“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, 2nd Floor, Portside Ballroom, 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.



3:30pm -- Registration
4:30pm --  Enter the Arena (Arena Team)
4:50pm -- We are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting for (Lacy Dawson, Field Director,  Michigan Voice)
5:00pm -- Goal Setting in Regional Communities
5:20pm -- Understanding and Overcoming Gender Barriers in Politics (Vesia Hawkins, Holly McCall, Miranda Christy, Representative Leslie Love, Sarah Curmi)
6:00pm -- Untapped Political Potential in Tribal Communities (Raina Thiele, Former Associate Director, White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs)
6:20pm -- Economic Mobility and the Constitution (Ganesh Sitaraman, Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt Law School)
6:30pm -- How We Can (Literally) Save the Planet (Brian Deese, Former Senior Advisor to President Obama)
7:00pm -- Spotlight: Running for State and Local Office (Abdul El-Sayed, Ronnie Cho, Kelly Breen, Laurie Pohutsky)
8:00pm -- After Party @ Guardian Building, 500 Griswold St


9:15am -- Radical Focus in Governance (Alexis Wiley, Chief of Staff, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan)
9:30am -- The Flint Water Crisis: A Case Study in Race and Organizing (Nayyirah Shariff, Melissa Mays, San Juana Olivares, Giancarlo Guzman)
10:05am -- Brittany Packnett, Co-Founder, Campaign Zero
10:25am --  Immigration and Economic Opportunity (Fayrouz Saad, Andrew Lim, Bridget Espinosa, Raquel Garcia Anderson)
11:15am -- Representative Pramila Jayapal, Washington State 7th Congressional District
11:35am -- Let America Vote (Jason Kander, Executive Director, Let America Vote, Q&A moderated by Jocelyn Benson)
12:05pm -- Congressional Candidate Spotlight (Haley Stevens, Ken Harbaugh, Andy Kim, Lauren Underwood)
12:30pm -- Lunch and Expo
1:45pm -- Breakout Session 1

  • Continuing the Fight for Healthcare in America
  • The Future of Work in America
  • Campaign 101: Telling Your Story
  • Campaign 201: Creating a Campaign Plan
  • Campaign Manager Discussion

3:10pm -- Breakout Session 2

  • Gender Lens Training with Make it Work
  • A New Generation of Leaders and Coalition Building 
  • Campaign 102: Fundraising and Budget Basics
  • Campaign 202: Building Relationships With Voters and Volunteers
  • Office Hours: Open Q&A with Experts

4:30pm -- Next Steps: Regional Community Commitments
5:15pm -- Conclusion
8:00pm -- After Party @ MOCAD, 4454 Woodward Ave



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

NOTE: The Public Narrative Training is full. We are no longer accepting applications.

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


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

New Leaders Council Detroit
Emily Abrams
Aamina Ahmed
Sarah Anthony
Danielle Atkinson
Lauren Bille
Charlie Cavell
Stephanie Chang
Nick Colvin
Cory Connolly
Dessa Cosma
Hilary Doe
Julie Egan
Abdul El-Sayed
Shannon Garrett
Julielyn Gibbons
Garlin Gilchrist
Lori Goldman
Rob Hill
Jon Hoadley
Christie Houlihan
Eli Isaguirre
Tom Kerr
Nicole Khamis
Jonathan Kinloch
Kamilia Landrum
Keri Lowry
Natalie Montelongo
Wisam Naoum


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.