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Public Affairs Institute

January 8-11, 2024 | The Waterfront Beach Resort | Huntington Beach, Calif.

The January 2024 program still has a few open seats. Please submit your application to join!

The Premier Gathering of Public Affairs Executives

Step outside the day-to-day challenges of your job. Focus on the broader issues that shape the business and political environments in which your organization operates.

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The Public Affairs Institute combines a rigorous curriculum with small, carefully selected classes to provide participants with unmatched opportunities to learn directly from premier faculty. Speakers are issue experts from leading universities, think tanks and the top levels of government.

The Institute’s three-year course of study ensures that graduates gain an in-depth understanding of the pivotal issues in public affairs today. You will be immersed in an exceptional educational and networking environment renowned for its innovation and excellence.

The Institute curriculum is developed for public affairs executives by public affairs executives. Topics are chosen based on input from previous graduates about the challenges that they and
their organizations face.

Monday, January 8

3:00 p.m. – Registration Begins Huntington Foyer

3:30 p.m. – Mandatory Orientation for First-Year Class Huntington DE

5:00 p.m. – Welcome Remarks & Introductions Huntington C

5:30 p.m. – Plenary Session: Tom Nichols Huntington C

6:30 p.m. – Welcome Dinner Huntington Pool

Tuesday, January 9

7:00 a.m. – Breakfast Buffet Huntington Pool

8:00 a.m. – Plenary Session: Risa Mish Huntington C

9:00 a.m. – Break 

9:15 a.m. – Plenary Session: Laura Olson Huntington C

10:15 a.m. – Break 

10:45 a.m.

  • 1st Year: Tom Nichols Huntington DE
  • 2nd Year: Risa Mish Huntington AB
  • 3rd Year: Class Photo Huntington Pool

12:15 p.m. – Lunch Buffet Huntington Pool

2:00 p.m.  

  • 1st Year: Free Period
  • 2nd Year: Tom Nichols Huntington AB
  • 3rd Year: Risa Mish Dolphin

3:30 p.m. – Break

4:00 p.m.

  • 1st Year: Risa Mish Huntington DE
  • 2nd Year: Laura Olson Huntington AB
  • 3rd Year: Tom Nichols Dolphin

5:30 p.m. – Reception Huntington Pool

6:30 p.m. – Class Off-Site Dinners

Wednesday, January 10

7:00 a.m. – Breakfast Buffet Huntington Pool

8:00 a.m.  

  • 1st Year: Optional Headshots Huntington Foyer
  • 2nd Year: Optional Headshots Huntington Foyer
  • 3rd Year: Laura Olson Dolphin

9:30 a.m. – Plenary Session: Etel Solingen Huntington C

10:30 a.m. – Break 

11:00 a.m. 

  • 1st Year: Laura Olson Huntington DE
  • 2nd Year: Etel Solingen Huntington AB
  • 3rd Year: Free Period

12:30 p.m.  – Lunch Buffet Huntington Pool

1:30 p.m. – Plenary Session: Amba Kak Huntington C

2:30 p.m. – Free Afternoon

6:30 p.m. – Class Off-Site Dinners

Thursday, January 11

7:00 a.m. – Breakfast Buffet Huntington Pool

8:00 a.m. – Plenary Session: Amy Walter Huntington C

9:00 a.m. – Break 

9:15 a.m. –  Plenary Session: Amy Meli Huntington C

10:15 a.m. – Break

10:45 a.m.

  • 1st Year: Amy Walter Huntington DE
  • 2nd Year: Free Period
  • 3rd Year: Amba Kak Dolphin

12:15 p.m. – Lunch Buffet Huntington Pool

2:00 p.m. 

  • 1st Year: Amba Kak Huntington DE
  • 2nd Year: Amy Walter Huntington AB
  • 3rd Year: Etel Solingen Dolphin

3:30 p.m. – Break

4:00 p.m.  

  • 1st Year: Etel Solingen Huntington DE
  • 2nd Year: Amba Kak Huntington AB
  • 3rd Year: Amy Walter Dolphin

5:30 p.m. – Break

5:45 p.m. – Capstone Session and Graduation Huntington C

6:15 p.m. – Farewell Reception Huntington Pool

Ethical Concerns in Artificial Intelligence

Amba Kak is the Executive Director at the AI Now Institute. In step with a fast evolving field, her transnational expertise spans a range of issues including AI regulation, data privacy, competition, network neutrality and digital copyright. Her work is published widely across academic journals and popular outlets, and has been featured in Nature, MIT Tech Review, Politico, among many others.

