Twelve Western Governors have registered to attend the WGA Winter Meeting, to be held Dec. 1-2 at the historic Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke also have committed deliver keynote addresses and have conversations with the governors.
Western Governors who have indicated they will join WGA Chair and South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard include: Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (WGA Vice Chair), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo, and Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph Torres.
The Winter Meeting agenda features the Governors in public discussions on significant regional issues such as the changing face of the West and the future of autonomous vehicles. Governor Daugaard also will offer an update on his Chairman’s Initiative, the Western Governors’ Workforce Development Initiative.
Two other keynoters also have been confirmed: Michael Bidwill, President of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, and John Ratzenberger, Cheers star and outspoken advocate for American manufacturing and skilled labor. Additional details on the addresses:
Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke (2:15 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1): Chief Tooke has worked for the Forest Service since he was 18 years old, including many assignments in Region 8 and the Washington office, most recently as the Regional Forester for the Southern Region of the U.S. Forest Service. In his new role as Forest Service Chief, he takes over an agency that oversees 154 national forests and 20 grasslands in 43 states and Puerto Rico.
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta (3:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1): The 27th United States Secretary of Labor is the son of Cuban refugees, a native of Miami, and first-generation college graduate. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. Secretary Acosta has served in three presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed positions: as a member of the National Labor Relations Board, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
John Ratzenberger (7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1): The Cheers star, just named to the President's Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, is a longtime advocate for skilled labor who has testified several times before Congress. “Nuts Bolts and Thingamajigs,” a foundation he launched, supports manufacturing summer camps and scholarships. In addition to his role as Cliff Clavin on Cheers, Ratzenberger is the only actor to voice a role in every Pixar movie, including Toy Story and Finding Nemo.
Michael Bidwill (9:15 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 2): The Arizona Cardinals have been in the Bidwill family since Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Bidwill purchased the team in 1933. Charles’ son Bill handled day-to-day operations for decades before passing the torch to his son, Michael, who joined the team in 1996 after practicing law for six years as a federal prosecutor.
Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao (9:45 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 2): U.S. Transportation Secretary Chao will deliver a keynote address regarding America’s infrastructure and innovations in transportation. The remarks will be followed by the roundtable discussion “Driving Toward Autonomous Vehicles,” which will examine the continuing advances in Autonomous Vehicle technology and its impact on infrastructure, policy and regulation.
The Arizona Biltmore, which opened in 1929, is a living architectural masterpiece that showcases the influence of heralded architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, who collaborated on the design. The Biltmore was erected entirely of “Biltmore Block,” pre-cast blocks made from desert sand on-site and created in 34 different geometric patterns inspired by the trunk of a palm tree.
The Winter Meeting will begin around 2 p.m. on Dec. 1 and conclude by noon on Dec. 2.