“Think of the Arena Summit as equal parts spring training, group therapy, summer camp, and speed dating for progressives...The goal: to train a field team of inexperienced candidates, face hard truths about the past, forge lasting bonds between local communities, and help disparate organizations find their perfect match.” — WIRED Magazine

Join our community of current and future political and civic leaders for a day and a half of motivation, training, and action planning.

Friday, June 9th @ 3:30pm to Saturday, June 10th @ 7pm

Cobo Center, 1 Washington Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226

Our programming will include speeches and trainings from national, state, and local elected officials, political operatives, policy nerds, and activists.

You will meet multiple candidates taking on incumbents who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.



  • Confronting Gender Barriers in Politics (Tennessee Women’s Collective)
  • Economic Mobility and the Constitution (Ganesh Sitaraman, Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt Law School)
  • Advising President Obama: From the Auto Bailout to Climate (Brian Deese, Former Senior Advisor to President Obama)
  • We Are Who We’ve Been Waiting For (Lacy Dawson, Field Director, Michigan Voice)
  • Addressing Challenges Faced by the Next Generation of Progressive Leaders (Brittany Packnett, National Community Alliances -Teach for America, Co-Founder Campaign Zero)


  • Turning Detroit Around One Block at a Time (Alexis Wiley, Chief of Staff, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan)
  • The Flint Water Crisis, Race, and Organizing Response (Panel Moderated by Art Reyes, Director of Training & Leadership Development at Center for Popular Democracy)
  • The Untapped Political Power of America's Tribal Nations (Raina Thiele, Former Associate Director, White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs)
  • Running Against Cynicism: Spotlight on Arena Candidates
  • Immigration and Economic Opportunity (Panel Moderated by Fayrouz Saad, Director of Immigrant Affairs, City of Detroit)
  • Dream (Representative Pramila Jayapal, Washington State 7th Congressional District)
  • Let America Vote (Jason Kander, Executive Director, Let America Vote, Q&A moderated by Jocelyn Benson)
  • A New Generation of Leaders and Coalition Building (Panel moderated by Milia Fisher, Co-Founder and President at Defiant)

Civic Track Breakout Sessions

  • Leading in a World with More People and Fewer Jobs
  • Continuing the Fight for Healthcare in America
  • Saving the Future of the Internet
  • Digital Advocacy for Change: Best Practices and Success Stories (Convened by Voto Latino)
  • Making the Abstract Concrete: Narrative and Storytelling in Advocacy
  • Expanding Your Impact: Fundraising and Leveraging Volunteer Help

Campaign Track Breakout Sessions

  • Telling Your Story
  • Developing a Plan to Run
  • Fundraising and Budget Basics
  • Relationships With Voters and Volunteers


Detroit Tour

On Friday at 11am, we will offer a special optional guided tour of sites in Detroit, selected to highlight issues of interest to current and future leaders. We will explore manufacturing, urban neighborhood revitalization, and the unique challenges and opportunities Detroit faces post-bankruptcy, led by local and regional officials and policymakers leading the charge.

Public Narrative Training

On Friday from 7:30am - 4:30pm, we will host prominent social justice activist and Harvard Kennedy School Professor Marshall Ganz with for a Public Narrative workshop based on the Harvard University course. Participants will work with coaches in small groups to develop their capacity to lead through learning to tell their own story, the story of those they call to join them, and the story of their call to action. This workshop leads participants through a dynamic experiential process that enables individuals to identify their values and inspire action. We have a limited number of spots. Participants must be in attendance for the entirety of the day, with out-of-towners arriving Thursday evening.


We are committed to ensuring that everyone who wants to attend the Summit can afford to attend. That’s why we offer three options: full price tickets that cover the full cost per person of the event, reduced price tickets that cover about 40% of the cost, and scholarship tickets. We work on an honor system, so please choose the ticket option that best reflects what you can contribute. We’ve also added an option for folks to contribute to our scholarship fund — to help others attend the event.


Wisam Naoum
Art Reyes III
Emmy Ruiz
Stacey Shells
Amanda Stitt

Jocelyn Benson
Amy Chapman
Awenate Cobbina
Cory Connolly
Ian Conyers
Eric Lesser


Nathan Ohle
Jeremy Orr
Viral Patel
Tremaine Phillips
Jonathan Quarles
Portia Roberson
Chad Rochkind
Fayrouz Saad
Fatima Salman
Melissa Sandgren
Eli Savit
Zack Schram
Sumaiya Ahmed Sheikh
Hassan Sheikh
Tushar Sheth
Liz Simon
Sam Singh
Steve Sinha
Derrell Slaughter
Shannon Smith
Haley Stevens
Amanda Stitt
Jennie Suidan
Chris Talbot
Rashida Tlaib
Steve Tobocman
Kevin Tolbert
Aketa Marie Williams

Emily Abrams
Jordan Acker
Aamina Ahmed
Sarah Anthony
Danielle Atkinson
Lauren Bille
Charlie Cavell
Stephanie Chang
Nick Colvin
Cory Connolly
Dessa Cosmo
Hilary Doe
Julie Egan
Abdul El-Sayed
Julielyn Gibbons
Lori Goldman
Rob Hill
Jon Hoadley
Christie Houlihan
Eli Isaguirre
Carrie Jones
Tom Kerr
Nicole Khamis
Jonathan Kinloch
Kamilia Landrum
Natalie Montelongo
Wisam Naoum
Taylor Nelson


1. If I cannot afford the tickets to the event but want to attend, what should I do?

Apply for a scholarship. Your chances of receiving a scholarship are extremely good. We review scholarship requests on a weekly basis.

2. What is the dress code for the event?


3. What if I can only make one of the two days of programming?

We strongly recommend you make both days of programming because we will be breaking into small group cohorts throughout the event. These cohorts will action plan together and develop strong relationships that will endure beyond the event.

4. Will childcare be available?

We are optimistic about our ability to offer childcare, but can't guarantee it. We are still working out the details. Please express your interest on the ticket order form.

5. Will meals be provided?

Yes. Friday dinner and Saturday breakfast and lunch will be provided.

6. Is there video available from prior Summits?

Here’s Jason Kander and Ravi Gupta in Nashville.

7. I would like to inquire about serving as a host. Whom should I contact?

Email us!

8. I bought a ticket but I can't make it. Are tickets refundable or transferrable?

Unfortunately, tickets are not refundable. We plan our Summits based on the number of tickets sold and must pay our vendors well in advance.