St. Petersburg College’s Institute of Strategic Policies hosts the New Ideas Conference – a forum to talk policy, not politics, on April 8 at the SPC Seminole Campus.
“Bringing local leaders and the community together to talk about critical issues in a substantive way is what the conference is all about,” said Congressman David Jolly (FL-13), who will serve as the event’s moderator.
The conference features panelists discussing issues covering Emerging Threats of Terrorism, Veterans’ Welfare and Government Reform. Faces such as Tim Nickens, editor of editorials for the Tampa Bay Times, Medal of Honor Recipient Gary Litrell, and Sri Sridharan, chief operating officer of the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at University of South Florida, will be present.
“I think each of these issues are pressing and urgent conversations we need to be having,” said Jolly. “Consider the recent events in Brussels or the issues with Veteran health care. Government reform is very real. Passing budgets is very real.”
Jolly will be moderating the event – ensuring all sides have a chance to speak and keeping the discussion “calm and consistent.”
“This conference isn’t about me. It’s about the panel discussing and engaging with the community,” he said.
Many people attended last year’s conference. They shared their questions and ideas, and panelists provided succinct and fact-filled answers.
“I implore students to participate and ask questions,” said Jolly.
Students may feel cut off from politics or overwhelmed by information spread via the Internet. The conference offers an alternative to hear from local, state and national leaders, according to organizers.
“Come prepared, know the topics and be ready for an opportunity to have your questions answered,” Jolly said.
Melinda Woods is a former business owner and a current senior in SPC’s Public Policy and Administration program. “We are inundated all day about politics, and being bipartisan is important. Let’s not talk politics.”
Woods cherishes her time at SPC. Her experiences with the various conferences she’s attended have been one of opportunity and enlightenment, she said.
“I’ve been to many conferences,” she said. “This one has good timing, the right people are going to be present and it’s a civic opportunity to become engaged in your local government.”
Woods is looking for New Ideas panelists to address some of her concerns involving terrorism and the welfare of Veterans. Involved in an initiative to increase biker friendliness within Pinellas County, she also is looking forward to the budget side of government reform talks.
“Each person who attends has an opportunity to be invested and have their opinions heard,” said Woods. “It is a place where people can be comfortable and new ideas can evolve.”