Political powerhouses from opposite sides of the aisle, Julian Castro and Jeff Flake unite in their common goal of changing the tumultuous “new normal” in politics. Drawing on their in-depth experience —Flake, in the Senate and House of Representatives , and Castro, a former Democratic Presidential candidate, Mayor of San Antonio, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development– This pair offers an unfiltered dialogue about today’s most pressing political topics with impassioned insight and candor. Breaking down even the most complex issues in a way that is digestible for any audience, Castro and Flake offer a fresh perspective on issues including the current political environment, how change can truly be made in the White House, how people can get involved in their local and national politics, and more.
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Julián Castro has distinguished himself as a strong leader and successful public servant for nearly two decades. A former Democratic candidate for President, Castro served as the 16th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017, and as mayor of San Antonio from 2009 to 2014. Today, Castro serves on the board of directors of the LBJ Foundation.
As mayor, Castro brought a strong focus to expanding educational achievement and making America’s seventh largest city a leader in the 21st century global economy. Under Castro’s leadership, San Antonio implemented Pre-K4SA, a high quality early childhood learning initiative that has earned praise as one of America’s strongest public pre-kindergarten programs. During his tenure, San Antonio ranked first on the Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities List, received an A+ grade for doing business by Forbes, and was the only Top 10 city at the time to achieve a Triple A bond rating with each of the three major ratings agencies. A native Texan, Castro made history in 2012 when he became the first Latino to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.
His memoir, An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up from My American Dream, is a candid account of race and poverty in America. Born to unmarried parents in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of a struggling city, Castro details his unlikely journey to becoming an emerging national icon.
From education to technology to safe and affordable housing, Castro has been at the forefront of some of the most innovative partnerships, programs and achievements in the public sector. In sharing lessons learned from the struggles and successes of his political journey, he gives audiences insight into how any group can make a significant change when it comes to America's most pressing issues. He empowers groups to engage and take action, even when things seem at their most bleak. Castro’s own personal story is proof that the American Dream still lives, and in his inspiring talks, he shares actionable items people can accomplish in their day-to-day lives to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their potential.
Jeff Flake has nearly two decades of experience on Capitol Hill in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Heralded as an "ideal public servant" in The New York Times, Flake is renowned for his bravery in speaking out against the current administration, his principled stands on spending and free trade, and his shrewd negotiations and bipartisanship on complicated issues such as immigration.
A traditionally conservative Republican, Flake defended the core values and principles of his party-- and revealed how they are currently under threat-- in his New York Times bestselling book Conscience of a Conservative, which was described in The Washington Post as, "the single largest act of political bravery in the Trump era." His eloquent, impassioned and headline-making retirement speech, delivered from the Senate floor, further condemned the "new normal" in politics. He is a current contributor for CBS News where he will be launching a new series called Common Ground, which focuses on opposing groups coming together.
A passionate and principled defender of "country over party," Flake famously invited Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich on a six-day survival adventure on an island in Micronesia to develop an idea to end partisan gridlock. Their experiences were featured on a Discovery Channel reality TV show, Rival Survival.
Sought-out to speak everywhere from the Forbes Under 30 Conference to Harvard Law School, Flake shares substantive, candid insights on the current political environment and what is and isn't achievable in Washington, as well as shrewd analysis on foreign affairs, trade and the economy, and more.
Julián Castro has distinguished himself as a strong leader and successful public servant for nearly two decades. A former Democratic candidate for President, Castro served as the 16th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017, and as mayor of San Antonio from 2009 to 2014. At HUD, Castro managed 8,000 employees and a budget of more than $46 billion, and he led progress at the Department that earned it recognition as one of the most improved federal agencies. Castro also co-chaired the United States delegation to the United Nations Habitat III conference, spearheaded efforts to reduce homelessness, and created Connect Home, a public-private partnership to deliver broadband to public housing residents.
Previously, as mayor of America’s seventh largest city, Castro brought a strong focus to expanding educational achievement and making San Antonio a leader in the 21st century global economy. Under Castro’s leadership, San Antonio implemented Pre-K4SA, a high quality early childhood learning initiative that has earned praise as one of America’s strongest public pre-kindergarten programs. During his tenure, San Antonio ranked first on the Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities List, received an A+ grade for doing business by Forbes, and was the only Top 10 city at the time to achieve a Triple A bond rating with each of the three major ratings agencies.
A native Texan, Castro began his public service career in 2001, becoming, at the age of 26, San Antonio’s youngest city councilman in history at the time. Castro made history again in 2012, when he delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, the first Latino to do so.
Following his service in the Obama administration, Castro served as the Dean’s Distinguished Fellow and Fellow of the Davila Chair in International Trade Policy at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Castro’s memoir, An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up From My American Dream was published by Little Brown in 2018.
Today, Castro serves on the board of directors of the LBJ Foundation.
Castro received a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He and his wife, Erica, have a daughter, Carina, and a son, Cristián. Castro’s twin brother, Joaquin, represents the 20th Congressional District of Texas.
“We are no longer used to great Senate speeches,” wrote Lawfare Editor in Chief, Benjamin Wittes, in October of 2017. “And then rises one Jeff Flake and delivers not merely a great speech but also a genuinely important one, perhaps the single most important address given on the Senate floor in my memory.”
Author of the New York Times best seller Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle, Senator Flake has taken a lonely stand for principle and civility in an era of hyper-partisanship.
After serving six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senator Flake was elected to the United States Senate, where he served for six years. While in the Senate, Senator Flake chaired the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology & the Law, which sits at the intersection of innovation and regulation. He also chaired the Africa Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee, where he passed landmark legislation on wildlife trafficking and democratic governance.
Prior to entering Congress, Senator Flake served as executive director of the Goldwater Institute in Arizona. He also directed the Foundation for Democracy in Namibia during that nation’s transition to independence. Senator Flake holds degrees in International Relations and Political Science from Brigham Young University.
Known for his ability to work across the political aisle, Senator Flake was the lead House Republican in the successful effort to prohibit spending earmarks, and the lead Senate Republican in the successful effort to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.
A sought-after speaker, Senator Flake delivered the 2018 commencement address at Harvard Law School. His 2018 Senate floor speech titled “Truth and Democracy” was carried live on CNN, MSNBC and the FOX News Channel. During his time in the Senate, Senator Flake was a frequent guest on NBC’s Meet the Press, ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, and CNN’s State of the Union.
Senator Flake is currently a contributor to CBS News. He also partners with CBS on a series called “Common Ground.” He will guest lecture at Princeton and speak at Yale in the Spring of 2019, and will be a Resident Fellow at Harvard University during the fall semester of 2019.
Senator Flake and his wife, Cheryl, live in Mesa, Arizona, and are the parents of five children.