Prior to AI Now, Amba was Global Policy Adviser at Mozilla, where she helped develop Mozilla’s policy positions, and supported a multi-pronged campaign for data protection laws in India and Kenya. As a legal consultant at the National Institute of Public Finance & Policy, she has also advised India’s telecommunications regulator (TRAI) on net-neutrality rules. Amba has served as Senior Advisor on AI at the Federal Trade Commission and is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute at Northeastern University. She also serves on the Program & Strategy Committee for the Mozilla Foundation, where she advises the non-profit on its philanthropic and advocacy work.

Critical & Strategic Thinking for Public Affairs

Risa Mish is professor of practice of management at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.  Risa is an experienced professor and global keynote speaker focused on critical and strategic thinking, leadership, and influence. Using 30+ years’ experience as a litigator, helping MBA and Executive MBA students, and corporate and nonprofit clients, hone critical thinking, problem solving, and leadership skills so that they are able to influence with positive impact – no matter how complex the challenges that they, their teams and/or their organizations are facing.

Polarization, Populism and the Challenges to Democracy

Tom Nichols is a contributing writer at The Atlantic magazine and Professor Emeritus of national security affairs at the Naval War College. His career included deep engagement on a range of foreign policy issues including Russia, nuclear weapons, and the role of war in international affairs. He also worked in government and public policy in the Massachusetts House and in the U.S. Senate. Today he writes on the fight for democracy in America and around the world. He is a prolific author. His most well-known book, 2017’s The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters, examined the collapse of trust in experts and the increase in social attacks against science and learning from a public that thinks it knows as much as experts. He makes the case that this false egalitarianism is dangerous to democracy. The Death of Expertise has been published in fifteen foreign editions, including Chinese (complex and simple), Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Armenian, Russian, Ukrainian, Finnish, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, Romanian, Vietnamese, and Arabic.

The Intersection of Religion & Politics

Laura R. Olson is Thurmond Professor of Political Science, affiliated faculty in Religious Studies, and Director of the Ph.D. program in Policy Studies at Clemson University. She has been a U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Italy (University of Bari, 2020), president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (2020), and editor-in-chief of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. A native of Racine, Wisconsin, she earned a B.A. in political science from Northwestern University in 1990, as well as an M.A. (1991) and Ph.D. (1996) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on contemporary religion and politics with emphases on public opinion and civic engagement. Her work has appeared in leading scholarly journals including Political Research Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. She is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of nine books, most recently Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices (Routledge, 2018), Beyond Red State, Blue State: Electoral Gaps in the Twenty-First Century American Electorate (Prentice Hall, 2008), and Religious Interests in Community Conflict: Beyond the Culture Wars (Baylor University Press, 2007). A frequent source for various media outlets, she has been interviewed on CNN, National Public Radio, and BBC Radio and quoted in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today. She also won Clemson University’s campus-wide Fluor Daniel Student Government Excellence in Teaching Award in 2003.

World in Conflict: A Geopolitical Assessment

Etel Solingen is a Distinguished Professor and the Thomas T. and Elizabeth C. Tierney Chair in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of California Irvine. She has published on the reciprocal influence between international political economy and international security, globalization and its discontents, global supply chains, comparative regional orders, transnational diffusion, democracy, nuclear proliferation, international institutions, and science and technology.

Solingen’s book Nuclear Logics: Contrasting Paths in East Asia and the Middle East (Princeton UP) won the American Political Science Association’s best book award (formerly Woodrow Wilson) and the ISA’s Jervis and Schroeder Award.

The American Political Landscape: 2024 & Beyond

For more than 25 years, Amy Walter has built a reputation as an accurate, objective, and insightful political analyst with unparalleled access to campaign insiders and decision-makers. One of Washington’s Most Powerful Women in 2021, she is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, where she provides analysis of the issues, trends and events that shape the political environment.

A contributor to the PBS NewsHour, she provides weekly political analysis for the popular “Politics Monday” segment and is a featured contributor for their Election and Convention special coverage events. She is also a regular Sunday panelist on NBC’s Meet the Press and CNN’s Inside Politics and appears frequently on Special Report with Bret Baier on Fox News Channel. From 2017 until early 2021, Walter was the host of the weekly nationally syndicated program Politics with Amy Walter on The Takeaway from WNYC and PRX. She’s also the former political director of ABC News.

