The 25th SPN Annual Meeting August 29-September 1, 2017 San Antonio, Texas

August 29-September 1, 2017 • San Antonio, Texas

The 25th SPN Annual Meeting

Registration and hotel reservations are now open. 

State Policy Network’s Annual Meeting is the leading conference in the freedom movement aimed at advancing state reforms that promote personal freedom, innovation, opportunity, and a more peaceful society in which all Americans can flourish.

We’re the family reunion of the freedom movement. SPN’s Annual Meeting has grown from 19 pioneers, who attended our first meeting in Colorado Springs in 1992, to more than 1,300 who joined us last year in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s where think tank leaders, network partners, and supporters gather to strategize, network, share ideas, learn new skills, and be inspired.


This is also the premier opportunity to highlight and amplify successes across our network and bring much-deserved recognition to the individuals and organizations dedicated to advancing freedom in the states.

The 2017 Annual Meeting marks the 25th Anniversary of the founding of State Policy Network. During those 25 years, SPN has worked alongside hundreds of talented allies in all 50 states to build a formidable and durable infrastructure to advance freedom.

Why? Because just as American freedom began in the states, we believe it will be restored from the states, as thousands of everyday Americans stand up for the principles of justice and freedom that sparked the great American experiment in liberty.

Now more than ever, we see freedom’s promise crushed by big government and the powerful elites who run it. Our network was Built for Such a Time as This.

Together we built this network to:

  • Return power from big government back to the people, empowering common-sense state and local solutions that serve the forgotten American worker rather than DC-focused special interests;
  • Defend our constitutional rights to support the ideas and groups we believe in without fear of intimidation or harassment;
  • Incubate and accelerate state solutions that have national impact; and
  • Connect freedom champions across all 50 states to collaborate on ideas, solutions, and strategies that promote a stronger economy and a freer society.

Why should you go to the SPN Annual Meeting?

SPN’s Annual Meeting is the gathering place for people who are serious about winning the battle of ideas for this generation and the generations to come. You’ll have access to the wisdom of more than 1,000 people: policy and professional specialists from 325+ organizations, top-notch speakers, and many industry experts, too. You can also build or join smaller groups of like-minded freedom-lovers to refine your strategies, increase knowledge, and recharge your battery.

Last, but certainly not least, we celebrate victories and have a little fun! Annual Meeting is the place to be for happy warriors determined to advance freedom in the states.

Plenaries and programs are designed around the theme Built for Such a Time as This. In our 25th year, we will honor those who have helped us get here as a Network, and we’ll focus on the enormous challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

See you in San Antonio on August 29-September 1!

Mark Your Calendar

SPN’s 26th Annual Meeting is in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 9-11, 2018.

Please note: This is a private event governed by rules available here. SPN reserves the right to refuse registration and entrance.


Registration Rates

Ticket Type Early Bird Rate Full Rate
One-Day Pass (Tuesday or Friday) $100 $100
One-Day Pass (Wednesday or Thursday) $350 $350
General Registration $850 $1,200


Review Policy
The SPN Annual Meeting is a privately held event and acceptance of registration is pending verification of eligibility. This review policy ensures registrants have selected the most appropriate ticket option. All registrations will receive notification of registration status within three (3) business days. Payment will not be processed until registration is accepted.

Registration Confirmation
After the review window, accepted registrants will receive an email with a confirmation number.

Refunds & Cancellations

Affiliate registrations are eligible for full refunds or transfers to members within the same organization until August 7, 2017, at 5:00 pm EST.

Associate registrations are eligible for a full refund less a $75.00 cancellation fee until August 7, 2017, at 5:00 pm EST. No refunds will be fulfilled after this deadline. Refunds will only be issued to the original registrant or credit card holder. Associate registrations may be transferred to individuals in the same organization as the original registrant.

General Attendees

Refunds will be issued until August 7, 2017, at 5:00 pm EST, less a $75.00 cancellation fee. General attendee registrations are not eligible for transfer.

