Public Policy Institute

Spring Symposium


10th Annual Spring Symposium

Guardrails to Protect Our Democracy

May 17 – 20, 2021
All events are free and open to the public.Guardrails to Protect Our Democracy

Impeachment! How the Legislature Checks the Executive Branch

Monday, May 17, 7 – 8:30 p.m. via Zoom

A conversation with Impeachment Manager, U.S. Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA). Congressman Ted Lieu initiated the Article of Impeachment following the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 as Congress was formalizing the results of the Electoral College votes and finalizing the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election.

State Senator Ben Allen will moderate a conversation and Q&A about this incredible moment for democracy and our nation’s history.

Voting Rights! How Protecting Access to Voting Protects Democracy

Tuesday, May 18, 7 – 8:30 p.m. via Zoom

PPI Co-Director, Professor Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein leads a discussion with Julia Gomez, ACLU SoCal Voting Rights Staff Attorney, and Cynthia Valencia, ACLU SoCal Policy Advocate and Organizer for Voting Rights and Activist Engagement, about the current state of voting rights in our country. An excellent film to watch prior to the event is the documentary “ALL IN: The Fight For Democracy” on Amazon Prime, featuring and created by Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Stacey Abrams.

“Where the Money Reside?!” How the People Check Local Government Spending

Wednesday, May 19, 7 – 8:30 p.m. via Zoom

Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich and Participatory Budgeting Project Executive Director Shari Davis of Oakland discuss the power of municipal budgets to reflect community priorities.

“How Is Democracy Personal for You?”

Thursday, May 20, 7 – 8:30 p.m. via Zoom

SMC students share videos and discuss their perspectives on the threats and challenges to American Democracy. Overview and moderating by Dr. Amber Katherine, Professor of Philosophy.

Guardrails to Protect Our Democracy Postcard


If you need an accommodation due to a disability to participate in any of these events, please contact Kiersten Elliott at or 310-434-4173, at least 5 business days in advance.

About the Public Policy Institute

The Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute provides nonpartisan community programs exploring key economic, social, and political issues. The Institute—which presents informative discussions on the policy issues that affect our daily lives—proudly offers an Associate in Arts degree and a Certificate of Achievement in Public Policy.Students can choose to specialize in one of five policy areas: arts and cultural affairs, education, environment and sustainability, public health, and urban/socioeconomic affairs. Dr. Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, Co-Director, and Founding Associate Director; Shari Davis, MPP, Co-Director.To view past events, visit PPI Past Events.