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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Khator, other Houston leaders to speak at TribFest 2023

Renu Khator will be featured among several other notable Houston names at this year’s TribFest. | File photo

Every year, the Texas Tribune hosts a festival in downtown Austin. Marketed as a way to bring community members and leaders together, this year’s TribFest features an impressive lineup of local politicians, journalists and several familiar names including UH System Chancellor Renu Khator.

Khator, who will be a part of a three-person panel on building research powerhouses, is not the only noteworthy Houstonian that will be featured at TribFest. Though the event is hosted in Austin, Texas Tribune spokesperson Matt Ewalt said the lineup should be of interest to any Houston native. 

“With nearly 300 speakers and 125 panels, what’s nice for folks from Houston, is that they will find conversations that are of immediate interest and impact with Houston leaders,” Ewalt said. “Outside of that there are events that may pique their curiosity for a little more exploration.”

Among those speakers and panels will be Houston ISD Superintendent Mike Miles. Miles, who was brought in as a part of Texas’ takeover of the district, has been the subject of criticism for his handling of HISD’s revamp. The Houston Landing will be hosting Miles for a one-on-one discussion on his plan for the coming year. 

Also listed as a speaker is Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. While she is still listed as a speaker on the TribFest site, Ewalt said that it remains unclear if Hidalgo will still attend after she announced her leave of absence earlier this year.

“We’d certainly be honored to have her,” Ewalt said. “We’re gonna wait to hear from her as to whether her schedule and priorities will allow for her to still be a part of TribFest.”

Hidalgo, Miles and Khator are just some of the Houston-based speakers that will take the stage at TribFest 2023. For a look at the full lineup, check out the speaker page.

What’s TribFest?

A part of what Ewalt refers to as “event-based journalism,” the goal of TribFest is to create a greater community dialogue between the people that make and are featured in the media, and the audiences they serve. 

“The Texas Tribune was a pioneer in these types of larger journalism events,” Ewalt said. “This is different from other kinds of festivals in that it is an extension of, and in alignment with, a lot of the journalism that The Tribune is doing throughout the year.” 

The Tribune, which operates as a non-profit, focuses more on the direct impact of its reporting than clicks or ad revenue generated. As an organization that is primarily member-supported, The Tribune has placed a special emphasis on building community through its reporting. 

This is exactly what Ewalt and the editorial board of The Texas Tribune have set out to do with TribFest. The event’s organizers pride themselves on fostering an environment that promotes honesty and a holistic approach to interviewing and public discussion. 

“These are interviews in which speakers aren’t given questions in advance, and indeed, our attendees have an opportunity to ask questions of our speakers,” Ewalt said. “So, there is this natural conversation happening on stage that isn’t pre-canned.”

Students from all universities are encouraged to attend. For those concerned by the cost of admission, TribFest offers a discounted rate of $50 for individuals who purchase their ticket using a university-affiliated email address. The student ticket provides access to all panel discussions in the event’s regular program. 

“For us, to have students and young Texans be part of these conversations matters tremendously,” Ewalt said. “We can look at a number of different political issues today where young people aren’t just part of the conversation but indeed in many respects leading those conversations and questioning current policy.”

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