Convention Activities

The 2016 NH Primary Student Convention will have a diverse mix of engaging activities throughout the three days including town hall meetings, issues information sessions, panel discussions, tours of campaign headquarters, a straw primary election poll, and more!

Given the nature of election politics, schedules are constantly evolving. The Convention’s schedule will also change as January approaches. Check in often for new additions and updates!

(updated 01/01/16 at 8:43 p.m.)

NH Primary Student Convention 2016 Schedule

Monday, January 4th

8:00 a.m. – noon
Registration – Assembly Area

8:30 a.m. – 8:55 a.m.
Welcome to the New Hampshire Primary Student Convention – Armory

Professor Inez McDermott, Co-Director, NH Primary Student Convention
Dr. Mark Watman, Provost, New England College
Ted Gatsas, Mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire
Frank Guinta, Representative of New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District

9:00 – 9:55 a.m.
In Harm’s Way: Veterans’ Issues and the 2016 Election

Veterans’ Issues have been a key part of the 2016 campaign. Honoring the service of those who wear their country’s uniform in service requires more than rhetoric. It required a commitment to honor the promises made to our service members. This panel brings together a group of veterans particularly active and aware of veterans’ concerns this election cycle.

Gary Lambert, Col., United States Marine Corps, Retired
Joe Kenney, Lt. Col., United States Marine Corps Reserves, Executive Councilor
Hillary Seeger, Sgt., United States Air Force, Veteran

10:00 – 10:55 a.m.
Breakout Sessions

The Open Democracy Index – Salon A

The Open Democracy Index is a first-of-its-kind assessment of six core dimensions of democratic health in New Hampshire. Released on July 30th, 2015 by Open Democracy, the index analyzes previously inaccessible and disregarded data on voting, civic engagement, election funding, lobbying, electoral competition, and diversity of representation.

Xanni Brown, Communications Director at Open Democracy
Dan Weeks, Executive Director at Open Democracy

10:00 – 10:55 a.m.
Profit-driven Policies and People Pushing Back – Salon B

Corporations have a lot of political power, but people have political power, too. Citizen activists in Iowa and New Hampshire are taking advantage of their incomparable access to presidential candidates and the media who follow their every move. Using examples of nuclear weapons production and immigrant detention, we will explore how these industries wield their political influence to boost their bottom lines and how people wield their influence to shift the political focus toward peace and justice.

Eric Zulaski, Grassroots Education Coordinator, American Friends Service Committee
Miranda Myers, American Friends Service Committee Project Intern

11:00 – 11:55 a.m.
Breakout Sessions

Take A Stand: The AARP and Issue Advocacy – Salon A

The NH first-in-the-nation primary provides fertile ground for issue campaigns and voter engagement work. AARP has a long history – over 60 years – of fighting for Social Security and engaging voters.

AARP is pressing every candidate to Take A Stand – and lay out their plan to update Social Security so it’s financially sound with adequate benefits. Throughout the election, we will urge the candidates to debate their proposals so you know how they will affect you, your kids, and generations to come. Every year our leaders wait and do nothing, finding a solution grows more difficult.

AARP has been fighting for Social Security, guided by our principles and our commitment to keep the promise for future generations. Fighting to ensure that hard working Americans who pay into Social Security get the benefits they’ve earned. With Take A Stand, we will keep fighting to make sure the next President has a plan to keep Social Security strong.

In this session we will showcase the campaign tactics, volunteer mobilization strategy and overarching messages for a robust issue campaign. Learn more about why Social Security is an important issue for everyone, regardless of age.

Molly Cowan, Field Director, AARP
Sarah Kelsea, Associate State Director, AARP New Hampshire

11:00 – 11:55 a.m.
Drug Reform, Student Movements, and the 2016 Election – Salon B

Ending the War on Drugs isn’t going to end mass incarceration, racial injustice, violations of civil liberty, police brutality, national security, or the public health concerns related to illicit or problematic drug use — but none of these issues can be fixed while the drug war rages on.

From campus to the United Nations, drug war policies are facing unprecedented scrutiny, and 2016 presents unique opportunities to expand legal cannabis, dismantle criminal penalties that feed our prison system, and take a health- and evidenced-based approach to drug use and misuse.

This session will focus on the intersections of drug policy and our most pressing national issues, the impact of marijuana reforms of youth turnout, and the burgeoning student movement to end the drug war.

Betty Aldworth, executive director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Matthew Getzin, student, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Raquel Heras, student, State University of New York at Albany
Brandon Levey, student, Harvard Law School

12:00 – 12:55 p.m.
Town Hall Meeting with Hillary Clinton surrogate, Gov. Howard Dean (CONFIRMED!) – Armory

1:00 – 1:55 p.m.
Town Hall Meeting with Bernie Sanders (CONFIRMED!) – Armory

2:00 – 2:55 p.m.
Primaries Past and Present – Salon A

We’ve assembled a group of individuals who are both scholars and practitioners of all things First-in-the-Nation primary. Current and former party chairs will discuss the NH Primary – past, present and future.

