This January 2015, several hundred people will meet in Ocean Shores, Wash. for the 6th Annual Roanoke Conference, a yearly gathering in Washington State for engaging in open dialogue on political issues, and no-barriers networking among elected officials, prominent political thinkers, college students and grassroots activists.
Attendees will come from a diverse set of backgrounds: elected officials including statewide, federal, legislative and local officeholders, campaign professionals, representatives from policy groups and think tanks, industry professionals, and grassroots activists old and young. They come to the beach in the midst of winter because the Roanoke has become their “retreat,” a congenial and social setting for renewing solidarity and christening new connections.
For five years now, they have come in growing numbers to discuss trends in politics, hear from experts on our most important issues, hear from the young people in our party and to work together to find solutions to common problems, and forge relationships that will be crucial in winning political battles on the road ahead.
The original concept for the Roanoke was hatched as good ideas should be – between close friends who share a passion for politics. Their idea: To create a retreat-like atmosphere in which the up and coming generation of people passionate and interested in public policy and politics could form bonds that might knit together frayed coalitions in a swing “blue” state.
By only its second year, the Roanoke seemed to have met its own standard, earning a reputation as what The Seattle Times dubbed the “must-attend event for … Republican leaders” in Washington state.
The Roanoke has achieved that growth by successfully cultivating an inclusive and friendly atmosphere, attracting respected speakers to participate in panels addressing key issues on the horizon, hosting the state-wide College Republicans annual meeting and recruiting some of our nation’s most sought-after political voices to deliver the keynote at the conference’s signature Saturday evening gala dinner.
With that formula, conference attendance has steadily risen year after year, beginning with 265 in the inaugural year of 2010 to nearly 600 in 2014, and projections for attendance in 2015 are even higher. The Roanoke anticipates that as many as 650 or more will crowd into Ocean Shores for the three-day conference as we prepare for the major election cycle headed towards us in 2016.
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