Amy was an inaugural fellow at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, where she now serves on the Board of Advisors. She graduated summa cum laude from Colby College, earned an honorary degree as a Doctor of Letters, and serves as a Trustee to the Board.

Hear From Past Participants

“The Public Affairs Institute is an innovative and unique public affairs experience. I walked away with fresh ideas, new ways of thinking and new relationships with senior leaders in the industry.”
     – Jennifer Brooks, PAC manager, Northrop Grumman Corp.

“The Institute should be mandatory professional development for public affairs executives. The content and substance covered is timely and critical. And the people are even better. My network is stronger and broader as a result.”
     – Kevin Hennessy, Director of Government Affairs, New England, Dominion Resources Inc.

“The Institute exceeded my expectations for a professional development program.  It was an incredibly insightful few years where the speakers delivered thought provoking ideas and concepts yet were fully engaged and interacted with the participants.  As important, the other students were high caliber professionals and I’m confident we will remain engaged over our careers.”
     – Brian McAndrews, Vice President, State Government Relations, TIAA

Past Participants’ Organizations

ABB Inc.
Agilent Technologies
Alcoa Inc.
Altria Corporate Services
American Beverage Association
American Council of
Life Insurers
American Electric Power
American Express Co.
American Forest and Paper
American Insurance Association
American Medical Association
American Petroleum Institute
American Standard
American Water Works
Amoco Corp.
Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc.
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
Arch Chemicals Inc.
Aristotle Inc.
Ashland Inc.
Association of American
Medical Colleges
Australia and New Zealand
Banking Group Limited
Bank of America
Bank One Corp.
Baxter Healthcare Corp.
Becton Dickinson and Co.
Behan Communications Inc.
Berlex Laboratories
Best Buy Co., Inc.
Bethlehem Steel Corp.
Blue Cross Blue Shield
BlueCross BlueShield of
BlueCross BlueShield of
South Carolina
The Boeing Co.
Bose Public Affairs Group LLC
BP America
Bravo Group Inc.
Brewers Association of Canada
Briggs and Stratton Corp.
Brown-Forman Corp.
Burlington Resources
Burroughs Wellcome Co.
The Campbell Co.
The Canadian Institute of
Chartered Accountants
Capital Blue Cross
Cargill Inc.
Catholic Health Initiatives
Centerpoint Energy Inc.
Central Freight Lines Inc.
Cephalon Inc.
ChevronTexaco Corp.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange
CHS Inc.
Citigroup Inc.
The Clorox Co.
CMS Panhandle Pipe Line Co.
CNA Financial
Columbia Gas of PA/MD/VA
Comcast Corp.
Constellation Energy Group
Coors Brewing Co.
Corning Inc.
CT Corp.
Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc.
CVR Energy Inc.
CVS Caremark
Diageo North America
Dow Corning Corp.
Duke Energy Corp.
DuPont & Co.
Duquesne Light Co.
Eastman Chemical Co.
Eastman Kodak Co.
Eaton Corp.
Edelman Canada
Edison Electric Institute
ElectriCities of North Carolina
Entergy Corp.
Equiva Services LLC
Exelon Corp.
Exxon Mobil Corp.

Federal Home Loan Bank of
Federation of American
FMC Corp.
Food Lion LLC
Fort James Corp.
Gap Inc.
Genentech Inc.
General Electric Co.
General Mills Inc.
Genworth Financial
GPU Energy
Grant Thornton LLP
Greater Cincinnati
Chamber of Commerce
Hallmark Cards Inc.
Harsco Corp.
Heineken USA Inc.
Hershey Foods Corp.
Hewlett-Packard Co.
Hill and Knowlton Inc.
Hoechst Celanese Corp.
Honeywell International
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield
of New Jersey
HSBC North America
Hughes Electronics
Illinois Tool Works Inc.
Impact Texas
InterContinental Hotels Group
International Council of
Shopping Centers
International Paper
ITC Holdings Corp.
JM Family Enterprises Inc.
John Deere
John Hancock Financial
Johns Manville Corp.
Johnson & Johnson
Kesarev Consulting
Keystone Automotive
Industries Inc.
K N Energy
Kraft Foods Inc.
Lawrence Berkeley National
Lechmere Inc.
LEGO Systems
Lennox International Inc.
Liberty Mutual Group
Limited Brands
Lincoln National Corp.
Linkedge Technologies Inc.
Lockheed Martin Corp.
Manulife Financial
Mary Kay Inc.
Mayo Clinic
MBNA America
McCormick Co.
McDonald’s Corp.
McLane Co., Inc.
MDU Resources Group
Mead Westvaco Corp.
Mongoven, Biscoe & Duchin Inc.
Moore & Van Allen PLLC
Multistate Associates Inc.
Mutual of Omaha
Mylan Laboratories Inc.
National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors
National Association of
National Automobile Dealers
National Council of Chain
Nestlé Waters North America Inc.
New York Power Authority
New York State Funeral
Directors Association
NOL Group
North America Corp.
Northeast Utilities
Northrop Grumman Corp.
Northwestern Mutual
NRG Energy Inc.
Nuclear Energy Institute
OneMain Financial
Pacific Life Insurance Co.
Paschall Strategic
PCS Phosphate Co., Inc.
Personal Care Products Council
PECO Energy Co.
Pfizer Inc.

