THE STATE SUMMIT IS A MAINSTAY IN PROGRESSIVE ORGANIZING. This event brings hundreds of state and national experts to Washington, DC for two days of strategizing, networking and energizing for the road ahead.

Note: The America Votes State Summit 2016 is not open to the press. Press may contact America Votes here.

February 16, 2016

11:00 am – 4:30 pm

Registrant Check-In Open

11:30 am

Lunch Served

12:00 pm – 12:45 pm

America Votes State Summit 2016: Building Broad Progressive Victories

Featuring Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund

For over a dozen years, America Votes has served as the coordination hub of the progressive community. America Votes’ ongoing leadership and coordination of allies, especially in the states, is a cornerstone of driving strategies tailored to the moment and connected to long-term goals. In this opening session, Sara Schreiber (America Votes) and Greg Speed (America Votes) will discuss what to expect over the next two days and connect our agenda to the critical tasks in 2016 and beyond. Planned Parenthood Action Fund President and America Votes Founding President Cecile Richards will then kick off the State Summit with a look back at how far America Votes has come over the last 13 years, the critical role of AV allies and where we are headed together.

12:45 pm – 1:45 pm

A Look at the 2016 Landscape

Understanding where the electorate stands is critical to plotting the course forward. What do we know about the mood of the 2016 electorate and key constituencies? What are effective strategies to engage critical components of the progressive coalition, including New American Majority voters and the white working class in critical states? Leading strategists Anna Greenberg (Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research) and Mike Podhorzer (AFL-CIO) will discuss important data on voters’ current attitudes, voter enthusiasm and strategic imperatives for AV partners’ programs. After, Jessica Laurenz (America Votes-North Carolina) and Gihan Perera (New Florida Majority) will give an overview of programs and strategic planning in two critical battleground states.

1:45 pm – 2:00 pm


2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Breakout Sessions: Strategies to Engage the 2016 Electorate

Progressive Messages That Move Voters

What are effective strategies to translate progressive issues into voting issues? This session will look at successful state-focused efforts to move voters through messaging. The economy, gun violence prevention and climate protection are sure to be top issues in the 2016 election, and panelists will explore how to connect with and spur voters into action using tested messaging on these topics. Speakers include Sky Gallegos (NextGen Climate), Lonnie Scott (Progress Michigan, ProgressNow), Kate Snyder (Snyder Strategies), and Hayley Zachary (Americans for Responsible Solutions).

Breaking the Ballot “Roll Off” Pattern

While progressive voters turned out in high numbers for the top races in 2008 and 2012, too many “rolled-off” before casting votes for critical legislative seats and initiatives down ballot. This structural disadvantage continually plagues our ability to maximize the impact of high presidential turnout in the states. During this session, panelists will discuss what we know about the roll-off voting phenomenon and what are some of the best practices – and worst practices – to address it. Speakers include Kellie Dupree (Ballot Initiative Strategy Center), Genny Mayhew (AFL-CIO), Jonathan Robinson (Catalist), and Dr. Daniel Smith (University of Florida Research Foundation, ElectionSmith).

Voter Registration: The First Step for a Stronger Democracy

The United States is in the midst of significant demographic changes, and shaping a new electorate to reflect the diversity of our country is both a critical challenge and opportunity for progressives. This session will provide an overview of the voter registration landscape nationwide while highlighting best practices in voter registration research, program implementation and infrastructure coordination at the state level. Speakers include Alexis Anderson-Reed (State Voices), Francisco Heredia (Mi Familia Vota), Theo Luebke (America Votes-North Carolina), Sarah Michelsen (Arizona Wins), and Aaron Strauss (Analyst Institute).

3:00 pm – 3:15 pm


3:15 pm – 4:30 pm

Engaging the New American Majority

In 2008 and 2012, the so-called “Obama coalition” of non-white, millennial and unmarried women voters exhibited enormous power. The tremendous turnout and support of these voters delivered two presidential victories, and continued demographic growth could make these blocs the outright majority of voters for first time in 2016. But there are numerous indicators that the New American Majority has become disaffected, and we need a deeper understanding of how to engage them in 2016 and the years to come. In this session, leading analysts and strategists will assess America’s shifting demographics and strategies for effective engagement of this potentially ascendant progressive coalition. Speakers include Brandon Davis (SEIU), Cietta Kiandoli (Black Civic Engagement Action Fund), Gabriel Sanchez (University of New Mexico, Latino Decisions), and Ruy Teixeira (The Century Foundation, Center for American Progress).

