All eyes in D.C. may be on the looming presidential
election, but tucked inside a Marriott in downtown D.C., a conference of
entrepreneurs and policy wonks are aiming to shape the next generation of
Washington's movers and shakers.
It's called the Next Generation Government Training Summit,
and it's the hottest thing to hit the nation's capital since Jon Stewart and
Stephen Colbert. For two hot days, some of the brightest young minds in
business, government, media and tech will come together to brainstorm, swap
tips, exchange digits and hopefully be on the track to become America's next
top senator, congressman, reporter, and tech genius.
With hundreds of people in attendance, it's more than enough
to push even the most experienced event planner to the limit, but according to
Megan Price, event spokeswoman and manager for GovLoop, the organizers are more
"As we plan for our third Next Generation of Government
Training Summit, we have blocked off enough space to host up to 700
people," She said in an email interview. "Though we are anticipating
a larger group, we are keeping the breakfast sessions smaller in scope to
enhance interactive conversations and hands on training. This is why there are
so many breakout session options on the agenda."
Attendance doesn't come cheap. The full price of attendance is $640--$575 for an early bird
group discount for government workers. The sticker shock would drive away most
employees, but NextGen is prepared for that too. The conference has set up an
HR 'toolkit' to train and educate interested employees in the art of persuading
their boss to let them go, including an official letter from the Office of
Personnel Management sanctioning the event. For the most part, government
agencies and businesses set aside money explicitly for such occasions, and
those lucky enough to go represent their agency as de facto ambassadors to the
conference--another reason why Next Gen is so eager to get the word out.
"We have always offered guidance to help attendees
develop their courage and harness the tools needed to ask their supervisors to
attend NextGen," Price said. "This year, with the new website design,
we developed this section to make it easier for attendees to find."
Once they do arrive, participants will have the opportunity
to hear from the créme de la créme of corporate America and NGOs, including
former CIA Director of Intelligence Carmen Medina ("Corporate
Rebel"), Andrew Rasiej of the Personal Democracy Forum, Professor Kenneth
Gold of Georgetown's Government Affairs Institute, and many more.
The wide-ranging array of topics on the itinerary is more
than enough to stimulate young feds, but the absence of social media is
glaring. According to the schedule, there is only one afternoon session
addressing social media skills, and that's on a Thursday. But just because it's
not on the schedule, doesn't mean it won't be a part of the conference.
"Every year, NextGen agenda is set by past attendees,
their supervisors, and the NextGen board to ensure it reflects the true need of
officials attending." Price said. "While social media may not seem as
apparent a topic, it will be an underlying theme in several of the sessions as
it is a part of this generation's culture and working style. NextGen will have
its own mobile application that will be available to attendants via their
iPhone, Android or Blackberry so they can take notes, view slides and create
their own schedule."
"GovLoop will continue live blogging, online
discussions and year-long dialogue--anything that can help government workers
share information to help others do their job better."
But it's not just Generation Y who will benefit.
"The Next Gen Summit was created for and by emerging
leaders in government--not just young people," Price added. "Anyone
new to government, needing guidance or training to make their next career move
are encouraged to attend. After all, it is how you think and not your age that