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American Interdependence, Democracy, and Innovation

Author and legal scholar Zephyr Teachout, currently running for New York State Attorney General, will appear at the Health+Wealth of America conference on December 16th.

Will American democracy survive? It’s a sad question many of us are asking these days. It’s also the title of the opening session at our Health+Wealth of America conference on Thursday Dec. 16 in midtown Manhattan. Addressing it will be Don Guttenplan, recently-appointed editor of The Nation. We are duly excited that this will be our return to in-person conferences. Here’s our great program.

It’s not an optimistic time in our country. But we are determined to seek signs of progress and arguments for it. And our speakers are eloquent. Not to mention diverse. We are probing where our country and the world are going, and you have to look at that diamond from many angles. We hope it’s not really a lump of coal. The conference is co-hosted by Techonomy, our CDX digital transformation subsidiary, and Worth Magazine, our corporate cousin inside Clarim Holdings.

Worth has shifted towards a broader definition of “worthiness,” and is launching a new list called the Worthy 100—entrepreneurs changing the world for the better. Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen, is one of the world’s most visionary change-agents, and she is on the new list. She will also be on our stage as the closing speaker. Her view is that Americans take too narrow a view of who and where they are, and that needs to change, particularly in a world beset by climate change, global pandemic, and potentially uncontrollable immigration. Her session is entitled “Declaring American Interdependence.”

The morning ends with the very Anthony Scaramucci, on “Why Bitcoin Is Headed to Half a Million.” He’ll surely give us, too, his latest assessment of Trump. Then we’ll have breakouts, lunch, and return to hear activist, author, and politician Zephyr Teachout, who recently announced her candidacy for attorney general of New York State. She’ll be interviewed by brilliant Financial Times columnist Rana Foroohar, about, among other things, why we need to break up big tech.

Markets may be mostly up, but it’s often hard to see progress underway on the big systemic things that matter—equality, global warming, education, health care, and especially the pandemic. One of our speakers who can find that progress is Amanda Leland, the recently appointed executive director of the Environmental Defense Fund. She’ll talk about EDF’s war on methane, its upcoming satellite to find and monitor it, and why even as we fight determinedly against global warming, we must work to help those most vulnerable to it. Then two other top leaders of EDF, Heather McTeer Toney and Dr. Margot Brown, will (in a breakout) explain why EDF is so focused on environmental justice–ensuring disadvantaged communities get a voice in environmental policy and that climate action doesn’t only benefit the rich. Separately, two top leaders in impact investing, one from UBS and one from Toniic, will explain how the way we direct our money can be critical to tackling climate change and social problems generally.

Is the Democratic Party “sleepwalking to catastrophe” asked columnist Ezra Klein recently in a profile of the uncannily-accurate pollster and political analyst David Shor. This expert will tell us why he is deeply worried about the direction of the Democrats. We blend politics with economics, because it’s all connected.

Business leaders will also be there in force. Betterment CEO Sarah Kirshbaum Levy joins Kevin Pleiter, head of the capital markets group at global technology consulting firm Cognizant, to discuss the direction of fintech. How could the dizzying range of entrepreneurial financial innovations work better together?

It’s a time of health care crisis, confusion, and, too often, suffering. Veteran investor, author and pundit Esther Dyson has turned her life towards philanthropy with a big long-term project called Wellville. She’s working to help five less-affluent counties around the U.S. better build systems to keep people healthy, as she’ll tell us. Alberto Casellas, EVP and CEO of Synchrony Health and Wellness, describes how Americans can more affordably pay for health care. Top business strategist Rita McGrath joins healthcare communications veteran Ritesh Patel to examine how innovation is changing the pandemic-era patient experience. Jim McCann, founder and Chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS.com, delves into the emotional lives of Americans in this painful pandemic era, which his company uniquely engages with. He’ll be joined by PTSD expert and psychiatrist Dr. Charles Marmar of NYU Langone.

Health care is a crisis especially for mothers in many parts of America, so Simmone Taitt, CEO of Poppyseed Health, a company focused directly on maternal health, helps us understand how that has to change.

This diamond has multiple facets. Google’s Jesse Haines explains how the search giant is working to enhance job creation and entrepreneurship with its Grow With Google initiative. Valarie McCall, chief of staff for the mayor of Cleveland, joins three other women leaders to dissect why women still have so much difficulty breaking through in male-dominated industries like government, real estate, and insurance. Immediately afterwards, we’ll hear from Anoop Gupta, CEO of startup SeekOut, which a group of Microsoft executives recently started to bring more fairness to hiring and diversity to organizations, using algorithms and better software design.

New School Professor Natalia Petrzela, a historian of American culture, talks about both her upcoming book FIT NATION: How America Embraced Exercise As The Government Abandoned It, as well as her extremely-relevant previous one, entitled Classroom Wars: Language, Sex, and the Making of Modern Political Culture.

There is, of course, much more, especially on climate and innovation. Full list of speakers is here and the agenda is here. And the all-important registration page is here. Vaccinated only, of course. But while the in-person experience will be incredible, you can also join us for free online if necessary.

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