Two former national political party chiefs, Howard Dean for Democrats and Michael Steele for Republicans, will be the keynote speakers at the annual Contra Costa USA conference on Jan. 24.

Sponsored by the Contra Costa Council, an East Bay business, labor and government membership organization, the political duo will make their appearances at dinner.

In addition, Ellen Tauscher, former 10th District East Bay congresswoman, is the featured lunchtime speaker.

Expect Tauscher, a Democrat who worked as the undersecretary of state for Arms Control and International Security Affairs for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to field questions about her friend and onetime boss's presidential aspirations.

A 2004 presidential candidate, Dean is the former governor of Vermont and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

MSNBC political analyst Steele is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and former lieutenant governor of Maryland.

Contra Costa USA is a daylong conference focused on regional and national economic and political issues.

Held at Hilton Concord, it opens at 8 a.m. with registration, exhibits and networking, followed by presentations and lunch. The program adjourns at 2 p.m., reconvening at 5:30 p.m. for a reception and dinner at 7 p.m.

Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics, returns to CCUSA to offer the early morning presentation on innovation and the regional economy.

A morning panel discussion about the role of research labs will feature Buck Koonce and Patrick Dempsey, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Rob White, i-GATE Innovation Hub and Livermore economic development; Jay D. Keasling, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Dale Kaye, Innovation Tri-Valley, moderator.

A second panel, focusing on the role of corporations in innovation in the regional economy, will include J. Patrick Kennedy, OSIsoft; John Magee, GE Software; Des King, Chevron Technology Ventures; and Gary Craft, Craft Consulting Group, moderator.

Ticket prices vary based on the number of sessions and meals.

For more details about the agenda and registration, go to www.contracostacouncil.com.

Contact Lisa Vorderbrueggen at 925-945-4773, lvorderbrueggen@bayareanewsgroup.com, politicswithlisav.blogspot.com or Twitter.com/lvorderbrueggen.