At the age of 20, Jessica Koehler has already accomplished much.
She finished college with a Bachelor’s degree in just two years, taught English to children in Taiwan, and is now helping her father run for state representative in Ohio, where she and her family live.
Her path into politics began with TeenPact Leadership Schools, which teaches students how to lead through hands-on activities such as mock legislatures. At the age of 14 while learning how her state government functions, Jessica discovered how she and others her age could impact politics.
“Getting my age group involved in political activities is very important to me,” Jessica said. “It’s important because my generation has been told again and again that it is acceptable to just sit back and let the world run its course, and that getting involved will not make a difference.”
Growing up in a very patriotic family, it's only fitting that Jean Morrow end up working full time at the Institute for Justice after summer internships at Family Research Council, The Heritage Foundation, and the Leadership Insitutute. “As LI’s development department intern, I had the opportunity to work on numerous direct mail, major gifts, and foundations projects,” Jean said. "These projects taught me integral fundraising and non-profit management skills which I plan to utilize in my position at the Institute for Justice.”
For Wiley Bird, polycystic kidney disease left him kidney-less after a failed transplant 10 years ago and more recently, many emergency surgeries, hooked to a dialysis machine, without a job and on disability, and once again on the transplant waiting list – hoping for a miracle. Enter Nick Steward, a city councilman in Tennessee and Leadership Institute graduate, who donated his kidney to Wiley, a stranger.
Heroes should die famous.
Sadly, many don’t, and that’s why Freethink Media—a production company started in 2010 that’s devoted to telling stories about freedom, human well-being, and achievement—produced the heartwarming, award-winning documentary film Honor Flight.
And Jo Jensen, the marketing director for Freethink Media and also a Leadership Institute graduate, has been busy this year raising awareness for Honor Flight in part because it’s personal to her.
Research drives policy messaging. Well, at least for smart conservatives.
For Abbey Brokos, she’s found a career doing research in her passion: political communications.
First she worked for the Republican National Committee as a junior research analyst, and now she’s a political communications specialist at FP1 Strategies.
Before that, she interned at Concerned Women for America, the Leadership Institute, and the State Department.
Have you heard the famous proverb: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again?”
For Lee Cohen, trying again proved very successful.
In 2012, he ran for student body president at Indiana University South Bend and lost by just 57 votes. This year, running against two other candidates, Lee received 55.9 percent of the vote, while the second place person received 35.9 percent and the last received 8.2 percent. In other words, Lee overwhelmingly won 1.5 times more votes than the second highest candidate and 6.5 times more votes than the third.
So, what changed?
Jayson Veley, 19, already has done so much: he's been a spy; he's founded Junior Factor Nation -- a network of radio programming, video clips, and columns all created by teens and 20-somethings; he's appeared as a guest on Glenn Beck's show (in 2010); he's authored a book, called The Other Side; and he just finished his freshman year in college.
So you think you’re a politics addict?
Leah Courtney says she’s one.
Leah was raised in a conservative, military family who idealized Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Oliver North. However, it wasn’t until college that these ideas spurred action and developed into her career calling: online communications.
Today, 1992 LI graduate Mike Howe filed to run for the district two position of the Sequim, WA School Board. He is the communications and government relations manager for a major utility company, a radio show host, blogger for PolitiTruck.com, an elected board member to the University of Wyoming Alumni Association, a former advisor to two governors, and former president of the local chamber of commerce.
Darya Nenakhova, from Kazakhstan, believes real change starts with young people -- and free markets. And that's why she founded in 2011 a think tank, the Institute for Development and Economic Affairs (IDEA), and the Young Entrepreneurs Club in December 2012. Kazakhstan, a country of 16 million people in central Asia, borders Russia to the north, China to the southeast, and Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to its south. It was the last country in the former Soviet Union to become independent, a process finalized in December 1991. That’s part of what makes Darya’s work so important and exciting.