“Think of The Arena Summit as equal parts spring training, group therapy, summer camp, and speed dating for progressives.” WIRED

The Arena Summit is a convening of rising civic leaders from across the country. The Philadelphia Summit will be our fifth since December 2016, and we expect over 1,000 civic and political leaders in attendance.

We gather in the City of Brotherly (and Sisterly) Love to rededicate ourselves to a politics of love + action. We'll spend time planning out the steps we will take to rebuild our republic based on the values of love, respect, inclusion, and dignity.

The Philadelphia Summit is proudly sponsored by the Alliance for American Manufacturing. AAM is a non-profit founded in 2007 that explores worker-friendly solutions to challenges such as job creation, infrastructure investment, international trade, and global competitiveness.


Here’s a preview of some of the people you’ll hear from at the Summit.


Danica Roem

Delegate, Virginia House of Delegates


Mitch Landrieu

Former Mayor of New Orleans, LA


Amber Goodwin

Founder and Executive Director, Community Justice Reform Coalition (CJRC)


Priya Parker

Facilitator and Author of “The Art of Gathering”


Larry Krasner

District Attorney, City of Philadelphia


Rebecca Rhynhart

City Controller of Philadelphia

Martin O'Malley

Former Governor of Maryland


Anand Giridharadas

Writer and Author of “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World”


Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend

President & CEO, Philadelphia Youth Network


Scott Paul

President, Alliance for American Manufacturing


John King

Former US Secretary of Education



Movita Johnson-Harrell

Founder of The CHARLES Foundation, and Interim Victims Services Coordinator for the City of Philadelphia


Cristóbal Alex

President, Latino Victory


Michael Tubbs

Mayor of Stockton, CA


Toni Blackman

Rapper, Actress, and Writer


Michael Nutter

Former Mayor of Philadelphia, PA


Neera Tanden

President, Center for American Progress


Abdul El-Sayed

Former Candidate for Governor in Michigan


Helen Tai

Representative, Pennsylvania State House, District 178


Summer Lee

Candidate, Pennsylvania State House, District 34


Errin Whack

Journalist, Associated Press' National Writer on Race and Ethnicity


Chrissy Houlahan

Candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania


Dr. Kira Banks

Associate Professor of Psychology at St. Louis University, Expert on Unconscious Bias


Sharyn Tejani

Director, Time's Up Legal Defence Fund


DeJuana Thompson

Partner, Think Rubix and Founder, Woke Vote


Waikinya Clanton

Director, African American, and Women's Outreach, Democratic National Committee


Malcolm Kenyatta

Democratic Nominee for Pennsylvania State House


Jamira Burley

Anti Gun-Violence Activist, Youth Advocate, Named White House “Champion of Change”


Keir Bradford-Grey

Chief Defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia


Anton Moore

Criminal Justice Activist, 48th Ward Leader for the City of Philadelphia




4:00pm - 7:00pm: Opening Plenary
The afternoon will begin with a performance by Play On, Philly! under the direction of Andrés González. Play On, Philly! is an organization that provides personal development opportunities to children through the study of music.

Then, you will be introduced to the theme of the Summit, meet members of your cohort (your smaller group that you will reflect alongside throughout the weekend), and hear from a mixture of individual speakers and panel discussants.

7:00pm - 8:30pm: Dinner
During dinner, you will reflect on and share stories about defining experiences that shape your values and leadership with your cohort.

9:00pm - 11:00pm: Welcome Party
We will leave the main venue for an evening of desert, music, and dancing in one of Philadelphia’s most beautiful spaces: The Franklin Institute. The Franklin Institute was founded in 1824, is one of the most visited museums in Philadelphia, and is a short walk from the Convention Center.


9:00am - 11:30am: Morning Plenary
We will begin by reflecting on the night before and setting goals for the day. We will then continue to hear from a range of national and local speakers who will reinforce the theme through their stories of pushing for change within the civic and political arena.

11:30am - 12:30pm: Lunch with Office Hours / Action Fair
You will grab lunch and have the opportunity to either (a) attend office hours with campaign experts, activists, successful candidates, and policy experts, (b) attend an Action Fair with opportunities to get involved in the 2018 elections in the weeks ahead or on other civic projects, or (c) build relationships outside of the structured program.

12:30pm - 2:30pm: Breakout Sessions
We will split into smaller groups for workshops that provide space for skill-building and action planning around civic engagement and activism. The following trainings will be offered:

When we meet in Philadelphia, we’ll be only 61 days out from the critical 2018 midterm elections. The Arena is partnering with SwingLeft in support of their new campaign, The Last Weekend. This campaign is focused on recruiting volunteers for the last weekend before the election with the goal of increasing voter turnout. In this session, you'll learn about volunteer opportunities, recruit your friends to volunteer, and leave realizing that volunteering is easier and more fun than you might think.

KATE CATHERALL, Co-Founder & Senior Partner, The Arena
LUIS AVILA, Founder & President, Iconico
SARAH HORVITZ, Political Director, Run for Something
Thinking about running for office, but don't know where to start? Join Arena Partner and Arena Fellowship lead Kate Catherall in a session that outlines the first steps you should take when planning a run for office. We will review important questions to answer, timeline considerations, and early campaign planning. You will also learn where to find useful resources to guide your campaign from an idea to a reality. Come ready to ask questions and be inspired.

