Leadership, Politics, and the Arts

Saturday, June 17, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Come back together for a special plenary celebrating the winners of the Americans for the Arts Leadership Awards and exploring the complex interchange between politics and the arts in our current political climate. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will share some thoughts about the role of the arts in politics (and vice versa) and will then join Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch for a wide-ranging conversation and Q&A.

#aftacon

Presenters
Nancy Pelosi
House Democratic Leader
United States House of Representatives
San Francisco, California

Nancy Pelosi is the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 114th Congress. From 2007 to 2011, Pelosi served as Speaker of the House, the first woman to do so in American history. As the Democratic Leader, Pelosi is fighting for bigger paychecks and better infrastructure for America’s middle class families. In 2013, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the American women’s rights movement. For 29 years, Leader Pelosi has represented San Francisco, California's 12th District, in Congress. She has led House Democrats for more than 12 years and previously served as House Democratic Whip. Under the leadership of Pelosi, the 111th Congress was heralded as "one of the most productive Congresses in history" by Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein. President Barack Obama called Speaker Pelosi “an extraordinary leader for the American people," and the Christian Science Monitor wrote: “…make no mistake: Nancy Pelosi is the most powerful woman in American politics and the most powerful House Speaker since Sam Rayburn a half century ago.” Working in partnership with President Obama, Speaker Pelosi led House passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in early 2009 to create and save millions of American jobs, provide relief for American families, and provide a tax cut to 95 percent of working Americans. With the House Democratic Caucus, Pelosi continues to focus on the need to create jobs in America and prevent them from being shipped overseas. Speaker Pelosi achieved passage of historic health insurance reform legislation in the House which establishes a Patients’ Bill of Rights and will provide insurance for tens of millions more Americans while lowering health care costs over the long term. The new law provides patients with affordable insurance choices, curbs abuses by the insurance industry, strengthens Medicare, and reduces the deficit by more than $100 billion over the next 10 years. In the 111th Congress, Speaker Pelosi also led the Congress in passing strong Wall Street reforms to rein in big banks and protect consumers as well as the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which expands educational opportunities and reforms the financial aid system to save billions of taxpayers’ dollars. Additional key legislation passed into law included the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to restore the ability of women and all workers to access our judicial system to fight pay discrimination; legislation to provide health care for 11 million American children; national service legislation; and hate crimes legislation. In late 2010, Pelosi led the Congress in passing child nutrition and food safety legislation as well as repealing the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Pelosi has made energy security her flagship issue, enacting comprehensive energy legislation in 2007 that raised vehicle fuel efficiency standards for the first time in 32 years and making an historic commitment to American home grown biofuels. In 2009, under her leadership, the House passed the landmark American Clean Energy and Security Act – a comprehensive bill to create clean energy jobs, combat climate change, and transition America to a clean energy economy. The legislation was blocked by Republicans in the United States Senate, but sent a strong signal to the world about the United States’ commitment to fighting the climate crisis. A leader on the environment at home and abroad, Pelosi secured passage of the “Pelosi amendment” in 1989, now a global tool to assess the potential environmental impacts of development. In San Francisco, Pelosi was the architect of legislation to create the Presidio Trust and transform the former military post into an urban national park. In continuing to push for accountability and transparency in government, under Speaker Pelosi, the House passed the toughest ethics reform legislation in the history of the Congress, including the creation of an independent ethics panel, and increased accountability and transparency in House operations, including earmark reforms. As Speaker, Pelosi led the fight to pass the DISCLOSE Act in the House, which fights a corporate takeover of U.S. elections and ensures additional disclosure; she continues to fight for this legislation today. Additional key accomplishments signed into law under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi include: an increase in the minimum wage for the first time in 10 years; the largest college aid expansion since the GI bill; a new GI education bill for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; and increased services for veterans, caregivers, and the Veterans Administration. Pelosi comes from a strong family tradition of public service. Her late father, Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., served as Mayor of Baltimore for 12 years, after representing the city for five terms in Congress. Her brother, Thomas D'Alesandro III, also served as Mayor of Baltimore. She graduated from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. She and her husband, Paul Pelosi, a native of San Francisco, have five grown children and nine grandchildren.

Robert Lynch
President and CEO
Americans for the Arts
Washington, District of Columbia
Robert L. Lynch is president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. With more than 40 years of experience in the arts industry, he is motivated by his personal mission to empower communities and leaders to advance the arts in society, and in the lives of citizens. In 1996, Lynch managed the successful merger of the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, where he had spent 12 years as executive director, with the American Council for the Arts to form Americans for the Arts. Under his 30 years of leadership, the services and membership of Americans for the Arts have grown to more than 50 times their original size. He has personally reached audiences in over 2000 locations spanning all 50 states and more than a dozen nations, with diverse constituencies ranging from Native American tribal gatherings to the U.S. Armed Forces in Europe to the President of the United States. During his tenure at Americans for the Arts, Lynch has overseen six mergers including the Arts and Business Council, Inc. and the Business Committee for the Arts into Americans for the Arts. He has also created the Americans for the Arts Action Fund and its connected political action committee to establish arts-friendly public policy through engaging citizens to advocate for the arts and arts education. Under his direction, Americans for the Arts has become a leader in documenting and articulating the key role played by the nonprofit arts and culture industry, and their audiences, in strengthening our nation’s economy. This has been done through its signature study of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts community, Arts and Economic Prosperity IV, and the latest study measuring the arts in communities, The National Arts Index. He has also been instrumental in creating a strong portfolio of projects and information about the transformative value of the arts in non-arts areas such as civic dialogue, social problem solving and work with the Pentagon, West Point, and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the arts and military. Mr. Lynch currently serves on the boards of the Independent Sector, the Arts Extension Institute, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst College of Humanities and Fine Arts Dean’s Council. He recently was appointed to a second term on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, a position appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. In August 2014, he was selected as one of the most influential executives in the nonprofit sector for the NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50 for the third consecutive year, and in January 2014 he was awarded the Sidney R. Yates Award for Outstanding Advocacy on Behalf of the Performing Arts. Lynch earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and plays the piano, mandolin, and guitar. He lives in Washington, DC.
Abel Lopez
Associate Producing Director
GALA Hispanic Theatre
Washington, District of Columbia
Abel Lopez, associate producing director of GALA Hispanic Theatre, is Treasurer of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters. He is a former chair of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and immediate past chair of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC). He is a past president of the Helen Hayes Awards, the Performing Arts Alliance, Leadership Washington, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and Theater Communications Group, the national service organization for professional theaters. Lopez is also past chair of the Creative Communities Initiative of the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region. Mr. Lopez is also a member of the Boards of Directors of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts, NALAC, In Series, and Black Women Playwrights Group. He is a member of The Kennedy Center Community board, Latino Advisory Board of the Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution, and Advisory Committee of The Playwrights Forum. He has directed productions at GALA, Horizons Theatre, DC Arts Center, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Source Theater, and In Series in Washington, DC, as well as many other theaters across the nation. His productions have also been presented in Venezuela, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Cuba. In 1991, Mr. Lopez was named a Washingtonian of the Year. Mr. Lopez resides in Washington, D.C.