Terms and Conditions of Attendance at SPN’s Annual Meeting

Your attendance at SPN’s Annual Meeting indicates your agreement to the following terms and conditions. All event attendees must register in advance of admission. A valid photo ID may be required for registration and admission.

This event is held for the benefit of our think tank affiliates and associates in the state-based policy community. Anyone who attempts to attend this event without properly registering will be removed. SPN further reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to physically remove from the premises any person, regardless of registration status, who in our judgment threatens to disrupt, inhibit, or undermine the quality of this event or the activities of our guests. This policy also applies to anyone who is responsible for bringing another person to the event. “Premises” shall be defined by SPN in consultation with venue management and local law enforcement.

Additional conditions of attendee conduct may apply pursuant to SPN’s agreement with the owner of the event venue as well as local law enforcement. Any person who is removed may be subject to arrest or detention by law enforcement for violation of this policy or the codes of the jurisdiction of the event. Nothing in this policy is designed to infringe speech or conduct on public property. By registering for or attending this event, you agree that State Policy Network as well as its partners, affiliates, associates, contractors, and vendors assumes no liability for injury, damage or loss which may be related in any way to traveling to, attending, or traveling from this event, or with implementation of this policy.


State Policy Network prohibits all unauthorized audio or video recording, image capture, or any form of transcription and transmission of event presentations and activities, including but not limited to statements by presenters, materials displayed or offered during presentations, and comments by event attendees captured without their express consent. SPN further reserves the right at its sole discretion to authorize select audio or video recording and/or transmission of the event, as well as the taking of photographs during the event. Anyone so authorized agrees to use any and all such recordings or images only with SPN’s written consent, and agrees further to make them available without charge to SPN for its unrestricted use. SPN will have anyone conducting unauthorized recording or photography removed from this event, and may pursue at its discretion all available criminal and civil remedies.


All packages, bags, and other containers are subject to search, and may be required to be stored during the event.


JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
23808 Resort Parkway
San Antonio, Texas 78261


SPN’s room blocks at the JW Marriott and the Hyatt Place San Antonio-North/Stone Oak have filled. We have arranged an additional hotel block at a nearby property:

Courtyard San Antonio North/Stone Oak at Legacy
1803 East Sonterra Blvd.
San Antonio, TX 78259

  • Rate: $153/night.
  • Location: 6.4 miles from the JW Marriott
  • Transportation: Uber is the best option to travel between properties ($11-$15 per ride). If you rent a car or drive your own, free parking is available at the JW Marriott.

Reserve online or call 210-545-3100 to secure your room. If you reserve by phone, mention State Policy Network to get the group rate. August 21, 2017, is the closing date for reservations.

If you are not registered for Annual Meeting, you run the risk of your hotel reservation at the JW Marriott being cancelled, so please register for Annual Meeting if you have not yet done so. If you need additional room to accommodate family, please note that in your Annual Meeting registration.

For questions, please contact:

Room Options

Guest rooms feature one king-sized bed or two double beds. Each room includes a mini refrigerator.

Suites are available for families. If interested, please contact Sharon Milhollin.

Suites are also available to sponsors. Contact Spencer Hughes if you plan to sponsor and are interested in suite accommodations.

A Family-Friendly Resort

The JW Marriott offers several fun options for spouses and kids while Annual Meeting attendees are attending sessions or networking. Adults and kids alike will enjoy the resort’s 1,100-foot lazy river and water slides. The resort also features a children’s pool and play area. Lifeguards are stationed at all pools.

The JW Marriott offers a Range Riders Kid’s Club (ages 4-12), which gives parents an onsite option for full and half-day childcare while attending sessions. See a 2016 example of the JW Marriott’s Summer Experience Schedule for kids. To make reservations, contact the JW Marriott Concierge at 210-276-2500.

