Ballerina Dances Her Way Into Colorado Politics
Kelly Macfarland
August 26, 2013
Ballerina Dances Her Way Into Colorado Politics
Alexa Van Anne isn't your ordinary 19-year-old. She's a competitive ballerina, a committed conservative activist, and dreaming of running for office herself – but first, she's got to finish college. Alexa got her start in politics working for the reelection of her congressman, Rep. Mike Coffman, in 2012. As area campaign director for Mike Coffman for Congress, Alexa went door-to-door canvassing and phone banking. As November neared, Alexa became more involved in working on projects with the field director for her district. “Every week or so, we would have large groups of college students come in to help make phone calls and canvass, so I helped to train them on our systems,” Alexa said. Alexa also worked to publicize the debate between Congressman Coffman and his opponent, Joe Miklosi – one of the most competitive House races in 2012. She recruited campaign supporters so they made up the majority of the audience – and media coverage. Alexa's experience with the Coffman team didn't end with November elections. After the election results, she felt inspired by the work her Congressman was doing and decided she wanted to apply for an internship with his fundraising firm, The Starboard Group. Through her internship at The Starboard Group, Alexa got involved with other local political opportunities, including Congressman Corey Gardner's campaign, Colorado Secretary Scott Gessler's campaign, and local non-profits. During the legislative session, Alexa interned for State Representative Jerry Sonnenberg; after the session, for Secretary Scott Gessler's campaign. Alexa is very much an advocate for her state, and has big dreams that include running for office. “I would like to run for elected office in my home state of Colorado,” Alexa said. Growing up, Alexa learned the value that small businesses bring to the community and families. Working for her father's store—Blade Runner Services—Alexa gained valuable insight that has made her appreciate the hard work that goes into building and maintaining a business and the people behind them. “Working at a small business founded by my father provided me the opportunity to know what it takes to run a company,” Alexa said. Alongside being a committed activist for liberty, Alexa has spent the last 14 years of her life practicing ballet. During her time performing, Alexa lettered twice and was in a dance company for six years. After hearing about the Leadership Institute's Youth Leadership School from a friend who took the political bootcamp, Alexa decided to attend. Her experience was one that she will never forget. “I had an incredible experience at LI's Youth Leadership School. I learned exactly what it takes to be a conservative leader, and I was left with the tools to be one,” Alexa said. “The speakers were remarkable, and I was humbled by the opportunity to learn from each of them. Being a part of this two-day training alongside like-minded individuals was a great experience, and I met many promising future leaders. Most impressive, however, was the sheer amount of applicable information.” After taking the Youth Leadership School at the Leadership Institute in July with 141 others, she said she was “better informed” for her political future. And this fall, she will be joining 10 other conservatives to intern for the Leadership Institute. “I would recommend the Youth Leadership School to anyone who wants to become involved in politics. Everyone could learn something because the focus is on highlighting the skills of a selfless leader, which is very uncommon,” she said. Sign up now for one of LI's Youth Leadership Schools (YLS). The weekend trainings are hosted all over the country, or you may contact Daryl Ann Dunigan (DDunigan@LeadershipInstitute.org or 703-247-2000) to host a YLS training near you. Please congratulate Alexa Van Anne on receiving the Leadership Institute's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award and please encourage her to continue advancing conservatism in Colorado. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award where they will have an article written about them, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
The Koehler Family Trains at LI
Kelly Macfarland
July 23, 2013
The Koehler Family Trains at LI
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.” To prove that she can make a difference no matter her age, Jessica got involved in debate. Her mother's urging didn't hurt either. “I began competing in debate and speech when I was 15 years old, and continued until I was 18,” Jessica remembered. “My mom initially forced me, her extremely shy daughter, to attend and compete, but after the first year I was so amazed by the difference I saw in myself that I agreed to continue. It was probably one of the toughest experiences of my life, and it taught me how to be confident, bold, and how to communicate effectively.” Her debate experience also gave her a new perspective. “My favorite part of competing was how much I learned through it,” Jessica said. “I started out as a 15-year-old girl who was afraid to give a prepared presentation in front of her friends, and I finished as a tournament-winning contestant who was able to passionately deliver impromptu speeches to a roomful of competitors and judges.” Jessica's family has also largely contributed to her love of politics. From Springfield, Ohio, Jessica comes from a family of five children, where all of her siblings were homeschooled. Her father is a vice president of a tool and die company, and her mother is a psychologist and director of the national home school group Classical Conversations. Her family has had a normal interest in current events, but that all changed when Jessica's father, Kyle Koehler, decided to run for Clark County Commissioner in Ohio. He lost by only 240 votes, but that didn't deter him. Now, he's agreed to run in his home district for state representative in 2014 because of all the requests from constituents and members of his political party. “The Leadership Institute grabbed our attention because it offered valuable training for those hoping to run a successful campaign,” Jessica said. “While we ran an amazing campaign last time, we want to make sure that we do an even better job this time around. LI training has helped us prepare for the race by providing us with the tools to win no matter what comes our way. Jessica plans to work on her father's campaign full time once she receives her degree in communication from Thomas Edison State College this December. Her job will be to organize the youth campaign, gathering support from local high school and college students. She's graduating two years early through the Verity Institute, an accelerated program that allows college-level students to earn their bachelor's degrees in 21 months and is committed to growing students into Christian leaders. She plans to use the “extra” two years remaining of the standard four-year college experience to gain hands-on experience in the field through internships. Teaching English to children in Taiwan was life-changing for Jessica. “Just this past January I was able to spend a month serving in Taiwan teaching children. It was an incredible experience and it widened my entire perspective on life,” Jessica shared. Jessica first learned about the Leadership Institute from her sister and her mother, who attended a Youth Leadership School in Cincinnati, Ohio. They both encouraged Jessica and the rest of the family to come to Arlington, Virginia to get training too. “My favorite parts of LI's Youth Leadership School were the practical tips and recommendations from the experienced staff who led the training,” Jessica said. “They did not just talk about how a theoretical campaign would look; they took a realistic look at the challenges everyone faces, and gave me the tools to handle them.” Jessica came to LI's Youth Leadership School in Arlington, Virginia just a few weeks ago with her father, brother, and sister. "The Leadership Institute has helped me connect with other professionals who have the same passion to make a positive difference in this country," Jessica said. "LI is an invaluable resource to conservatives who really want to have an impact on our society." Please congratulate Jessica Koehler on receiving LI's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award. Stay connected with Jessica on Twitter @jess_me93. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award where they will have an article written about them, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
“LI Completely Changed My Life!”
Lauren Day
July 16, 2013
“LI Completely Changed My Life!”
