T-Squared: What you can expect at this year’s Texas Tribune Festival

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A month or so ago, when tickets for the 2021 Texas Tribune Festival finally went on sale, we told you our annual ideas conference would be a hybrid event — some programs would be virtual, some in person — but the details weren’t final. They are now. Here’s what you can expect over the six days we’ll be convening some of the biggest names and biggest brains in politics and public policy.

  • #TribFest21’s dates are unchanged: Sept. 20-25.
  • The first four days, Sept. 20-23, will be virtual. All programs will be available to be viewed not just at their allotted time slots but for a while on demand. We have some amazing things planned: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones on the attacks on her “1619 Project”; former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on the state of the GOP and 2024; retired world No. 1 tennis player Andy Roddick and NBA Hall of Famer Chris Bosh talking sports and social responsibility; Harvard University professor Annette Gordon-Reed on the legacy of slavery; Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on her new role as director of the U.S. Agency for International Development; U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, and Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, on the tense situation at the border; and so much more.
  • The last two days of the Festival, Sept. 24-25, will in be in person — in downtown Austin — with as many as 30 sessions scattered among multiple venues. The first day, Friday the 24th, will be largely focused on Texas and legislative issues like criminal justice reform, the state’s power grid, public and higher education policy, guns, and of course voting and elections. The second day, Saturday the 25th, will have more of a national focus — featuring the likes of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota; Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro; author and political commentator Matthew Dowd; GOP wiseman Karl Rove; New York Times columnist Kara Swisher; and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. Everything on our in-person days will also be streamed and available afterward on demand.
  • We’ll release the full schedule and complete roster of speakers on Aug. 17.

Speaking of our speakers: Today we unveiled another 20 big names, including Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan; University of Houston Chancellor Renu Khator; U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands; Washington Post White House Bureau Chief Ashley Parker; author and longtime “Hardball” host Chris Matthews; and Emmy Ruiz, the White House director of political strategy and outreach.

Tickets remain on sale here, with discounts for Texas Tribune members, educators and students. Get yours today! See you, online or IRL, in September.

Disclosure: The New York Times and the University of Houston have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribunes journalism. Find a complete list of them here.