash Dhakshinamoorthy Founder @ Startup Malaysia
Tony Elumelu Founder @ Tony Elumelu Foundation
Roya Mahboob CEO and Founder @ Afghan Citadel Software Company
Eddie Thai Venture Partner @ 500 Startups

Entrepreneurship plays a pivotal role in an economy—it is the engine of innovation, economic growth, and job creation. But every country and community has its own social, political, and economic dynamics, which impact its entrepreneurial ecosystem. Hear from five leaders from around the world who have contributed to and shaped entrepreneurial communities in their respective countries—and discover best practices and innovative models that you can take home with you.


Redesigning Civic Education for the 21st Century

Jessie Marshall Director of Civic Engagement @ Chicago Public Schools
Heather Van Benthuysen Civic Education Manager @ Chicago Public Schools
Jamie Curtis Student @ Lindblom High School
Andres Luis Hernandez Artist/Professor @ School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Liz Robbins Teacher @ Brooks High School
Dena Simmons Director of Education @ Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

If we want to be sure that young people are in a position to participate and engage in the civic life of our communities, we should meet them where they are—in our schools. In the absence of high-quality civic education, there’s a tragic gap in young folks’ understanding of how power flows and systems shift. Meet some passionate players who are helping change this reality—and learn how they are opening doors for young people to be more engaged.


Reimagining a Presidential Library: Designing the OPC

Tod Williams Founder @ Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
Billie Tsien Founder @ Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects

Unlike presidential libraries of the past, the Obama Presidential Center will be a destination for collective action. Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, architects for the Obama Presidential Center, will share their vision for the campus—and, around their models, will be soliciting ideas on how you would approach building a space that engages, empowers, and inspires.

Breakout Block 2 – Nov. 1st, 9:45-11:00am


Foundation Design Session: Building Civic Muscle

Aletheia Henry Director of Education @ Obama Foundation
Aria Florant Consultant @ Obama Foundation
Lori Lobenstine Program Design Lead @ DS4SI
Ayako Maruyama Creativity Lab Design Lead @ DS4SI
Jenn Wynn Blended Learning Manager @ Obama Foundation

Join the Obama Foundation’s Education Team for an interactive creativity lab to further shape the Foundation’s programs to inspire, equip, and connect citizens all over the world. Reflect on the moments, people, and experiences that helped you become the civic leader that you are, and share your ideas around how the Obama Foundation can best recreate some of those experiences for the next generation.


Building the Civic Leadership Pipeline

Caroline Kennedy Former US Ambassador to Japan
Pete Buttigieg Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
Abby Falik Founder and CEO @ Global Citizen Year
Fagan Harris President and CEO @ Baltimore Corps
Matteo Renzi Former Prime Minister of Italy

Solving the world’s toughest public problems isn’t easy—it demands immense talent and long-term commitment. And, few talented people choose a career as a civic professional. This session will explore what we should be doing to get passionate, talented, and ambitious young people to dedicate their lives to civic leadership and what tools they’ll need to be effective and fulfilled for the long haul.


Who Narrates the World?

Katie Orenstein Founder and CEO @ Op-Ed Project
Deborah Douglas Senior Leader @ Op-Ed Project

We are all part of a greater narrative and should know how to share our own stories. Exploring the themes of voice and power, this session will engage in a large-group experiment on how individuals can develop credibility in their communities by articulating their perspectives. Participants will walk away with a deeper sense of what they, as well as their peers, know and stand for, and how their voices can shape opinions.


Reimagining Faith and Civic Life in the 21st Century

Aden Van Noppen Resident Fellow @ Harvard Divinity School
Rabbi Sharon Brous Senior and Founding Rabbi @ IKAR
Osa Obaseki Co-founder and Board Chair @ The Sanctuaries
Simran Jeet Singh​ Fellow for Religion in International Affairs @ NYU

Religious affiliation is plummeting, “faith” is politically polarizing, and more people find their communities online than in the pew. There is an urgent need to organize around our shared humanity, and historically, religious institutions were central to this. So, what is the 21st century version of MLK’s “Beloved Community” and how do we get there?