Jean Morrow explained that she grew up in a “very patriotic family.” Her father was a 30-year career Navy Captain who served in Vietnam. He and her mother helped instill a love of country, dedication, determination, and hard work in her from an early age. And it's these principles that shaped Jean as an adult. Now, Jean is living out her own dream: working as a development associate at the Institute for Justice, a conservative nonprofit that protects American's civil liberties. “Since the Wilson presidency, there has been a movement in our nation to grow the size of government, throw out the U.S. Constitution and her Bill of Rights, and ultimately usurp the individual liberties our Founders designed for us,” Jean said. “Civil liberties are vitally important to the continuation of our nation; they help protect the American dream.” She continued, “The framers wanted the courts to play an active role in making sure that the government was limited to its expressly delegated powers and to defend individual liberties. It's a great feeling knowing that I'm working for a non-profit that forces the judiciary to uphold its original intent and to continue to be the last defense for individual liberty in our constitutional system.” The Institute for Justice (IJ) has four pillars of litigation: economic liberty, private property, school choice, and the First Amendment. The Institute for Justice has built a reputation over the past two decades as a force for freedom across the country. The organization has litigated 157 cases, including five before the U.S. Supreme Court. IJ has a stellar 70 percent victory rate in litigation and legislation, Jean shared. “The case that first introduced me to the Institute for Justice dealt with educational vouchers, a vital component of liberty and an area which I thoroughly researched while in college,” Jean said. “IJ's first appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court was for the seminal case, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), in which the Court upheld the constitutionality of school choice under the Establishment Clause. This victory has led to more than 200,000 students benefiting from school choice and the Institute for Justice has been dubbed the voucher movement's legal brain trust.” As a development associate at IJ, Jean's chief responsibilities include donor and prospect research and supporting the director of development with meetings with donors. “I also help my fellow development team with sending out thank you letters and materials to donors,” Jean said. “As the Leadership Institute development team taught me, you can never thank a supporter enough!” “I never thought I would ever work in the realm of development, and I'm honored to help the Institute for Justice secure the funds necessary to continue to be a pillar of free society that helps strengthen and deepen liberty as a newly dubbed member of their fundraising team,” Jean said. Jean attended Central Florida Community College for three semesters free of charge before transferring to the University of Florida, where she received her B.A. in political science in May 2010. In college, Jean was secretary of the University of Florida Pro-life Alliance, Florida chair for the Network of enlightened Women, and secretary of her College Republicans chapter. “I was also committed to preserving the memory of 9/11 by spearheading a 9/11: Never Forget Project and Vigil for six years consistently as a college student,” Jean said. Following her college graduation, she went straight into her graduate studies at the University of Florida, where she earned her Master's in Political Science and certificate in Public Affairs in May 2012. In the summers, Jean interned for the Family Research Council's Marriage and Religion Research Institute, the state attorney's office for the eighth judicial circuit of Florida, and in the external relations department for The Heritage Foundation. In spring 2013, Jean interned for the Leadership Institute's development department. “I first learned of the Leadership Institute when I was a kid,” Jean recalled. “I remember my late uncle talking to my dad about all the good that LI was doing. I never realized until recently that he was a donor for many years. That was in the 1990s and today I'm sure he would be proud to know that I was privileged to intern at such a fine organization.” As an intern, Jean took more than 17 LI trainings ranging from TV training to the High-Dollar Fundraising School to the Campaign Management School. “I learned more in the Leadership Institute's semester-long internship than I feel I learned in my two years of graduate school at the University of Florida,” she said. “My life has changed completely because of the Leadership Institute! Before my internship I was working one full-time job by day in a Nationwide Insurance Claims Call Center in Gainesville, Florida and by night I was scanning and bagging groceries at my neighborhood Publix that I had worked at for years,” Jean said. “During all of my free time I was applying for jobs and was starting to get discouraged at the minimal answer rate I was getting. I decided to take a chance and gave up both jobs to intern at LI—one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life! Plus, I'm currently working at a non-profit – the Institute for Justice – that I've dreamed of working at since I first found out about the organization's good work.” Your life can completely change too! Check out LI's training schedule here. “As LI's development department intern, I had the opportunity to work on numerous direct mail, major gifts, and foundations projects,” Jean said. “I especially enjoyed working with Morton and the staff on the day lily project. These projects taught me integral fundraising and non-profit management skills which I plan to utilize in my position at the Institute for Justice.” “The Leadership Institute is the premier comprehensive training organization that is equipping conservatives with the skills needed to succeed in government, politics, and the media. This organization helped catapult me onto my career path and I hope all conservatives take advantage of the great opportunities LI has to offer. I'm sure glad I did and will be eternally grateful!” You too can be “catapulted onto your career path” through LI training – specifically the week-long, intensive Comprehensive Fundraising Training, which is coming up September 30 through October 3. Please congratulate Jean Morrow on landing her dream job, and please welcome her as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
TN Councilman, the Good Samaritan
Lauren Day
July 9, 2013
TN Councilman, the Good Samaritan
Imagine having polycystic kidney disease. Life would change drastically and very quickly. For Wiley Bird, the disease dispelled both of his kidneys and he spent one year living on dialysis as he waited for a transplant to come through. Thankfully in 2001, Wiley received an answered prayer when a donated kidney match came through. However, 10 years later his body rejected this kidney and he was yet again kidney-less, with many emergency surgeries for a catheter and hooked onto a dialysis machine which left him without a job and on disability, and once again on the transplant waiting list – hoping for a miracle. Enter Nick Steward, a new city councilman in Clarksville, Tennessee and Leadership Institute graduate. Upon hearing the unfortunate news, Nick Steward volunteered his kidney to Wiley, a stranger who happened to be a former coworker's husband. After three months of preparation, the two men went into surgery eleven weeks ago and spent four days in the hospital. While their recovery has been slow and steady, we are pleased that Nick's kidney has been accepted by Wiley's body. Nick's last name—Steward—is more than just a name; it's a way of life: being a servant-leader to those around him and in his community. “Much of my life has been committed to serving others. My choice to donate a kidney to someone in need was a continuation of that service,” Nick shared with me. “I have been an organ donor since I was 18 years old and hearing that someone was in need now, I asked, ‘why not donate while I'm alive if I'm able and it will improve someone else's life.'” In November 2010, Nick was elected with 68 percent of the vote to the Clarksville, Tennessee City Council. In this position, he along with the mayor and other council