2020 Virtual Experiences

With the uncertainty of 2020, The Policy Circle team realized that policy matters now, perhaps more than ever. At this critical juncture in our country’s history, we remain steadfast in our commitment to inform, inspire and develop civic leaders

The Policy Circle has hosted a series of virtual programs since March focused on the impact of policy decisions on women’s economic security and leadership. Our programs provide reliable information, build leadership and critical thinking skills, which are imperative for our country to move forward with hope and a plan. These events also provide an opportunity for our members and partners to connect, and cover timely topics with special guests, experts and policy leaders.

Typically, these virtual experiences are only available to financial supporters of The Policy Circle. During this time of crisis, however, these valuable resources have been made available network-wide. Below is a summary of The Policy Circle’s Virtual Experiences.

Move the Needle Virtual Experiences

Shocking but true — 3/4 of Americans Think Socialism is Good

The Policy Circle hosted an informative and engaging discussion with Dr. Emily Chamlee-Wright, President & CEO of Institute for Humane Studies, Priya Brannick, Senior Fellow for the Commonwealth Foundation, and Circle Leader Ilana Gordon to unpack the fundamentals of socialism. We explored the misunderstandings and failed ideas and why so many Americans are drawn to its economic and political theories. Watch the replay and dive into the newly released Policy Brief on the topic.

Empowering Parents: Finding the Best Educational Solution for Your Children

The Policy Circle was thrilled to #CircleUp with Denisha Merriweather, Director of Family Engagement at the Federation for Children to discuss school choice, Education Savings Accounts and making the most out of your child’s education. Denisha explored the purpose of education – investing in children to develop them into contributing members of their communities – and the importance of building coalitions to advocate for school choice opportunities. Watch the replay and host your own roundtable discussion with the Education Savings Accounts Policy Circle Brief.

Understanding Law Enforcement and Policing in America with Dr. Karen Bartuch, Toni McIlwain and Sgt. Sofia Rosales-Scantena

The Policy Circle was thrilled to #CircleUp with former and current members of the police, as well as community leaders to dive into the police reform debate. Dr. Karen Bartuch kicked off the conversation diving into officers’ role to “serve and protect” as well as the challenges officers face as they are part of each community as well as the governing body. We also heard inspiring and personal stories from Toni McIlwain and Sgt. Sofia Rosales-Scantena on how policing is a local issue, which makes community involvement an extremely important aspect that’s essential to finding solutions.

The Policy Circle’s newly released Policy Brief offers an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the role of police and how we as citizens can help bridge the gaps between our communities and police officers. Explore the Brief here.

Combatting Human Trafficking with Heather Fischer, White House Human Trafficking Advisor 

How to Make an Impact in Your Community
Supporting survivors is key

The Policy Circle was honored to #Circleup with Heather Fischer, who joined us live from the White House to discuss her role as Special Advisor to the President where she works to combat all forms of human trafficking, including labor trafficking, sex trafficking and online child exploitation. Human trafficking is both a global and local issue. Each of us can make a difference by becoming more aware of the challenges and areas for reform, as well as taking action in our homes, businesses and communities. Through this Policy Circle Move the Needle Virtual Experience, we learned about three pillars to fight trafficking: Prevention, Protection and Prosecution.

Our newly released Policy Brief on Human Trafficking includes helpful resources to dive deeper into the issue and learn how to engage locally.

Poverty in America with Christopher F. Rufo

Chris Rufo, who’s film, America Lost, dives deeper into the human crisis of poverty, joined The Policy Circle for an engaging and enlightening virtual discussion on Poverty in America. The film was a perfect primer for the latest virtual discussion, and allowed Policy Circle members to hear Rufo’s first-hand account of poverty in three communities across the U.S. 

Rufo noted that what’s at stake for people in poverty isn’t policy or economics-driven. He touched on the importance of family structure and social capital as a way to achieve mobility from all backgrounds. It’s the human aspect that’s being impacted the most, and lost in many communities.

Safeguarding America’s Critical Infrastructure with

Leslee Belluchie, JoAnna Sohovich and Frank Cilluffo

Leslee Belluchie, JoAnna Sohovich, and Frank Cilluffo joined The Policy Circle to broaden our understanding of the connections and components of critical infrastructure and share the importance of addressing its internal and external vulnerabilities for the health and safety of our nation. The Department of Homeland Security organizes the essential services that comprise the backbone of our nation’s economy, society, and health into 16 critical infrastructure sectors. These systems and networks, from emergency response and transportation systems to financial services and the food supply chain, are vital to our national security and the daily functioning of our lives.