Empowering Women and Girls Around the World

Tina Tchen Former Chief of Staff to Mrs. Obama
Tiffany Drake Director of Global Girls Education @ Civic Nation
Fanny Diego Alvarez Education and Social Work Consultant
Maggie Dunne Founder and Chair of Board @ Lakota Children’s Enrichment
Nusrath Hassan Law Student
Eva Lewis Creator of The I Project and co-founder of Youth for Black Lives
Fiona Mavhinga Director of Development @ Camfed Association
Memory Mumbi Camfed Association Alumni

In a conversation with Tina Tchen, former Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, young women leaders from around the world will describe the successes and setbacks they’ve experienced pursuing the education they deserve. Listen to their personal journeys and the lessons they’ve learned along the way, and help discern what else needs to be done to empower others just like them.


Beyond “Clicktivism”: Mobilizing Communities for Change

Mike Vainisi Head of Editorial @ ATTN
Precious Brady-Davis Deputy Press Secretary @ Sierra Club
Deepti Doshi Director of Community Partnerships @ Facebook
Dayna Geldwert Politics and Government Outreach @ Instagram
Lola Omolola Founder of Female IN (FIN) Facebook group

Instagram and Facebook have given voice to causes around the world. This session explores how civic-minded leaders can use social media to advance the causes they care about and move beyond “clicktivism.” Join this session to hear from tech companies and organizers who are most effectively using their tools. Participants will also have the chance to engage directly with the experts in the room to discuss their own work and social media presence.

Breakout Block 3 – Nov. 1st, 1:45-3:00pm


The Responsibility of Powerful Online Platforms

Anil Dash Technologist
Joan Donovan Media Manipulation Project Lead @ Data & Society
Nabiha Syed Assistant General Counsel @ Buzzfeed

Technology companies wield a lot of power. They have resources, reach, and influence over people’s time and attention. What is their responsibility in fostering a healthy democracy? This breakout session will grapple with questions around how technology platforms and democracy should co-exist, and help participants think beyond their own personal tech footprint and about how technology as a whole is shaping the ways in which we think and act.


The Race Card Project: What’s YOUR Story?

Michele Norris Founding Director @ The Race Card Project
Melissa Bear Associate Director @ The Race Card Project
Amrit Dhillon Associate Director of Strategic Comms @ The Race Card Project

Race. Gender. Sexual orientation. Identity. These hot-button topics have fueled a global discussion on what it means to be who you are. In this session, participants will explore how these issues impact how they live, the places they go, and the people they know.


Stepping Up In Times of Crisis: Heroines of the Opioid Epidemic

Elaine McMillion Sheldon Heroin(e) Documentary Filmmaker
Necia Freeman Realtor
Patricia Keller Family Court Judge in the Sixth Family Court Circuit
Jan Rader Fire Chief of Huntington, West Virginia
Kerrin Sheldon Heroin(e) Documentary Co-Producer and Director of Photography

The opioid crisis has been making headlines as a public health issue with no end in sight. This session will screen Heroin(e), a documentary about three women—a first responder, a judge, and a missionary—who are fighting the crisis in a West Virginia city with an overdose rate ten times the national average. Afterwards, the filmmaker, who helped document their efforts, will lead the discussion about the decisions they made to stand up for empathy and save lives.


The Role of Fiction to Expand Our Civic Imagination

Courtney E. Martin Author of The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream
Adrienne Maree Brown Co-Editor of Octavia’s Brood
Angie Thomas Author of #1 New York Times bestseller The Hate U Give

Listen to one of the country’s most beloved afro-futurists and the breakout star of young adult fiction speak about their experiences using fiction to expand people’s hearts and minds. Learn how they’ve used words to paint new worlds in what can often feel like a violent, disconnected time, and how you can, too.


