This past weekend leaders from Young Republican clubs all across the country descended on the nation’s capital for the biennial Young Republican Leadership Conference, organized by the Young Republican National Federation (YRNF).
“Young Republicans (YRs) are the oldest political youth organization in the United States,” the YRNF website states. “Important to the growth of the Republican Party, the YRs reach out to registered Republicans, 18 to 40 years of age, and provide them with better political knowledge and understanding of the issues of the day.”
The YRNF Chief of Staff Rich Counts, also a Leadership Institute graduate, helped plan the conference with other executive board members and volunteers.
"I'm extremely proud of my time at the Leadership Institute,” said Young Conservatives Coalition President Chris Malagisi, also an adjunct professor at American University. “It might be cliché, but Morton Blackwell and the Leadership Institute (LI) changed my life. In the past decade, I have regularly interacted with LI staff both personally and professionally.”
Chris is president of the Young Conservatives Coalition (YCC), a Washington, D.C.-based young professionals’ leadership, educational, and networking organization.
Classy fashionista Gabrielle Jackson shows beauty even in politics. “I can still remember my first Leadership Institute training as a 15-year-old in California,” Founder and President of The Millennial Solution Gabrielle Jackson, now 25, said. “My mom drove me two hours to Stanford University from my hometown in Sacramento after hearing about the Youth Leadership School training program.”
“Even at that age, I knew that politics was how I wanted to make the world a better place and I was hungry for training to use my passion and excitement to advance the conservative movement,” she said. Now, Gabrielle works in the Washington, D.C. area as the director of external partnerships at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics.
“Get off your butt and do something! Stop complaining about the size of government and be proactive about our problems. We can't afford to just sit around and talk philosophy with each other. If you want to make a change, stop reading and start doing,” Leadership Institute graduate Brandon Cestrone who is the northeast regional director for Young Americans for Liberty said.
“At some point books only become a crutch,” he continued. “People would rather read political theory than learn practical application. Don't make this mistake. Take what you learn and put it to action. That's where the magic happens.”
Brandon Cestrone has made significant contributions to advancing liberty through youth activism. He’s helped start 50 college Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapters at universities stretching from West Virginia all the way to Maine. Read on to learn more about the YAL conventions in 12 states.
Being a woman in leadership is beneficial to the conservative movement, former Arizona State Senator and Leadership Institute graduate Lori Klein said.
“Women need to put themselves out front, get elected, and hold their ground as a conservative,” she said.
Lori has a powerhouse of experience with 18 years on Capitol Hill and seven years as the director of public relations for the Washington Times. Her most recent contribution was coordinating the Western Conservative Conference, which was held a few weeks back in Phoenix, Arizona.
Communism is real for Zeljko "Zed" Zidaric.
A Croatian by birth, he escaped communism and grew up in Canada.
“As an escapee from communism with family left behind in Croatia, I know firsthand what communism is about,” he said. “I heard from my family about the hardships and the fear. I knew that communism was a flawed system that benefitted only a few. I was fortunate to have escaped and felt that it was my duty to stand against communism and fight to defend the freedom that we in the West cherish.”
So he attended Royal Military College in Canada and became an officer. “I was fortunate that communism collapsed and I did not need to go to war, but I did volunteer to go and protect the new democracy in Croatia as it struggled to escape the shackles of the former communist Yugoslavia,” Zed said.
On Sunday, millions of Americans watched the Super Bowl and some had the privilege to watch live in person, after buying tickets.
But what if your tickets came with restrictions?
“If you go back in time three years, no one had heard of restricted tickets,” Fan Freedom National Manager of Partnerships & Outreach Alex Johnson said. “But restricted tickets existed.”
Fan Freedom protects the rights of all live event ticket holders. The organization supports legislation and promotes activism to protect those rights, including: When fans buy tickets, they own them. Fans have the right to buy, give away or sell their tickets however they choose, anytime they choose, in any way they choose, at any price they choose, the Fan Freedom’s website states.
“Lower taxes, less waste, and more accountable government” is what the Canadian Taxpayers Federation fights for daily. Aaron Gunn, Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s director of special projects, has been handed the reins to a new initiative called Generation Screwed. Generation Screwed is “a campus-based movement aiming to raise awareness and solicit action from young people across Canada on issues of government debt, deficits and unfunded liability,” Aaron said.
“If it wasn’t for the Leadership Institute, I would not be where I am today,” National Right To Work Committee and National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix said.
Across all 50 states Mark and his staff fight leftist laws that require union membership as a condition for employment. Their organization believes that all Americans must have the right to join a union if they choose to, but no one should ever be forced to affiliate with a union in order to get or keep a job.
In college, Mark met a person at James Madison University who changed his life.
“I still appreciate a good bow tie, but I think I have found my calling."
For Katie Thompson, her first love was bow ties. A born-and-raised southerner, she began at the University of South Carolina as a fashion merchandising major, but life had other plans for her.
A friend convinced her to run for a seat in the student senate. After winning the election, she changed her major to public relations, added a political science minor, and joined College Republicans. Her political career was launched.