members set departmental policies for the police, fire, street, parks and recreation, gas and water, electric, and others. In addition to setting policies they also make decisions on projects such as hiring additional police officers, building additional fire stations, and make several zoning and economic development choices each month. “As individuals we have a limited reach and impact on the future. We can raise our children, have an impact on those around us, and work hard to improve our communities, but once we are dead and gone our impact is usually short lived,” Nick said. “Getting involved in public policy as an advocate, campaign operative, or elected official is one way that we can leave a legacy for generations to come.” And leaving “a legacy for generations to come” is exactly what he's doing. “Being an elected official has been a rewarding experience which has provided me with a high level of responsibility. Setting personnel policies for more than 1500 employees and managing an $80-plus million budget has reinforced the importance of performance-based metrics and efficiency that the military and business world taught me,” Nick shared. “Directly representing 11,000 people and developing a vision for 134,000 people has given me the opportunity to devise and implement complex plans.” Since 2009 Nick has been a REALTOR with Keller Williams Realty and has received several distinctions through his involvement in serving Middle Tennesseans' real estate needs. In 2011, Nick was the recipient of the Community Involvement Award and has been a member of the government affairs committee since 2011. Before becoming a REALTOR, Nick was a solider for the U.S. Army. After graduating from Liberty University in the summer of 2005, Nick became an automated logistical specialist with the Army until March 2009. During these years, he served in South Korea, Fort Campbell in Kentucky, and in Afghanistan. Since 2003, Nick has been a volunteer or paid staffer in more than 30 political campaigns in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Some of the more notable races have included: Bob McDonnell for Virginia AG, Bob McDonnell for Virginia Governor, Bill Haslam for Tennessee Governor, and Deanna McLaughlin for City Council in Tennessee. Nick's work has garnered recognition from many. In 2004, he was bestowed the Republican National Committee President's Circle Award for his “dedication to voter registration and your tireless efforts to grow the Republican Party.” From 2009-2010, he was selected to serve on the Clarksville Public Building Authority. In 2011, Nick was chairman of the Clarksville Alzheimer Association Walk and in that year, Gov. Bill Haslam appointed him to the Tennessee Pest Control Board. He's also a member of the Clarksville area Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee and former chair of the Montgomery County Young Republicans. Nick loves other cultures: he's lived in six countries, traveled to 14, and speaks basic Tagalog (Filipino) and basic Korean. He's also crazy about soccer, boxing, NASCAR, hockey, cooking, and chess. Nick received his bachelor's in business administration from Liberty University in 2005 and first learned of the Leadership Institute and President Morton Blackwell there. But it wasn't until January 2010 that Nick took LI's Campaign School and LI's Future Candidate School in August 2011. "The Leadership Institute's Campaign School provided me with the opportunity to organize the skills I had acquired through my experience working on campaigns and provided me with more tools that I was able to use during the year," Nick said. "During the first part of 2010 I used what I learned at LI to provide crisis management assistance to one of my future colleagues. Then, during the spring of 2010 I was part of the five person leadership team running the primary campaign for now Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam in my county. I led the door-to-door efforts." LI training didn't just help Nick's colleagues; it aided his own campaign toward victory! "Going into the summer and fall I was able to use the skills I learned at the Leadership Institute in my own city council campaign, which resulted in a victory with 68 percent of the vote," Nick said. "As an elected official I have also used the lessons learned at LI lectures regarding mobilizing citizens to aid in convincing the council to implement policies I felt were important." You too can take LI training -- specifically the week-long, intensive Future Candidate School, which is coming up the first week of August. "LI is a must for anyone thinking about running for office, helping others get elected, or playing an advocacy role that is serious about winning," Nick said. "Simply having the right ideas is not enough to get us across the finish line. We conservatives must take time to learn how to organize and communicate our message if we are going to be effective. The Leadership Institute provides the tools we need for success." Please congratulate Nick Steward on his recovery, and please welcome him as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Let's Honor America’s Heroes this July 4th
Lauren Day
June 25, 2013
Let's Honor America’s Heroes this July 4th
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. Honor Flight tells the story of four living World War II veterans and a Midwest community that raises the necessary funds to give them and thousands of veterans the trip of a lifetime: an honor flight to Washington, D.C. to see the memorial constructed for them in 2004, nearly 60 years after war. The film highlights the good work the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit organization, has done in transporting more than 100,000 veterans from WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam War from across 117 cities for an unforgettable 24-hour journey to Washington, D.C. to visit their memorials, recognize their service, and say thanks. My husband and some Leadership Institute coworkers joined me several weeks ago at The Heritage Foundation for an evening screening of the film. What I saw and more, what I felt, moved me to tears and left me with a profound appreciation for those who gave their lives, limbs, time, and families for my freedom decades before I was born. We left Heritage cherishing America and her many freedoms, and I highly recommend seeing this documentary. The film has received many awards including: the Best of Festival Documentary Feature in 2013 by the Richmond International Film Festival; the 2013 winner of the Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Competition by the Cleveland International Film Festival; the Guinness World Record for the largest film screening in 2012; the 2013 winner of the Best of Festival Documentary Feature by the GI film Festival; and the Best Documentary Audience Choice in 2013 by the Omaha Film Festival. But that's not the full story -- at least not where the Leadership Institute is concerned. Meet Jo Jensen, the marketing director for Freethink Media. She's been busy this year raising awareness for Honor Flight, and has worked hard in part because it's personal to her. “My grandfather served in WWII and my mother is a WWII military historian,” Jo shared. “Having the opportunity to meet WWII veterans and hear their stories first-hand is an experience that I am grateful for and will never forget.” Originally from Billings, Montana, Jo went to Mount Holyoke College, a liberal arts college for women in Massachusetts, where she received a degree in political science and a minor in economics. “When I was in college, I was involved with helping a student group called Students for Saving Social Security (S4) get started. By my junior year, 2005 to 2006, we had more than 300 campus chapters comprised of more than 10,000 students. Many of these campus chapters were Leadership Institute (LI) student groups and LI was instrumental with providing training through field reps and helping our organization get started through direct mail donations,” Jo said. Since college, Jo has attended five trainings at the Leadership Institute: LI's Youth Leadership School in December 2010, Public Speaking Workshop in October 2010, On-Camera Television Workshop in September 2010, Legislative Project Management School in September 2010, and Grassroots Activist School in March 2008. In 2009, Jo attended LI's Conservative Job Fair