NBC’s Chuck Todd meets the public at Riverdale Y

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If there’s any way to “Meet the Press” this month, it’ll be at The Riverdale Y.

Chuck Todd, NBC News’ political director best known as moderator of the network’s long-running “Meet the Press” program, makes his way to the 5625 Arlington Ave., facility Jan. 15 for a discussion about the role of media and the future of politics in America. Tickets start at $100.

How did Todd end up at The Y? According to chief executive Deann Forman, it was “luck and a few interesting personal relationships.”

“I think it’s going to be a really nice treat for people to get up close and personal with a very prominent figure,” she said.

But “An Evening with Chuck Todd” is not just a one-off event. It’s the start of an ongoing series The Y wants to host focusing on bringing well-known figures in areas ranging from entertainment to sports to Riverdale. Right now, the organization’s goal is to host these discussions about once a year, depending on the availability of the people they invite, according to Rick Lund, The Y’s development director.

“There’s a void that we would like to fill of bringing more high-quality arts and culture experiences to the community so that people don’t have to go into the city or elsewhere,” Forman said.

Along with this re-launch is the introduction of The Y’s Patron of the Arts program, which allows donors to financially support everything The Riverdale Performing Arts Center has to offer. So far, more than 20 sponsors have signed on since its launch last fall.

“That has helped fuel our ability to do the events and at the same time, has created interest in the community about what we’re doing,” Lund said.

As “An Evening with Chuck Todd” approaches, Forman is excited to hear Todd’s thoughts on what it means to have a free press.

“I think we’re living in a time when standard norms of behavior have been vastly disregarded by large groups of leaders and I think the sense of combativeness between government and media has really shocked me,” she said. “So one of the things I hope Chuck Todd will speak about is the critical importance of a free press in a just society.”

As for Lund, he hopes Todd will touch on his recent decision not to invite climate change deniers on “Meet the Press” based on facts proving global warming is a real issue.

“That, to me, is really important because that’s a man who has the ability to influence and he has taken a stand on that issue,” Lund said. “That’s an important issue to me too.”

For those folks stopping by to see Todd, Forman hopes they come away with something new.

“I hope people walk away feeling two things,” she said. “No. 1: Impressed and appreciative that they had the opportunity to have this program in their local community. And No. 2: Moved by the wisdom, integrity, and expertise of Chuck Todd.

“It’s not an accident that he’s the person we asked to come here. It’s because we really think that he’s a first-class professional who’s at the highest levels of his field. And so to have the opportunity to have him here is exciting for us.”

Meanwhile, Lund wants the community to leave thinking about what The Y can do for them in the future.

“I’d like people to walk away and say, ‘Wow, this was at the Riverdale Y,’” he said. “‘I want to make sure I know what they’re doing because they’re providing me services that I didn’t expect.’

“That would be the best for everybody because the recognition of who we are and what we can do for the community is just as important for us as the money that comes in. We just want people to appreciate what we do because that appreciation will give us everything else.”

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