Ray Buckley, NH State Democratic Party Chair
Wayne MacDonald, Former NH State GOP Chair
Sarah Crawford Stewart, President, B-Fresh Consulting
Ambassador George Bruno, Former NH State Democratic Party Chair

4:00 – 4:55 p.m.
Breakout Sessions

Climate Change and Energy Policy: A Primary Perspective – Salon A

Meeting the challenge of climate change and continuing to develop a strong renewable energy industry go hand in hand. As the international community builds on the Paris climate accords, the opportunities for collaboration between governments and private markets to engage in climate change action strategies are unparalleled.  The influence of the political environment on the development of energy and climate change policies will be addressed.

Rob Werner, NH State Director, League of Conservation Voters
Ambassador Richard Swett, NH Clean Tech Council

4:00 – 4:55 p.m.
Earning the No Labels Problem Solver Seal – Salon C

For No Labels, the prevailing hurdle preventing our nation’s progress isn’t disagreement over particular policies. It’s an attitude – specifically, the hyper-partisan viewpoint that leads far too many of our leaders (and citizens) to completely dismiss, ignore or question the motives of people from the other party. This session focuses on the goals of No Labels and the importance of encouraging elected officials to work together as problem solvers.

Steve Marchand, NH State Director, No Labels

5:00 – 5:55 p.m.
“Time to Step Up” – Armory

Governor Bob Ehrlich challenges students to be unafraid of Political Correctness and unafraid to protect their First Amendment Rights! The Governor has a challenge for the leaders of our next generation to take on the progressive direction of our Country.

Bob Ehrlich, Former Governor of Maryland

6:00 p.m.
Daily Straw Poll Results! – Armory

6:00 p.m. – ??
Volunteer with a Presidential Campaign

Convention Attendees will have the opportunity to spend the evening working on the presidential campaign of their choice. Additional details will follow.

Tuesday, January 5th

8:00 a.m. – noon
Registration – Assembly Area

9:00 – 9:55 a.m.
Town Hall Meeting with Chris Christie (CONFIRMED!) – Armory

10:00 – 10:55 a.m.
Breakout Sessions

NH Rebellion – Salon A

Beginning in 1999, 89-year-old Doris “Granny D” Haddock of Dublin, NH had the audacity to walk across the U.S. to bring attention to the dangers of Big Money politics on our democracy. NH Rebellion carries on her legacy, “walking the talk” for campaign finance reform, educating voters and pressuring candidates to make ending Big Money politics a priority in the 2016 election. We’ll share the problems and solutions for reform, and our mission and tactics to make sure the voters have an equal voice with special interests and billionaires.

Brian Tilton, Conservative Outreach Manager, NH Rebellion
Beth Grunewald, Field & Special Events Manager, NH Rebellion
Brian Beihl, Deputy Director, NH Rebellion

10:00 – 10:55 a.m.
Bird-Dogging Training Session – Salon B

bird-dog (verb): search out or pursue with dogged determination. Present participle or gerund: bird-dogging.

In this session, students will participate in a training exercise in how to bird-dog candidates! Led by Olivia Zinc, one of New Hampshire’s most well known Grassroots Coordinators, participants will take with them a skill set that will make them more effective citizens and the bane of any campaign!

Olivia Zink, Grassroots Coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee
Arnie Alpert, Co-Director of the American Friends Service Committee in New Hampshire

10:00 – 10:55 a.m.
The 2nd Amendment and the 2016 Election – Salon C

The Women’s Defense League of New Hampshire will discuss the importance of 2nd Amendment Rights in the upcoming Presidential election. They will discuss the history of disarmament by the political class in the United States, now and then. The League will also discuss the ugly history of racism and discrimination pertaining to the fundamental human right to self defense.

Kimberly Morin, Vice President, Women’s Defense League
Susan Olsen, Legislative Director, Women’s Defense League

11:00 – 11:55 a.m.
Picking the Next President of the United States – Salon A

Who will be the next President of the United States? The assembled panel represents the most oft-quoted group of political scientists in New Hampshire whose expertise is sought throughout the state, region, and nation. Come hear their predictions, analysis, and ask them questions about this Presidential cycle and New Hampshire’s special role as First in the Nation!

Dante Scala, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of New Hampshire
Dean Spiliotes, Civic Scholar at Southern New Hampshire University
Chris Galdieri, Assistant Professor of Politics at St. Anselm College
Wayne Lesperance, Professor of Political Science at New England College

11:55 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
Town Hall Meeting with Rand Paul (CONFIRMED!) – Armory

12:45 – 1:25 p.m.
Town Hall Meeting with John Kasich (CONFIRMED!) – Armory

1:30 – 2:25 p.m.
Town Hall Meeting with Jim Gilmore (CONFIRMED!) – Armory

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Covering the 2016 Presidential Election: A Media Panel – Salon A

Over a year ago, candidates began visiting New Hampshire. There to cover those visits were those intrepid reporters and political analysts sharing the candidates’ first steps across the granite state. This panel of seasoned journalists will share their insights into campaign 2016 and provide tales from the campaign trail.