The State of American Agriculture and the Food Supply Chain with Senator Joni Ernst

Agriculture is a constant presence in our daily lives at the local, national, and international levels – a vital piece of our critical infrastructure. But most Americans don’t dive deeper into the food supply chain details on a regular basis. Because of the direct impact on our everyday lives, Americans see and feel vulnerabilities in the system in the form of worker shortages, limits on buying certain foods and unstocked grocery shelves. This can happen anytime – with farmland impacted by natural disasters like floods, tornados and hurricanes. 

The coronavirus, says Senator Ernst, has sparked “a new awakening” of interest in food security and sourcing. Americans want to know: Who is handling our food? Where is our food coming from? What are the safety measures in place? Senator Ernst walked attendees through the answers to these questions, the policies that impact our agriculture system the most, and reminded each of us that being involved and making a difference is possible. 

Public-Private Partnerships in the Age of COVID-19 with Betsy Atkins, Elaine Duke and Karla Jones

During a crisis, the roles of the federal government, state’s and private corporations come to the forefront. While it may seem overwhelming how much of our lives and how many sectors have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, it also means that there are many people, businesses and entities united around a single mission. The Policy Circle was lucky enough to be joined by Betsy Atkins, Elaine Duke, and Karla Jones for some ideas on how partnerships between the public and private sectors can bring about the best solutions – with the right balance of oversight and governance.

Opportunity in Crisis: America’s Healthcare System with Sally Pipes and Gloria Sachdev

For many Americans, the extent to which government decisions impact our lives has become more and more evident. None more evident than in the debate over healthcare. In fact, during the 2018 midterm elections, a majority of voters ranked health care as the most important issue. Now, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many are asking: how will this change the healthcare system? For some ideas on where health care policy debate stands and what the future holds, The Policy Circle spoke with Sally Pipes, President, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith, Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute, and Gloria Sachdev, President and CEO of the Employers’ Forum of Indiana.

Economic Dominance, U.S. China Relations and Playing the Long [Policy] Game with Heather Nauert

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. foreign policy in the Asia Pacific region had vital national security, diplomatic, and economic implications. On April 15th, Heather NauertHudson Institute fellow and former Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the State Department, joined The Policy Circle to gather the pieces of the puzzle to understand how we got to where we are today, and where we are going in our relationship with China.

The first step to understanding China, Nauert points out, is understanding that China operates very differently than the United States does. This is the nature of the authoritarian regime of the Chinese Communist Party and the Politburo, two bodies that set the tone and make almost all decisions regarding leadership and the law. The rest of our knowledge is limited by China’s secrecy and the lack of freedom of the press, which prevents our access to further information. What we do know about China is its long term strategies to achieve its goal of global economic dominance. 

What Does Leadership Look Like in a Crisis with Nebraska Governor, Pete Ricketts

A recent Wall Street Journal article “Federalism and the Coronavirus Lockdown” notes that “lockdown and closure orders were issued by state governments” and that the federal government “has no general authority to dictate to state governments.” We’re seeing this right now as state and local leaders are at the forefront of the crisis in terms of implementing solutions.

What is it like to be one of these state and local leaders? Participants were fortunate to have Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts describe what leadership is like in uncertain times. For Governor Ricketts, it resembles leadership in certain times: making sure there is a strategy, having the right people on your team, and holding those people accountable.

Controlling the Narrative vs Igniting Responsibility and Innovation with Lincoln Network’s Aaron Ginn

“Be easy on people, hard on ideals,” says Aaron Ginn, co-founder and president of the Lincoln Network who joined The Policy Circle’s first Move the Needle Virtual Discussion. Remember that conversation is transformative and truth and details matter. With all the information floating around and potentially being misconstrued, it’s important to remember you don’t need credentials to be taken seriously: you can always speak up, ask a question, and share an idea. Feel confident that you do have a voice. While we have voices to express our thoughts freely, it’s also our job to be well-cited and do our research. We can encourage our leaders and public officials to do the same, and to have a scientific mindset when discussing and communicating important numbers, details, and data to the public. A good place to start, Ginn said, is to: “Never trust a lonely number” – always put data in context, such as providing a point of comparison Ask what the goal is – why does this data matter? What exactly are we measuring?

An Investment in The Policy Circle = An Investment in Your Leadership Skills and in Your Community

Do you find these conversations enlightening? Has your engagement with the Policy Circle been valuable to you and your community? We need your support to continue to provide virtual experiences, reliable content and programming to our 3,500 members around the country. 


Michigan Virtual Discussion with Congressman Bill Huizenga: Federalism and Free-Enterprise in a Post-Coronavirus America

The coronavirus pandemic has become a case study in federalism as each state across the country takes precautions to balance flattening the curve while also ensuring the economy is still functioning. As more counties and states wade into the choppy waters of re-opening businesses and establishing trust, what are next steps for re-opening the economy? On April 17, The Policy Circle engaged in a virtual discussion on this topic with Michigan Congressman Bill Huizenga. More than 30 participants gathered to discuss Michigan’s response to this crisis and what the economic landscape will look like going forward. 

