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Seminars at Steamboat reveals this summer’s speakers lineup

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Seminars at Steamboat will go on as scheduled this year in the form of an online speakers series, filled with some of the nation’s most lauded experts on public policy.

“We’re going to try and replicate the experience of our (Strings) Pavilion events, so that we have the same feeling of an audience full of informed and interested people that come up with amazing questions,” said Seminars Board Chairman Joella West.

Seminars’ 16-person board has managed to put together a speakers series that includes four-star Admiral Jim Stavridis, who spent four years as the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, where he oversaw operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Balkans and counter-piracy off the coast of Africa.

Like many of the guests who were chosen before the COVID-19 outbreak, he did a slight pivot on his topic, which he now titles “Leadership and Geopolitics in the Time of Coronavirus.” He’s scheduled to speak and answer audience questions July 27.

Admiral Jim Stavridis

“He’s a fantastic speaker in an area we have not really explored,” West said. “It’s astonishing he was able to put us on his schedule … especially when you have someone with that kind of experience and authority and world view within the military.”

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The Seminars at Steamboat series focuses on public policies that affect the nation, and its programs are free to the public. They’re normally held at the Strings Music Pavilion in Steamboat Springs. The volunteer board chooses their topics and guests about nine months before the summer series begin, but they have a keen instinct for what’s timely. 

This year, the Seminars board especially wanted to have a couple of speakers focus on climate change and the environment.

On Aug. 3, Seminars will host Sandra Postel, the founding director of the Global Water Policy Project, who also served as lead water expert and Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society. Her topic will be “Our Freshwater Future: Building Water Security in a Changing World.”

Sandra Postel

Seminars had also scheduled the nation’s top public lands scholar, John Fremuth of Boise State University. Unfortunately, Dr. Fremuth unexpectedly passed away, leaving organizers to put off the topic of public lands until next year.

West said the board is currently working out which online platform they’ll use for the speakers and will soon publicize how fans and friends of Seminars can link up this summer.

“Our speakers always say they have a great experience with our audience and their attentiveness and the questions they ask,” West said. “I think we can do that online.”

The popular Seminars at Steamboat series always takes their guest speaker out after their talk for a “Dutch treat” dinner, where audience members meet at a local restaurant to discuss the evening’s big topic. West said she’d like the audience this year to gather with their friends anyway, with either a potluck dinner after the speaker is finished or head to a favorite restaurant to discuss the night’s policy subject.

For more information on Seminars at Steamboat with links to past and present speakers visit seminarsatsteamboat.org.

2020 Seminars at Steamboat schedule

Monday, July 13: “The 2020 Election in a Time of Pandemic” with Amy Walter

Amy Walter

Walter is a Washington, D.C., political journalist and national editor of the “Cook Political Report,” who offers accurate, objective and insightful political analyst with unparalleled access to campaign insiders and decision-makers.

Monday, July 20: “Immigration in the Time of COVID: Consequences for Election 2020” with Amna Nawaz

Amna Nawaz

Nawaz is the senior national correspondent of PBS News Hour and former anchor and correspondent at ABC News, who led the network’s digital coverage of the 2016 presidential election.

Monday, July 27: “Leadership and Geopolitics in the Time of Coronavirus” with Admiral Jim Stavridis

Stavridis is a four-star admiral and the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, where he oversaw operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Balkans and counter-piracy off the coast of Africa. The Florida native attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, earned a PhD from The Fletcher School at Tufts and spent 37 years in the Navy.

Monday, Aug. 3:  “Our Freshwater Future: Building Water Security in A Changing World” with Sandra Postel

Postel is the founding director of the Global Water Policy Project and author of “Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity.”  From 2009 to 2015, she served as lead water expert and Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society. She is co-creator of Change the Course, the water stewardship initiative awarded the 2017 U.S. Water Prize for restoration of depleted rivers and wetlands.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Monday, Aug. 10: “Cyber Hacking and the 2020 Election” with Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Jamieson is director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder of factcheck.org and author of “Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President.”

Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.


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