Resort Perks

Included with discounted resort fee:

  • 2 signature welcome drinks per stay at Crooked Branch
  • Access to River Bluff Water Experience
  • Complimentary golf bag storage
  • High speed internet access
  • Unlimited local and long-distance calls
  • Access to Lantana Spa Fitness Center and fitness classes
  • 15% discount at Replenish Spa Bistro
  • 10% discount at Range Riders Girls & Boys Club
  • Basketball and tennis court access with complimentary racquet


The resort has several restaurants onsite, as well as a Starbucks coffee shop to keep you energized for learning and networking throughout the day.

See a list of the resort’s dining options here.


Annual Meeting attendees will not be bored at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. Here are a few activities that attendees can enjoy during their stay:

  • Lantana Spa (appointment required)
  • River Bluff Experience (lazy river, slide, and pool)
  • Children’s outdoor pool and play area
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Fitness Center
  • Walking and running trails (longer trails, shorter trails)
  • Nature preserve trail

Rent a Cabana
Looking to relax for an afternoon or evening? The resort features several cabanas, which are available to rent between 10:00 am and 7:00 pm. Rentals include water, fresh fruit, a lunch/beverage service, a personal staff, bluetooth speaker for your music, and top-notch service from resort staff. See details here.


If you are driving to Annual Meeting or renting a car, the resort offers complimentary onsite self-parking. Valet parking is $33/day.

Find Your Way Around

Property Map
Walking Map


Getting to San Antonio

The closest airport is San Antonio International Airport. Flights to San Antonio, including many non-stops, are available from several major airlines, including Delta, Alaska Airlines, Southwest, American, and United.

Directions from Downtown/Airport

  • Take Highway 281 North
  • Turn Right at TPC Parkway (2 miles North of Loop 1604)
  • Go straight through the light at Bulverde Road (approximately 3 miles)
  • You will be entering Cibolo Canyons Development
  • Turn Left on Marriott Parkway (approximately 1 mile)

Estimated driving time is 30-35 minutes.


Departs every 15 minutes from the San Antonio airport.
$19/person one-way or $34/person round-trip.
Book online.

Taxi Service
$37 from airport to JW Marriot.
More information

Uber or Lyft
Passenger pick-up is curbside at Terminal B
$20-$26 for UberX
$16-$23 for Lyft

Elegant Car Service
Contact: Jess Hamilton
Phone: 210.225.5466
More information


Welcome to the 25th SPN Annual Meeting agenda! We invite you to explore our sessions, which are all designed around the theme of Built for Such a Time as This. If you would like a printer-friendly version, you are welcome to download this complete agenda or this abbreviated version.

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Plenary Speakers

Dr. De Hicks, President and CEO of SCGI Performance Management Consulting
As President and CEO of SCGI, Dr. De Hicks is dedicated to improving performance of and in high-impact, mission-oriented organizations. His research has resulted in significant gains in impact and productivity for newly minted and experienced leaders. His research has resulted in breakthroughs in the science of habit formation, effective decision-making, change management, and more.

Chris McChesney, Author of The 4 Disciplines of Execution
Chris is a Wall Street Journal #1 National Best Selling Author—The 4 Disciplines of Execution. In his current role of Global Practice Leader of Execution for Franklin Covey, Chris is one of the primary developers of the 4 Disciplines of Execution. For more than a decade, he has led FranklinCovey’s design and development of these principles, as well as the consulting organization that has become the fastest growing area of the company. Visit Chris’ website.

Zak Slayback, Entrepreneur and Author
Zak is an entrepreneur and author working on issues of innovation, opportunity, and social change. He was a founding team member at Praxis and formerly a board member at Students For Liberty. Zak is the author of the 2016 bestseller, The End of School, as well as the 2017 Little Guide to Learning Anything. He authored the foreword to the 25th Anniversary Edition of John Taylor Gatto’s Dumbing Us Down and has been published in Newsweek, The New York Observer, The Christian Science Monitor and featured on Fox News and the Blaze. Visit Zak’s website.