Much like there is no one-size-fits-all response for the entire U.S., different types of responses may be necessary across the state, which means regionalization can be a possibility in reopening industries that have been shut down to address the virus. How can local governments balance the economic hardship caused by lockdowns with the real possibility of a second wave of the virus? How can public officials work with private enterprises to get the economy back online?  

Florida Virtual Discussion with Congressman Mike Waltz: Civic Duty, Women Leaders and National Security

As we stay in our homes to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, it’s still important for us to remember to turn our attention outwards. For Congressman Mike Waltz (FL-6), the first Green Beret to serve in Congress, a special forces officer in Afghanistan, Africa, and the Middle East, and a former defense policy advisor, balancing domestic and international challenges is a part of daily life. He shared with us what challenges small businesses and communities face in Florida and across the U.S. right now. 

Florida has the fourth largest economy in the U.S. (which is heavily reliant upon tourism), is a global hub for imports and exports, and has the second largest population of adults ages 65 and older (20.5%). This all means the coronavirus is hitting Florida hard, which is why Congressman Waltz believes communication between himself and his constituents is more important than ever. And yet even with all these challenges at home to attend to, there are still reasons to look beyond our borders. The coronavirus is very much a challenge for the international intelligence community, as many of our Policy Circle women with backgrounds in national security and intelligence shared with us. 

Texas Virtual Discussion with Congressman Chip Roy and Ellen Troxclair: Federalism, the Coronavirus and Civic Duty

The government is not exactly known for its speed; on the contrary, the government’s tendency is to be notoriously slow. But the past few weeks have seen unprecedented speed in the passage of legislation and in implementation of policies to combat the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fall out. What is it like to be on the back end of this legislation?
We were joined by Texas Congressman Chip Roy, who gave some insight on his thought processes when bills make their way to his desk in the midst of unknowns and urgency. Congressman Roy takes a few things into consideration, including hearing directly from constituents. Hearing from constituents one of the most important parts of the process, for Congressman Roy and his fellow representatives and other local leaders across the country.

Indiana Virtual Discussion with Congresswoman Susan Brooks: Supporting Small Business and Testing Capacity

In Indiana, The Policy Circle members had the opportunity to hear from Congresswoman Susan Brooks just before she spoke on the CARES Act vote on the U.S. House of Representatives floor on March 27, 2020. The Congresswoman noted that Members were maintaining social distancing recommendations while in the Capitol, and that the mood was tense but hope filled. She detailed on a high-level the aspects of the historic CARES Act legislation that she thought would be most impactful.

The magnitude of impact that some industries have seen eclipses the others, a point Martha Hoover of Patachou Inc put into perspective while discussing how brick and mortar business have been impacted with The Policy Circle Co-Founder Kathy Hubbard. On testing, there are still many questions about who should get tested, when and the capacity for tests currently in the U.S. Rob Metcalf from Eli Lilly spoke on the unique skills the company tapped into in order to quickly ramp up testing facilities and capacity in the state. 

Wisconsin Virtual Discussion with American Enterprise Institute Fellow, Tim Carney: Re-establishing Trust and a Return to Normalcy

During a financial crisis, trust may not be the first thing on most people’s minds. But AEI’s Tim Carney and communities across the U.S. know that when it comes to the good of the neighborhood, trust is a key component. The degree to which communities can trust each other is what allows them to better handle adversity, and what staves off loneliness, vulnerability, and in extreme cases, deaths of despair. As small businesses and religious institutions shut their doors and local restaurants struggle to stay afloat, we realize just how key these establishments are to forming and maintaining social connections and trust in our communities. 

Take Action

Share Your Voice

How can you lead during an uncertain time? Step up and contact your local representatives: Share your perspective on social distancing guidelines, the economic impacts to your business or your local economy, or stories of organizations that are innovative in shaping public policy. 

Host Your Own Virtual Discussion

Explore The Policy Circle Brief Library and utilize the following Briefs to spur engaging and timely conversations:  Healthcare, the Federal Debt, U.S. Constitution. Don’t forget to review the Playbook to facilitate effective conversations. explore The Policy Circle Brief Library and utilize the following Briefs to spur engaging and timely conversations:  Healthcare, the Federal Debt, U.S. Constitution, Free-Enterprise and Economic Growth. Don’t forget to review the Playbook to facilitate effective conversations.

Questions about hosting your first Virtual Circle meeting?

Inform. Inspire. Build Civic Leaders.

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