NCSL Base Camp 2021 Logo

Aug. 3-5, 2021

An online experience like no other, designed for state legislators, legislative staff and policy pros.

Bringing Together Policy Experts and Legislatures To Map the Way Forward

Navigating a new normal.
The stakes are high as states work to move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Education, law enforcement, state budgets — every facet of state government has been impacted, and those who work in legislatures — like you — are instrumental in shaping their states’ futures.

Connecting legislatures with the experts.
There are virtual meetings — and there’s NCSL Base Camp 2021. This event takes the online experience to a new level, providing unique opportunities to engage with national experts, ask burning questions and walk away with new ideas covering every angle of state policy.

Choose your journey.
All sessions will be live to afford the greatest opportunities for interaction between you and our expert speakers. Attend sessions in real time Aug. 3-5 or access them on your own time after the event. NCSL Base Camp 2021 is designed for you, whatever route you choose.


Linda Darling
Linda Darling-Hammond

Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University, where she founded the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and served as the faculty sponsor of the Stanford Teacher Education Program. A former public school teacher, Darling-Hammond is past president of the American Educational Research Association and recipient of its awards for distinguished contributions to research, lifetime achievement and research to policy. She is also a member of the American Association of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Education. Darling-Hammond, who holds a doctorate in education from Temple University, led the Obama education policy transition team in 2008 and the Biden education transition team in 2020. 

David A. Williams
David A. Williams

David A. Williams serves as the director of policy outreach at Opportunity Insights, a Harvard University-based research and public policy lab dedicated to using big data to improve upward mobility in America. He supports research and evidence-based policy change by creating and leading partnerships with communities across the country. Before joining Opportunity Insights, Williams served as a member of the Detroit mayor’s economic development team, managing large-scale real estate and community revitalization projects, neighborhood planning initiatives and policies related to economic mobility, land use, and equitable development. Williams holds a bachelor’s and a law degree from Harvard.

David Wasserman
David Wasserman

David Wasserman, recognized as one of the nation’s top election forecasters, is House Editor for The Cook Political Report, where he analyzes U.S. House races. Prior to joining Cook in June 2007, Wasserman served for three years as House Editor of the political analysis newsletter Sabato's Crystal Ball. In that role, he correctly predicted Democrats would gain 29 House seats in November 2006. Wasserman’s catchphrase, “I’ve seen enough”—indicating that he is calling a race—is eagerly awaited by his 530,000 Twitter followers.

Teresa Bejan
Teresa M. Bejan

Teresa M. Bejan is an associate professor of political theory and a fellow of Oriel College at the University of Oxford. She is the author of "Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration" (2017). Her research on civility, free speech and tolerance has been featured by The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, NPR, BBC, CBC and

William H. McRaven
William H. McRaven

Four-star Admiral William H. McRaven commanded special operations forces at every level and served as the ninth leader of the U.S. Special Operations Command. His 37-year career included combat during Desert Storm and both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
After retiring from the military in 2014, McRaven served as chancellor of the University of Texas system, overseeing 14 institutions that educated 220,000 students and employed 20,000 faculty and more than 80,000 health care professionals, researchers and staff.
A nationally recognized authority on U.S. foreign policy, McRaven has advised Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and other U.S. leaders on defense issues. He has written four books, including the including the New York Times bestseller “Make Your Bed,” inspired by his viral 2014 UT commencement speech.

Raúl Burciaga
Raúl Burciaga

Raúl Burciaga has served as the director of the Legislative Council Service for the New Mexico Legislature since 2010. An attorney, Burciaga has worked as staff on impeachment investigations and legislative ethics committees. He belongs to the New Mexico Compilation Commission, which oversees the compilation and publishing of New Mexico laws, and the National Uniform Law Commission. Burciaga served for five years on NCSL’s Executive Committee, three of those as an officer. He completed the NCSL's Legislative Staff Management Institute at the University of Minnesota in 2004 and the Council of State Government’s Henry Toll Fellowship Program in Lexington, Kentucky, in 2012. 

