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Governor Asa Hutchinson assembles national leaders for upcoming summit

Courtesy of the Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is announcing more newsmakers to the lineup for the inaugural “America Leads: An Ideas Summit” with top leaders from across the nation including Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, former Oklahoma congressman J.C. Watts and former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. 

These prominent leaders will join keynote speaker Condoleezza Rice.  Additional speakers include Dr. Kori Schake, Klon Kitchen and John Bailey, all senior fellows at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). 

The summit will take place Oct. 19 in Bentonville at the Momentary and will center on ideas that will guide America into the future.  The goal is to encourage problem-solving and practical solutions. 

 “Rep. Watts and Governors Ducey and Haslam – along with Sec. Rice, Dr. Schake, Mr. Kitchen and Mr. Bailey – are excellent additions to the America Leads summit, as they all have careers full of front-line experience in business, government and research. They are leaders who know what is at stake in America and has practical ideas to protect freedom at home and abroad.” said Gov. Hutchinson.  “We are looking forward to the discussions around the challenges facing our nation and coming up with effective and workable solutions.”

Former congressman J.C. Watts is from Oklahoma and a celebrated athlete, businessman, and broadcast and cable news veteran who currently is chairman, president and CEO of JC Watts Holdings, a multi-industry holding company headquartered in Oklahoma City. In 1990, Watts was the first African American elected statewide in Oklahoma when he was elected to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. He became chairman of the commission before being elected to Congress in 1994. In 1998, he was elected by his peers to serve as chairman of the Republican Conference, the 4th ranking leadership position in the majority party in the U.S. House of Representatives. Watts served on the Armed Services, Transportation and Banking committees. Watts helped develop the American Community Renewal/New Markets Act targeting underdeveloped communities and was the author of President Bush’s faith-based initiative. He also developed legislation with former congressman John Lewis to establish the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture.

Governor Doug Ducey was elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2018 with more votes than anyone in state history. Throughout his administration, Gov. Ducey has eliminated overburdensome regulations, fostered the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs, and reformed taxes every year he’s been in office—including signing the largest income tax cut in state history. With a prioritization in education, Arizona has invested over $11 billion dollars into K-12 education and brought per-pupil funding to a record high. He has also positioned Arizona as a national leader in school choice and civics education. Even with record investments and historic tax cuts, Governor Ducey has found a way to ensure Arizona’s insulated from future downturns, adding $1.4 billion dollars to the state’s Rainy Day Fund. He is a former businessman and CEO of Cold Stone Creamery who today also serves as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. 

Bill Haslam is the former governor of the State of Tennessee. He was first elected in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014 with the largest victory in modern Tennessee history. Under his leadership, Tennessee became recognized as a national leader in education, economic development, efficient and effective government, and fiscal strength. During his two terms as governor, Tennessee students were the fastest improving in the country in academic achievement, and high school graduation rates reached an all-time high. Tennessee became the first state in the nation to offer high school graduates and adults two years of community or technical college free of mandatory tuition and fees as part of the governor’s Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect programs. Approximately 450,000 private sector jobs were created during his time in office, and Tennessee’s unemployment rate reached the lowest level recorded in state history. Since leaving office, Haslam has returned to the private sector and continues to be engaged on many local and national issues. He is currently the chair of the Wilson Center and serves on the National Board of Directors for Teach for America and Young Life Board.

John Bailey serves as a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute, and as an advisor to the Walton Family Foundation. He served as a domestic policy advisor in the White House coordinating the policy process with agencies and White House including ESEA, the Higher Education Act, job training, and the Trade Adjustment Assistance reauthorization. Bailey served as the Deputy Policy Director to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce where he helped to write the first pandemic preparedness plan. He also served as Director of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. He co-founded the strategic advisory firm Whiteboard Advisors, served as a senior program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and most recently was the VP of Policy for Governor Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education.

The summit is hosted by America Strong and Free, Inc., an education and advocacy organization. More information regarding event details, additional panelists, guest speakers and tickets will be announced soon.

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