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Keynote Speaker

On the mainstage

DO Day keynote speaker will inspire, enlighten and engage

Join us on April 13, 2024, to hear from a social scientist and academic leader.

We are thrilled to announce a dynamic keynote speaker who will inspire audiences with thought-provoking discussions on topics regarding the current U.S. political landscape.

Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, PhD

“Unpacking Today’s Political Landscape”
Saturday, April 13, 2024, 9:00 a.m. EST

Victoria DeFrancesco Soto
Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, PhD

Passionate about making social science relatable to real-time political events, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, PhD, is an analyst, academic and social scientist with expertise in campaigns and elections, immigration, Latinx, women, racial and ethnic minority politics and political psychology. A contributor to MSNBC and Telemundo, she is currently Dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, where she works with university leadership to cultivate and expand diversity, equity and inclusion.

Dr. DeFrancesco Soto brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding policy development and its intersection with institutional and political contexts. Applying high-quality social science research to on-the-ground political realities, she provides a unique, outside-the-Beltway view to today’s real-world issues. Using her nuanced understanding of key electorates—including women, Latinx and youth demographics—she thoughtfully unpacks the factors shaping the political landscape and expertly analyzes the state of the nation’s politics and elections.

For close to a decade, Dr. DeFrancesco Soto has been a contributor to MSNBC and NBCNews.com, as well as Telemundo. Translating social science research into more relatable information for a wide variety of audiences, Dr. DeFrancesco Soto has previously provided on-air analysis for CNN, Fox, PBS, Univision and NPR, and has appeared on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. She is also published in both academic and popular outlets such as The HillPOLITICO and Talking Points Memo.

Previously, Dr. DeFrancesco Soto served as Assistant Dean of Civic Engagement at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. In this role, she led a portfolio to build out civic life on and off campus with programs such as the LBJ Women’s Campaign School and the LBJ Civic Engagement Certificate program. She was selected as one of the University’s Game Changing faculty and oversaw the cultivation of a space that intentionally bridges communities and further integrates the policy world with the classroom. Dr. DeFrancesco Soto also served on the executive committee of the UT Austin Center for Mexican American Studies and chaired the campus climate committee for the Provost’s Council on LGBTQ+AEI.

Named one of the Top 12 scholars in the country by Diverse magazine, Dr. DeFrancesco Soto previously taught at Northwestern University and Rutgers and received her PhD in political science from Duke University, where she was a National Science Foundation fellow. A native of Southern Arizona, Dr. DeFrancesco Soto is of Italian-Jewish-Mexican heritage and lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and their children.

In her DO Day talk, Dr. DeFrancesco Soto will relate social science research to real-time political events, providing the audience with a unique and engaging take on the political realities of the day. Using her nuanced understanding of key electorates (such as women, Latinx and youth demographics) Dr. DeFrancesco Soto will expertly unpack the state of national politics, and how these groups may shape future election cycles and domestic policies.

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