Sabrina Lewellen
Sabrina Lewellen

Sabrina Lewellen is deputy director and assistant secretary of the Arkansas Senate, where she has been on staff since 2003. From 2008 to 2013, she served as the Senate’s Constituency Services/Research & Special Projects manager. Lewellen currently serves on the NCSL Executive Committee and is a member of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries. In 2015, she received the Staff Achievement Award for her leadership as vice chairman and chairman of the NCSL Research and Committee Staff Section. A member of the 2009 class of NCSL’s Legislative Staff Management Institute, Lewellen has a bachelor’s in environmental science from Florida A&M and a law degree from Vanderbilt University.

Scott Bedke
Scott Bedke

Representative Scott Bedke is serving his 11th term in the Idaho House of Representatives and his fifth term as speaker, making him the longest-serving speaker in Idaho history. He topped a list of “100 Most Influential Idahoans” in 2015 for his “clout and ability to use it” and serves as vice president of NCSL. A fourth-generation rancher, Bedke is a former director of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and former president of the Idaho Cattle Association. Bedke is the father of four and grandfather of 14 and holds a bachelor’s in finance from Brigham Young University.

Kathleen Styles
Kathleen Styles

As the U.S. Census Bureau’s Chief of Decennial Communications and Stakeholder Relations, Kathleen Styles oversees communications related to the 2020 census, as well as oversight, redistricting and the decennial budget. Styles, who holds a degree from William & Mary Law School, has legal experience in both private and government practice, including expertise in litigation involving the census. She worked at the Census Bureau early in her career in a variety of legal, operational and policy roles, then spent eight years as the U.S. Department of Education’s first-ever chief privacy officer before returning to the bureau in 2019.

Mamie Voight
Mamie Voight

Mamie Voight is the interim president at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization focused on student access to college education. Previously, she served as a research and policy analyst and assistant director for research and policy at The Education Trust. She earned her B.S. in civil engineering from Villanova University, her M.S. in civil engineering from the University of Delaware, and her M.P.P. from Georgetown University.

Brian Baird
Brian Baird

Brian Baird is a former six-term congressman from Washington’s 3rd District and a clinical psychologist with a doctorate from the University of Wyoming. As founder of 4Pir2 Communication, Baird advises leading law firms, businesses leaders, congressional offices, patient advocacy organizations and political campaigns on communications, public policy and ethics. He also chairs a nonprofit organization working to establish the National Museum and Center for Service near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. After leaving Congress in 2011, Baird served as president of Antioch University Seattle. The author of three books, he has served as an advisor to the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Amber  Clayton
Amber Clayton

Amber Clayton oversees the Society for Human Resource Management’s Knowledge Center, which fielded more than 66,000 questions from members in 2020. She has participated in over 100 media interviews in the past year related to COVID and other trending topics, including interviews with CNBC, FOX, CNN, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal. Clayton co-hosts the podcast “Honest HR,” where she uncovers and explores uncomfortable, complicated and sometimes wonderful truths of the workplace. She is SHRM-certified with a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman

Josh Goodman helps lead research on fiscal management and place-based economic development programs as senior officer for Pew’s state fiscal health project. He has served as a primary author for Pew studies that examine how states should evaluate tax incentives and maintain budget discipline when implementing those incentives. Goodman was previously a staff writer for Stateline, a Pew initiative that provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy. Before joining Pew, he covered state and local government for Governing magazine. Goodman holds a bachelor’s degree in politics from the University of Virginia.

John Opdycke
John Opdycke

Open Primaries President John Opdycke has spent 25 years working as a political activist, strategist and one of the nation’s most vocal advocates for primary reform. He began his career as a fundraiser and researcher for the Rainbow Lobby, which advocated for ballot access and debate reform in the U.S. and supported the pro-democracy movement in the Congo. Opdycke has appeared on Fox News, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, PBS and NBC, and has written for publications including USA Today, Newsweek and The Hill, among others. He lives in New York City, where he performs and directs improvisation at the Castillo Theatre.

