2018 SLLF Spring Leadership Summit

Our Spring Leadership Summit, “Bridging the Gap: Leading & Learning from a New Generation,” took place in Cary, North Carolina from March 15-17.

The State Legislative Leaders Foundation and UNC Public Policy, College of Arts & Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill along with legislative leaders and business leaders from across the country met to talk about how the under-40 generations are fundamentally reshaping our politics.

Session highlights included:

Connected: Understanding How the Under 40’s Generations Communicate
Kristen Soltis Anderson, Author and Pollster

Kristen Soltis Anderson, author of The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading (and How Republicans Can Keep Up), offered four characteristics associated with those under forty: They want to define themselves (hence the time on social media); they are cautious about commitments (hence their timid response to government institutions); they are driven by fairness and caring (hence their focus on causes more than political parties); and, they value authenticity (hence their support for octogenarian Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election).

Causes NOT Caucuses: What Moves and Motivates Those Under 40
Abby Kiesa, Director of Impact, The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement
Panel of students from UNC at Chapel Hill

Abby Kiesa and some students from UNC Chapel Hill offered ideas about what will move young people toward civic engagement. Kiesa noted four “take-aways,” seconded by the student participants, that make it easier to understand and motivate those under forty.  First, they come from a very diverse set of experiences and backgrounds (which may be why they want to define themselves). Second, they don’t want to sit on the sidelines, they want do something and be art of solutions. Third, because of the technological world in which they were raised, they expect things to be customized to fit their needs, abilities and interests. Finally, they like that “personal touch”– talk to them, not at them.

See You at the Polls: Reaching a New Generation of Voters
Facilitator:          Susan King, UNC School of Media and Journalism
Discussants:        Evan Siegfried, President, Somm Consulting,
Fred Yang, Partner, Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group

While it is clear that millennials may not be as engaged in political parties as previous generations, political parties must engage them. According to Evan Siegfried, author of GOP GPS: How to Find Millennial and Urban Voters the Republican Party Needs to Survive, the Republican party is in danger of losing young voters unless they govern effectively and make a concerted effort to reach out to those under forty who will soon make up the largest portion of voters. On the other hand, Fred Yang of Hart and Associates suggests that Democrats must acknowledge and respond to the reality that younger voters are very diverse in their ethnicity (forty percent non-white) and are generally turned off by politics. Methods of engagement that have worked in the past may not work with this generation.

Why I’m In the Legislature: A Conversation with Young Legislators
Facilitator:          Steven Olikara, Founder & President, Millennial Action Project   Discussants:        Rep. Chaz Beasley, North Carolina, Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, North Carolina, Rep. Raumesh Akbari, Tennessee, Sen. Omar Aquino, Illinois

Steven Olikara, Founder and President of the Millennial Action Project led a panel of young legislators in talking about why they chose to run for the legislature, how they work to achieve their goals and what changes they would like to see to the legislative institution. Not surprisingly, they chose public service as a way to give back and to make a difference in their community. More surprisingly, these young legislators seemed willing to work within the system and accept advice from their senior colleagues in an effort to pass their bills, but also suggested that they might have some new ideas that would improve the process and the policies.

What New Skills and Challenges Do the Under 40’s Generations Bring to the Workplace?
Facilitator:          Dr. Daniel P. Gitterman, Chairman, UNC Department of Public Policy
Discussants:        Michael Adams, Director of Strategic Planning, Senate of Virginia, Kayla Woitkowski, SAS Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition

In this session, we heard about what employers in the public and private secrets are looking for and whether or not those coming onto the job market today possess those skills. It appears that there is a pretty good match with employers looking for creativity, problem solving skills and the ability to work in a team, all skills that seem quite prevalent among young jobseekers. They are used to solving problems, finding information on their own and working with others. Michael Adams of the Virginia Senate reminded us that while these skills are useful in the public sector, the political and conflictual nature of legislative work might make the use of those skills a bit more challenging. Clearly, the work place is changing and both employees and employers are adapting to those changes with things that appeal to this generation of jobseekers like flex time, collaborative decision making, project-oriented work teams and telecommuting.

 Contact Evelene Lakis for additional information.





Daniel P. Gitterman, Ph.D.

Chair, Public Policy
Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Professor of Public Policy
UNC Public Policy
College of Arts & Sciences
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Susan King
Dean, John Thomas Kerr Distinguished Professor
School of Media and Journalism
UNC Chapel Hill


Steven Olikara

Co-founder & President
Millenial Action Project



Kristen Soltis Anderson

Author & Republican Pollster



Evan Siegfried

Political Strategist & Commentator



Fred Yang

Partner, Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group

By |2017-11-13T14:57:47+00:00November 13th, 2017|