Brian Walker, Founder and CEO of AE Marketing Group
Brian grew AE out of a walk-in closet to multi-million dollar growth & 25 consecutive quarters of profitability.  AE Marketing Group is a Goldman Sachs 10K Business, 1871 Chicago Member Company and was recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America. He regularly advises executives and entrepreneurs on how to build brand beyond traditional marketing, through storytelling, co-creation and consumer movements.

Board and Leadership Track

Lawson Bader, Donors Trust
Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

De Hicks, SCGI, Inc.
Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Cord Sachs, Fireseeds
Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Coalitions & Government Affairs Track

Matthew Anderson, Sutherland Institute
Bio | Website

Lindsay Boyd, Beacon Center of Tennessee
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Trevor Bragdon, State Policy Network
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Angie Cano, California Policy Center
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Rep. Kim Fitzpatrick Coleman, (R-Utah)
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Todd Davidson, State Policy Network
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Scott Drenkard, Tax Foundation
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Jason Frye, Mercatus Center
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Becki Gray, John Locke Foundation
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Dave Guenthner, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Rea Hederman, The Buckeye Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Joseph Horvath, Yankee Institute
Bio | Website | Twitter

Cecilia Iglesias, California Policy Center
Bio | Website

Sarah C. Keenan, State Policy Network
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Mike Krause, Independence Institute
Bio | Website

Greg Lawson, The Buckeye Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Roy Lenardson, Strategic Advocacy
Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Marc Levin, Texas Right on Crime
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Dann Mead Smith, Washington Policy Center
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Jason Mercier, Washington Policy Center
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Tom Newell, Foundation for Government Accountability
Bio | Website | Twitter

Kathleen O’Hearn, State Policy Network
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Matt Paprocki, Illinois Policy Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Craig Powell, Eye on Sacramento
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Michael J. Reitz, Mackinac Center
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Jon Russell, American Cities Council Exchange
Bio | Website

Christopher Summers, Maryland Public Policy Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Will Swaim, California Policy Center
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Jim Vokal, Platte Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Communications Track

Gary Coby, Republican National Committee and Trump for President
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Justin Danhof, Free Enterprise Project
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Elizabeth Fender, Heritage Foundation
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Aaron Ginn, Lincoln Network
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Hilary Gowins, Illinois Policy Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Ryan Green, Illinois Policy Institute

Eva Guidarini, Facebook
LinkedIn | Twitter

Leigh Harrington, Manhattan Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

John Haydon, Nonprofit Advisor
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Chris Krug, Franklin Center
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Richard Lorenc, Foundation for Economic Education
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Ryan Mauldin, Vici Media Group
Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Dan McCaleb, Illinois News Network
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Whitney Munro, Foundation for Government Accountability
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Erin Norman, Heart + Mind Strategies
Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Ashley Varner, American Legislative Exchange Council
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Sue Zoldak, The Zoldak Agency
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Development Track

Jeremy Beer, American Philanthropic
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Ben Case, Case Consulting Services
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Shana Davidson, Davidson Strategies
Bio | Website

Daniel Erspamer, Pelican Institute for Public Policy
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Ann Fitzgerald, A.C. Fitzgerald & Associates
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Rachel Hays, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Melanie Hildreth, Institute for Justice
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Coley Jackson, A.C. Fitzgerald & Associates
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Sydney Jansen, Washington Policy Center
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Elizabeth Kines, Palmetto Promise Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Eric Langbourgh, ClearWord Communications Group
Bio | Website

Dr. Les Lenkowsky, Indiana University
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Peter Lipsett, DonorsTrust
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Susan Mangels, A.C. Fitzgerald & Associates
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Laurel McCombs, The Osborne Group
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Liz Palla, American Philanthropic
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Megan Ritter, A.C. Fitzgerald & Associates
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Kristina Mitten Sanders, State Policy Network
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Michelle Taylor, ECDC Group
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Kyle Vander Meulen, American Philanthropic
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Jim Walker, Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Operations Track

