24 Austin speakers you're going to want to see at the Texas Tribune Festival, Sept. 22-24

On Tuesday, The Texas Tribune released its list of speakers for its 2017 Texas Tribune Festival. With more than 60 sessions and 250 speakers featured, the following will take their place on the stage to talk about important issues:

Austin stakeholders



  • Art Acevedo, who currently serves as the chief of the Houston Police Department, and recently ended his time as the Austin Police Department's chief, will discuss how to police in large metropolises.

  • Mayor Steve Adler will sit on a panel discussing what cities can be doing to address climate change.

  • H.W. Brands, who serves as the presidential historian and Jack S. Blanton Sr. chair in history at the University of Texas, will join other historians and Dan Rather in talking about how the Trump presidency is doing in its first year.

  • Will Conley, a Hays County Commissioner, will talk about how Texas must adapt its transportation infrastructure to meet the growing needs of the population.

  • John-Michael Cortez, who serves as the special assistant to Adler, will speak to long commute times in big urban centers.

  • Paul Cruz, Austin ISD superintendent, and Steve Flores, Round Rock ISD superintendent, will sit on a panel together to discuss testing and accountability as it relates to preparing students for the future.

  • Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County judge, will talk about how to grapple with local control in a time where it has become a controversy.


State elected officials



  • Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, will speak in a session on the impact of the "sanctuary city" law's passage and its impending effect.

  • Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, will weigh in on whether religious refusals related to are constitutional related to foster care and same sex marriages.

  • Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, will sit on a panel about the challenges in fixing school finance.

  • Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, will join other speakers to discuss water as a resource in Texas and the challenges it brings to the state.

  • Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, will speak to transportation woes related to heavy traffic in big cities.

  • Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, will address the embattled Congressional district maps and the fight over voter identification.

  • Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, will talk about how to properly address sexual assault on college campuses.

  • Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, will talk annexation after proposing a number of related bills to limit a city's power to annex in the special session.


State government chiefs



  • James Bass, executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, will talk about how Texas should update transportation infrastructure to meet the needs of a quickly growing population.

  • George P. Bush, son of Jeb Bush and a Texas land commissioner, will discuss how his time served in the military prepared him for his time in public office.

  • Wendy Davis, former state senator and candidate for governor against Gov. Greg Abbott, will discuss whether Democrats have any chance at gaining ground in 2018.

  • Nathan Hecht, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, will discuss how to make justice more equitable through indigent defense and bail reform.

  • Glenn Hegar, a former Texas senator and current Texas comptroller, will sit down in a one-on-one interview to discuss a number of topics, including the best use for the Rainy Day Fund.

  • Lisa Hollier, the chairwoman of the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force, will discuss why so many mothers are dying and potential solutions to the crisis

  • Mike Morath, the Texas education commissioner, will participate in a one-on-one interview to discuss ways to improve the Texas public school system.


National elected officials



  • Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will cap off the festival in a sit-down interview about how Texas is represented in D.C. and the state of the Republican party.


Registration is now open for the festival, with tickets ranging from $50-$2,500. You can view the full program here.

Community Impact Newspaper is a media partner for the 2017 Texas Tribune Festival held Sept. 22-24 on the University of Texas at Austin campus. Join us for three days of debate, dialogue and discussion with more than 250 industry leaders and lawmakers. Learn more at www.texastribune.org/festival