Rachel Harmon
Rachel Harmon

Rachel Harmon is a leading scholar on policing and the laws that regulate police behavior. Author of the 2021 casebook “The Law of the Police,” she directs the University of Virginia Center for Criminal Justice and teaches criminal law and procedure, policing and civil rights. Harmon is a member of the American Law Institute and a former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Harmon attended Yale Law School after receiving two master’s degrees from the London School of Economics as a Marshall Scholar. After law school, she clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and 2nd U.S. Circuit Judge Guido Calabresi.

Adam Kincaid
Adam Kincaid

Adam Kincaid is the president and executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust. Previously, Kincaid worked as special projects director at the Republican National Committee and as the National Republican Congressional Committee’s redistricting coordinator, southeastern political director and national data director. Kincaid got his start in politics as the voter programs director for the Georgia Republican Party and later became the deputy political director and director of policy and research for the Republican Governors Association. Kincaid holds a master’s in public administration with a focus on public policy from the University of Georgia.

Session Agenda | Full Agenda
August 3August 4August 5

Eastern Time (ET)


10:30 am-11 a.m.

Welcome to NCSL Base Camp 2021!Watch our annual “Roll Call of the States,” and tune in for a live interview with NCSL Executive Director Tim Storey and elections/redistricting/census guru Wendy Underhill! Meet your hosts for NCSL Base Camp 2021, Mick Bullock and Erlinda Doherty.

11 a.m.-Noon

Federal Infrastructure Update: Will States Come Out on Top?Is there light at the end of the infrastructure tunnel? Odds of passage seem higher than they have in years, but there may be bumpy road still ahead. Come participate in a discussion with NCSL staff to learn about the impact on states of a bill covering transportation, water, broadband infrastructure, energy and more.

Noon-12:15 p.m.

How to Get the Most out of NCSL Base Camp 2021Learn all the tips and tricks you’ll need to get the most out of our event! We’ll walk you through the site and let you know how to get any help you might need.

12:15-1:15 p.m.

Drugged Driving: What’s a State To Do?Driving under the influence of drugs — with or without alcohol — appears to contribute to crashes, but data is incomplete and inconsistent, making it tough to track the scope of the problem. This session will examine states’ efforts to collect data on drug-impaired driving and discuss the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s evaluation tool to help states combat drug-impaired driving. Get Ready, Get Set — Redistrict!With the release of census data just a week away, states are about to redraw maps for Congress and state legislatures — maps that will stand for the next decade. Hear from experts on what’s already happened, what’s happening now and what will happen in the coming weeks and months — and the role legislators play throughout. Legacy Knowledge Know-How in a Remote WorldLegislative staffers are the keepers of institutional knowledge, a legacy sometimes unwritten and often passed from one generation to the next. But how do you effectively hand it down with new limits on side-by-side learning and in-person sharing? One answer: knowledge management, a practice that ensures all organizational information is identified and housed in a deliberate way. Come learn more about this valuable technique and how it can help keep institutional knowledge alive.

1:15-1:30 p.m.

Inside NCSL’s Policy PowerhouseNCSL’s expertise on policy issues is wide and deep. Learn how to access hundreds of the hottest policy trends and topics with Director of State Policy Research Laura Tobler and Director of State Services Arturo Perez.

1:30-2:30 p.m.

Protecting the Protectors? Changes to Qualified Immunity for PoliceFederal qualified immunity protects law enforcement officers from paying for violations of constitutional rights — but state and local governments almost always pay the price. Now, they’re taking action. Legislatures are creating state claims to limit applicability of qualified immunity and authorize personal liability insurance. Learn what it means for state and local budgets and the impact of potential federal action. Secrets of Parliamentary Rule-Makers and ManagersThrough an engaging Q&A, attendees will learn more about the roles of clerks, secretaries and parliamentarians, how they conduct their work—and some of the unique challenges they face. Find out more about what goes on behind the scenes, especially when rules, processes and personalities collide.  

