Our Phoenix Lineup


In 23 (!) days, our community will gather in Phoenix for a day and a half of inspiration, deep conversation, goal setting, training, and fun. If you haven’t been to one of our Summits before, you won’t want to miss it. And if you have been, you’ll notice some exciting changes. Grab your ticket today.


The theme of our Summit — A More Perfect Union — is modeled after President Obama’s 2008 speech in Philadelphia. Together, as a community, we’ll talk about what these values of unity, inclusion, mutual respect, and shared hope for a better America mean for us and those who count on us. We’re gathering on our one-year anniversary — and we’ll also use this as an opportunity to chart a path forward in 2018.

Here’s a preview of some of the people you’ll meet in Phoenix.

  • DeRay Mckesson, Black Lives Matter leader and Co-Founder of Campaign Zero, will deliver the closing keynote of The Arena Phoenix. He will discuss why criminal justice reform and educational opportunity are fundamental to shaping a more perfect union, and why he fights in the arena every day. DeRay currently hosts the Crooked Media podcast Pod Save the People.
  • Gabby Giffords, former Congresswoman, and Captain Mark Kelly, retired astronaut, will share why they continue to fight in the arena, and how they shape a more perfect union through responsible gun ownership.
  • Anand Giridharadas will deliver a keynote that revisits the theme of “A More Perfect Union,” ten years later. Anand is a writer and author of The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas and India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking. He was a foreign correspondent and columnist for The New York Times from 2005 to 2016, and has also written for The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The New Republic.
  • Randy Bryce, Veteran, Ironworker, and Candidate for U.S. Congress (WI-1), will talk about the need for authenticity in our politics.
  • January Contreras, Candidate for Arizona Attorney General, will share her vision of a more perfect union.
  • Jason Kander, President of Let America Vote, will share his reflections about the state of our democracy on the one year anniversary of the first Arena Summit.
  • Tom Perriello, former Congressman and CEO of Win Virginia, will discuss the lessons we learned in last week’s historic election in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO of PolicyLink, will speak to racial and economic equity, and how we can shape progressive policy agendas leading into the 2018 cycle and beyond.
  • Mayor Robert Uribe from Douglas, AZ, will share his story of entering the arena and being an inclusive mayor representing a border community.
  • Ellie Pérez, Arizona DNC Member, will share her journey into the arena and why she fights for a more perfect union.
  • Desmond Meade, Executive Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, will highlight the work he is leading to end Jim Crow in Florida and restore voting rights to 1.6 million formerly incarcerated individuals.
  • Lennon Flowers, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Dinner Party, and Micky ScottBey Jones, Director of Healing Justice Initiatives at Faith Matters Network, will help us learn how to build a more inclusive, tolerant, and compassionate world across differences through a People's Supper.
  • Adrian Fontes, Maricopa County Recorder, will share his story of why he decided to enter the arena, and the work he is doing to advance voting rights and access for America's fastest growing county.
  • Alex Gomez, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), will talk about the immigrant rights movement and building power from the ground up.
  • Some of our Arena PAC Fellows will be joining us to share their stories of why they entered the arena.

Our trainings will be different this time around. We’re focused on practice, skill development, and meaningful experiences. Here’s a preview.

