In contentious times, PPIC is promoting constructive dialogue.
We believe in the power of good information to spark dialogue, change minds, and inspire solutions to the most pressing challenges facing the state. Amid increased political polarization, there is distinctive value in PPIC’s ability to convene diverse stakeholders, encourage constructive discussion about difficult issues, and share that dialogue with a broad audience.
The coronavirus pandemic greatly accelerated our efforts to make our successful in-person events available to a wider online audience. Since March, all PPIC events—more than two dozen in 2020—have been virtual, available on a variety of platforms, and free to all. We have welcomed thousands of participants at virtual convenings. Significantly, we are seeing solid interest from across the state, allowing us to broaden the reach of our work.
PPIC’s 2020 Speaker Series on California’s Future brought together thought leaders from across the political and geographic spectrum with a common goal—to think critically, constructively, and collaboratively about realistic solutions to our current challenges. The series relies on the support of leading corporate and philanthropic partners.
We hosted 13 events in this series, plus an event in our annual Sutton Family Speaker Series. This is by far the largest number of speaker series events we have hosted in any one year—but the need for dialogue is also greater than ever.
- Conversations with federal, state, and local leaders: PPIC began the year by talking with Governor Gavin Newsom about his priorities and plans. As the coronavirus took hold, we spoke with Secretary of State Alex Padilla about the challenges of a pandemic election, and with Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins about the state’s role in providing support to small businesses and the unemployed. The leaders of the US House of Representatives—Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy—joined us in the midst of delicate negotiations over a supplemental coronavirus relief package. And the mayors of San Diego and Oakland, Kevin Faulconer and Libby Schaff, came together to talk about the difficult fiscal realities facing their cities.
- California’s homelessness crisis: The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified California’s homelessness crisis while significantly straining state and local budgets. Los Angeles County supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg—co-chairs of Governor Newsom’s task force on homelessness—talked about what California can do to address homelessness during this unprecedented time.
- New realities for education: Most students in California’s K–12 and higher education systems have been learning remotely since last spring. In separate events, state superintendent of public instruction Tony Thurmond and the leaders of the University of California, the California State University, and the California Community Colleges joined us to discuss how they are dealing with multiple challenges—from shifting rapidly to online instruction to ensuring educational equity.
- A contentious election: Top political reporters from leading media outlets—including FiveThirtyEight, KQED, National Public Radio, the New York Times, and Politico—offered a lively assessment of the atmospherics one month before the November presidential election. And David Goldberg of the California Teachers Association and Rachel Michelin of the California Retailers Association highlighted two very different takes on Proposition 15—the “split roll” property tax initiative.
Finally, the PPIC Water Policy Center’s annual conference transformed into a multi-day virtual series, providing thought-provoking discussion about the shifting water landscape and key priorities for local, state, and federal action. The conference was supported by the Water Policy Center’s annual contributors, and the discussions were informed by an overview report, Priorities for California’s Water.
With support from our sponsors, PPIC will continue to bring diverse experts and leaders together to encourage conversations about improving opportunity for Californians across the state.