PG&E Corp.
Philips Electronics
Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.
The Pires Group Inc.
Port of Seattle
Potlatch Corp.
PPL Corp.
Premera Blue Cross
Princeton Public Affairs Group
Principal Financial Group
The Procter & Gamble Co.
Professional Beauty Association
Progress Energy
Property Casualty Insurers
Association of America
Prudential Financial
Public Affairs Management LLC
Public Affairs Resources Inc.
Public Affairs Support Services
Publix Super Markets Inc.
Puget Sound Energy
Quantum Corp.
Raytheon Co.
Reed Elsevier Inc.
Reliant Energy Minnegasco
Retail Industry Leaders
Rexam Beverage Can Co.
Roche Diagnostics Corp.
Rockwell Collins
Rohm and Haas Co.
Rudin Management Co.
Salt River Project
SeaWorld Parks &
Entertainment Inc.
Sempra Energy
Serlin Haley LLP
Shell Oil
Siemens Corp.
Solem & Associates
Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Southwest Airlines Co.
Starbucks Coffee Co.
State and Federal
Communications Inc.
State Farm Insurance Co.
State Government Affairs Council
Sumitomo Corp. of Americas
Sun Microsystems
Sunoco Inc.
Synopsys Inc.
Target Corp.
TE Connectivity
Teck American Inc.
The College Board
The Compressed Gas
The Dow Chemical Co.
The Home Depot
The Kroger Co.
The Pillsbury Co.
The Prudential Insurance Co.
The Soap and Detergent
The Society of the Plastics
Industry Inc.
The Trammell Group
ThedaCare Health System
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
Toy Industry Association
Travelers Property Casualty Corp.
TRW Inc.
Tyco International
Union Pacific Railroad
Unisys Corp.
United Parcel Service
Unocal Corp.
Unum Corp.
VOX Global
Vulcan Inc.
Waggener Edstrom Worldwide
Walgreen Co.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Washington Roundtable
Waste Management
WellPoint Inc.
Wells Fargo & Co.
Western Union
Weyerhaeuser Co.
Whirlpool Corp.
Wisconsin Electric Power
Yum Brands Inc.

Conference Location

The Waterfront Beach Resort
21100 E Pacific Coast Hwy
Huntington Beach, CA 92648


Room Rates and Reservations

The Public Affairs Council negotiated a group rate of $305 plus taxes per night. The resort fee has been waived. Attendees should plan to stay for a minimum of four nights, arriving on January 8 and departing on January 12.

Getting Here

The Waterfront Beach Resort is located in Huntington Beach.

  • From John Wayne Airport (Orange County)
    Driving time: 22 minutes
  • From Los Angeles International Airport
    Driving time: 1 hour (plus, during peak traffic times)
  • From the Long Beach Airport
    Driving time: 30 minutes (plus, during peak traffic times)

Application Information


Please send your completed application to Brenda Plantikow at [email protected]. Once your application has been accepted, we will send you a confirmation with invoice for registration. Please be aware that in past years the first-year class has filled to capacity before the deadline, so it is recommended that you apply early. You will be notified within one week.

Annual Registration Fee*
Public Affairs Council Members$5,250
Non-Members: $6,750
Institute Fellows: $2,500

*Note: Tuition includes most meals. It does not include the cost of lodging, class dinners, transportation, or personal expenses.


Brenda Plantikow
Senior Manager, Board Relations
202.787.5965 | [email protected]