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Impacting Redistricting: A Look at Year 2 of the Six-Year Strategy

Conservatives’ lock on Congress and three-quarters of state legislative chambers has demonstrated the overriding importance of winning back progressive power before the next round of redistricting. Over the last year, progressive groups have sharpened their focus on impacting redistricting in key states and begun approaching their work through a long-term lens. This session will detail the scope of the redistricting challenge and electoral targets across states, and discuss how organizations are incorporating redistricting into their short and long-term planning. The session will conclude with a look at how all of this work comes together in one state’s long-term strategic plan. Speakers include Bubba Scott Nunnery (America Votes), Jessica Post (Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee), Khaled Salehi (America Votes-Ohio), and Muthoni Wambu Kraal (EMILY’s List).

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

2016 Cecile Richards Progressive Leader Award Reception

Honoring Ellen R. Malcolm, EMILY’s List Founder & America Votes Co-Founder

Location: International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 25 Louisiana Ave NW (near Union Station, Metro Red Line)

State Summit 2016 credentials are required in order to attend this event. 


February 17, 2016

8:30 am – 1:00 pm:

Registrant Check-In Open

8:30 am:

Breakfast Served

9:00 am – 9:30 am

Day 2 Kick-Off: What’s At Stake in the States

9:30 am – 10:15 am

Advancements in Progressive Coordination

Issue and electoral campaign coordination has come a long way since progressives started working together through America Votes in 2003. This session will give an overview of the new, better-than-ever practices of coordination using state examples, and kick off the next round of breakout sessions that will take a deeper look at coordination across the states this year and in the years to come. Speakers include Seth Johnson (AFSCME, Chair of America Votes Board of Directors) and Paula Hodges (America Votes-New Hampshire).

10:15 am – 10:30 am


10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Breakout Sessions: Cross-State Challenges and Opportunities

Leadership Pipelines 2.0: Best Practices for Building Future Leaders

At the last State Summit, several states came together to discuss how leadership pipelines were getting off the ground to build a stronger base of activists and potential candidates. This session will take a closer look at leadership pipeline programs across states one year later. What has worked so far, and how have these programs impacted issue and electoral campaigns? Speakers include Misha Barnes (LEAD Ohio), Jessica Byrd (Three Point Strategies), Alissa Haslam (Win/Win Action), Kara Hollingsworth (Wellstone Action), and Lisa Prosienski (Maine Votes).

Leveraging Partnerships for Innovative Programs

America Votes’ state tables have built cross-partner programs to tackle all levels of the ballot, leveraging resources and learning from program experiments together. This session will highlight how state partners have collaborated in innovative ways to be more successful at the ballot box and develop future strategies. Speakers include Steve Kwaterski (AFL-CIO Wisconsin), Chris Laslovich (Montana Votes,), Dave McGonagle (America Vote-Minnesota), Marci McLean (Montana Native Vote), Tim Stanley (Planned Parenthood MN, ND, SD Action Fund), and Mitch Wallace (America Votes-Wisconsin).

Reality Check: Multi-Cycle Programs for Rebuilding Progressive Power

In many states – especially those hard hit by conservative gerrymanders – the reality of the political environment means real progressive change will take several cycles of hard work. How do progressives effectively build and sustain a multi-cycle approach? This session will look at how several state tables set long-term goals, agree on timelines, collaborate under duress and design paths to victory. Speakers include Caitlin Fishman (Florida Alliance), John Keserich (Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan), Jessica Laurenz (America Votes-North Carolina), Sarah Michelsen (Arizona Wins), Mary Shull (America Votes-Pennsylvania), and Sari Stevens (Planned Parenthood PA Advocates, Association & PAC).

