With the Georgetown Public Policy Institute (GPPI) LEAD Conference just months away, we had a chance to sit down with the Dean of GPPI to discuss the role and purpose of the event. In this interview, Dean Edward Montgomery talks about his vision for the LEAD Conference and gives us a sneak peek into the panel that he will be moderating, titled “Policy and Legislation: National Level” (Friday, January 25, 2013 from 9:00-10:45am).
1. What prompted your decision to start hosting the GPPI LEAD Conference?
The LEAD Conference represents a very natural progression for GPPI in its transition from a leading policy institute to a formal policy school. Part of what we envision as GPPI becomes a school is a larger presence in undertaking relevant research, engaging policymakers and practitioners at all levels, and making research results accessible to the broader public. We have an impressive faculty with substantive expertise here at GPPI, and the LEAD Conference presents a great opportunity for faculty and students to engage other policymakers and leaders and, likewise, for policymakers and leaders to engage with our faculty and students.
2. In what ways does this conference advance the GPPI mission?
Fundamentally, a public policy school is a place where ideas and solutions for policy questions are created. It is a place where those ideas and proposals are disseminated broadly – to students and also to the public. The conference advances our mission by involving students, faculty and policymakers in a conversation about important policy issues.
3. What do you hope people will gain as a result of this conference?
I hope people will gain an appreciation for a more holistic approach when addressing problems related to at-risk youth. For instance, education is important, but it is not the only answer – same with labor issues, child welfare, and the other subject areas. We need to integrate various systems to contemplate solutions and reinforce what people are already finding regarding the success of holistic services. Additionally, I hope people can take home the message that although it is important to start early, and while there is a growing body of work on early childhood intervention, it is just as important to think about youth at ages 12, 15, 18, and even 22. It is never too late to help young people.
4. Can you tell us a little about the panel that you are moderating?
My panel is about national strategies and the role of the federal government in setting the agenda and parameters for policies relating to at-risk youth. The three “big planks” that set the foundation for this conversation are health, education, and social welfare. We have invited people with expertise in these areas, including researchers and current and former senior government officials, to lead the conversation about the importance and role of national policy in promoting positive outcomes for at-risk children. Since the conference will take place after the presidential election, we will be discussing the impact of potential changes on the future of child- and youth-related policies here in the U.S.
5. What would make this conference a success for you?
There is short-term success and long-term success. Short-term success means that we engage in active conversation, that the conference is well-attended, and that the discussion is disseminated to a robust set of internal and external people. Long-term success means that the conference was more than just a nice conversation. Even though policy ideas and proposals do not come together overnight, I want people to have a sense that they are a part of formulating new proposals and moving a very important issue forward. The conference is about altering and enriching decisions so that, down the line, these efforts to enact change will matter.
6. Will the LEAD Conference be an annual event? If so, what is the topic of the next conference?
Yes, the LEAD Conference will be held annually. There are many topics that we are currently considering for the next conference, including economic growth and international development. We are looking for another major policy issue to which GPPI can contribute in terms of its faculty and research centers and are exploring new ways to engage the public.
About Dean Edward Montgomery: Dean Montgomery joined GPPI in 2010 after serving as the Executive Director of the White House Council for Auto Communities and Workers under President Obama. Dean Montgomery also served in the Department of Labor during the Clinton Administration and as Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Maryland. He studies labor economics and has a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University.