2:30-2:45 p.m.

What's Up with the NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures? Everything!Join Director Caroline Carlson of the NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures to learn more about how the foundation works and the valuable contribution of supporters and partners.

2:45-3:45 p.m.

You’ve Got $1.9 Trillion for Pandemic Relief: Now What?States have considerable leeway when it comes to spending the American Rescue Plan’s $1.9 trillion. Guidance is mostly out for housing, Medicaid, economic security, workforce and child care, among others. Federal speakers will address funding and future priorities. They will be joined by legislators to discuss how funding has impacted their work and future planning.

3:45-4 p.m.

Meet NCSL’s OfficersNCSL President Robin Vos (R-Wisconsin) and Staff Chair Martha Wigton, of Georgia, discuss leading the organization and some lessons they’ve learned along the way.


Moving On Up: Economic Mobility in the U.S.The economic resiliency of U.S. households is a cross-cutting issue like no other. It affects every aspect of life and intersects with every policy area, especially health, housing, employment, education and law enforcement. Despite its importance, economic mobility is on the decline. This session will help members understand the perils of waning economic mobility and highlight evidence-based solutions. Boosting EQ: How to Increase Your Emotional SmartsRecent research in the field of organizational psychology suggests that emotional intelligence, or EQ, is an even more important attribute for success than IQ in both your personal and professional life. In this training, explore what EQ is, why it matters and how you can boost your own EQ score to improve your interactions with others. Let’s Binge-Watch the Legislative Channel!Should your state join the growing number with a dedicated public affairs network? Come hear leaders of three networks talk about operations and funding, advantages and challenges of networks, and what the future holds. Watch examples of programming, get a behind-the-scenes look at operations and find out more about lessons learned during the pandemic.

Eastern Time (ET)

Wednesday, August 4

9:30-11 a.m.

NCSL International Program 9:30–10 a.m. | Cyberspace Geopolitics: Emerging Technologies and Security.
10:05–10:25 a.m. | Plugging In Parliament: The New High-Tech Governance.
10:30–11 a.m. | Where in the World is the World? An International Conversation.

*This programming is open to all Base Camp attendees.

10:45-11 a.m.

Preview of NCSL Base Camp Day 2Get ready for an incredible second day of our event! Our hosts Mick Bullock and Erlinda Doherty spotlight the sessions you can’t miss.

11 a.m.-Noon

Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of TolerationIs civility really a virtue? Or is it a covert demand for conformity that silences dissent? University of Oxford Professor Teresa M. Bejan sheds light on the subject, based on her “penetrating and sophisticated” book, “Mere Civility.” She’s filmed a popular Ted Talk, been interviewed on podcasts and has been featured in media outlets from BBC Radio to The New York Times.

Noon-1 p.m. 

Reimagining Education in a Post-Pandemic WorldNever has there been such a disruption in our nation’s education system — or such an opportunity to reimagine an education system that helps students thrive and excel.  Come hear one of the nation’s most respected education experts and two legislators discuss a vision for this new system and the concrete policies and practices that will take us there.

1-1:15 p.m .

You Think You Know Legislatures?Prepare to have your mind expanded by NCSL’s Megan McClure, who’s here to give highlights of her team’s six-episode podcast series looking at the 400-year history of legislatures—and what the future may hold.

1:15-2:15 p.m. 