Those Who Tell the Stories Rule Society

Ashley Allen, Chicago Training Day Organizer @ Obama Foundation
Obama Foundation Peer Advisors

Plato said “Those who tell the stories, rule society.” Everyone has a story worth telling that could impact society. Hear how Ashley Allen was inspired to use her story of battling homelessness to influence Chicago Public School students—and participate in an exercise from the Obama Foundation’s first-ever Training Day that encourages participants to share their stories too.


Organizing and Operating at Scale

David Plouffe Former Campaign Manager @ Obama for America
Amanda Nguyen Founder and CEO @ Rise
Rachel Stephens Director of Community @ Crisis Text Line

In the digital age, large groups of people have the power to enact change without ever being near or getting to know each other. This session will bring together leaders who are working to build and sustain communities digitally to explore the benefits and pitfalls that come with uniting in common purpose with strangers to fulfill a broader mission.


Foundation Design Session:
Design the Obama Foundation Interdisciplinary Civic Lab

Amanda Kloer Program Evaluation Manager @ Obama Foundation
Sarah Kleinman Deputy Chief Program Officer @ Obama Foundation

Help the Obama Foundation design its future hub for research, data, and evidence-driven practices in civic engagement. Participants will share their biggest challenges and most innovative solutions around maximizing impact at scale, evaluating programs, and implementing best practices, as well as meet people from different disciplines who are passionate about evidence-driven practice.


Foundation Design Session:
Activating Emerging Global Leaders

Ben Rhodes Chief International Advisor @ Obama Foundation
Sarah Heck International Consultant @ Obama Foundation
Bernadette Meehan ED of International Programs @ Obama Foundation
Peter Rundlet Director of International Strategy @ Obama Foundation
Nimi Uberoi International Affairs Analyst @ Obama Foundation

The Obama Foundation is going global! The International Team of the Obama Foundation is currently creating programs to inspire, empower, and connect the next generation of leaders from around the world who are committed to building strong, prosperous communities. We encourage international attendees in particular to come to this dynamic and active design workshop to contribute your ideas and expertise to help us build our global programs.


Foundation Design Session:
Designing the Next Chapter for My Brother’s Keeper Alliance

Michael Smith Director of My Brother’s Keeper @ Obama Foundation
Jaime Guzman Manager of Chicago Youth Opportunity @ Obama Foundation

President Obama is no longer in office, but his My Brother’s Keeper initiative finds itself at a critical juncture. Join us to discuss the next chapter of this groundbreaking initiative to improve the lives of boys and young men of color. You’ll not only learn where we’ve been and where we’re going, but you’ll also help design solutions to some of the barriers that stand in the way of our success.

Breakout Block 4 – Nov. 1st, 3:30-4:45pm


Play is Serious: Connecting with Embodied Intelligence

Gina Barnett TED mainstage speaker, coach and author of Play the Part

Thinking. Communicating. Collaborating. These skills are contingent on our ability to play. Play asks us to invent, imagine, risk, and contribute. In a completely safe, non-judgemental environment, this workshop will employ tried and true theater games, improvisation techniques and fun physical exercises to reveal how powerfully play can be employed for problem solving, innovation, perspective shift, and impactful communication. Comfortable attire required–this session involves physical movement.


Foundation Design Session:
Designing an Innovative Museum

Louise Bernard Museum Director @ Obama Foundation
Aki Carpenter Design Director @ Ralph Appelbaum Associates
Melanie Ide Principal @ Ralph Appelbaum Associates

Walking into a museum for the first time, patrons rarely think about what goes into capturing dynamic histories in static buildings–especially from the ground up. Join the Museum design team for the Obama Presidential Center to discuss what it takes to build a living, breathing, social and cultural institution, from artifacts and storytelling to digital ecosystems and place-making. We’re looking for great suggestions and big ideas to contribute to our design process.