Matt Brouillette, Commonwealth Partners
Bio | Website | Twitter

Ed DeBee, DeBee Gilchrist Attorneys and Counselors
Bio | Website

Claire Kittle Dixon, Talent Market
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Brad Hutson Jr., Procysive Corporation
Website | LinkedIn

Brad Hutson Sr., Procysive Corporation
Website | LinkedIn

Charles Mitchell, Commonwealth Foundation
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Leeann VanBeek, Left Lane Consulting

Tony Woodlief, State Policy Network
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Policy Track

Dee Allsop, Heart+Mind Strategies
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Josh Archambault, Foundation for Government Accountability
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Garrett Ballengee, Cardinal Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Katherine Bathgate, School Forward/State Policy Network
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Jonathan Bechtle, Foundation for Government Accountability
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Tarren Bragdon, Foundation for Government Accountability
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

James Broughel, Mercatus Center
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Terry Bowman, Union Conservative
Website | Twitter

Jonathan Bunch, The Federalist Society
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Jonathan Butcher, Goldwater Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Jennifer Butler, State Policy Network
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Denis Calabrese, Denis Calabrese Company
Bio | LinkedIn | Twitter

Eric Cochling, Georgia Center for Opportunity
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Andre Cushing, State Senator (R-Maine)
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

John Davidson, The Federalist
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Corey DeAngelis, University of Arkansas
Bio | WebsiteLinkedIn | Twitter

Robert Enlow, EdChoice
Bio | WebsiteLinkedIn | Twitter

Rebecca Friedrichs, State Policy Network
Bio | Website

Lisa Graham Keegan, A for Arizona
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Leslie Graves, Ballotpedia
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Jay Greene, University of Arkansas
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Chrissy Harbin, Americans for Prosperity
Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Randy Hicks, Georgia Center for Opportunity
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Heidi Holmes Erickson, University of Arkansas
Bio | Website

John Hood, Pope Foundation
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Jacob Huebert, Liberty Justice Center
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Gisele Huff, Jaquelin Hume Foundation
Bio | LinkedIn | Twitter

Mark Janus, Janus v. AFSCME

Ryan Johnson, Exemplar Public Affairs

Kushal Kadakia, Education Reimagined
Bio | Website | Twitter

John Kramer, Institute for Justice
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Jo Kwong, Philanthropy Roundtable
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Ashley Landess, South Carolina Policy Council
Bio | Website | Twitter

Naomi Lopez-Bauman, Goldwater Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Stephanie Matthews, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Bio | Website | Twitter

Boyd Matheson, Sutherland Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Matt McCaulley, Red Stone Lawfirm
Bio | Website | LinkedIn| Twitter

Kelly McCutchen, Georgia Public Policy Foundation
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Annette Meeks, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Henry Olsen, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Robert Ondor, Missouri Senate
Bio | Website

Gary Palmer, U.S. Congress (R-Alabama)
Bio | Website | Twitter

Susan Patrick, iNACOL
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Terence Pell, Center for Individual Rights
Bio | Website

Daniel Peterson, The James Madison Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Mike Petrilli, Thomas B. Ford Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Karla Phillips, Foundation for Excellence in Education
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Carol Platt Liebau, Yankee Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Aaron Renn, Manhattan Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Katherine Restrepo, John Locke Foundation
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Chip Roy, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Bio | WebsiteTwitter

Christina Sandefur, Goldwater Institute
Bio | Website | Twitter

Jon Sanders, John Locke Foundation
Bio | WebsiteTwitter

Michael Sargent, Heritage Foundation
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Thomas Shull, Army and Air Force Exchange Service
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Jonathan Small, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Forest Thigpen, Mississippi Center for Public Policy
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Brad Thomas, U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Laura Trueman, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Grace Marie Turner, The Galen Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Vincent Vernuccio, Mackinac Center
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Robin Walker, Foundation for Government Accountability
Bio | Website

