Speakers

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47)

Congressman Alan Lowenthal is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives representing California’s 47th District, which encompasses the cities of Long Beach, Signal Hill, Avalon, and parts of Lakewood in Los Angeles County and the cities of Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Cypress, Westminster, Garden Grove, Buena Park, Anaheim, Midway City and Stanton, in Orange County. He was first elected in 2012 and reelected in 2014 and 2016.

He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He is the Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. As a member of Natural Resources he also serves on the Subcommittee on Federal Lands. As a member of Transportation and Infrastructure, he serves on the Highways and Transit, the Water Resources and Environment, and the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation subcommittees.

Before being elected to Congress, Congressman Lowenthal served two terms on the Long Beach City Council, three terms as a California Assemblyman, and two terms as a California State Senator. He is widely regarded as a leader on environmental, transportation, human rights, education, and redistricting issues.

During his tenure as a member of the California State Legislature Congressman Lowenthal championed independent redistricting, working closely with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was instrumental in the establishment of the California Citizens Redistricting commission. Continuing this work in the House of Representatives, he believes American elections should be fair, unbiased, and represent the voice of the people. The first bill the Congressman introduced in Congress was the “Let the People Draw the Lines Act”, which would ensure congressional districts accurately represent local communities across the country, rather than the current system that frequently serves the interests of incumbents and political parties. Modeled after the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, the bill gives responsibility for drawing districts to the residents of the state through the formation of independent citizens redistricting commissions. In 2015, the Congressman led the bipartisan amicus brief of House Members to the Supreme Court in the case Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission to uphold state’s rights to have independent redistricting commissions. More recently, the Congressman lead the bipartisan amicus brief of House Members in the Gill v. Whitford case to establish barriers to limit extreme partisan gerrymandering. He continues his work on both sides of the isle to find a bipartisan solution to end gerrymandering nationwide.

John Avlon

John Avlon is an author, columnist and commentator. He is a senior political analyst and fill-in anchor at CNN, appearing on New Day every morning. From 2013 to 2018, he was the editor-in-chief and managing director of The Daily Beast, during which time the site’s traffic more than doubled to over one million readers a day while winning 17 journalism awards. He is the author of the books Independent Nation, Wingnuts, and Washington’s Farewell as well as co-editor of the acclaimed Deadline Artists journalism anthologies. Avlon served as chief speechwriter to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and won the National Society of Newspaper Columnists award for best online column in 2012.

After the attacks of September 11th, 2001, he and his team were responsible for writing the eulogies for all firefighters and police officers murdered in the destruction of the World Trade Center. Avlon’s essay on the attacks, “The Resilient City” concluded the anthology Empire City: New York through the Centuries and won acclaim as “the single best essay written in the wake of 9/11.”

His first book, Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics was described by Barron’s as “a rewarding portrait of a political trend the established parties have tried to ignore” and hailed by TheModerateVoice.com as “the best political book ever on American centrist voters.”

Wingnuts: How The Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America was praised by President Bill Clinton, who said “Wingnuts offers a clear and comprehensive review of the forces on the outer edges of the political spectrum that shape and distort our political debate. Shedding more heat than light they drive frustrated alienated citizens away from the reasoned discourse that can produce real solutions to our problems.”

The two Deadline Artists anthologies, which Avlon co-edited with Jesse Angelo and Errol Louis won acclaim from the Washington Post as “one of the greatest collections of newspaper articles ever compiled” while the American Journalism Review described it as “the most addictive journalism book ever.”

Avlon has appeared on The Daily Show, Late Show with Stephen Colbert, CNN, Real Time with Bill Maher, PBS, and C-Span. He has spoken at the Kennedy School of Government, the Citadel, the State Department’s visiting journalist program, and civic organizations around the nation.

He serves on the board of Citizens Union of New York and The Bronx Academy of Letters as well as the advisory board of the Theodore Roosevelt Association. He was appointed to the New York City Voter Assistance Advisory Committee in 2011. Avlon is also a co-founder of No Labels – a group of Democrats, Republicans and Independents dedicated to the politics of problem-solving and making government work again.

In a profile, author Stephen Marshall wrote “Avlon talks about politics the way ESPN anchors wrap up sports highlights.” Columnist Kathleen Parker wrote, “Americans who are fed up with the Ann Coulter/Michael Moore school of debate and are looking for someone to articulate a commonsense, middle path, may have found their voice in John Avlon.”

He is married to Margaret Hoover, the author of American Individualism and host of PBS’s Firing Line. The New York Times says, “Visiting with the couple is a bit like hanging out with the members of a very good-looking high school debate team warming up for a match. Their telegenic union may be a lesson in overcoming the orthodoxies that divide us.” They live in New York City with their son, Jack and daughter, Toula Lou.

Ann Compton

Ann Compton is a former news reporter and White House correspondent for ABC News. A distinguished and highly respected 40-year veteran of the White House press corps, she was the first woman assigned to cover the White House by a television network. Her tenure stretched across seven presidents as well as innumerable life-changing and globe-altering events, including the end of the Cold War. During the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 Ms. Compton was the only broadcaster allowed to remain on board Air Force One after President George W. Bush was advised not to return to Washington, D.C.

David Daley

David Daley is the author of the national best-seller “Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count” (Norton) and a leading expert on partisan gerrymandering. He is a senior fellow at FairVote. His work has been published in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Slate, the Washington Post and many other publications. Daley is the former editor-in-chief of Salon. He has also held the Koeppel Fellowship in Journalism at Wesleyan University, and is the Institute for Liberal Arts journalism fellow at Boston College. His second book will be published by Norton in spring 2019.

Professor David Sloane

David Sloane, Ph.D., teaches courses in urban planning, policy, history, and community health planning. He facilitates Borthwick George Washington Lecture Series, a USC Price project in collaboration with the Fred W. Smith Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. His research examines urban planning and public health, health disparities and community development, and public and private commemoration. He is author of The Last Great Necessity: Cemeteries in American History (1991), co-author (with Beverlie Conant Sloane) of Medicine Moves to the Mall (2003), and editor of Planning Los Angeles (2012), as well articles and book chapters on related research topics. His new book, Is the Cemetery Dead? will appear in spring 2018.