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Indiana Conference on Citizenship 2020

The Best of America: Citizenship in Times of Crisis

On Constitution Day – September 17, 2020 – Sagamore Institute hosted the 6th annual Indiana Conference on Citizenship. In face of an unprecedented year, the 2020 conference focused on the critical role of citizenship during times of national crisis. Drawing from the lessons he learned as the first director of the USA Freedom Corp, keynote speaker John Bridgeland shared how the spirit of volunteerism and civic engagement shape our national response to crisis. 

Watch the event highlights, read the speaker's bios, and explore our game day program to learn more.

  • Event Highlights
  • Speaker Bios
  • Game Day Program

Welcoming Remarks

Jay Hein | President of sagamore Institute

Jay Hein explains the purpose of our annual ICOC as well as the importance of this year’s theme: Citizenship in Times of Crisis.

9/11 and the Heart of the Nation

John Bridgeland | first Director of USA Freedom Corps

John Bridgeland tells us about a US President who chose citizen action as remedy to the wounds of 9/11.

Indiana in the Nation's Service

Dr. Les Lenkowsky | Former CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service

Les is one of America’s foremost scholars on civil society in America and shared insights into the unique role that Indiana University has played since the earliest days of the national service movement.

Celebrating American Ideas Award

Presented to Jaylon Smith

As a think tank committed to moving ideas into action, the fourth Celebrating American Ideas award was awarded to Jaylon Smith, Dallas Cowboys linebacker and founder of the Minority Entrepreneurship Institute (MEI). MEI closes the economic and educational gap for minority entrepreneurs by connecting impact investors to quality and meaningful minority-owned investment opportunities, holding annual pitch competitions, and providing consulting services and support to minority entrepreneurs. At the 6th annual Indiana Conference on Citizenship, Sagamore Institute  honored Jaylon Smith for putting his vision to work by providing equal resources and opportunity to close the gap. Given the beginning of a busy NFL season, Jaylon was not able to join us live at the event but the program featured a video highlighting his important work with MEI.

Some Books Make Us Free

Alexandra Hudson

This October, we are building on the success of the Harrison’s first rare books exhibit that took place July 2019. In light of recent events, the theme of this year’s exhibit will focus on an essential aspect of citizenship in a democracy: political dissent. Over the last few months we have seen tens of thousands of people across the country exercising their right to criticize what they see as the weaknesses of our country and demand change. We have seen this through peaceful assembly, petition and protest. Many do this because they love America and want to see it do better. In October, we will use art to bring life to ideas around the mechanics and philosophy of our system of government. Watch Alexandra Hudson discuss the upcoming art gallery and click the button for more information.

John Bridgeland

John Bridgeland is Founder and CEO of Civic, a social enterprise firm in Washington, D.C. He is also Vice Chairman of the Service Year Alliance, an initiative to create a civilian national service counterpart to military service in the United States; Vice Chairman of Malaria No More; Co-Convenor of the GradNation campaign; Co-Chair of the Future of Work Initiative; and Co-Founder of the High Seas Initiative. He is also author of the book, “Heart of the Nation: Volunteering and America’s Civic Spirit”, which was reissued in paperback on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 with a foreword by General Stanley McChrystal and is studied on college campuses.

In 2010, President Obama appointed Bridgeland to the White House Council for Community Solutions, where he authored the report “Opportunity Road: The Promise and Challenge of America’s Forgotten Youth.” Bridgeland previously served as Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council in the first term of President George W. Bush, where he coordinated policy on more than 100 issues, and then as Assistant to the President of the United States and first Director of the USA Freedom Corps, where he coordinated policy on international, national, community, and faith-based service in the aftermath of 9/11. He co-chaired the White House Task Force on the Revitalization of New York City after 9/11. Bridgeland also co-led the Policy Transition for the President elect in 2000-2001.

Bridgeland co-authored the book, “Teaching America: The Case for Civic Education” led the White House Summit on American History, Civics and Service, and worked with the National Archives to develop Our Documents to promote understanding of 100 important documents in American history. He testified before the National Academy of Sciences on his post-9/11 efforts to increase civic engagement.

Bridgeland also was a co-convener of ServiceNation, a Presidential forum with Senators John McCain and Barack Obama on September 11, 2008, and a national summit that showcased a comprehensive plan to increase community, national, and international service opportunities. The plan generated a TIME cover story and was included in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act led by Senator Orrin Hatch, which was signed into law within the first 100 days of the Obama Administration.

Dr. Leslie Lenkowsky

Dr. Leslie Lenkowsky is professor of practice in the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and a member of the philanthropic studies faculty of the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. He teaches courses on philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, social entrepreneurship, civil society around the world, and public policy.

Dr. Lenkowsky returned to the university in January 2004 after stepping down as chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a position to which he was appointed by President George W. Bush in October 2001.

Before joining the Bush Administration, Dr. Lenkowsky was professor of philanthropic studies and public policy at IUPUI. From 1990 to 1997, he served as president of the Hudson Institute, an internationally renowned public policy research institute. Dr. Lenkowsky has also served as president of the Institute for Educational Affairs, deputy director of the United States Information Agency, research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and research director at the Smith Richardson Foundation.

A graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, Dr. Lenkowsky received his doctorate from Harvard University. His writing has appeared in such publications as CommentaryThe Weekly StandardThe Wall Street Journal, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy. He has spoken frequently to educational and philanthropic groups throughout the United States and internationally.

Alexandra Hudson

Alexandra is passionate about the way that ideas and storytelling can change people’s lives. She is an award-winning writer based in Indianapolis, currently working on a book on civility and American civic renewal.

She earned her Master’s degree in Public Policy at the London School of Economics as a Rotary Scholar, and has served at the local, state, and federal levels of government and policy—including a recent appointment at the U.S. Department of Education. She was awarded a 2019 Novak Fellowship for her original reporting and analysis on civility, public discourse, and civil society in America.

Now a full-time journalist and writer, Alexandra is an in-demand speaker and commentator, appearing frequently on local, national and international television outlets such as CBS, Fox News, and others. She is a regular contributor to USA Today, and also writes for The Wall Street Journal, TIME Magazine, POLITICO Magazine, Newsweek, and other nationwide outlets

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