Welcome to The Daily Beast’s inaugural Innovators Summit, co-hosted by HP, HBO, and Echoing Green. Kicking off tonight in New Orleans, the event brings together 300 world-class influencers—including Gen. Stanley McChrystal, public education dynamo Michelle Rhee, and filmmaker Spike Lee—to discuss practical steps for confronting America's challenges. Read full coverage of the summit here—and watch it live, starting at 8:30 p.m. EST.
All of us here know that our country is confronted with challenges as grave as at any time since the 1940s. More than 17 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. An astounding 42 percent of the unemployed have been looking for jobs for more than six months. Confidence has eroded in long-respected institutions in finance, education, and governance.
New Orleans, in addition, has endured a great natural disaster. Yet today it serves as a source of inspiration. The Crescent City is reinventing, rebuilding and reimagining itself. It’s a striking example of what is possible with good leadership—one of the themes of our conference. New Orleans has a visionary new mayor, Mitch Landrieu, a Super Bowl-winning football team, and some of the smartest start-ups and savviest social entrepreneurs in the country. The future of New Orleans is once again big, brash, and full of opportunity.
At The Daily Beast, marking its second anniversary this month, we have committed ourselves to amplifying the voices of those intent on finding ways forward through practical steps. Not with rhetoric, but with hard-nosed, non-partisan realism. We are gratified that more than 160 economists, five of them Nobelists, signed onto The Daily Beast manifesto, “Get America Back to Work.”
During the summit, at the great meeting space Mardi Gras World on the Mississippi River and at the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, we’ll share new ideas, report real-life experiences, and debate solutions. The sessions will be streamed live and will feed into an interactive discussion open to all on The Daily Beast. A gift for self-examination is part of America’s vigor as a nation, and this Innovators Summit reflects it.
We encourage you to follow Reboot America on Facebook and Twitter, and tweet about it using the hashtag #RebootUSA. Email and Facebook message your friends and encourage them to go to www.thedailybeast.com to read our coverage of America’s most important economic stories. Together we can start a dialogue that will keep going strong even after this weekend’s summit comes to a close.
What is truly thrilling about the collaboration for our two and a half days in New Orleans is how many of our world’s leaders and innovators have shelved plans to travel long distances to join us. From Braddock, Pennsylvania, Mayor John Fetterman and his heroic efforts to save his city, to Connie Rice, the co-director of the Advancement Project in Los Angeles, who works 24/7 to combat the gang culture of L.A., the great American comeback is happening, and its stories will be told through dynamic elements of journalism, live theater, video, photography, and storytelling. On opening night, we are thrilled to feature two unique perspectives on innovation from Mayor Landrieu himself and a brilliant panel hosted by HBO, moderated by Walter Isaacson, and starring Treme creator David Simon, filmmaker Spike Lee, Treme actor Wendell Pierce, and owner of the New Orleans Saints, Rita Benson LeBlanc. They will share their insight into the synergy of culture and recovery. On October 22, the conference will go into full swing as we begin with a discussion on the state of the economy with such brilliant thinkers as Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama administration Peter Orszag, Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson, investor Glenn Hutchins and renowned business leader Peter Peterson. We’ll end with a discussion between former Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, Frances Townsend and General Stanley McChrystal on the lessons of leadership. This will be followed by the general’s workshop with some of the nation’s most prestigious leaders. The evening will also showcase a foot-stomping performance from the musicians of HBO’s hit show Treme, Kermit Ruffins and friends, undoubtedly bringing down the house as only New Orleans knows how.
We are indebted to these tireless, brilliant Americans who give freely of their time and experience.
We thank HP for its public spirit in partnering with us in the founding of this summit, and especially Chief Marketing Officer Michael Mendenhall. HBO also brings valuable support, at the generous instigation of Co-President Richard Plepler.
Following the summit online, you will meet some of the city’s exciting young faces, and others brought to us by our third co-host, Cheryl Dorsey of Echoing Green, the organization that invests in and supports outstanding emerging innovators working on new solutions to society’s toughest problems.
So welcome to the summit. Let’s get moving.