ProCon.org Events



Thursday September 20, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm
"Reaching Millions More – Growing Audiences for Educational Websites"
Peer-learning seminar for organizational members of The Bridge Alliance, a civics education umbrella group.

Join ProCon.org CEO Kamy Akhavan to discuss tips and tactics for growing website traffic to civics education websites. From 500,000 readers in 2004 to more than 25 million users last year, ProCon.org has mastered many of the important techniques for growing online readership. The discussion will be structured along four primary areas: Content, Engagement, Infrastructure, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There will be time for Q&A, too.







Prior Events


Saturday September 15, 2018 8:00am-3:00pm
Constitution Day
Reagan Library, Simi Valley

ProCon.org Associate Editor and Senior Researcher Tracey DeFrancesco will speak about civil discourse, critical thinking, and voter education.






Thursday Sep. 13, 2018 11:00am
Bursting the Echo Chamber: Resources to Fight Polarization and Empower Critical Thinking
Live webinar

ProCon.org CEO Kamy Akhavan was invited by Credo Reference to discuss how echo chambers are formed and how we can burst them with critical thinking.






Monday August 27, 2018 5:30pm-7:30pm
PRO/CON at the Pier: Immigration - Abolish ICE?
Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
Santa Monica Pier

Join us for the Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series as we partner with the Santa Monica Pier to bring together prominent experts from both sides of important issues with neutral moderators to facilitate the conversations. The event kicks off with a 5:30 pm DJ set and interactive booths (voter registration, soapbox speeches, voting on the topic, pop-up library, and more), followed by a debate from 6:30 to 7:30pm. Free and open to the public.

Tonight's feature includes:

  • PRO: Chris Newman, JD, Legal Director, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)
  • CON: Andrew Arthur, JD, Former Immigration Judge; Former Acting Chief of the INS National Security Law Division
  • Moderator: Dawn Nakagawa, MBA, Executive Vice President, The Berggruen Institute

Immediately after the debate, we're hosting a ticketed VIP reception with cocktails and a casual dinner. Join us, the panelists, sponsors, and other VIPs from 7:30 to 9:00pm.




Monday August 20, 2018 5:30pm-7:30pm
PRO/CON at the Pier: Water - Desalinate Ocean Water for LA?
Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
Santa Monica Pier

Join us for the Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series as we partner with the Santa Monica Pier to bring together prominent experts from both sides of important issues with neutral moderators to facilitate the conversations. The event kicks off with a 5:30 pm DJ set and interactive booths (voter registration, soapbox speeches, voting on the topic, pop-up library, and more), followed by a debate from 6:30 to 7:30pm. Free and open to the public.

Tonight's feature includes:

  • PRO: Eric M.V. Hoek, PhD, Editor-in-Chief at npj Clean Water journal, Professor at UCLA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and CEO of Water Planet
  • CON: Tracy Quinn, MEng, Director, California Water Conservation & Efficiency, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Moderator: Toby Muresianu, Comedian, Host of Up Close and Political at the Hollywood Improv

Immediately after the debate, we're hosting a ticketed VIP reception with cocktails and a casual dinner. Join us, the panelists, sponsors, and other VIPs from 7:30 to 9:00pm.




Monday August 13, 2018 5:30pm-7:30pm
PRO/CON at the Pier: Rent Control - More of It? Or Less?
Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA

Santa Monica Pier

Join us for the Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series as we partner with the Santa Monica Pier to bring together prominent experts from both sides of important issues with neutral moderators to facilitate the conversations. The event kicks off with a 5:30 pm DJ set and interactive booths (voter registration, soapbox speeches, voting on the topic, pop-up library, and more), followed by a debate from 6:30 to 7:30pm. Free and open to the public.

Tonight's feature includes:

  • PRO: Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
  • CON: Steven Greenhut, Senior Fellow and Western Region Director of R Street Institute
  • Moderator: Mike Gatto, JD, Former California State Assemblyman

Immediately after the debate, we're hosting a ticketed VIP reception with cocktails and a casual dinner. Join us, the panelists, sponsors, and other VIPs from 7:30 to 9:00pm.




Tuesday August 7, 2018 2:00pm-4:00pm
Critical Thinking Seminar at UCLA with Junior State of America
University of California at Los Angeles

ProCon.org presents its 10th annual critical thinking seminar to high school students attending the Junior State of America's "2018 Gene Burd Institute on L.A. Media and Politics" at UCLA.