Jim Waters, Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Drew White, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Bio | Website | Twitter

Brad Wilcox, National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Ryan Yohn, Yohn v. California Teachers Association

Professional Development Track

Rachel Barkley, House Republican Conference
Bio | LinkedIn | Twitter

Akash Chougule, Americans for Prosperity
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Chaz Cirame, CC: External Affairs

Beverly Hallberg, District Media Group
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Christie Herrera, Foundation for Government Accountability
Bio | Website | Twitter

Ann Hughes, Empire Center for Public Policy
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Carrie Lukas, Independent Women’s Forum
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Laurel Macleod, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Amy Oliver Cooke, Independence Institute
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Donnie Quitugua, SCGI Inc.
Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Madison Ray, State Policy Network
Bio | Website | LinkedIn

Bridgett Wagner, Heritage Foundation
Bio | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Jess Yescalis, Yescalis Campaign Strategies
Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Host Think Tank

Thank you to the staff, board, and supporters of Texas Public Policy Foundation for serving as the gracious hosts for the 25th SPN Annual Meeting!

The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s mission is to promote and defend liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise in Texas and the nation by educating and affecting policymakers and the Texas public policy debate with academically sound research and outreach.


The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) has made great strides in the last twelve months. TPPF’s most noteworthy accomplishments and important wins include:


For the first time in 20 years, Texas policymakers and the public have access to an in-depth analysis of where taxpayer money actually goes in the state’s public school system, after the Center for Education Freedom published “School Finance: Basics and Reform.” This study has already been invaluable in shaping prepara­tions for Texas’ 85th Legislature.


The Fueling Freedom Project gave rise to a published book, Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on En­ergy, co-authored by Distinguished Senior Fellow and director of our Center for Energy and the Environ­ment Kathleen Hartnett White and the Heritage Foun­dation’s Stephen Moore. TPPF followed this up with its third annual “At the Crossroads: Energy and Climate Policy Summit,” held for the first time in Washington, D.C. Truly the Foundation is leading the national conversation on America’s energy future.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of the EPA Clean Power Plan after a coalition of 29 states petitioned. The mere existence of this multi-state coalition, led in no small part by TPPF’s national Fueling Freedom Project and representing the collaboration of many state policy groups, is a victory in itself, and the granting of the stay is a major win.

Family & Child Welfare

TPPF established its new Cen­ter for Families and Children to focus on family and child-welfare policy in the Lone Star State. The Center’s immediate priorities will be to encourage policymakers to reduce trauma for children in state care, to keep families intact whenever possible, and to engage community organizations in foster care. The network will hear more about director Brandon J. Logan’s incredible work in this area in 2017.

Federalism & Article V

TPPF has been leading the national conversation on an Article V Convention of the States, actively meeting with policy groups across the nation to defend our Constitution and protect foundational American federalism in the face of a sprawling federal state.


The Center for the American Future (TPPF’s litigation team) is leading for liberty in the judiciary, defending Americans’ property rights against federal overreach by the Bureau of Land Management along Texas’ Red River Valley, and pushing back against abuse and misuse of the Clean Power Plan, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and more.


TPPF took the lead in cultivating the next generation of conservative, liberty-oriented leaders when 28 par­ticipants successfully graduated from the first class of our Texas Capitol Leaders (TCL) program. TCL is a new year-long program developed to promote the philosophical, policy, and professional development of junior Texas legislative staff to help them become more effective champions for free markets and limited government as their careers advance.


As an SPN Annual Meeting sponsor, your organization will connect with over 1,300 think tank leaders, network partners, and supporters representing hundreds of organizations and all 50 states. SPN is offering several sponsorship opportunities to help your organization build awareness of its brand within the network, showcase its work, and forge new partnerships.

