Explore the agenda and detailed session descriptions for Day 1 and 2 of SSN's 2024 National Convening. All times are in EST.

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Day 1: Monday, June 3rd

10:00am - 12:00pm Registration & Welcome Table Outside of Grand Ballroom
Visit the registration table to receive your name badge, our agenda for the next couple of days, and any other information you might need to have a successful SSN National Convening.
12:00pm - 1:00pm Lunch & State of SSN Grand Ballroom
Grab lunch and head to regional tables to meet fellow SSN members and leaders in your area who you can continue to connect with locally after the convening. Then, hear an update on the state of the Scholars Strategy Network from our Executive Director, Paola Maynard-Moll.
1:00pm - 2:30pm Plenary: The State of American Democracy Grand Ballroom
Delve into a thought-provoking discussion on the state of American democracy with a distinguished panel of leading scholars. Gain insights into the diverse ways in which institutions are responding to the challenges posed by the current political climate. Panelists will explore topics such as the role of political parties, the rural-urban political divide, and the health of our electoral system.

Facilitator: Deondra Rose, Duke University
Darrick Hamilton, The New School
Larry Jacobs, University of Minnesota
Suzanne Mettler, Cornell University
Theda Skocpol, Harvard University and Scholars Strategy Network
2:30pm - 3:00pm Break
Take a break before going to the location of your chosen breakout session.
3:00pm - 4:00pm Breakout Session: Lessons from the Fight for an Expanded Child Tax Credit Latrobe Room
Although child poverty was cut in half with the temporarily expanded Child Tax Credit put in place during the pandemic, Congress failed to reauthorize this research-backed and widely successful program. Since then, multiple states have introduced their own child tax credit bills to try and build off this momentum. In response, SSN launched a Child Tax Credit Working Group to support members interested in engaging on this timely policy issue. In this session, hear from policy and community leaders on the child tax credit and learn about the landscape of direct cash transfer programs in the states. Attendees will also have a chance to strategize how researchers can best engage and brainstorm ways for the Working Group to better support the work of researchers and chapters where this is a live issue.

Facilitator: Megan Curran, Columbia University
Elaine Maag, Equity Hub, US Treasury
Adam Ruben, Economic Security Project
Erica Williams, DC Fiscal Policy Institute
3:00pm - 4:00pm Breakout Session: Concrete Strategies for Protecting and Advancing Academic Freedom Culpeper Room
Autocrats want to undermine higher education’s legitimacy, autonomy, and academic freedom, because these are the things that undergird higher ed's ability to promote truth and ameliorate economic and social divides: key pillars of a healthy democracy. SSN members and chapters are operating in a variety of different contexts that may make certain incursions more or less acutely felt, but all are looking for new ideas, tools, and resources to conduct their research, teaching, and public speaking safely while strengthening democracy. In this session, panel participants will give a brief overview of resources and ideas from their organization or lived experience that address common concerns of our membership.

Facilitator: Lizzy Ghedi-Ehrlich, Scholars Strategy Network
Tia Brown McNair, American Association of Colleges and Universities
Elizabeth Strom, University of South Florida
Jeremy C. Young, PEN America
3:00pm - 4:00pm Breakout Session: Research and Collaboration to Strengthen Voting and Elections in 2024 Longworth Room
In an era of polarization and eroding public trust, how can researchers collaborate with election practitioners, civic organizations, and students to improve, increase participation in, and build trust in elections? Ahead of the 2024 election, this session explores the diverse ways joint efforts can bolster our democratic institutions and foster civic engagement.

Facilitator: Judd Choate, Colorado Department of State
Benjamin Hovland, U.S. Election Assistance Commission
Thessalia Merivaki, Center for News, Technology & Innovation and Georgetown University
Ian Simmons, Democracy House
4:00pm - 4:15pm Break
Break and return to the ballroom for the plenary session.
4:15pm - 5:30pm Plenary: Bridging Academia and Government Service Grand Ballroom
Join us for a plenary session highlighting scholars who have embarked on a "tour of duty" in government, showcasing their invaluable experiences in federal and state legislative and agency roles. Gain firsthand insights into the diverse avenues through which academics can contribute to the policymaking process in this way, the mutual benefits for both academics and government institutions, and the challenges faced along the way.

Facilitator: James Curry, University of Utah
Christina Ciocca Eller, Harvard University
Meghan Kallman, University of Massachusetts Boston and Rhode Island Senate
Brian McCabe, Georgetown University and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
K. Sabeel Rahman, Cornell University
Paru Shah, Rutgers University
5:30pm - 6:30pm Scholars and Sips: A Networking Mixer Lobby/Loggia
Join us for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Get to know fellow convening attendees around tables color-coded based on shared topics of interest and areas of research.
6:30pm - 7:30pm Free Time
7:30pm - 8:30pm Dinner & Awards Ceremony Colonnade
Join us for dinner as we gather to celebrate the efforts of SSN chapter leaders in fostering communities of engaged scholars dedicated to informing public policy and strengthening democracy. We will recognize the winners of our three inaugural SSN Chapter Awards: The David Brian Robertson Excellence in Leadership Award, the Outstanding Chapter Award, and the Emerging Chapter Award.

Day 2: Tuesday, June 4th

8:30am - 9:30am Breakfast Grand Ballroom
Grab breakfast and meet fellow SSN members and leaders.
9:30am - 10:30am Breakout Session: Lessons from Abortion Researchers on Public Engagement in Restrictive Environments Latrobe Room
Researchers focused on reproductive health and justice have long faced a slew of challenges in their work and public engagement. With the end of Roe v. Wade and a wave of restrictive policies in states across the country, the situation has only become more difficult. Join a discussion on the transformative potential of research on abortion within restrictive states, exploring how empirical findings can inform advocacy efforts, shape public discourse, and catalyze systemic change.