John DiStaso – Political Reporter, WMUR
James Pindell – Political Reporter, Boston Globe
Amy Walter – National Editor, Cook Political Report
Holly Ramer – Print and Video Reporter, Associated Press

4:00 – 4:55 p.m.
Town Hall Meeting with Carly Fiorina (CONFIRMED!) – Armory

5:00 – 5:55 p.m.
Advocacy Workshop: Impact Immigration with – Salon C

Join, an organization founded by Mark Zuckerberg for an advocacy workshop to learn how you can organize your school to impact immigration in the upcoming election. Record video testimonials and hear from the team about how you can mobilize your communities to support immigration reform.


  • Intro – Importance of Student Engagement in the 2015
  • Workshop (3 Parts) – Participant will rotate through each station
    • Storytelling – Participants record video testimonials about why they support immigration reform
    • Organizing – Back and forth Q&A about the potential political impact of students and how to organize their school
    • Messaging – About immigration reform with scenarios and role play

Ali Procopio, University Program Manager,
Todd Schulte, President,
Andi Dankert, New England Chapter Director,
Jen Martin, Organizing Director,

6:00 – 6:55 p.m.
Town Hall Meeting with Martin O’Malley (CONFIRMED!) – Armory

7:00 p.m.
Daily Straw Poll Results! – Armory

8:00 p.m. – ??
Volunteer with a Presidential Campaign

Convention Attendees will have the opportunity to spend the evening working on the presidential campaign of their choice. Additional details will follow.

Wednesday, January 6th

8:00 a.m – noon
Registration – Assembly Area

9:00 – 9:55 a.m.
Breakout Sessions

Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next President – Salon A

A summary will be forthcoming.

Lisa Daftari, Editor-in-Chief, The Foreign Desk

9:00 – 9:55 a.m.
Service Above Self: A ServiceNation Workshop – Salon B

What’s YOUR Story? ServiceNation is building a movement around national service in America and a key part of their strategy is storytelling, specifically telling the story of impact that national service has on individuals, communities, and the country. In this workshop, Erin Finucane, Managing Director of Movement Building, will lead a workshop on storytelling– the story of me, the story of us, and the story of now– and how, in the words of Marshall Ganz, “stories not only teach us how to act, but inspire us to act.”

Erin Finucane, Managing Director, Movement Building, Service Nation

10:00 – 10:55 a.m.
Breakout Sessions

Let’s Get Fiscal – Salon A

Former members of Congress lead a panel discussing the federal budget, debt and deficit and the fiscal challenges for the next President. Students will also participate in an interactive exercise about the federal budget with a focus on spending priorities, tax policy, entitlement reform, and other issues as they try to achieve consensus on a budget. Throughout the exercise, we will conduct electronic phone polling to gauge opinions on different policy options.
Chase Hagaman, New England Regional Director, Concord Coalition

10:00 – 10:55 a.m.
Immigration and the 2016 Election – Salon C

National and local experts discuss what the 2016 presidential elections will mean for immigration reform. The panelists’ diverse backgrounds will allow students to see the vast impact of immigration reform across many disciplines; highlighting the necessity for this issue to remain at the forefront for New Hampshire voters, businesses, and presidential candidates.

Todd Schulte – President of
Dawn Wivell – Founder and CEO of Firebrand LLC
Jeff Goldman – Immigration Attorney, Owner of Law Offices of Jeff Goldman LLC
Elsa Sze – Founder and CEO of Agora
Scott Spradling – Moderator – President of the Spradling Group

11:00 – 11:55 a.m.
Preserving the FITN Status – Salon A

No other name is more associated with New Hampshire’s special role as First in the Nation as its Secretary of State, Bill Gardner. Along with former New Hampshire State Representative and Senator, Jim Splaine, these two champions of the first Primary will share their stories about Primaries past and present, the candidates, and efforts by other states to push New Hampshire aside.

Bill Gardner, New Hampshire Secretary of State

Jim Splaine, Deputy Mayor of Portsmouth, New Hampshire

12:00 – 12:55 p.m.
Town Hall Meeting with Vermin Supreme (CONFIRMED!) – Armory

1:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Closing Session – Daily Straw Poll Results! – Armory

Past conventions have included:

      • Candidate appearances and speeches
      • Meet and speak with candidates, media personalities, and other VIP guests
      • Mini-Debates & Round Table Forums
      • Media Interviews
      • Info Sessions with Campaign Staff
      • “Day in the Life of a Campaign” seminar
      • Get pictures and autographs, campaign collateral like signs, pins, and bumper stickers
      • Educational Exhibitor Booths & Table Displays

We promise a jam-packed convention that is full of great opportunities for engaged students. Join us where the road to the White House begins!