Most sponsorship opportunities are sold out at this point. If you would like information on remaining opportunities, please contact Spencer Hughes at


The Exhibitor Hall is now full sold out. 

SPN affiliates and associates are invited to participate as exhibitors at Annual Meeting. You must be an attendee of the meeting in order to exhibit. Please see our registration and attendance policies for more information.  

State Think Tank Affiliate Tables

Current state think tank affiliates will receive a complimentary 3-foot exhibitor table. To claim this complimentary space or to upgrade to one of the options above, please contact Victoria Wakefield Bartolomeo (

Exhibitor Hall

The Exhibitor Hall changes year to year, depending on the conference venue. Please refer to this graphic for a preview of the 2017 Exhibitor Hall space:

Exhibitor Contact

Contact Victoria Wakefield Bartolomeo at for more information.


Bob Williams Awards

Beginning this year, SPN will recognize outstanding state think tank achievements in policy advancement with the Bob Williams Awards for Outstanding Policy Achievements. The awards are named in honor of our network’s most iconic policy maven and a friend to many, Bob Williams. They will be presented at the 25th SPN Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

The Bob Williams Awards for Outstanding Policy Achievement have three categories:

Best Innovative Policy Solution: Awarded to the organization that crafted a new policy reform to address one of the most pressing problems for their state or the country.

Most Influential Research: Awarded to the organization whose publication achieved the most influence in academia, media, or policy-making arenas.

Best Issue Campaign: Awarded to the organization than implemented the best issue campaign to advance a policy reform.

Criteria for Nominees:

  • Nominee must be an SPN state think tank affiliate.
  • Leadership resulted in a victory that reduced the size or scope of government and made a difference for freedom.
  • The policy victory can serve as inspiration to other freedom champions and be replicated in other areas of the country.
  • Submissions may be based on an effort completed after January 1, 2015, to present day.
  • Organizations and individuals may submit multiple applications. Each application should focus on a single effort (one policy idea, one publication or closely related series of research, and one issue campaign).

Nominations have passed for 2017. Join us at Annual Meeting to find out the winners in each category. 

About Bob Williams

Bob is the founder of the Washington Freedom Foundation and is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of fiscal and tax policies, election reform, and disaster preparedness. Bob is currently the Director of State Budget Solutions a project of the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Bob holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Penn State and was a Certified Public Accountant. In that capacity, he served as an auditor at the Pentagon and Post Office for the U.S. Government Accountability Office. He served five terms in the Washington State Legislature and was the 1988 Republican nominee for governor of Washington State.


Registration Rates

Ticket Type Early Bird Rate Full Rate
One-Day Pass (Tuesday or Friday) $100 $100
One-Day Pass (Wednesday or Thursday) $350 $350
General Registration $850 $1,200

Important Dates

June 16 Early Bird pricing ends at 5:00 pm EST
August 7 Cutoff date for room reservations within SPN’s block
August 7 Last day to request registration refunds (ends at 5:00 pm EST)
August 29-September 1 25th SPN Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX

What is included in my registration?

All events, sessions, and meals listed in the agenda, except for any event listed as “invitation only.”

What is the conference dress code?

Business casual attire is appropriate during the day. The hotel will be air conditioned, but bring comfortable clothing for hot weather. (It is Texas in August, after all…) Cowboy boots are a must! Bring workout clothes for the Wednesday morning Barre Workout and the Thursday morning 5K for Freedom.

The 25th Anniversary Dinner on Thursday night is black tie optional.

How can I get a copy of the agenda?

Download the Annual Meeting app for the most up-to-date and user-friendly version. With the app, you can bookmark sessions to build your personal version of the Annual Meeting agenda. If you prefer a printer friendly version, visit our agenda section to download a PDF version. Print copies will be available onsite at registration.

I see meals on the agenda. Are these included in my registration?