Monday August 6, 2018 5:30pm-7:30pm
PRO/CON at the Pier: Marijuana Legalization in California - Is It Working?
Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA

Santa Monica Pier

Join us for the Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series as we partner with the Santa Monica Pier to bring together prominent experts from both sides of important issues with neutral moderators to facilitate the conversations. The event kicks off with a 5:30 pm DJ set and interactive booths (voter registration, soapbox speeches, voting on the topic, pop-up library, and more), followed by a debate from 6:30 to 7:30pm. Free and open to the public.

Tonight's feature includes:

  • PRO: Josh Drayton, Deputy Director, California Cannabis Industry Association
  • CON: Will Jones, Communications and Outreach Associate, Smart Approches to Marijuana (SAM)
  • Moderator: Megan Gailey, Stand-up comedian, writer and host of Crooked Media's Hysteria

Immediately after the debate, we're hosting a ticketed VIP reception with cocktails and a casual dinner. Join us, the panelists, sponsors, and other VIPs from 7:30 to 9:00pm.




Saturday July 21, 2018 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Great Communicator National Debate Series – Finals
Ronald Reagan Library and Presidential Museum (Simi Valley, CA)

ProCon.org CEO Kamy Akhavan served as keynote speaker and head judge for the finals of the Reagan Library’s Great Communicator debate competition.






Thursday-Saturday June 21-23, 2018
Frontiers of Democracy Conference
Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University (Boston, MA)

ProCon.org Associate Editor / Senior Researcher Tracey DeFrancesco is a presenter at the conference in a session about addressing polarization. Her talk is titled "The Role of Critical Thinking in Promoting Civil Discourse."




Wednesday June 20, 2018
Restoring Civility in an Overheated Society
Pepperdine Law School (Malibu, CA)

ProCon.org Associate Editor / Senior Researcher Tracey DeFrancesco is attending a seminar at Pepperdine Law's Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution on solutions to polarization.




Friday June 8, 2018 12:15pm – 1:30pm
"There’s Always Another Side: How to Listen Respectfully and Debate Using Facts"
Parras Middle School (Redondo Beach, CA)

At the invitation of 6th grade teacher Bridget Gray, Kamy Akhavan presented an interactive lesson to students about how to listen respectfully, the power of diverse viewpoints, the purpose of debate, and how ProCon.org fuels critical thinking on important issues.




Saturday May 12, 2018 8:30am-2:30pm
2018 California Civic Learning Student Showcase
Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum (Yorba Linda, CA)

ProCon.org Associate Editor / Senior Researcher Tracey DeFrancesco presents on "Why and How to Teach Controversial Issues in Your Classroom with ProCon.org" at the 2018 California Democracy School Student Showcase.






Tuesday April 24, 2018 7:15 pm-8:30pm
Bridging Divides: An Evening Celebrating National Week of Conversation
Spaces (730 Arizona Avenue, Santa Monica, CA)

During National Week of Conversation, Americans from all over the country will take a small step to help bridge the political divides in our country. ProCon.org is participating by co-presenting an interactive event facilitating conversations to help people learn from each other, build relationships, and look for ways to reduce the growing polarization in our public life. Free to the public, with light food and drink. RSVP and get tickets on the Facebook event page.




Saturday Mar. 24, 2018 1:00pm-1:50pm
California Council for the Social Studies (CCSS) Annual Conference
Town and Country Resort and Convention Center (San Diego, CA)

ProCon.org CEO Kamy Akhavan to present at the CCSS annual conference on "How Political Opinions Are Formed, Changed, and Empowered: Saving Democracy through Critical Thinking.” The CCSS conference takes place from Mar. 23-25. Tickets available at https://ccss.org/Attendee-Registration






Wednesday Mar. 14, 2018 8:30-9:30 am
Day of Dialogue – Issues around Preventing Mass School Shootings
Compton Early College High School (Compton, CA)

ProCon.org CEO Kamy Akhavan moderated a student forum about guns, safety, violence, and what students were thinking about gun control just one month after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Watch a short video from the event on our YouTube page.






Thursday Mar. 1, 2018 6:00pm – 10:00pm
ProCon.org "Friendraiser” at Hollywood Hockey Night
Staples Center (Los Angeles, CA) – Los Angeles Kings vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Thank you to Bruce McNall, Howard & Karen Baldwin, the Staples Center, Luc Robitaille, and the Los Angeles Kings for hosting Hollywood Hockey Night in support of ProCon.org. We provided research on the question "Should fighting in hockey be allowed?” and met with many people who expressed great interest in our cause – several of whom become donors.






