Freeman Produces Historical Summit for Democracy Hosting More Than 100 World Leaders
On December 9-10, 2021, leading global event agency Freeman executed the first-ever Summit for Democracy, a high-level virtual conference hosted by President Joe Biden that brought together world leaders, civil society and the private sector to discuss challenges and opportunities facing democracy throughout the world.
More than 100 heads of state from across the globe attended in a seamless virtual experience where important initiatives across three principal themes were discussed: defending against authoritarianism; addressing and fighting corruption; and advancing respect for human rights.
Held in and broadcast from Washington, D.C., the event included discreet and secure sessions from the South Court Auditorium for President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, along with three off-site studios at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for cabinet and other various officials.
For Freeman, the summit was an incredible opportunity to bring a one-team solution to a full-spectrum event taking place on the world stage, with the Freeman team providing a wide range of key services at the event, including:
- Program management
- Production and scenic design
- Fabrication and graphics
- Summit broadcast production
- Virtual broadcast platform and secure microsite hosting individualized access for all heads of State and their delegations
- Simultaneous interpretation integration of seven languages
- Third-party vendor management
According to Mike Wohlitz, Freeman senior vice president, design enablement, while the virtual summit was massive in scale and came with its fair share of challenges, the size and magnitude of the platform usage were actually far from unique.
“Every virtual event has its own sensibilities,” he said. “Summits in general have very fluid agendas, and oftentimes the content and deliverables for each session were received days prior to the event. The ability to remain nimble at all times while respectful to the protocol and decorum of the event were some of the most unique aspects of the project.”
Wohlitz added that another unique component of the summit was the level of security required to ensure the privacy and security of the world leaders and other event participants.
“Freeman has always maintained on-site and virtual security as one of the highest of priorities for all of our platforms,” he said. “We went through an exhaustive security and penetration review by the United States Government, and we are proud to report that the platform did not require any additional modifications to gain approval for use for the summit.”
Just like the myriad virtual events Freeman produces for its clients across the globe, Wohlitz and his team were especially focused on bringing the art of broadcast to this virtual event so the summit didn’t feel like just another Zoom meeting.
“We wanted the participants to have a truly meaningful experience,” Wohlitz explained. “It was challenging yet rewarding to develop a virtual broadcast platform to allow global leaders to converse and deliberate as if they were in the same room and create a compelling experience for both the summit attendees as well as the worldwide viewing audience.”
Wohlitz added that the summit’s significance and the gravity of such a historical moment were not lost on the entire Freeman team, who felt proud and honored to help produce such an important and meaningful event.
“It was an honor to work with the State Department and the White House to deliver a message to the world,” he said.
According to Laura Wills, assistant chief of protocol for major events at the U.S. Department of State, the Freeman team definitely hit it out of the ballpark with the Summit for Democracy.
“Producing an event of this magnitude that brings together over 100 heads of state from all over the world is no small task and requires flawless execution with attention to every detail,” Wills said. “From custom broadcast studios and complex broadcast engineering requirements to innovative virtual platform technological solutions, Freeman delivered beyond our wildest expectations.”
The Summit for Democracy is taking place in stages, the first of which was the virtual event in December, after which the U.S. Government and its partners embarked on a “Year of Action” to advance the summit’s goals. A second conference, expected to take place in person, contingent upon public health considerations, is planned for the end of this year.
To learn more about the 2021 Summit for Democracy and view select sessions on-demand, go here.