at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where more than 739 jobseekers came to meet with conservative and libertarian employers. Later that year, Jo was selected by one of the CPAC Job Fair recruiters to be a year-long Koch Associate. She was also in the inaugural class of the National Review Institute's Washington Fellows program and helped found Generation Opportunity, where she later became the associate vice president of national stakeholder relations and operations. “Even as I have changed roles, I have continued to participate in Leadership Institute trainings. I just saw a training in public relations that I am considering going to this year,” Jo said. “There are a lot of opportunities to learn how to organize students, communicate your ideas succinctly, and to sharper your on-camera skills.” Jo was instrumental in helping break the Guinness World Record for the largest audience in history at a film screening with 28,442 people in attendance at Honor Flight's premiere in August 2012. For Memorial Day this year, Jo helped organize 80 screenings of the film at theaters and community centers, including one hosted by President George H.W. Bush near his home in Maine. “I recommend this July Fourth making time between the picnics and fireworks to sit down and watch Honor Flight the movie with your family and friends,” Jo said. “Honor Flight is a powerful documentary, but its real impact occurs when families share the experience together and talk about our heritage of where freedom comes from.” After Honor Flight was made available for purchase and download, it immediately became the top rated documentary on Amazon for weeks! You can download Honor Flight on iTunes and the DVD can be purchased on Amazon. More than 640 WWII veterans die every day, and that's why honoring them now is so critical. “The easiest and most important way to get involved is to just express your gratitude for their service. In the movie, we show the WWII veterans being surprised on their trip home with thank you letters from community members and their family. I don't think people realize just how much it means to veterans to have their service recognized and to be thanked with a handshake, a hug or a thank you card,” Jo said. There are multiple opportunities to get involved with this movement of honoring veterans. You can apply to be a guardian for one special veteran, a volunteer to welcome them back home at the end of their journey or to welcome them to DC (there are 117 cities that send veterans with trips every weekend April through October), or considering being a host for a private screening of the film. And of course, if you know of a veteran that should receive this honor trip, please help them apply. “The Leadership Institute has served as a great networking resource to me and also helped me navigate Washington, D.C.,” Jo shared. “I always recommend an LI training to folks new to DC because it's a great way to get connected and sharpen your skills!” Register online for an LI training like Jo and become more effective so this generation continues to preserve freedom! Follow Jo on Twitter @JoJensen. Please congratulate Jo Jensen on her wonderful work of publicizing the gift of service World War II veterans have given, and please welcome her as LI's Graduate of the Week. There will be no featured spotlight next week and this feature will resume the week of July 8. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Lovin’ Data
Lauren Day
June 18, 2013
Lovin’ Data
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. “Research is absolutely crucial because it sets the foundation for communication strategies,” Abbey said. “It helps explain the facts why people should believe a specific argument. More and more campaigns, nonprofits, and corporations are hiring researchers because they provide the substance on which to springboard their message and win over an audience.” At FP1 Strategies, Abbey compiles news articles for clients, conducts research, updates social media accounts, writes op-ed pieces, and collects information and quotes for client advertisements. “The fast-paced nature of political communications means there is never a dull moment in the office,” she said. At the Republican National Committee (RNC), Abbey developed research and communication skills. “We were required to quickly research and turn around the information to be used as background for the RNC, a blog post on the website, or a research piece used by the presidential campaign, grassroots activists, and reporters,” Abbey said. “One of the many highlights of working at the RNC was the opportunity to attend the Republican National Convention down in Tampa, Florida.” She's a Michigander, but attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, where she received a Bachelor's degree in political science and graduated magna cum laude. In college, she spent her summers interning in the DC area. In 2009, Abbey was a legislative affairs intern for Concerned Women for America, where she first learned of the Leadership Institute (LI). “After attending the Leadership Institute's Youth Leadership School, I realized that there were so many different practical things that LI could teach me which would give me an advantage in the world of politics. The next summer in 2010 I was excited to learn that I was accepted as an LI intern,” Abbey said. “It was while I was interning in the communication training department that I first realized my love for communications.” So, she enrolled in 14 LI trainings. She jumped at the opportunity to take all of LI's communications trainings: public speaking, television, public relations, and broadcast journalism, she said. “Countless times, techniques I learned at LI have helped me understand tasks at work much more quickly and have given me an advantage in the workforce. Moreover, the Leadership Institute has helped me develop life-long relationships with both mentors and peers in the political world that continue to challenge me to grow as an individual and conservative,” Abbey said. The following summer Abbey interned at the U.S. Department of State. “Young people should care about public policy because it directly impacts our generation and the future of our country,” Abbey said. “Unless we take an active role, future generations may not have the same freedoms and opportunities that we have today.” So, get trained in effective communications at LI so we can preserve freedom! Register for LI's Public Speaking Workshop. “The Leadership Institute wants to take people who have a passion to make a difference in the world of politics and equip them with the foundational tools in order to help them succeed in whatever area of politics they choose,” Abbey shared. “LI helped me develop my love for communications and for that, I will be forever grateful.” Follow Abbey on Twitter @Abbeyebrokos. Please congratulate Abbey Brokos on finding her career love, and please welcome her as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
From Campaign Loss to Student Body President Win
Lauren Day
June 10, 2013
From Campaign Loss to Student Body President Win
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? First—Lee increased his name recognition. After his loss in 2012, he spent this past year getting more involved on campus and making good relationships. “In 2012, I had zero name recognition on campus,” Lee told me. “I internalized the knowledge that people aren't voting for you…They are voting for the idea of you, for the idea of who you are and what you symbolize. Branding yourself carefully and meticulously is imperative –you will become a symbol and a fad. People will sell you to their friends in their discussions with one another without you needing to lift a finger. By branding yourself, you become a discussion topic. Following my first run for office, I had established name recognition and a strong reputation throughout the year.” Second—he got help. In 2012, his campaign team consisted of just him. This year, he recruited a slate of folks to run with him on a conservative platform ticket. “In Morton Blackwell's Laws of the Public Policy Process, his sixth law states, ‘Give ‘em a title and get ‘em involved,' and law #29 states, ‘You can't beat somebody with nobody.' Going it alone in 2012 was an uphill battle, so it drastically helped to establish a team of good candidates and have them well organized,” Lee said. “I gave it 110 