Thursday Jan. 25, 2018 10:00 am
Project Soapbox, Action Civics LA
Los Angeles, CA

ProCon.org CEO, Kamy Akhavan (far right), judged a student speech competition organized by Action Civics LA, a satellite of the Chicago-based Mikva Challenge. All 17 contestants did an incredible job and deserve commendation, especially the four talented women who got the highest marks from the judges.






Monday Nov. 27, 2017 9:30am-11:30am
Career Trajectories
DaVinci High School (Hawthorne, CA)

ProCon.org CEO Kamy Akhavan and ProCon.org Director Development Jeanne Ringe speak to high school students in Rob Allen’s "College and Career Readiness" class about job options and career paths.




Saturday Oct. 28, 2017 11:30am-12:10pm
Bridge the Divide Converge Conference
Marlborough School (Los Angeles, CA)

ProCon.org Researcher Natalie Leppard will speak to members of the nonpartisan political high school and college student organization, Bridge the Divide, on how to use ProCon.org to accomplish one of the organization’s stated goals: "to use the power of discussion and the spirit of political entrepreneurship to celebrate political diversity and stamp out intolerance."




Monday Oct. 23, 2017 10:45am-12:00pm
Organizing and Curation Face-to-Face
California State University Channel Islands (Oxnard, CA)

ProCon.org CEO Kamy Akhavan speaks to Professor Catharine Reznicek’s students taking "COMP 110 – Computer Literacy for Educators" at Cal State Channel Islands about critical thinking, civic engagement, and ProCon.org in the context of library curation.




Thursday Oct. 19, 2017 10:00am-12:00pm
Credo Annual Offsite Meeting
Cambridge Innovation Center (Cambridge, MA)

ProCon.org CEO Kamy Akhavan serves on a panel discussion about the importance of nonpartisan reference materials in libraries and the challenge of curation. Panel organized by content partner Credo Reference, a reference website that advances information literacy.




Tuesday Oct. 3, 2017 6:00pm-7:15pm
PRO/CON at USC: Discussing the Issues
Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
Housing in LA: Densification, Gentrification, and Why the Rent Is Too Damn High (Week 4 of 4)
USC Ground Zero Coffeeshop

This nonpartisan debate series is designed to stimulate critical thinking and civil discussion on current issues. ProCon.org and USC supply prominent experts from both sides of the issue and a neutral moderator to facilitate the conversation. Watch VIPs from politics, academia, and the celebrity world prove that people can disagree without being disagreeable. Tonight's feature includes (in alphabetical order):

  • Richard Close – attorney at Gilchrist & Rutter; President of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association; Commissioner of the Local Agency Formation Commissions for "Yes on S - End Development Control"
  • Christine Rangel – Director of Government Affairs for Los Angeles/Ventura Chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California
  • Sudha Reddy – Managing Principal, Haven Realty Capital, LLC
  • John P. Wilson – USC Professor of Sociology and Spatial Sciences; Director of USC Spatial Sciences Institute and Geographic Information Science & Technology Graduate Programs
  • Bob Shrum – presidential campaign manager for John Kerry (2004) and Al Gore (2000); Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC; columnist for The Week, Slate, and many other publications





Monday Oct. 2, 2017 6:00pm-7:15pm
PRO/CON at The Pier: The Return of Civil Discourse
Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
Housing in LA: Densification, Gentrification, and Why the Rent Is Too Damn High (Week 4 of 4)
West end of the Santa Monica Pier

This nonpartisan debate series is designed to stimulate critical thinking and civil discussion on current issues. ProCon.org and USC supply prominent experts from both sides of the issue and a neutral moderator to facilitate the conversation. Watch VIPs from politics, academia, and the celebrity world prove that people can disagree without being disagreeable. Tonight's feature includes (in alphabetical order):

  • Jill Stewart – former Managing Editor of LA Weekly; campaign manager for "Yes on S" 2016 ballot measure
  • Gary Toebben – President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Dana Cuff – Director of cityLAB-UCLA; Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA





Tuesday Sep. 26, 2017 6:00pm-7:15pm
PRO/CON at USC: Discussing the Issues
Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
Public Education: Is It Broken? If So, How Can We Fix It? (Week 3 of 4)
USC Ground Zero Coffeeshop

