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Aging infrastructure, energy independence among topics at 2015 Domenici Conference

Speakers at the 2015 Domenici Public Policy Conference will discuss recent developments in four trending policy areas – the nation’s aging infrastructure, U.S. energy independence, regional economic development and Middle East policy. The event is set for Sept. 16 and 17 at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Ave.

Portrait of Jim Hunt
Jim Hunt, former governor of North Carolina, is scheduled to speak at the 2015 Domenici Public Policy Conference in September. (Courtesy photo)
Portrait of Mary Peters
Mary E. Peters, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, is scheduled to speak at the 2015 Domenici Public Policy Conference in September. (Courtesy Photo)
Portrait of Amy Myers Jaffe
Global energy authority Amy Myers Jaffe is scheduled to speak at the 2015 Domenici Public Policy Conference in September. (Courtesy photo)

Experts including former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, former U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford and global energy authority Amy Myers Jaffe are among those scheduled to appear.

The Domenici Institute, now in its eighth year as host of the conference, is named after New Mexico’s longest-serving U.S. senator, Pete V. Domenici. The institute was established at New Mexico State University with the goal of continuing Domenici’s legacy of service to the state of New Mexico and the nation by providing unique learning and policy research opportunities.

“For years now, this conference has distinguished itself as the leading event of its kind in our region,” said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers. “The issues this conference will address have an impact on everyone, and the high caliber of speakers we will welcome again this year is reflection of Sen. Domenici’s continued stature in the country.”

Hunt will open Wednesday’s sessions with his discussion of education’s role in economic development. Nationally recognized for leading North Carolina through two decades of dramatic economic change and educational reform as the state’s only four term governor, Hunt spearheaded the transformation of its economy from traditional industry to knowledge-driven industries – biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and information technology.

Hunt and Carruthers served together for a decade as chairman and vice chairman of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, which was dedicated to improving the economic and educational benefits of higher education in the nation.

Wednesday afternoon’s three sessions will be devoted to discussions on aging U.S. infrastructure, including an overview of the American Society of Civil Engineers National Report Card presented by former ASCE President Andrew Herrmann; a discussion of national transportation infrastructure with former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters; and a look at financing strategies to address growing infrastructure needs from Samara Barend, senior vice president and public-private partnership director for AECOM Capital and founder of the Performance Based Building Coalition.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has been invited to open the conference’s second day with an update on regional economic development. Continuing that theme, consultant Angelos Angelou will discuss the strategic plan for the region that his firm, AngelouEconomics, has developed with the Borderplex Alliance.

Next, the conversation will turn to U.S. energy independence. Following introductory remarks from Sen. Domenici, conference attendees will hear from Dana Christensen, deputy director of science and technology for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Amy Myers Jaffe, chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Oil and Gas and executive director of energy and sustainability at the University of California, Davis.

After lunch, the conference will close with a talk on Middle East policy from Robert Ford, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Algeria from 2006 to 2008 and to Syria from 2010 to 2014. Ford is a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute.

The 2015 Domenici Public Policy Conference costs $50 to attend. Online registration for the conference begins July 27 at domenici.nmsu.edu. The event is free to university students. For more information or to receive an invitation by mail, call the Domenici Institute at 575-646-2066.