percent in 2012, but still came in shy of winning. This year, I gave it 120 percent and had 10 others working for my victory. Together, we more than doubled the prior year's numbers.” “I established a team of candidates with similar viewpoints, creating a powerful coalition. Our team was campaigning against another well-established team of 13 candidates—one presidential candidate and 12 senate candidates. They were all very well connected with the student body and the student housing,” Lee said. But having a strong coalition isn't enough to win elections. Having a strong message is also important. “I ran for Student Government Association president because I felt that students needed someone who would represent their interests and not act merely as a rubber stamp for the university's administration,” Lee said. “I sought the office because I felt that funds were being spent inappropriately and that the student activity fee – an additional fee that students have to pay alongside tuition – was being used as a second, quasi-tuition increase in order to pay for things that the university should be paying for on its own dime through its general fund.” There were four executive positions open–president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. There were three people ran for president and 24 ran for 12 open senate seats. “My team of candidates held a better, more conservative philosophy regarding how student funding should be spent,” Lee said. “This next year, I will be working to establish a system whereby our student government can offer representation to students who are the targets of bias in classrooms and in grading—especially if these biases are rooted in discrimination against a student's worldview, political orientation, or conservative viewpoints—as well as stand guard against restrictions that could impede upon conservative clubs and organizations on campus.” Third—by studying how to win, the election outcomes changed in Lee's favor. In 2009, Lee came to DC for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). “At CPAC, I met Kent Strang from the Leadership Institute and had the opportunity to work with both him and Brenda Alves who was, at the time, the intern coordinator for LI,” Lee remembered. He was encouraged to apply for LI's summer 2009 internship and was accepted. While at LI, Lee took nine trainings, including the Campaign Management School, Television Workshops, Public Relations School, Conservative Intern Workshop, Direct Mail School, Youth Leadership School, and LI's Public Speaking Workshop. Lee took Leadership Institute training. He studied his notes later. He prepared for battle, and then won. “LI taught me everything I to know about campaigning,” Lee said. “Without the Leadership Institute, I couldn't have understood what I needed to do in each unique situation in order to secure a victory for myself and our team.” Fourth—he implemented political technology to his benefit. The ninth Law of Public Policy Process states: Political technology determines political success. Lee said he implemented this law on his campaign. “Technology allowed us to speak to thousands of people at once in 1,000 places, all with the click of a button. All the while, we were getting out the vote in person! I utilized Facebook ads early on; printer templates for flyers, posters, and table tents; stickers; email blasts; and, most effectively, text message blasts,” Lee said. “We worked our GOTV while simultaneously email and text blasting our voting block. I tested my software religiously. There is nothing worse than being right on the front lines of the battlefield when your email blasts are being marked as SPAM and your text messenger is not functioning. I learned the importance of triple checking that everything is in working order and having my email blasts functioning and ready to go on a timer days in advance,” he explained. Fifth—he made sharp campaign materials and used them effectively. “I learned that campaign materials which are sharp, understandable, and motivating are highly effective,” Lee said. He continued, “Good materials, concise talking points, and easy-to-follow voting directions help voters see the value in supporting you and convince them that the time it takes to vote for you is well worth it. Aside from flyers and posters, we had a secret weapon: table towers. We printed hundreds of them and prepared them so that they could be unfolded and set up in seconds. We systematized our campaign materials. “Then, during the early morning of Election Day, we covered the campus with them. They were impressive, effective, and attractive; people loved them,” he explained. “They emanated professionalism and branded us effectively. I ran into a ton of people who said that they voted for us simply because they saw our table towers and followed the voting directions on it.” Lastly—he got out the vote and ran an aggressive grassroots campaign. In 2012, there were 877 voters. In 2013, there were 1,601 students that came out to vote for the candidate of their choice. That's almost double the number of voters. Lee received 55.9 percent of the vote, while the second place person received 35.9 percent and the last received 8.2 percent. And, all nine of their slate's senators won! “This year, I established the campaign strategy months before the campaign,” Lee said. He waited to announce he was running for president until his decision was made and his team was formed. “I began collecting voter contact information in person weeks before the GOTV effort even began. I would go classroom to classroom and give a brief three-minute spiel with handout materials. Following the spiel, I would ask for their pledged support and vote, and then I collected their email and phone number for GOTV far in advance of Election Day,” Lee said. But working hard during the campaign isn't enough; one must finish strong. “I decided to run through the finish line, and then keep running until I could no longer see the finish line in my rearview mirror. Slowing down isn't suicide, but it is detrimental to your margin for error,” he shared. “The more you withdraw yourself from the game, the smaller that margin of error gets and the more your wiggle room shrinks. By running our campaign at full steam toward the end, we secured a massive victory.” In just two years, he went from underdog loser to the most prominent leader on campus. Now he gets to change his campus toward more conservative ways next year as president. Lee learned that failure is just an opportunity to learn from mistakes, correct them, and become stronger and more successful. “The Leadership Institute is the premier political activism training institution in our nation,” Lee said. “There is nowhere else that you can receive the level of in depth training, knowledge, and experience that LI supplies. There is simply no substitute for learning the art of winning political campaigns from those campaign managers and consultants who work in the field day-to-day and provide their expertise at LI trainings." Come to the Leadership Institute to learn how to prepare for a future run for office. Register for LI's week-long Future Candidate School in August. “LI has not only given me the skills for successful organization and campaigning, it has also facilitated long-term friendships for me in the field of politics and nonprofits that will allow me to advance in a career where I can advance conservative principles,” Lee said. We look forward to where Lee's career will go. Follow Lee on Twitter @CohenLee. Please congratulate and welcome Lee Cohen as an elected leader at Indiana University and as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Teenage Voice Making (Air)Waves
Lauren Day
June 3, 2013
Teenage Voice Making (Air)Waves