This nonpartisan discussion series is designed to stimulate critical thinking and civil discussion on current issues. ProCon.org and USC supply prominent experts from both sides of the issue and a neutral moderator to facilitate the conversation. Watch VIPs from politics, academia, and the celebrity world prove that people can disagree without being disagreeable. Tonight's feature includes (in alphabetical order):

  • Nick Melvoin – Member-Elect of LAUSD Board of Education; attorney, former seventh and eighth grades English teacher; director of Camp Harmony
  • Micah Ali – President of Compton Unified School District; former President of the Los Angeles Schools Trustees Association; former Compton Personnel Commissioner
  • Jason Spencer – Principal Advisor to the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Howard Blume – Education reporter for the Los Angeles Times; co-host of Deadline: LA on KPFK





Monday Sep. 25, 2017 6:00pm-7:15pm
PRO/CON at The Pier: The Return of Civil Discourse
Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
Public Education: Is It Broken? If So, How Can We Fix It? (Week 3 of 4)
West end of the Santa Monica Pier

This nonpartisan debate series is designed to stimulate critical thinking and civil discussion on current issues. ProCon.org and USC supply prominent experts from both sides of the issue and a neutral moderator to facilitate the conversation. Watch VIPs from politics, academia, and the celebrity world prove that people can disagree without being disagreeable. Tonight's feature includes (in alphabetical order):

  • Nick Melvoin – Member-Elect of LAUSD Board of Education; attorney, former seventh and eighth grades English teacher; director of Camp Harmony
  • Jason Spencer – Principal Advisor to the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Maureen Langan – former PBS and Bloomberg TV journalist; Host of a weekly radio show for ABC; Comic





Tuesday Sep. 19, 2017 6:00pm-7:15pm
PRO/CON at USC: Discussing the Issues
Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
America’s Shrinking Middle Class: How to Bring It Back? (Week 2 of 4)
USC Ground Zero Coffee Shop

This nonpartisan discussion series is designed to stimulate critical thinking and civil discussion on current issues. ProCon.org and USC supply prominent experts from both sides of the issue and a neutral moderator to facilitate the conversation. Watch VIPs from politics, academia, and the celebrity world prove that people can disagree without being disagreeable. Tonight’s feature includes:

  • Brian Calle – Vice President of Opinion for the Southern California News Group; English Instructor at Chapman University; Editor-in-Chief of CalWatchdog.com; published in Forbes, Bloomberg News, Fox News, and many other media outlets
  • Mike Gatto – former 4-time California Assemblyman; candidate for California State Treasurer; former lawyer with O'Melveny & Meyers and Mayer Brown LLP; founding partner of Actium LLP law firm
  • Silvia Barcellos – Economist at the Center for Economic and Social Research at the University of Southern California; former Professor of Economics at RAND corporation
  • David Hadley – former California Assemblyman; former Los Angeles Republican party chairman; founder of Hadley Partners Inc
  • Alex Cohen - KPCC host of NPR's Morning Edition former producer and director for NPR's Weekly Edition and All Things Considered; former afternoon host and reporter for Pasadena's KPCC "All Things Considered"





Monday Sep. 18, 2017 6:00pm-7:15pm
PRO/CON at The Pier: The Return of Civil Discourse
Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
America's Shrinking Middle Class: How to Bring It Back? (Week 2 of 4)
West end of the Santa Monica Pier

This nonpartisan debate series is designed to stimulate critical thinking and civil discussion on current issues. ProCon.org and USC supply prominent experts from both sides of the issue and a neutral moderator to facilitate the conversation. Watch VIPs from politics, academia, and the celebrity world prove that people can disagree without being disagreeable. Tonight's feature includes (in alphabetical order):

  • Brian Calle – Vice President of Opinion for the Southern California News Group; English Instructor at Chapman University; Editor-in-Chief of CalWatchdog.com; published in Forbes, Bloomberg News, Fox News, and many other media outlets
  • Joseph Sanberg – Co-founder and Chair of Aspiration.com; Founder of CalEITC4Me; founding investor in Blue Apron and board member for companies such as Bright Funds and IVY.com
  • Alex Cohen– KPCC host of NPR's Morning Edition former producer and director for NPR's Weekly Edition and All Things Considered; former afternoon host and reporter for Pasadena's KPCC "All Things Considered"





