Progressive political-action summit heads to Philly

Progressive political-action summit heads to Philly

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A political-action group is hosting a summit in Philadelphia to excite voters ahead of November’s elections and maximize civic engagement.

The Arena will host its fifth summit, entitled “Love + Action,” Sept. 7-8 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The social-welfare organization was formed after Ravi Gupta, a 2008 Obama campaign staffer who also previously worked as the special assistant and speechwriter for Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, put out a call to action on Facebook encouraging friends to join his efforts to “do something” after Donald Trump’s election win.

Three weeks after Trump’s victory over Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton, The Arena hosted its first summit in Nashville, where more than 400 attendees gathered to discuss the future of the country.

This year’s Philadelphia summit is expected to be The Arena’s largest, with more than 1,000 civic and political leaders coming from around the country to discuss strategies on how to be more politically active. The summit will be a combination of keynote speeches and breakout training sessions that include workshops such as “Hip Hop, Politics and Your Voice,” “Taking Action for the 2018 Midterms” and “Working on a 2020 Campaign.”

One of the main objectives of the summit, Lee Pedinoff, the Arena’s director of marketing, is to help anyone interested in running for political office get their campaigns off the ground. Speakers will provide information on how to get on a ballot, establish campaign fundraisers and enlist volunteers. Attendees can also gain insight on how to start their own civic organizations and nonprofits.

More than 20 speakers will addres the summit, including Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, former Mayor Michael Nutter, City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart and Malcolm Kenyatta, the out Democratic candidate running for state representative in the 181st House District.

Kenyatta said the summit is the latest progressive movement to give people a platform to create change.

“The summit will be a crash course on how folks can actually get involved and help to flip the House one campaign at a time, one vote at a time. We’re taking action one step further and actually providing people with the resources they need to run their own campaigns or to help educate people on how they can support their local candidates running for office.” 

The political-action group is working to establish the next generation of public officers, said Pedinoff. The Arena sponsors progressive candidates and offers a scholarship for attendees looking to start a political campaign or a civic organization.

“Our whole goal is to break down barriers and make politics more accessible to everyone. We realized that we needed to help more people without the money or the network get more civically engaged and politically active,” Pedinoff said. “The summit is for people who know that they want to do something, but they don’t know what that something is.”

Pedinoff added that the summit’s wide range of guests was intentional, to “make running for office much more of a real thing for people.”

“As we put together the lineup of speakers, we were intentional about bringing together a diverse coalition in age, gender and sexual orientation. We want people to leave with a clear plan of action of how they’ll get involved regardless of any barriers that might be in their way.” 

For information on purchasing tickets to The Arena’s Philadelphia summit, visit

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