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Working With New Voting Laws

Major changes to election laws and voting procedures have swept across the states in recent years. How do progressives adjust to these changing environments – both good and bad? This session will look at efforts to improve access to the ballot box, and how progressives are adapting their programs to the new rules. Speakers include Shehn Datta (Democracy Alliance), Cliff Davy (America Votes-Florida), Paula Hodges (America Votes-New Hampshire), Courtney Mills (State Voices), Jayson Sime (America Votes-Colorado), and Nick Voges (America Votes-New Mexico).

12:00 pm – 12:30 pm

Lunch Served

12:30 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch Speaker: Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-5, Progressive Caucus Co-Chair)

Voting is both a fundamental right and an essential means for progressives making change. U.S. Representative Keith Ellison is a foremost progressive leader in Congress, and a leading national advocate for voting rights and robust voter engagement.

1:00 pm – 1:45 pm

An Analyst’s Perspective on a Very Interesting Year

Featuring Amy Walter, National Editor, The Cook Political Report

The 2016 campaign has been a wild ride so far. What can we expect in the coming weeks and months? America Votes is happy to welcome back leading analyst Amy Walter (The Cook Political Report) for an outside observer’s take on the ongoing fight for delegates, looming races for the White House and control of the U.S. Senate.

1:45 pm – 2:45 pm

Know Thy Enemy

Our opponents on the Right are seeing the same data on changing demographics and the growing importance of direct engagement through grassroots and digital organizing. The Koch network and their conservative allies are planning unprecedented investments to cement their extreme agenda across the country. With so much at stake, progressives need to understand their plans – and begin an organized response. Speakers include Cristóbal Alex (Latino Victory Project), Jenna Fullmer (The Accountability Project, The Organizing Group), Rodell Mollineau, and Eddie Vale (American Bridge 21st Century).

2:45 pm – 3:00 pm


3:00 pm – 4:15 pm

Breakout Sessions: Staying Ahead of the Curve & Changing the Game

Good, Clean Fun: Taking Election Reforms to the Ballot

While the Koch network is committed to spending $889 million in the 2016 elections, it is no wonder that a record number of Americans believe the game is rigged and voters’ frustration is at an all time high. This session will look at opportunities to begin leveling the playing field by enacting sound election policy through the initiative process. Panelists will cover the latest research and messaging on clean elections reform, how one successful clean elections campaign was organized, and how this issue permeates so many of our shared priorities as progressives.  Speakers include Celinda Lake (Lake Research Partners), John Loredo (Arizona Donor Collaborative), Greg Moore (NAACP National Voter Fund), Lisa Prosienski (Maine Votes), and Jeff Robinson (Every Voice).

Breaking Through the Clutter: Maximizing Program Investments to Find Our Voters

The global state of polling and data-driven targeting is shifting at a dramatic pace. Recognizing traditional research will continue to play a significant role in campaign strategy, many questions remain as to how best to integrate survey data, new modeling and other targeting techniques to help progressives find and communicate with key blocs of voters and activists. Speakers include Meghan Gaffney Buck (VEDA Data Solutions), Patrick Schuh (America Votes-Michigan), Jill Simkin (Catalist), and David Winkler (Project New America).

Testing Our Assumptions: The New Tools & Tactics of Communication

Media consumption is rapidly evolving, and voters are increasingly difficult to reach through traditional communication channels. As the efficacy of mass communication shrinks, it is increasingly important to use direct, individualized communication and build an on-going dialogue through long-term organizing. How do we adjust our programs to be effective in this increasingly fractured communications environment? And with so many expensive new products and services available, how do we assess what works and the most effective mix of innovative techniques and tactics? Speakers include Justin Burchard (Blue Door Strategies), Charlie Kelly (House Majority PAC), Matt Morrison (Working America), and Annie Wang (Analyst Institute).

4:15 pm – 4:30 pm


4:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Bringing It Home: Key Insights & Getting to Work in the States

After two days of in-depth discussions about the work ahead of us, what are some of the most critical priorities and insights to take back to the states? The State Summit will wrap up with a report out from attendees about what we’ve learned and the most critical goals of our work moving forward. Participants will take part in a real-time observation and discussion of what lies ahead at the state level in the coming year.

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Closing Happy Hour Sponsored by EveryAction

Location: Baby Wale, 1124 9th St. NW (across from the convention center)

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