Hoover Institution (Stanford, CA) — The Hoover Institution welcomed twenty chiefs of staff and senior advisors to US governors, as well as members of the National Governors Association, on May 20–21 for the annual State and Local Leadership Forum.

Hoover Institution director Condoleezza Rice welcomed the group and spoke with them about what she believes are the most pressing challenges America faces today.

Other presentations included Volker Distinguished Visiting Fellow Ben Ginsberg speaking about safeguarding the US election system, which has faced challenges with voter trust following the 2020 presidential contest. Attendees also heard from Visiting Fellow Sarah Anzia, who studies the stability and longevity of US public-sector pensions, and Botha-Chan Senior Fellow Philip Zelikow, who spoke of the risks the United States faces in the near term from an anti-US axis consisting of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. 

Other Hoover fellows also brought their findings to the group.

Distinguished Visiting Fellow Kevin Warsh spoke to the officials about what he argues are challenges facing the United States as it continues to incur significant federal deficits, even at a time of near-full employment. Warsh said that for a variety of reasons, he believes borrowing costs for the federal government and all fifty states will likely rise in the next ten years, threatening states’ abilities to build and regenerate vital infrastructure. 

Highlighting that state governments are the entities that poll best when Americans are asked which institutions they trust the most, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow and Center for Revitalizing American Institutions (RAI) director Brandice Canes-Wrone spoke about a variety of projects RAI is engaging in to reverse the broad trend of declining public trust in institutions. Canes-Wrone also invited Eugene Volokh, Hoover’s newest senior fellow, to speak about how free speech is handled differently by each state, using unique pieces of legislation. 

Participants received an introduction to the Stanford Emerging Technology Review with Senior Fellow Herb Lin; they also were able to tour Stanford’s Synthetic Biology Lab with Hoover science fellow and Stanford associate professor of bioengineering Drew Endy.

William L. Clayton Senior Fellow Larry Diamond and Distinguished Research Fellow Glenn Tiffert, cochairs of the Hoover project on China’s Global Sharp Power, concluded the conference with a discussion about Beijing’s influence operations in the United States.

Senior state officials
Senior state officials speak with Hoover Institution Director Condoleezza Rice in the Annenberg Conference Room on May 20, 2024. (Patrick Beaudouin)
Condoleezza Rice
Hoover Institution Director Condoleezza Rice speaks with state government chiefs of staff in the Annenberg Conference Room on May 20, 2024. (Patrick Beaudouin)
Philip Zelikow
Hoover Institution senior fellow Philip Zelikow speaks with state government chiefs of staff in the Annenberg Conference Room on May 20, 2024. (Patrick Beaudouin).
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