Reimagining Disruption: Emerging Opportunities to Reboot our Public Discourse

Technology has delivered us into an era that allows information to be accessed and shared like never before, yet America is fractured; the collision of opinions and unwillingness to compromise has led to finger-pointing and name-calling. The public is polarized, our politics are paralyzed, and too often the media serves to inflame rather than inform. On the national stage, opinion and optics trump experience and fact, and the players benefit more from conflict than compromise.

Reimagining Disruption, led by GW’s Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM), will bring together former and current elected officials, political professionals, corporate executives, and academic thought-leaders to discuss the future of political communication. This two-day, knowledge-sharing symposium will focus on the applicability of the latest tools, tactics, and techniques that have been used successfully in consumer marketing and advertising. It will also consider the consequences of a wide variety of political reforms that are promoted as solutions to polarization and gridlock. Envisioned as professional development for practitioners, our goal for this event is to spark positive political dialogue across the aisle and restore sportsmanship to politics.

The conference incorporates two existing GSPM lecture series, the Paul O’Dwyer Lecture and the Manatt/Fahrenkopf Lecture Series Dialogue, as well as partnering with the George Washington University School of Business to co-host the 2018 Blackburn Lecture.  

A partial list of participants includes:

Paul O’Dwyer Lecture, Wednesday February 28, 5:30PM-7:30PM:

Former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D-MD)

Former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL)

Manatt/Fahrenkopf Lecture Series Dialogue Thursday March 1, 12:00PM-1:30PM:

Former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS)

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD)

Former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

Former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) (invited)

Blackburn Lecture Thursday March 1, 6:15PM-8:00PM:

Mark Penn, President and Founder of Stagwell

Mitch Semel, Founder of Semel Media

Charlotte Blank, Chief Behavioral Officer at Maritz

Derrick Johnson, President of the NAACP (invited)


In addition to these marquee lectures, a day-long series of breakout panel discussions will discuss the ways in which technology, communications, and advocacy platforms and strategies can be used to improve the tone of public discourse, elevate civility, and foster bipartisan solutions. A full list of panels and participants is available on the Reimagining Disruption website.  

GSPM is joined in this endeavor by a host of sponsors and partners for this event that range from multinational corporations, to labor unions, to leading public affairs firms, political consultancies, and professional societies. A full list of sponsors and partners is available on the Reimagining Disruption website.