Yes, the following meals are included with your registration and open to all attendees:


  • Breakfast and Lunch: Served during the plenary sessions.
    Pro-Tip: Show up promptly or a little earlier to get your food and claim a seat up front.
  • Dinner: A reception-style Texas meal during State Night.


  • Breakfast: Choose from these sponsored breakfasts featuring good food and interesting conversation on topics you won’t find anywhere else on the program.
  • Lunch: Served during the Thursday lunch plenary session.
  • Dinner: Join us for the 25th Anniversary Dinner to celebrate how far the network has come and toast to the opportunities ahead. Attire is black tie optional.

What are the tracks?

Tracks are collections of breakout sessions and workshops for specific disciplines or topics. This year, there are seven tracks covering each of the major disciplines within think tanks: board/leadership, coalitions & government affairs, communication/marketing, development, operations, policy, and professional development. Go here for brief descriptions of what attendees will get out of each track.

How do I choose the best track or sessions for me?

Attendees can attend any track regardless of their current role. This is part of what makes Annual Meeting such a unique and rich learning opportunity. It’s a great time to explore topics that align with your career aspirations or interests—even if they don’t directly relate to you day-to-day job. We encourage attendees to try at least one session outside their current discipline.

The tracks are also designed to sharpen your skills in your current discipline if that is your professional goal. So, you can also choose to stick with one track throughout the entire conference and attend sessions on the areas you want to learn more about.

What do I do during a networking break?

SPN provides networking breaks so that attendees can schedule networking meetings without having to worry about missing any sessions. We recommend reviewing the attendee list on the Annual Meeting App prior to the conference and setting up appointments in advance.

Networking breaks are a good time to tour the Exhibitor Hall or stop by the SPN Connections Lounge. The agenda also includes several options for one-on-one mentoring or small-group, special-topic sessions during this time. See full descriptions and details in our online agenda.

Where do I go when I arrive at the hotel?

After checking in to your room, come to registration and pick up your badge and welcome bag. You’ll need your badge to get into all Annual Meeting activities. Be sure to have your photo I.D. with you when you pick it up. Then join us for the Welcome Reception at 6:00 pm.

How can I participate in the Chess Tournament?

The Chess Tournament is open to all Annual Meeting attendees. You can sign up as part of your Annual Meeting registration. If you did not sign up when you first registered, there’s still time to do so. Your registration confirmation email will provide the link where you can modify your registration details. If you decide onsite that you want to participate, a physical sign-up sheet will be available in the SPN Connections Lounge.

What is the cancellation policy?

State Think Tank Affiliates: Full refunds by August 7 at 5:00 pm EST.

Associate Members: Full refunds less a $75 cancellation fee by August 7 at 5:00 pm EST.

General Attendees: Full refunds less a $75 cancellation fee by August 7 at 5:00 pm EST.

What does it mean to be a “full buy-out” property?

SPN Annual Meeting attendees will be the only guests at the JW Marriott Hill Country.

What does the JW Marriott resort fee cover?

The daily resort fee of $15 (tax inclusive) includes property-wide high speed internet access in public space and guest room, golf bag storage, access to fitness center and spa, (2) complimentary signature welcome drinks in Crooked Branch, and access to River Bluff Water Experience.

SPN has a negotiated conference room block and rate with the JW Marriott. All rooms within this block are first come, first served and are subject to availability. This hotel block is now closed, but you can visit our hotel section for information about nearby hotel accommodations.

Does the JW Marriott have an airport shuttle? 

JW Marriott Hill Country does not offer shuttle service.  Uber and Lyft are available in San Antonio.  Please visit our travel page on the website to get more information.

What is the weather like in San Antonio in August?

Highs will be in the 90s. Evening temperatures can drop to the mid-70s.

Are guests allowed to attend?

Unfortunately, personal guests are not permitted. All attendees must register for the meeting. 

How do I get my registration confirmation email?

Search your inbox or check your spam folder. If you still cannot locate the email, please contact and request the confirmation.