Jayson Veley was a spy. Well, at least when he was a child. At night, Jayson would sneak up on his father yelling at the TV in their Wethersfield, Connecticut home as he watched the evening news and the talking heads. "I had small conversations with my dad about political issues in America, and over the years these conversations became more and more frequent,” Jayson said. “I really owe a lot of credit to my dad, because without him, I never would have started political commentary in the first place.” Jayson's true love is broadcasting his conservative views over the airwaves. In high school he co-founded with his buddy Caiden Cowger Junior Factor Nation to spread the conservative message to youth. Their network provides radio programming, video clips, and columns – all created by teenagers and young twenty-somethings. “As it stands right now, liberalism will be the dominant ideology in America's near future, primarily due to the youth's increasing exposure to classroom indoctrination and media bias,” Jayson said. “The reason I established Junior Factor Nation is essentially to counter these factors, and present the youth with a side of politics that they are not being exposed to.” Jayson just finished his freshman year at Eastern Connecticut State University, where he majors in communications with a focus on radio broadcasting. But you can often find Jayson cohosting a conservative radio show on the campus radio station. Every Monday and Thursday night from 7 to 8 p.m. EST tune in and hear Jayson as the Factor Talk Radio host. The program airs live on the website for listeners to hear along with other shows like The Founding Voice, The Caiden Cowger Program, and The Whitfield Analysis. Jayson was thrilled when he got a special invite to make a guest appearance on Glenn Beck's TV show in April 2010 – calling it his “biggest honor.” “Connor, my local access co-host at the time, and I were given the chance to teach a political lesson at Beck's chalk boards, which was a very neat experience. It has definitely motivated me to keep up the fight for freedom, and it is something that I truly will never forget,” he explained. Jayson first learned of the Leadership Institute through his uncle Scott Veley, also an LI graduate. He registered for LI's Youth Leadership School in August 2010 as a high school sophomore. “My experience with the Leadership Institute was fantastic. I still have all the notes I took during the course when I learned how to organize on college campuses and how to promote the ideas of conservatism to my peers. Now that I am in college, the skills that I learned at the Leadership Institute are much more relevant, and I am definitely going back for more training in the near future,” he said. You too can get trained like Jayson. Register now for LI's Youth Leadership School. “The Leadership Institute staff genuinely wants you to succeed, whether you are interested in radio broadcasting like me or organizing in other ways on college campuses. They are completely committed to spreading the conservative message, and have certainly been helpful to me and my professional journey. LI's Mr. Steve Sutton has been particularly helpful, and has provided me with many opportunities to advance my political broadcasting career.” Jayson has also published his own book called The Other Side. In it, he discusses conservatism and its importance to today's youth. The book is currently available on Amazon. “Freedom is something that everyone deserves to have, and everyone should be fighting for,” Jayson said. “As Ronald Reagan once said, ‘freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction'. If we don't pass on these principles of limited government and constitutional values, then I fear that the Republic will one day disappear altogether. Young people should get involved because it is their country too, and the future of America is in their hands.” Jason's recommendation for getting involved? It starts with Leadership Institute training. “The Leadership Institute is committed to teaching college students how to organize and spread the conservative message on campus. Like everyone at Junior Factor Nation, the staff at LI wants to see freedom protected in this country. They are an organization that wants to educate the youth and ensure that future generations will hold true to our founding values and principles. I would highly recommend the Leadership Institute to anyone willing to join the fight for liberty,” Jayson said. Follow Jayson on Twitter @JaysonVeley and @FactorTalkRadio. Please congratulate and welcome Jayson Veley into conservative broadcasting and as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
“Politics Addict” Goes Online
Lauren Day
May 21, 2013
“Politics Addict” Goes Online
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. This small-town girl claims Florida as home. She is a 2012 graduate of the University of West Florida, and received a Bachelor's of Arts in international studies and political science. In college, Leah was active in College Republicans -- even chair of the group one year -- and involved in student government, for which she served as academic committee co-chair. “I first started getting involved with politics when I was 19 years old, and I've been an addict ever since,” Leah Courtney, now 23, said. She's a social media analyst at DC London, a full-service consulting firm in areas of campaign management, grassroots management, lobbying, message and brand development, and social media. “My job is to watch social media trends to keep clients informed on how their brand is doing and what is popular at the moment,” Leah said. “I got into this field honestly doing exactly what I always do: tweeting and blogging,” Leah shared. “People have to put themselves out there and voice their views on public policy. Be unapologetic; be outspoken. We have free speech in this country; take advantage of it. And, the people in the industry will take notice.” And boy, have folks taken notice. She's now on three international sub-committees for the Young Republicans National Federation: Asia and Oceania, Americas, and Europe, on which she is most active. “We are one of the few countries that has the opportunity to have a hand in public policy decision-making. That being said, it is borderline irresponsible not to take an interest,” Leah said. “Young people need to be reading up on these policies, and voting every chance they get.” In the spring of 2013, Leah interned at the Leadership Institute in the Events Department where she helped promote LI's monthly Wednesday Wake-Up Club Breakfasts and happy hours. Before her LI internship, Leah worked in the fall (August through November) as the field director for the Republican National Committee in Pensacola, Florida. In this position she organized events for 500 to 1,000 people, working in a coalition with the GOP executive committee and local tea party groups. She also taught employees and volunteers how to effectively conduct grassroots operations during the campaign. Before that, Leah interned for Mitt Romney for President in the research department at the office in northwestern Florida. She assisted with event planning for groups of around 500 and did many calls with voters. In the fall of 2010, Leah interned for the Rick Scott for Governor campaign where she made 100 to 125 calls per hour, coordinated the midnight sign placement run for three counties, and campaigned in the community and at events. Leah first learned of LI from a good friend, who was a past intern for the Institute. He invited her to attend a Youth Leadership School, and “I've been a huge fan ever since,” she said. “I've learned so much from the entire LI family,” Leah said. “I got the push I needed to succeed in such a competitive environment, and I also have made a lot of friends through LI that help me in countless ways and keep me motivated.” Leah took 15 LI trainings as various as TV training to High-Dollar Fundraising School to Campaign Management School. “Some things that really stuck with me were from the public relations training and online activism workshop,” Leah said. “How to grab someone's attention and make them want to hear about the brand you're promoting is one thing that was really valuable. Also, I remember learning how to make your point when writing without getting wordy or off-topic.” You too can become a LI intern like Leah. Contact LI's Intern Coordinator Alyssa Condrey at ACondrey@LeadershipInstitute.org for more information. “The Leadership Institute is a great stepping stone for young activists that want to make it in the political world. If you're interested in getting involved, sign up for LI training. I've learned more through this organization then I did during the four years I was in college.” You heard her: sign up for an LI training now. You can follow Leah on Twitter @LCourtney90. Please congratulate and welcome Leah Courtney into the online communications industry and as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Politics & Trucking!
Lauren Day
May 14, 2013
Politics & Trucking!
