Steve Forbes to give keynote address at upcoming Freedom Conference |

Steve Forbes to give keynote address at upcoming Freedom Conference

For the past 8 years, the Steamboat Institute has been wowing local residents by bringing nationally and globally known speakers to town for its annual Freedom Conference, but this year — its ninth — the group may have outdone itself.

When the ninth annual Freedom Conference & Festival convenes Aug. 25 and 26 in Steamboat Springs, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from publishing mogul Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine and two-time candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for president.

Forbes is set to deliver the conference’s keynote address.

Jennifer Schubert-Akin, chairperson of the Steamboat Institute, said the institute was able to secure a speaker of Forbes’ caliber through the extensive network of connections it has built through the years.

“Amity Shlaes, who spoke last year … used to be on the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and Mr. Forbes spoke at an event she hosted last year,” Schubert-Akin said. “She made the introduction, and he called back within 24 hours of our making the request.”

Schubert-Akin said Forbes is likely to focus on job creation, the economy and what can be done to revive the American job market, but given his media background, she added, he might also touch upon the growing perception of media bias in the United States.

According to the Freedom Conference’s website, Forbes said: “I’m honored and delighted to be part of the Steamboat Institute’s legendary Freedom Conference. To speak before such a knowledgeable and action-oriented group of individuals who understand the threats we face today to our liberties and who realize how much better our lives would be if these menaces were eradicated is an opportunity not to be missed.”

Adding the arts

In an effort to broaden the appeal and widen the audience, Schubert-Akin said this year’s conference will incorporate a new element: the arts.

“We’re trying to build an arts component to what we do,” she said. “Some people, you reach in different ways.”

To that end, in addition to the conference’s traditional lineup of speakers and discussions, the ninth iteration will include a mini-film festival that will be open to the public and include the films “Amazing Grace,” about idealist William Wilberforce’s efforts to end the British transatlantic slave trade, and “Let There Be Light,” which stars Kevin Sorbo, best know for his role in the 1990s television series “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.”

The festival will be offered in tandem with a panel discussion, during which the panelists — including Dr. Bob Beltz, a producer on “Amazing Grace”; Sam Sorbo, Kevin Sorbo’s brother, who co-wrote “Let There Be Light”; David Allen Johnson, co-founder and creative head of Salt Entertainment; and moderator Tom Rogan, a columnist for the Washington Examiner — will discuss the role of Hollywood in American culture.

“The idea is to show there are better ways to communicate than the rancor and nastiness we so often see today,” Schubert-Akin said. “I think people will really enjoy this panel.”

Presidential art

Finally, this year’s conference will feature an exhibit of former President George W. Bush’s artwork, titled “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy.”

This exhibit — which will be in Steamboat for one-day only, Aug. 25 — will feature 10 paintings from Bush’s personal collection.

“We are getting 10 of President Bush’s original works to display,” Schubert-Akin said. “As far as I know, they’ve never before been to Colorado.”

She added, however, that, due to security concerns, the exhibit will be open only to conference attendees.

Overall, Schubert-Akin said, this year’s conference promises to be one of the best yet.

“There is no one … that puts on a program of this quality … outside D.C.,” she said, adding that many of the high-caliber speakers jump at the chance to participate, owing at least partly to the spectacular beauty of the Yampa Valley.

“Not only do the guests love it,” she said, “so do the speakers.”

The full schedule for the ninth annual Freedom Conference & Festival will be released in the coming weeks. For more information, or to register, visit

To reach Jim Patterson, call 970-871-4208, email or follow him on Twitter @JimPatterson15.

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