Tuesday Sep. 12, 2017 6:00pm-7:15pm
PRO/CON at USC: Discussing the Issues
Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
Electoral Reform: Does Your Vote Really Matter? (Week 1 of 4)
USC Ground Zero Coffee Shop

This nonpartisan debate series is designed to stimulate critical thinking and civil discussion on current issues. ProCon.org and USC supply prominent experts from both sides of the issue and a neutral moderator to facilitate the conversation. Watch VIPs from politics, academia, and the celebrity world prove that people can disagree without being disagreeable. Tonight's feature includes:

  • Ralph Neas - former CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; former CEO of People For the American Way; and Senate Republican legislative director who left the Republican Party in 1996
  • Pete Peterson - Dean of Pepperdine University's School of Public policy; 2014 Republican nominee for California Secretary of State; former Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership
  • Trevor Potter - former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission; former general counsel to Senator John McCain's Presidential campaigns and President George H.W. Bush 1988 campaign, and lawyer for late night host Stephen Colbert and his Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow Super PAC, and currently President of the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington DC nonprofit working to protect and improve our democracy
  • Leslee Sherrill - former Vice President at ABC News, former publicist for Diane Sawyer; former White House staffer
  • Bob Shrum - presidential campaign manager for John Kerry (2004) and Al Gore (2000); Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC; columnist for The Week, Slate, and many other publications





Monday Sep. 11, 2017 6:00pm-7:15pm
PRO/CON at The Pier: The Return of Civil Discourse
Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
Electoral Reform: Does Your Vote Really Matter? (Week 1 of 4)
West end of the Santa Monica Pier

This nonpartisan debate series is designed to stimulate critical thinking and civil discussion on current issues. ProCon.org and USC supply prominent experts from both sides of the issue and a neutral moderator to facilitate the conversation. Watch VIPs from politics, academia, and the celebrity world prove that people can disagree without being disagreeable. Tonight's feature includes (in alphabetical order):

  • Ralph Neas - former CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; former CEO of People For the American Way; and Senate Republican legislative director who left the Republican Party in 1996
  • Pete Peterson - Dean of Pepperdine University's School of Public policy; 2014 Republican nominee for California Secretary of State; former Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership
  • Trevor Potter - former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission; former general counsel to Senator John McCain's Presidential campaigns and President George H.W. Bush 1988 campaign, and lawyer for late night host Stephen Colbert and his Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow Super PAC, and currently President of the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington DC nonprofit working to protect and improve our democracy





Saturday Sep. 9, 2017 8:00am-3:00pm
13th Annual Constitution Day Conference
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

ProCon.org CEO Kamy Akhavan will speak on "How Political Opinions Are Formed, Changed, and Empowered: Saving Democracy through Critical Thinking" from 1:30pm to 2:20pm in the Discovery Center Classroom. Focusing on grades 7-12, Kamy will explore strategies for understanding political opinions, overcoming confirmation bias, having respectful debates, and using critical thinking to stoke civic engagement and save our democracy. ProCon.org exists to counter trends in confirmation bias and its contribution to increasing partisanship, echo chambers, filter bubbles, legislative gridlock, the lack of civil discourse in public spaces, and even the anxiety associated with Thanksgiving conversations.






Sunday July 30, 2017 4:00pm-5:00pm
ProCon.org Presents: Building Beliefs - How We Form Our Political Views
Politicon at Pasadena Convention Center


ProCon.org CEO, Kamy Akhavan, will be moderating a panel discussion with (in alphabetical order):

  • Amie Parnes - Senior White House Correspondent for The Hill; author of New York Times #1 bestseller Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign
  • John Phillips - CNN political commentator; host of The Drive Home on LA’s KABC 790; Columnist for Orange County Register
  • Shermichael Singleton - CNN commentator; Republican political consultant; fired as Deputy Chief of Staff at Dept. of Housing and Urban Development for criticizing President Trump
  • Lesley Stahl - veteran 60 Minutes correspondent; one of America’s most honored and experienced broadcast journalists; former moderator of Face the Nation
  • and maybe some surprise guests.
  • For tickets please visit https://politicon.com





Tuesday July 25, 2017 2:00pm-4:00pm
Critical Thinking Seminar on Social Media at UCLA with Junior State of America
UCLA, De Neve Plaza, Room B


ProCon.org presents its 9th annual critical thinking seminar to high school students attending the Junior State of America's "2017 Gene Burd Institute on L.A. Media and Politics" at UCLA. The seminar will focus on the pros and cons of social media.