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Police relations, mental health care among 2016 Domenici Conference topics

Some of the nation?s most talked-about headlines will fuel the discussion at the 2016 Domenici Public Policy Conference, including police-community relations and the public trust; the state of mental health care and the criminal justice system; national security; and the coming presidential election.


Portrait of Chuck Hagel
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is scheduled to speak at the 2016 Domenici Public Policy Conference in September. (Courtesy photo)
Portrait of Patrick Kennedy
Former U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy is scheduled to speak at the 2016 Domenici Public Policy Conference in September. (Courtesy photo)
Portrait of Richard J. Berry
Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry is scheduled to speak at the 2016 Domenici Public Policy Conference in September. (Courtesy photo)

Among the thought leaders and policymakers scheduled to appear at the event, set for Sept. 14 and 15 at the Las Cruces Convention Center, will be former U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, former U.S. Congressman and mental health advocate Patrick Kennedy, political strategist James Carville, author Kristen Soltis Anderson and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry.

The Domenici Institute for Public Policy at New Mexico State University, now in its ninth year as host of the conference, is named after New Mexico?s longest-serving U.S. senator, Pete V. Domenici. The institute was established at NMSU with the goal of continuing Domenici?s legacy of service to the state of New Mexico and the nation by providing unique learning and policy research opportunities.

?The Domenici Institute and the public policy conference continue to grow each year, bringing to our campus some of the top minds in their fields,? said NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers, who is also director of the Domenici Institute. ?These topics couldn?t be more timely, and we?re thrilled to provide the opportunity, through Sen. Domenici?s continued involvement and guidance, for our students and our community to hear from these distinguished speakers.?

Hagel will open the conference Wednesday, Sept. 14, with a keynote speech on national security. In addition to serving as the 24th U.S. Secretary of Defense ? the first enlisted combat veteran to serve in that role ? he also served two terms in the U.S. Senate, representing Nebraska.

Wednesday afternoon will focus on mental health care, beginning with Liza Long, author of ?The Price of Silence: A Mom?s Perspective on Mental Illness.? Since publishing her widely shared essay, ?I Am Adam Lanza?s Mother,? about how her family?s personal tragedy intersected with the public tragedy of Newtown, she has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Erin Burnett Out Front, Anderson Cooper 360, Dr. Oz and other programs.

Miami-Dade County Judge Steve Leifman, a national expert on criminal justice and mental health, will discuss ending the criminalization of mental illness. Leifman is at the forefront of a public policy movement in the criminal justice system to reduce the number of people with mental illness in prison, and to develop alternative approaches that offer treatment and support for recovery.

Research psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., will conclude the day?s discussion with a talk on the future of psychosis ? schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in 2040. Torrey is founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center and associate director of research at the Stanley Medical Research Institute.

The conference?s second day will begin with a New Mexico focus. Gov. Susana Martinez has been invited to provide an update on matters important to the state.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry will then address police and community relations during Thursday morning?s sessions on the public trust. Berry is currently leading the city through a period of police reform following a Department of Justice investigation into the department?s practices, and new policies on the use of force have been put in place to address the investigation?s findings.

The discussion of the public trust will turn to the Edelman Trust Barometer, published annually by Edelman, the world?s largest independently owned public relations firm. John Edelman, managing director for global engagement and corporate responsibility at the firm established by his father, will present the findings of the barometer, which surveys consumer trust in institutions, industries and leaders.

To discuss the 2016 elections, the conference has paired up political strategist and former Bill Clinton campaign manager James Carville and Kristen Soltis Anderson, a pollster and author of ?The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading America (And How Republicans Can Keep Up).?

Following lunch, the conversation will return to mental health care with remarks from Patrick Kennedy, former U.S. Representative from Rhode Island, co-founder of One Mind, and founder of the Kennedy Forum. Kennedy is the nation?s leading political voice on mental illness, addiction and other brain diseases. During his 16-year career representing Rhode Island, he fought a national battle to end medical and societal discrimination against these illnesses, highlighted by his lead sponsorship of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 ? and his openness about his own health challenges.

The 2016 Domenici Public Policy Conference takes place at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Ave. Online registration for the conference begins July 25 at domenici.nmsu.edu. Cost to register is $50 before Sept. 1, when it rises to $75. The event is free to university students. For more information or to receive an invitation by mail, call the Domenici Institute at 575-646-2066.