Facilitator: Tracy Weitz, American University
Clare Daniel, Tulane University
Rep. Anna Eskamani, Florida State House District 42
Tamika Odum, University of Cincinnati
9:30am - 10:30am Breakout Session: Housing, Immigration, and Community-Centered Chapter Projects Culpeper Room
SSN’s state and local chapters are uniquely positioned to bring community-engaged research to inform policy. Join a dialogue with scholars and policy practitioners as we collectively identify priority housing and immigration issues where community engaged scholars be most effective, and map out an agenda to advance these locally through collaborative chapter projects. This session models a mini-convening for chapters: an interactive discussion in which researchers, community participants, and policymakers each bring essential insights to the table.

Facilitator: Andrea Benjamin, University of Oklahoma
Brian Adams, San Diego State University
Elizabeth Aranda, University of South Florida
Angie Bautista-Chavez, Arizona State University
Andrea Benjamin, The University of Oklahoma
Derek Hyra, American University
Ken Kolb, Furman University
Dara Lind, American Immigration Council
Stacey Livingstone, University of California San Diego
Brian McCabe, Georgetown University and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Elizabeth Vaquera, George Washington University
9:30am - 10:30am Breakout Session: Improving Federal Education Policy Through Scholarly Collaboration Longworth Room
Education scholars have a productive history of engaging classroom and district-level practitioners. Recent debates on curriculum, privatization, and academic freedom have renewed scholarly attention at local and state-level policy. Given this recent focus, the panel conversation will take up the opportunities and continued challenges for education scholars to engage at the federal level with an eye on how state-level policy work can inform federal policy advocacy.

Facilitator: Marisa Goldstein, Office of the Deputy Mayor of Education, DC
Sarah Groh, Office of Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley
Jordan Matsudaira, U.S. Department of Education
Stacey Pelika, Education Policy and Implementation Center, National Education Association
10:30am - 10:45am Break
Break and return to the ballroom for the plenary session.
10:45am - 12:15pm Plenary: The Role of Researchers in the Media Grand Ballroom
In today’s fast-paced media environment, researchers have a plethora of opportunities to help shape coverage and discussion on a broad range of topics. Beyond informing the public, the media also serves as a critical tool for researchers to reach policymakers, civic leaders, and other stakeholders. Hear from some of the nation’s leading editors about how scholars can become powerful players in the media to increase the reach and impact of their work.

Facilitator: Ken Kolb, Furman University
Elena Gooray, Los Angeles Times
Hilary Krieger, CNN Digital
Susan Young, Bangor Daily News
12:15pm - 1:30pm Lunch Grand Ballroom
Grab lunch and meet fellow SSN members and leaders.
1:30pm - 2:30pm Breakout Session: Supporting and Preserving Evidence Use in the Administrative State Latrobe Room
The current executive administration and federal civil service corps have taken steps to enshrine research and expertise from outside of government as critical components of non-legislative policymaking. How can researchers and SSN chapters take advantage of newly created infrastructure for soliciting their input? How does this infrastructure at the federal level compare to that of downstream agencies in states where SSN chapters operate? And what can researchers do to ensure this culture of research use survives from one administration to the next? Researchers and professionals who have held executive and agency appointments will share ideas for productive engagement to preserve and improve U.S. bureaucratic systems and processes.

Facilitator: James Goodwin, Center for Progressive Reform
Gopi Shah Goda, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
1:30pm - 2:30pm Breakout Session: Strategies for Engaging Chapter Members and Maximizing Impact Culpeper Room
Join chapter leaders to hear about innovative ways that SSN chapters can activate and engage their members to increase their impact and become a local resource for research expertise. This highly interactive session will explore four distinct examples from SSN chapters over the last few years and provide ample time for collective brainstorming to bring these ideas back to your communities. Participants will explore opportunities for media and policy engagement; convenings that bring together researchers with policymakers, civic organizations, and journalists; and more.

Facilitator: Chapter Advisory Council members
Deondra Rose, Duke University
Natasha Warikoo, Tufts University
1:30pm - 2:30pm Breakout Session: Community-Engaged Research with Policy-Impacted Communities Longworth Room
From social stigma to criminalization, forces that constrain research participation by some of the most stigmatized and policy-affected can impede the full realization of community-engaged research’s goals, and their benefits to improving policy for those communities. A diverse panel of experts, including civic leaders and seasoned researchers, will delve into the challenges faced in harsh political environments when tackling social determinants of health related to maternal deaths and substance abuse. Together, they will offer valuable strategies to confront the underlying social, political, and economic factors contributing to these health challenges within criminalized communities.

Facilitator: Zelma Oyarvide Tuthill, University of Houston
Melissa Moore, Drug Policy Alliance
Jerel Ezell, University of California Berkeley
Theresa Rocha Beardall, University of Washington
2:30pm - 2:45pm Break
Break and return to the ballroom for the closing session.
2:45pm - 3:45pm Plenary: Closing Reflections & Takeaways Grand Ballroom
Conclude the SSN National Leadership Convening on a high note with an inspiring roundup of insights and reflections from the past two days. Closing speakers will spotlight key takeaways from plenary and breakout sessions, highlight ideas and strategies gained for enhancing academic public engagement, and uplift fellow attendees by sharing impactful quotes and noteworthy moments from the convening. We hope this closing session will leave you feeling motivated, inspired, and equipped to achieve SSN’s mission to foster a nationwide culture where research regularly informs public debate and policy at every level.

Amy Fried, University of Maine
Deondra Rose, Duke University