How to Keep Great Staff for a Stronger InstitutionRetaining staff talent and expertise helps the legislature remain a strong, effective institution. But as employers, legislatures must battle strong headwinds right now: crushing workloads, tight timeframes, remote work, changing technology, negative public perception and employee burnout. Discover how to take on the topic of retention and hear strategies that you can use in your own legislative workplace. COVID-19: Vaccines and Public PolicyVaccination plays a key role in the response to COVID-19. Effective vaccine distribution, administration and communication can eventually end the pandemic. This session will provide the latest information on the COVID vaccine roll out and provide strategies to get more shots in arms. Attendees will hear about state legislative policy options and intergovernmental collaborations that enhance equitable access to — and public confidence in — vaccines.  Just the Facts: Using Evidence to Make PolicyHas the term "evidence-based" been bandied about so much that it has lost its meaning—particularly in complex policy areas such as workforce development? Hear what evidence really means and how it can help guide decisions that are more likely to achieve policymakers’ desired outcomes. Learn about research-backed workforce approaches that offer practical solutions for building a resilient workforce and strong state economy.

2:15-2:30 p.m. 

NCSL 2021 Legislative Summit PreviewNCSL’s Legislative Summit is back! Plan on seeing your colleagues from across the nation in Tampa, Florida, Nov. 3-5. You won’t want to miss this stellar event, and we’ll tell you why!

2:30-3:30 p.m.

Pandemics and Budgets and Pensions — Oh My!It’s been a wild ride — from budget shortfalls to revenue recovery to an influx of federal dollars, states have seen it all. In one year, lawmaker deliberations shifted from what to cut to how to spend. What are the long-term implications of volatility on budgeting, forecasting and pension management? Hear how states fared during the pandemic and what might be next. Battling Burnout: Strategies for Less Stress and Better HealthFeeling stressed out after a year like no other? Heavier workloads and uneven work-life balance have pushed many staff to their limit. Come learn about the signs of burnout and proven, practical strategies for managing it, both for yourself and your team.  Upgrading the Grid: What Can States Do, and How the Feds Can HelpNew electric transmission infrastructure is key to expanding and modernizing the nation’s electric grid, but development has been stymied by significant challenges. Join a robust discussion of top state, federal and industry officials to learn more about stumbling blocks and possible solutions.

3:30-3:45 p.m. 

It’s All About Your Professional Network!NCSL’s associations connect state legislative staff in each state. Learn how you can become a part of these valuable networks from Angela Andrews, head of NCSL’s Legislative Staff Services.

3:45-5 p.m. 

A Salute to Legislative StaffAfter a year unlike any other, legislative staff have showed creativity, grit and perseverance. Join us to celebrate the important work of legislative staff as we recognize the 2021 recipients of the Legislative Staff Awards. Adm. William H. McRaven will be on hand to honor the unprecedented and historic work of staff and speak about the value of public service.

7-9 p.m. 

Trivia Night
Compete with Colleagues Across the Nation for Prizes!The popular Trivia Night is back! Network with colleagues from across the country and test your knowledge about states, pop culture and other subjects. Compete for prizes! The session is moderated by NCSL Executive Director Tim Storey. Join him and trivia master Ben Sawyer for a night of fun you’ll long remember

Eastern Time (ET)

Thursday, August 5

10:30-10:45 a.m.

Preview of NCSL Base Camp Day 3Our hosts Mick Bullock and Erlinda Doherty spotlight the sessions you can’t miss on the last day of NCSL Base Camp 2021.

10:45-11:45 a.m. 

Election Perfection: You Be the JudgeTune in as legislators pitch three different election reform ideas: reining in citizen initiatives, ranked choice voting and open primaries. In a session reminiscent of the reality TV show “Shark Tank,” you can choose any or all of these options, depending on whether you think adopting each legislator’s proposed reform is good for American democracy. A Deep Dive Into Unemployment Data: Takeaways for StatesThe impact of COVID-19 on the labor force has been unprecedented, with jobless numbers not seen since the Great Depression. Hear national experts unwrap the data on how COVID-19 impacted the labor force, state unemployment systems and demographics. Listen to colleagues and experts on ways to build back a workforce and unemployment system that is better prepared for the next recession.  A Real Racket: Combatting Illegal Gambling MachinesState legislatures are more interested than ever in preventing the spread of illegal gambling machines, which pose a threat to consumers who think they’re getting a fair shake, are often tied to organized crime and provide no state tax revenue. Explore how states are strengthening illegal gambling laws and working with law enforcement to crack down on this dangerous market.

