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Inaugural Hometown Summit Launches this Thursday April 13

Charlottesville, VA—The Inaugural Hometown Summit begins this Thursday, April 13th, kicking off three days of ideas and fellowship for 300 innovators from over 40 small and mid-sized cities across America. Hosted in partnership with the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, the Summit is designed to foster connections and focused inspiration for exceptional local leaders. The Summit is an initiative of Tom Tom Founders Festival, a week-long celebration of urban entrepreneurship and culture in Charlottesville, VA.


The Hometown Summit consists over 50 panels, seminars, and keynotes presented by more than 150 speakers in multiple venues from 9am on Thursday, April 13th through 1:30pm on Saturday, April 15th. Most programming on Thursday and Friday will take place in the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. On Saturday, sessions will take place in Second Street Gallery, Chroma Projects, and Red Pump Kitchen. Many sessions run concurrently.

See the full agenda for the Hometown Summit at:


To attend the Hometown Summit as a member of the media, please contact Whitney Kenerly, who will arrange for you to pick up a press pass at The Paramount Theater in downtown Charlottesville (215 E. Main St.) at the following times:

  1. Tuesday, April 11, 5pm-8pm

  2. Thursday, April 13, 9am-5pm

  3. Friday, April 14, 8am-3pm


With the exception of the plenaries and the session “What Can the Gig Do for Your City,” which will be filmed, all sessions at the Hometown Summit are “Chatham House Rule,” meaning that the substance of the conversation may be published, but comments may not be attributed to specific individuals. Members of the media may approach individual participants outside of session for on record comments. The goal of this approach is to facilitate authenticity and candor in dialogue.


The following highlighted sessions are all full-attribution and all take place at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. Members of the media are welcome to attend other sessions at the Hometown Summit under the policy of non-attribution described above. All speakers are available for interview upon request.

12:00 – 1:00 pm, Thursday, April 13

Plenary: “Civic Entrepreneurship: Changing the Way We Change the World”

Successful entrepreneurship sets off a chain reaction, encouraging other entrepreneurs to iterate upon and ultimately propagate innovation to the point of “creative destruction,” rendering existing products, services, and business models obsolete. We’ve seen this domino of accelerating innovation at work in the private sector – and our public sector and civic institutions can’t keep up. Hear from these policy entrepreneurs and civic innovators about how their work bridges the gap and changes the game.


  1. Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond

  2. Steven Olikara of the Congressional Future Caucus and Millennial Action Project

  3. Laura Weidman Powers of CODE2040 and the Obama White House

  4. Moderator: Prof. Saras Sarasvathy of the Darden School of Business at UVA

8:30am – 9:45am, Friday, April 14

Plenary: “Creative Placemaking”

Many communities have begun to engage in a process known as “creative placemaking,” whereby artists, arts organizations, and community development practitioners intentionally integrate arts and culture into community revitalization work–placing arts at the table with land-use, transportation, economic development, education, housing, infrastructure, and public safety strategies. Presenters on this panel will share case studies and techniques from the National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) “Our Town” grant program and the Urban Land Institute’s creative placemaking portfolio, and local practitioners will talk about how to do such work effectively.  The session will illuminate a variety of approaches that seed innovation via creative placemaking and help foster better places across America.


  1. Moderator: Jason Schupbach of the National Endowment for the Arts

  2. Juanita Hardy of the Urban Land Institute

  3. Liz Ogbu of Studio O

  4. Teal Thibaud of Glass House Collective

12:30pm – 1:45pm, Friday, April 14

Plenary: “Future City: America’s Local Innovators”

There is a narrative that the United States is a country in decline, overwhelmed by changes in technology, demographics, and the world economy. The truth is more complicated, and more hopeful. Communities throughout America are actively engineering new models of entrepreneurship, culture, and civic engagement, solving tough challenges from within. Join an engaging conversation about pathbreaking solutions with two mayors, a pioneering startup researcher, and the leader of New America, a think tank and civic enterprise committed to renewing American in the Digital Age.


  1. Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter of New America

  2. Mayor Andy Berke of Chattanooga

  3. Mayor Mike Signer of Charlottesville

  4. Moderator: Prof. Mike Lenox of the Darden School of Business at UVA

2:00pm – 2:50pm, Friday, April 14

“What Can the Gig Do for Your City?”

The United States, creator of the Internet, increasingly lags behind in access to it. In the absence of a national broadband strategy, many communities have invested in broadband infrastructure, especially wireless broadband, to offer broadband choices to their residents. Today’s decisions will lay the foundation for the future of telecommunications in our communities, and in our country as a whole. Join us for a frank conversation that looks at whether, when, how, and why your city should invest in fiber internet and municipal wi-fi with the founder of North America’s leading independent wireless broadband provider for small cities; the Mayor of America’s first “Gig City;” a leading advocate for digital inclusion; and the federal agency in charge of implementing broadband nationally.


  1. Mayor Andy Berke of Chattanooga

  2. Aimee Meacham of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

  3. Elliot Noss of Ting/Tucows

  4. Moderator: Debra Socia of Next Century Cities

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The Tom Tom Foundation is the nonprofit organization that hosts the annual Tom Tom Founders Festival. Supporting high-impact events throughout the year, the Foundation seeks to empower the innovators whose creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and dedication to community help ensure a better future for us all. Now in its sixth year, the action-packed Founders Festival is held during the week of April 13 (hometown hero Thomas Jefferson’s birthday) in Charlottesville, VA. Featuring outstanding local music, art, and food, as well as high-stakes startup competitions and high-impact conversations with business, entrepreneurial, and academic and civic leaders, the event attracted more than 38,000 attendees in 2016. Learn more at

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