What do agriculture, crossing borders, energy, hazardous materials, security, and taxes have in common? The trucking industry, of course! “I am very concerned about the impact of excessive government regulation on the hard-working truck drivers – especially the individuals and independent operators,” Mike Howe said. He runs regular pieces focused on all the various issues that concern those in the trucking business from border crossing to Earth Day, energy prices, taxes, new tolls and traffic laws. “I try to bring issues to their attention and offer my commentary where appropriate.” Mike works to educate those in the trucking industry about politics and advance their positions in public policy. “One of my first real jobs out of college was in the trucking industry, so I have long had an affinity for transportation issues,” Mike said. “My PolitiTruck.com site, bringing politics and trucking together, is a place where I share my writing for other trucking publications as well as the work I do independently.” His work is even being published throughout international publications and in other languages. Desi Trucking, a Canadian publication, featured his May/June 2013 cover story article in English and Punjabi. And just today Mike filed for the district 2 position of the Sequim, WA School Board. “There are multiple reasons for me deciding to do this, the most important of which is that I have three children who are in or will be in the district so, I have a vested interest,” Mike said. “I am also very concerned about the future of our country and I believe quality education is what will bring future prosperity. As a former college instructor I have seen the struggles some face as a result of not having the necessary skills and knowledge to excel at that level, so I hope to make a difference with that. Lastly, with my background I believe I bring a unique skillset to the school board that can help it become even more effective in influencing state and federal policies.” By day, Mike is the communications and government relations manager at Clallam County Public Utility District in the state of Washington. The utility provides electricity, water, sewer, and telecommunications to approximately 30,000 customers, and Mike manages the overall communication efforts. “One of the major projects I am currently working on is educating the public and policy makers on the impacts of the state's renewable portfolio standards [RPS], while also working to reform the mandates associated with the RPS to something more reasonable,” Mike said. Mike is the chairman of the Washington Public Utility District Association's Communication Committee and vice-chairman of its Government Relations Committee. He has five children, a wife he is crazy about, and a grandchild who just turned two years old plus another one on the way. He is an elected board member of the University of Wyoming Alumni Association. He is also former president of Baker County Chamber of Commerce in Oregon, and formerly an advisor to two Wyoming governors. His work has garnered the attention of many. In 2009, he received the Spotlight on Excellence Award for the best news story that year from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. He is also the 2009, 2010, and 2011 recipient of the Excellence in Communications Award from the Northwest Public Power Association. However, Mike's proudest moment in his career was interviewing President George W. Bush, during both the 2000 and 2004 elections. Mike hosts a radio program called “In The Booth” on KONP radio. The show is syndicated to Forks, WA on two stations and airs Saturday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Newsradio 1450 KONP radio in Port Angeles / Sequim. On Sunday, his show airs from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. on KBDB Twilight 96.7 FM in Forks, and from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on KFKB Forks Radio 1490 AM in Forks. “On this show I bring on policymakers from around the state, nation, and even the globe to talk about issues of importance,” Mike said. “My guests tend to be conservative, but it is not a show with strictly conservative guests. Really the show is about bringing listeners information and guests these stations might not typically have. Past guests have included Vice President Dick Cheney, U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, U.S. Congressman Tom Graves, numerous guests from the American Enterprise Institute, and more.” In college Mike was chairman of College Republicans at the University of Wyoming, and that's where he first learned of the Leadership Institute from a friend. In March 1992 he took LI's Youth Leadership School in Denver, Colorado. “Leadership Institute training certainly helped me early in my career,” Mike said. “LI taught me how to win, and not just in politics. I have applied the lessons of the Leadership Institute in my work as a lobbyist, advisor to two governors, radio host, writer, and volunteer.” “Perhaps the best thing LI did for me was help foster my confidence," he said. "I remember sitting in the LI training and being around many great young leaders. The comments they were making, concerns they were expressing, and outlook for the future were very similar to my own.” A few years after the training, Mike won his campaign for state chairman of College Republicans in the state of Wyoming. “Today, I still have my signed copy of the Laws of the Public Policy Process hanging in my office as well as the large, black three-ring binder from the Youth Leadership School training.” You too can be an effective LI Youth Leadership School graduate like Mike by registering now here. “The Leadership Institute is the organization young conservatives should seek training from. It is the organization that provides me hope for the future of America,” Mike shared. “Given the current state of politics, it is incredibly important we train and educate young conservatives how to win in any endeavor they take on. LI is the organization that can help make this happen.” Follow Mike on Twitter @TruckingDC for news and information on political trucking issues. Check out his PolitiTruck blog here, and his radio show online here. Please congratulate and welcome Mike Howe as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
23-Year-Old Kazakh Changing Her Country
Lauren Day
May 6, 2013
23-Year-Old Kazakh Changing Her Country
How can you make your country more free? For 23-year-old Darya Nenakhova, from Kazakhstan, real change starts with young people -- and free markets. “We believe that for improving the index of economic freedom in Kazakhstan, we first need to encourage young people's interest in entrepreneurship. This will give Kazakhstan a new generation of business creators and increase the number of jobs,” Darya Nenakhova said. 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. Darya is the director of business development for the Young Entrepreneurs Club in Kazakhstan, which began just a few months ago in December 2012. The club's mission is to inspire young people from ages 21 to 37 to create and develop their own businesses. Each week the Young Entrepreneurs Club organizes a “Business Tuesday” at which they network, meet new members, and listen to guest speakers who promote economic freedom. Darya is also a founding partner at the Institute for Development and Economic Affairs (IDEA), a think tank founded in 2011. The think tank works with government, NGOs, and foreign partners. “We want Kazakhstan to be a safe and prosperous country, where everyone has an opportunity for self-development with a wide diversity of individual rights and freedoms that are protected from intervention, where the talents of every citizen are valued and where government is concentrated on its main function – the protection of life and property of citizens,” Darya explained. At the KIMEP University library a memorial corner dedicated to free-market economist Ludwig von Mises is being created, thanks to Darya's group. “In this library we are planning to bring together the authors of classical liberal economics and philosophy in Russian, English, and in Kazakh,” Darya said. “We plan to bring a lot of books from the U.S. and Russia and make these works freely available for professors and students from all universities.” The group has spearheaded the translation of classical liberal thinkers into Kazakh so more university students can read and be exposed to these ideas. Their first project is the translation of The Law by Frederic Bastiat. Then, they will translate The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey by Ken Schoolland. After her colleague and IDEA co-founder Pavel Koktyshev introduced her to the Leadership Institute, Darya attended LI's week-long International School of Fundraising in London this past March. “I integrated what I learned about direct mail at LI's training to our Economic Freedom Forum last month in April,” Darya said. “There was a letter asking people to donate money for book translation (The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible) from Russian to Kazak. The translated book will then be provided for children in the villages.” “The Leadership Institute has already been helpful to my professional career through the huge and useful contact database,” Darya said. “I was inspired by Ron Nehring's speech about fundraising for political campaigns, and Bruce and Katherine Eberle's lecture on planning and organizing successful fundraising events was a key topic to me because in Almaty, Kazakhstan we organize events for IDEA and the Young Entrepreneurs Club.” Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Kazakhstan is the world's largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups. “The initiative kicked off in 2008, launched by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Carl Schramm, the president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Since then, it has grown to 115 countries,” Darya said. “When Kazakhstan joined GEW Global in 2011, this was our team's first initiative: to run the Forum of Youth Entrepreneurship.” She continued, “This week-long conference gathered government and business representatives for constructive dialogue about finding opportunities, taking risks, solving problems, being creative, building connections and learning from both failure and success. During one week each November, GEW Kazakhstan inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators,” Darya said. “After joining GEW Kazakhstan, it gave us the reason to start the Young Entrepreneurs Club.” You too can start a conservative club, perhaps on your liberal college campus. Contact LI's Campus Leadership Program Deputy National Field Director Mike Armstrong at MArmstrong@Leadershipinstitute.org for more details and support. Like Darya, you can be armed with the tools you need to advance your principles. Go register now for a training near you. Please congratulate and welcome Darya Nenakhova as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