11:45 am-Noon 

How State Legislatures Responded During the Pandemic and What We LearnedThe COVID-19 pandemic caused many legislatures to consider or adopt remote operations. Natalie Wood, our director of the Center for Legislative Strengthening, recently wrote an article for State Legislatures Magazine on the topic and will share her findings in this live interview.

Noon-1 p.m.

Redistricting Maps: You Say Fair, I Say FoulThe people have spoken: They want “fair” maps. But what IS a fair map? Watch the leaders of the parties’ main redistricting groups— the National Democratic Redistricting Committee and the National Republican Redistricting Trust — address often-referenced but never-defined perennial points of contention, such as what “fair” really means.

1-1:15 p.m. 

What’s Cooking in the District?The relationship between the federal government and the states? It’s complicated. Molly Ramsdell, director of NCSL’s Washington, D.C. office, and Senior Federal Affairs Counsel Susan Parnas Frederick, are here to talk about NCSL’s priorities and how they promote state flexibility.

1:15-2:15 p.m. 

Responsible Budgeting in the Age of StimulusThe pandemic-induced recession resulted in a tremendous influx of federal stimulus funds. Where is this money going, and how can states ensure it is spent responsibly? This session will offer insights from the Congressional Budget Office and the Center for Responsible Budgeting. The Risks and Rewards of Higher EducationHigher education can mean higher pay down the road. But as college costs have risen and completion rates remain stagnant, the decision to pursue a degree carries some risk. Experts will discuss how prospective students can navigate the higher education marketplace to get the most bang for their buck. The session will also address how these insights might inform state and federal policymaking. Servant Leaders in the Legislative LandscapeYou may have heard the saying, "If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you." But what have you heard about the concept of servant leaders? Join legislative staff as they define servant leadership, discuss the traits of servant leaders and explore examples of how staff can increase their capacity to lead and support others.

2:15-2:30 p.m. 

News You Can Use—And So Much More! Dive into State Legislatures News, NCSL’s digital newsroom, for the latest trends in public policy, profiles of state legislative districts and staff snapshots! Hear from Lesley Kennedy, who directs NCSL’s publishing and digital content, and Lisa Ryckman, who oversees State Legislatures News, to learn why SLN should be on your agenda every day!

2:30-3:30 p.m. 

Pump Up Your Productivity!Whether you work for a single legislator or more than one, a caucus or an entire legislative body, managing competing demands and multiple projects is challenging. During this short program, learn how to get organized, set priorities, create a work plan for keeping on top of project details, communicate with collaborators and meet deadlines. What’s Up with the Census?On its face, the census — a once-in-a-decade count of everyone living in the United States — is an administrative and even sleepy affair. Not this decade! With political power and billions in federal funds on the line, states have a strong interest in ensuring they are counted accurately. Tune in as experts break down the numbers to find out what we know so far from the census about our nation’s fiscal and political fates. Everything You Need to Know About This U.S. Supreme Court TermThe Supreme Court’s last year has been unlike any other. The justices dialed in to hear oral arguments on the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act and a Voting Rights Act case, among others. Learn about the hottest cases for states decided this term, along with a discussion of changes and trends on the court.

3:30-3:45 p.m. 

Base Camp Wrap UpSome final thoughts on the end of our second NCSL Base Camp, with NCSL Communications Director Gene Rose.


Plan ahead and register now.

Mark time on your calendar now to ensure you get the maximum benefit from NCSL Base Camp 2021. At just $59 for NCSL members and $129 for non-members, this online experience is more than worth the price of admission.

seat icon Reserve Your
Seat Now