Foundation Design Session:
Digital Outreach Brainstorm

Glenn Brown Chief Digital Officer @ Obama Foundation
Leslie Miley Executive in Residence @ Venture for America
Valerie Jarrett Former Senior Advisor to President Obama

More than ever before, organizations are measuring their success based off their digital footprints. At the Obama Foundation, digital outreach is core to our mission of inspiring people to change their worlds. In this session, help us think up ways we can use the digital tools we have to empower and activate people to drive progress around the world.


Old Guard, New Guard: What Should Movements Look Like Today?

Mia Henry Executive Director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership @ Kalamazoo College
Arisha Hatch Managing Director of Campaigns @ Color of Change
Lorella Praeli Director of Immigration Policy & Campaigns @ ACLU
Fannie Rushing Professor @ Benedictine University
Urvashi Vaid Interim Executive Director @ LPAC, the national lesbian SuperPAC

The tactics and tools of movement building have changed over the decades but so many of the core strategies stand the test of time. What can new movements learn from the older generation? What can wise elders and traditional organizations gain from young, “hungry” changemakers? Learn from dynamic movement builders of all ages and stages on how we unite the best of both approaches to accelerate impact.


Imagining the Future of Civics: The Artists Speak

Gabriella Gomez-Mont Founder and Director @ Laboratorio Para la Ciudad
Raúl Cárdenas Founder and Director @ Torolab
Aaron Huey Founder @ Amplifier.org and National Geographic photographer
Bahia Shehab Lebanese-Egyptian Artist and Historian

Creativity starts movements, speaks the unspeakable, and makes reality malleable. This session will gather artists from different countries to speak about public life from a creative perspective. Leave with a deeper sense of how the arts can complement civic life and how creative revolutions can function alongside civic transformation.


On Being Podcast Live Taping

Krista Tippett Founder @ On Being and The Civil Conversation Project
Anand Giridharadas Writer, Author, Journalist
Whitney Kimball Coe Director @ National Rural Assembly

The story of our time that is told in the headlines of yesterday, today, and tomorrow is one of anger and decay. But below that radar of decay, and across our country, there are citizens mending the human connective tissue of our life together with social courage and wisdom, and so creating the common life we want to inhabit. Krista will lead Anand and Whitney in a conversation about their insights from front lines of reaching out across our social, economic, political and religious chasms, and the lessons we can carry back into our own relationships and communities.


Equity and Inclusivity: Doing the Work from Wherever You Are

Brittany Packnett VP of National Community Alliances @ Teach for America
Timothy Anne Burnside Curatorial Museum Specialist @ National Museum of African American History and Culture
Sanford Johnson Deputy Director @ Mississippi First

Liberation and true equity can’t be achieved with a stale, static playbook. Come to this session to explore and learn to apply lessons from the most compelling social movements to your own work. Whether you’re working from within or outside of institutions, in rural or urban settings, professionally or as private citizens, participants will learn how to bring an equity and inclusion framework to all that they do.


Make Change Like Harriet Tubman

T. Morgan Dixon Co-Founder and CEO @ GirlTrek
Vanessa Garrison Co-Founder and COO @ GirlTrek

Want to find out how a national health and safety revolution was sparked? Come learn how two friends used the story of Harriet Tubman to mobilize a health movement that is catching fire in neighborhoods across America and being touted in the New York Times and on TED.com. Take a step out of the conference center and into the streets of Chicago, to learn the four steps of the Harriet Tubman Doctrine for Changemaking.


Catalyzing Environmental Action Around the World

Aaron Koch Former Chief Resilience Officer @ City of Chicago
Olga Bautista Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke
Catherine Constantinides Co-Founder @ Generation Earth
Haneen Khalid Founder @ Progressive Youth Alliance

How can we make earth cooler, greener, more equitable? Learn about how one community of local advocates organized to ban a deadly toxin in the neighborhood, how youth are rising up all over Pakistan to fight for environmental protections, and how climate change activists around the world are coming together, trading tactics, solutions, and providing each other with moral support.