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A Day at the USC Warschaw Conference

By: Karla Aparicio

Several members of the Summit team recently participated in the Warschaw Conference on Practical Politics hosted by the University of Southern California (USC) Dornsife Center for the Political Future in late January. Effective communication is needed everywhere, but none more so than in the political debates shaping our state and country in 2024. Our team gained fresh perspectives on the important question: Can history’s political activism and divisiveness teach us how to improve contemporary democratic institutions?


The conference consisted of 4 panels delving into topics such as the primaries, the dynamics of the November showdown, misinformation, and political reforms. With much to contemplate regarding the trajectory of this year's elections, here are some noteworthy insights that prompt reflections on our public affairs work during this Election Year:


  1. Authenticity will win this election. The best candidates must be authentic, believable, and open when speaking to the community. Candidates need to be willing to listen to concern, feedback, and input to better learn how to help their community and build trust.

  2. Meet people where they are at. Social media gives us the opportunity to connect with people across vast distances. Leveraging social media effectively enables candidates to reach broader demographics, including younger generations who are increasingly influential in shaping the political discourse.

  3. Your validators are one of your most important assets. For the candidates this year, their key supporters will be important to communicate character and trust to the broader community. The endorsements and comments of trusted individuals with significant platforms can sway public perception.

  4. Include young advocates in your conversations. The panels provided great insight into polling and strategy. The Summit team was interested to hear input from USC’s young political leaders and advocates and their insight on how they see candidates engaging with this important age group. Recognizing the unique perspectives and concerns of Gen Zers and understanding how their views have been shaped by global events during their formative years, is crucial. Actively listen to their input and address their questions to foster a more inclusive and responsive political landscape.


As professionals in public affairs, we are intrinsically connected to the evolving political landscape and the consequential policy determinations it entails. It is our responsibility to monitor media narratives, advocate for marginalized communities left behind in the political discourse and analyze emerging political ad trends. We remain acutely aware of the profound impacts of policy promises on the lives of everyday people so that we can continue our work with integrity and compassion.





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