NCSL Announces Speakers for the 43rd Annual Legislative Summit


NCSL press release Denver—Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin, political commentator and pollster Frank Luntz, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Catherine Pugh of the City of Baltimore, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, and Democratic National Committee Deputy Chair Keith Ellison of Minnesota are some of this year’s line-up of speakers during the during the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) 43rd annual Legislative Summit.

The NCSL Legislative Summit will bring four inspired days of knowledge, resources and innovation. Join thousands of legislators and legislative staff Aug. 6-9 in Boston.

Summit attendees will “dive deep” into six fascinating and provocative issues: police community relations, disruptive innovation in higher education, fixing health care, communicate to succeed, U.S. economic outlook, the changing nature of jobs. These in-depth, interactive sessions provide insight and a roadmap to charting workable solutions for states. They are among some 100 sessions on the most critical policy issues of the day.

The following are some of our featured speakers and topics they’ll address. All times are Eastern Standard:

Sunday, Aug. 6

  • Charles Baker, governor of Massachusetts, is an opening General Session panelist on Sunday. Baker, a Republican, joins Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Mass.) and Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Mass.) on how the commonwealth rolls up their sleeves and reaches consensus to move their state forward. Aug. 6, 1-2 p.m., Boston Convention Center Ballroom

Monday, Aug. 7

  • Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness, is a speaker for the Improving Children’s Chances by Combatting Early Trauma session on Monday. Harris will discuss how adverse childhood experiences affect brain development. Aug. 7, 8:45-11 a.m., 157 ABC
  • Willow Jacobson, associate professor at the University of North Carolina, is the speaker at the Legislative Staff University session on Monday. Jacobson talks about cutting-edge research and practical ideas to motivate people, recognize and reward employees, and improve the workplace. Aug. 7, 10-11:45 a.m., 205 ABC
  • Kevin de Laplante, philosopher and creator of the Critical Thinker Academy, is the speaker for the Critical Thinking: Objective Analysis for Today’s World session. Laplante teaches how to filter out bias, recognize misrepresentations, and teaches others how to distinguish bias from fact. Aug. 8, 2:15 - 3:30 p.m., 258 AB

Tuesday, Aug. 8

  • Frank Luntz, one of the nations’ foremost political commentators and pollsters, is the General Session speaker on Tuesday. Lutz will reveal how to speak to your constituents with the words that work for the issues and concerns that matter. Aug. 8, 9-10 a.m., Boston Convention Center Ballroom
  • Beth Ann Bovino, U.S. chief economist at S&P Global Ratings, is a speaker for the Beyond the Horizon: U.S. Economic Outlook session on Tuesday. Bovino joins Daniel White to discuss what works to promote growth during an economic recovery. Aug. 8, 10:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 204 AB
  • Daniel White, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics, is a speaker for the Beyond the Horizon: U.S. Economic Outlook session on Tuesday. Bovino joins Beth Ann Bovino to discuss what works to promote growth during an economic recovery. Aug. 8, 10:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 204 AB
  • Anthony Chan, chief economist for Chase, is a speaker for the Changing Nature of Jobs: Is Our Workforce Prepared session on Tuesday. Chan will speak on how states and the private sector are working together to address the skills gap. Aug. 8, 10:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 104
  • William Evans, Boston Police Commissioner, is a panelist for the Police Community Relations session on Tuesday. Evans joins Catherine Pugh, mayor of Baltimore, and Phillip Atiba Goff, co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity, to address building trust between lawmakers, community leaders and police officials in promoting unbiased administration of justice. Aug. 8, 10:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 102 AB
  • Celeste Headlee, award winning journalist, is the Salute to Legislative Staff speaker on Tuesday. Headlee will walk through 10 steps to being a superstar conversationalist, based on her expertise in Ted Talk “Ten Ways to Have Better Conversations.” Aug. 8, 12:30-2 p.m., Boston Convention Center Ballroom

Wednesday, Aug. 9

  • John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is the speaker at the Republican Breakfast. Wednesday. Aug. 9, 8- 9:15 a.m., 253 BC
  • Keith Ellison, Democratic National Committee, Deputy Chair, Keith Ellison. He was elected to the Minnesota Legislature in 2002 and has served in Congress since 2007, is the speaker at the Democrat Breakfast. Wednesday. Aug. 9, 8 - 9:15 a.m., 258 AB
  • Barbara Dershowtiz, of Barbara Dershowitz LLC, is the speaker for the Legislative Staff Breakfast on Wednesday. Dershowtiz speaks about easing the path of change in life, and work or home environments. Aug. 9, 8- 9:15 a.m., 205 ABC
  • Debbie Sterling, founder of GoldieBlox, is the speaker for the From Playrooms to Boardrooms: Encouraging STEM Careers for All session on Wednesday. Sterling talks about what state legislators can do to help nurture young entrepreneurs in these areas. Aug. 9, 9:30 -10:45 a.m., 254 AB
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, is the 2018 Kickoff speaker on Wednesday. Goodwin will reflect more than 150 years of U.S. history to put into context our most recent unconventional presidency. Aug. 9, 12:30-2 p.m., Boston Convention Center Ballroom

A complete list of this year’s speakers can be found on our website along with the week’s agenda. In addition to speakers, also lists information about important meetings and events that will take place in Boston this August.

NCSL’s Summit is the largest gathering of its kind where state legislators and legislative staff come together to promote bipartisan dialogue on some of the most pressing concerns facing states. Approximately 6,000 attendees are expected at the meeting, which will be held at the Boston Convention Center.

All meetings held in conjunction with NCSL’s Legislative Summit are open to the press. Registration is required but free to credentialed members of the media. Online registration is open and highly encouraged. Please review NCSL’s media policy before registering.


NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.