  • Sarah ElRaheb, who works with Professor Marshall Ganz at Harvard University, will lead an all-day Public Narrative training for a select number of attendees.
  • Ashley Pinedo-Carlson from The Management Center will lead a session on how to manage performance on a campaign.
  • Matt McLaughlin from WIN (creator of ads for Mayor de Blasio, Bernie Sanders, and Randy Bryce) and Bill Hyers from Hilltop Public Solutions (former campaign manager for Mayor de Blasio and Senator Gillibrand) will lead a session on how to use video to tell a candidate’s story.
  • Beth Meyer from Leading for Change will lead a training on the components of values messaging to influence people
  • Erik Olesund and Tania Anaissie from the Stanford d.school will lead a training on using human-centered design to run a campaign that adapts to your context.
  • Tracy Sefl, former senior advisor to Ready for Hillary SuperPAC and the DNC, and Hari Sevugan, Principal at 270 Strategies (and former spokesperson for Obama for America and the DNC) and will lead a session on how to craft a communications strategy.
  • Emily Abrams of the Abrams Impact Group, and Victor Nguyen-Long, who previously led digital marketing globally for Nike Sportswear, will lead a workshop on using creative culture to shift politics.
  • Kathryn Poindexter, Founder and Principal of Campaign Greenhouse, will lead a training on the science behind persuasive conversations.
  • Santiago Martinez, Senior Vice President, 270 Strategies and AJ Kahle, Co-Founder and CEO, Blueshift Technologies will lead a training on voter targeting for small campaigns.
  • Daniel Murray, CTO of Clean Choice Energy, will lead a training on mastering call time.
  • Ryanne Brown, Deputy Digital Advertising Director at 270 Strategies, will lead a training on how to reach people online.
  • Lorene Arey and Jeremy Hartman will share the results from a newly commissioned national survey that highlights how 25 - 40 year old voters view political and community engagement post 2016 election.

The Arena Summit will take place at the Phoenix Convention Center. We’ll get started on Friday at 4:30 PM, and go into the evening. On Saturday, we'll kick off the day at 9 AM.


On Friday evening, we will share a meal together as a community, in partnership with The People’s Supper. These dinners are about creating space for a group of people from different backgrounds to break bread, share in conversation, and see one another eye-to-eye.

On Saturday evening, we’ll celebrate The Arena’s one year anniversary at the Phoenix Art Museum, one of the largest art museums in the Southwest. The Arena’s very own DJ Navarris Harvey will be spinning for the night.


We’re offering more advanced track options than at any prior Summits. There is a limited amount of space. Applications are required, and due by Friday, Nov. 24th at 11:59pm ET. Applications will not be accepted after this time.

These trainings are for The Arena Phoenix attendees only. If you attend, you will not miss any of the plenary session programming. Please be sure to register for The Arena Phoenix prior to submitting an application.

Application-based trainings offered will include:

Public Narrative Training // All Day Friday, December 8

This is an all-day Public Narrative workshop based on the Harvard University course, taught by Sarah ElRaheb and a teaching team who has trained alongside prominent social justice activist and Professor Marshall Ganz. In a small-group setting, participants will work with coaches 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.

Space is limited. You must attend the entire training on Friday, December 8th from 8 AM - 4:30 PM. If you travel from out of town, you must plan to arrive by Thursday night. No exceptions.

This training will cost The Arena $185 per person. Upon acceptance into the training, we will ask for a suggested partial contribution. You can also request a scholarship. Your ability to contribute will not affect your eligibility.

Apply by Friday, Nov. 24th at 11:59 PM.

Campaign Leadership Track // All Day Friday, December 8 + Afternoon of Saturday, December 9

This is a training track for campaign managers and other campaign leaders, looking to level up their skills in strategy, new media storytelling, management, and data. This training will not be comprehensive, but rather, will focus on discreet needs that we have observed in our interactions with campaign leadership teams. We highly recommend this track for first-time campaign managers and people stepping into leadership roles on campaigns, but invite all interested parties to apply. The cost of attendance for this session is $50. View the full schedule. Note: if you apply to the Campaign Leadership Track, you cannot apply to the Public Narrative Training, or Innovator / Founder Track, due to scheduling conflicts.

Apply by Friday, Nov. 24th at 11:59 PM.

Innovator + Founder Track // Afternoon of Saturday, December 9

Higher Ground Labs, Empowered to Run, and Lab 736 are bringing together fellow innovators and founders who are developing new civic projects and organizations. We will explore gaps in the current ecosystem and strategize on issues like joint/coordinated fundraising, developing shared tech infrastructure, and staying legally compliant.

Based on your input in the application, we will pick two or three topics. Then we’ll start developing solutions together at the Summit. This is not a talk or panel discussion. Instead, it’s an opportunity to work with fellow innovators and entrepreneurs to accelerate your/our work.

Apply by Friday, Nov. 24th at 11:59 PM.

Thank you! See you in Phoenix. Get your ticket today.

Erin Fitzgerald