Over two-hundred Truman Scholars registered this year for the sold out Truman Scholars Association’s national conference in Washington, D.C. that took place from Thursday, July 18th to Sunday, July 21st. Since 2009, TSA has held the national conference every other year and has continued to successfully bring Truman Scholars together to reconnect, discuss the important policy issues of the day, and continue to promote the spirit of public service in which the scholarships are awarded as President Harry Truman’s living legacy.
The conference officially kicked-off with a happy hour held at the office of Social Driver. Scholars from near and far came together to meet, mix and mingle, and for some scholars, the event was a nice refuge from the notoriously oppressive D.C. humidity.
This year, the national conference returned to the National Press Club where the inaugural national conference was held back in 2009. Attendees enjoyed a cocktail hour before being seated for dinner by class year. TSA President Kyle Gracey (PA ’05) began the night with opening remarks highlighting the work TSA and its volunteers have been doing behind the scenes to make the conference possible. Furthermore, he thanked many of the corporate sponsors who made the conference possible and the Truman Scholars who donated towards the scholarship that made it possible for younger scholars to attend the conference. Luis A. Ubiñas (’83 NY) , President of the Ford Foundation, made remarks about the importance of data to address issues plaguing the country and the world, making a call to Truman Scholars to work together to solve pressing issues.
The conference continued the following morning at the Mount Vernon Place Conference Center where President Dr. Andrew Rich (’91 DE) introduced the Chair of the Truman Foundation, Madeleine Albright. Former Secretary Albright spoke about the state of the world today, providing stories from her own experiences and offering commentary on the role of women in society. She closed her speech at the conference with a humorous story about one of her famous pins, which left the crowd laughing. Her speech was followed by a speed networking session facilitated by TSA board member Monica Bell (’02 SC). The session allowed Truman Scholars to formally meet one another.
In the afternoon, attendees heard from John B. King, Jr. (’95 NJ), New York State Education Commissioner, who spoke about the growing inequality in education in our country and the importance of teachers who have change the lives of students, asking the crowd to remember that one teacher who changed their lives. This was followed by a break out sessions that consisted of a diverse array of panels that included: women in leadership, education reform, the impact of technology in improving government and non-profit work, and Obama’s middle east policy. Some scholars – true to public service form – spent their session time helping pack food for the hungry in D.C. with OUTREACH Service Project.
With a coffee break in-between, the second break out sessions included: public service and social entrepreneurship, the social and policy of public retirement plans, local government innovation, and a discussion on being a person of color in public service. Dr. Rich closed the formal events of the conference by thanking many of the volunteers and TSA board members for making the conference possible. He shared with the attendee the Foundation’s new program to engage Truman Scholars in elected office and appointed office with the federal government. It might just be a matter of time before a Truman Scholar occupies the oval office!
TSA class chairs and co-chairs organized dinners for Truman Scholars by class that evening throughout the D.C. metropolitan area. Some scholars attended the post-dinner celebration with drinks at The Board Room. While other scholars went to brunch the next morning as the final event of the TSA national conference. The conference would not have been possible without the entire effort of the TSA board, its volunteers, the Foundation, and the sponsorship we receive to allow us to bring together over two-hundred Truman Scholars to the national conference. Special thanks to Katie Liberman (’06 MA), TSA board member, for organizing the conference and ensuring that everything ran smoothly.
We hope to see you at the next national conference in 2015!