A'SHANTI GHOLAR, Political Director, Emerge America
QUENTIN JAMES, Founder & Executive Director, The Collective Pac
ERIC LUNDY, Program Director, Inclusiv
2020 is primed to be an historic election cycle, and an important time to immerse yourself in electoral politics. Whether you've worked on campaign before, or are just starting out, we will help you create a plan for joining a campaign — from presidential to local and everything in between. We will review what kinds of jobs campaigns hire for, when these jobs come available, and the best way to present your skill set.

In this workshop, you’ll participate in a cypher aimed at building creativity, confidence, and self-expression. Led by hip-hop artist and educator Toni Blackman, you’ll connect the ideas of history and hip-hop, and participate in performative activities. You should only participate in this session if you are willing to open up, perform, and be vulnerable in front of others. No prior experience in hip-hop is assumed.

Unconscious bias is a rigid belief, positive or negative, about a group of people that is based on limited evidence. It is something that everyone has yet few know how to keep in check. Bias often comes from our experiences, or lack thereof, and its effects are pervasive, like smog in the air. What type of messages you receive about whom, or what groups are omitted from these narratives is largely based on your personal social identities. Led by Dr. Kira Banks, this session will explore on how our personal and social identities influence our unconscious biases. You will increase your knowledge of the psychology of bias and learn the steps necessary to de-bias.

Entrepreneurship is a key factor in local economic development. In this training, we'll examine innovation and private businesses that solve public problems, learn how local businesses get off the ground and work in small groups to design business models that have measurable social impact goals. You’ll leave with a new framework for sustainable and impactful business building and an inspiration to support, invest in, or start a business in your city.

This interactive, multimedia session focuses on how leaders in politics and advocacy use story to persuade and motivate their audiences. 'Origin Story' draws from many fields -- including cognitive neuroscience, narrative analysis, and live performance training -- to help you understand the critical difference between narrative and information, structure your stories for maximum effect, and use your unique physical and vocal tools to build a resilient and powerful connection with your audience.

2:30pm - 4:00pm: Community Time
You will meet in a group of concentric circles for an immersive experience led by Priya Parker, author of “The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters.” Priya will facilitate reflections about your life and belief systems, opportunities to consider opposing views, and time to lean into your deeper sense of purpose. The experience will end with a focus on commitments to your values and actions through the 2020 elections.

4:00pm - 6:00pm: Closing Plenary
We will hear from speakers -- including our closing keynote, who will focus on our theme of Love + Action, with a special focus on how you can apply that theme in the months ahead. We will also feature a conversation on poverty featuring Michael Nutter, Former Mayor of Philadelphia and Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend, President & CEO of Philadelphia Youth Network, moderated by Errin Whack, Journalist and Associated Press' National Writer on Race and Ethnicity.

We will conclude with an opportunity for you to make final reflections and commitments -- both to yourself and to the larger Arena community.

8:00pm - 11:00pm: Closing Party
Stay tuned. More details to come.


There are lots of hotels within easy walking distance of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Some are staying at the Hilton Garden Inn and the Marriott.

Here are a few more recommendations.


We’ve worked hard to make our event as accessible as possible. Each room is ADA-compliant. The Ballroom, Grand Hall, and breakout rooms are accessible from Street Level via elevator access by both the Market Street Entrance (b/w 11th and 12th Streets) and the 12th and Arch entrances. Elevator access will bring guests to both the Grand Hall level with the Ballroom and breakout rooms.

There are ADA compliant restrooms on each level - most notably located directly outside the Ballroom entrance on either side.

We don't currently have ASL interpreters, but we are actively seeking volunteers to play this role. Please contact us if you know an interpreter who might be interested.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Karim Abouelnaga
Emily Abrams
Desmond Atem
Erica Atwood
Cathy Barbash
Jonathan Beninson
Aryanna Berringer
Daren Berringer
Lauren Bille
Alicia Bonner Ness
Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza
Melissa Byrne
Rolando Cantú
Charlie Cavell
Katrina Chan
Amy Chiou
Earl Coleman
Bobby Cunningham
Neil Deegan
Elijah Dornstreich
Erin Fitzgerald
Billy Fleming
Lauren Footman
Aman George
Jon Greeting
Alon Gur
Andrea Hailey
Josh Henderson
Jevin Hodge
Christine Jacobs
Molly Jong Fast
Nick Kowalski
James Lauderdale
Eric Lavin
Holly Lynch

Sara Lynch
Kevin Madden
Neil Makhija
Meghan Malloy
Claudia Marte
Coss Marte
Juan Martinez
Nick Marzano
Alexis Morin
Michael Newmuis
Michael O'Bryan
Millennial Politics
William Packer
Nathaniel Parks
Alex Peay
Alison Perelman
Desiree Peterkin Bell
Sujeet Rao
Anthony Robinson
Jason Salus
Annie Sanditen
Neal Sarkar
Adam Schupack
Stacey Shells
Michael Simon
Liz Simon
Michael Slaby
Charlotte Slaiman
Stanford Thompson
Megha Upadhyaya
Christian Urrutia
Anne Wakabayashi
Elizabeth Wexler
Jeremy Wilcher
Katherine Zuk