The United Kingdom's 40 Days For Life
Lauren Day
April 30, 2013
The United Kingdom's 40 Days For Life
“Abortion is the greatest human rights tragedy of our age,” Robert Colquhoun said. “Unborn children are incapable of defending themselves adequately, and therefore we must be a voice for the voiceless.” Thirty-year-old Robert Colquhoun is the campaign director for 40 Days For Life London. He also is the head of international outreach, for which he helps find supporters in new cities and countries across the globe who are interested and willing to start their own 40 days for life campaigns. “Currently we have 10 local campaigns in the UK and 19 countries around the world have run their own 40 days for life campaigns,” Robert said. “40 Days For Life is a locally organized community initiative encouraging Christians to pray and fast for an end to abortion. Since the campaign started, more than 7,500 lives have been saved from abortion, 32 abortion clinics have closed and 501 cities have participated in the campaign. We anticipate continuing to grow steadily around the world.” In 2004, there was an hour of prayer in College Station, Texas that activated the 40 Days For Life campaign that has now gone global with a presence in all 50 states and many countries. There are three parts to 40 Days for Life, Robert shared: fasting and prayer for an end to abortion; peaceful vigil to witness outside of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service; and Community outreach with positive and upbeat messages through media and advocacy. “A person is a person no matter how small! Modern technology is helping us to see and rejoice with pictures of children in the womb even from a very early stage of development,” Robert said. “The future of humanity passes by way of the family - we need to nourish, protect and cherish every human life.” “People can get involved in the pro-life movement, first by training themselves to know as much as possible about the cause and then finding local pro-life groups with which they can use their talents and abilities to make a difference. They can even get a 40 Days For Life campaign running in their city if there is not one already,” Robert shared. Part of getting trained is learning how to properly raise funds for the cause of your choice. So, Robert decided to enroll in the Leadership Institute's annual International School of Fundraising this past March. “I found the LI's International School of Fundraising extremely useful. It was fascinating to meet many people from around the world, and I have been thoroughly impressed by the quality of the publications and work from the Leadership Institute,” Robert shared. “I plan to use the knowledge and expertise I discovered at the school specifically for pro-life work in the UK. LI's training encouraged participants to consider donors more as collaborators with projects and to involve them as much with the organization as possible. I also discovered the importance of promptly thanking people for their gifts and being as professional and astute with personal relationships as possible.” He continued, “The Leadership Institute helps to train, equip and empower the conservative leaders of tomorrow.” So get trained today. Register online for an upcoming LI training near you here. Please congratulate and welcome Robert Colquhoun as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Twenty-Three and Working Her Dream Job
Lauren Day
April 22, 2013
Twenty-Three and Working Her Dream Job
Why waste another year, another day, another second working for something you have no passion for? For Meghan Gray, not a single moment is wasted. She's working within her “sweet spot,” as New York Times best-selling author Max Lucado coined for people who use their natural talents and motivation to find purpose and meaning in work. A May 2012 graduate of Columbia College Chicago with degrees in journalism and public relations, former Leadership Institute intern Meghan Gray, just 23, has landed her dream job: combining event planning with fundraising activities. She's the development commissioner at COR Strategies, an innovative political solutions company specializing in strategy, integrated marketing communications, technology, and operations. “Not many people are fortunate enough to land their dream job fresh out of college, so I consider myself very blessed,” Meghan shared with me. She applied for the position through LI's ConservativeJobs.com. “I attribute much of my success to the Leadership Institute and the opportunities that have presented themselves since attending my first training. In fact, it was through ConservativeJobs.com that I applied for my current position with COR Strategies,” she said. One of the most unique projects Meghan has worked on since her August 2012 hire was Entrepreneur's Eve, an annual event of 140-plus companies and 650 of Chicago's leading entrepreneurs and civic leaders “to lift a glass to the American dream in all of us,” Meghan shared. All proceeds went directly to the H Foundation for cancer research. “Attending an overwhelmingly liberal college in President Obama's backyard taught me that liberty is not guaranteed. It must be fought for and preserved with each generation,” Meghan said. And, she's fighting for liberty. Last year, Illinois Conservatives awarded Meghan as one of the “Top 30 under 30” for her commitment to Illinois politics through her expertise in development and campaigns. “I have been passionate about politics since sixth grade,” Meghan said, “and I am committed to turning Illinois red.” She's currently the events director for the Lake County Young Republicans club in the Chicago area. Meghan was on the Mitt Romney Advance Team in 2012, for which she helped organize rallies, events, and fundraisers across the nation for the presidential race and support Gov. Romney as well as travel with media and campaign surrogates. “I am incredibly honored to have been even a small part of such an amazing cause,” Meghan said in reference to the presidential campaign, “and consider this one of the most humbling and awe-inspiring experiences of my life.” Meghan first learned of the Leadership Institute from a friend and immediately registered for a Youth Leadership School in July 2011. Six months later, she started her internship in LI's Events department. She took more trainings at the Institute during her three months in Arlington, Virginia. “Through the various trainings I have attended with LI, I have learned how to write an effective campaign plan, develop a comprehensive public relations strategy, and organize a campaign staff and structure. Most importantly I've learned how to win elections,” Meghan said. “The Leadership Institute has equipped me with the tools and skill set necessary to make a difference in the conservative movement. I could not be more thankful for LI and the hard work of individuals like Morton Blackwell.” While interning for the Leadership Institute in the spring of 2012, Meghan volunteered for The LS Group, for which she assisted with events for Congressman Connie Mack and helped plan Ann Romney's private birthday celebration. Please congratulate Meghan Gray for landing her dream job and please welcome her as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
LI Graduate Named a
Lauren Day
April 16, 2013
LI Graduate Named a "Top 500 Influencer" by Campaigns & Elections
How do you make the “campaign hall of fame”? Well, let's take a look at Leadership Institute graduate Matt Hutson who was named one of the top 500 election influencers today by the publication Campaigns & Elections. “This award shows me that if someone consistently works hard and does it with guiding principles and moral clarity that an impact and a win can be achieved. At the end of the election, this is what matters,” Matt shared. So, placing into this distinguished category takes hard work and guiding principles for starters. It also takes some wins. And Matt has great victories deserving of the campaign hall of fame. His latest project was as campaign director for Protect Marriage Maine, for which in just three months he organized 40 satellite offices and, through polling, took a campaign trailing by 16 percent to closing that margin to 2 percent with a budget just one-twelfth the size of the opponents who had been campaigning for three years. Last year, Matt helped elect Roger Williams, from Austin, Texas, to U.S. Congress as his Get-Out-The-Vote Consultant in the final month of the campaign runoff. In those 30 days, Matt opened a new office, secured five new interns and multiple volunteers, and together they made more than 60,000 calls that pushed Roger Williams to victory on Election Day. Roger won by 58 percent and now serves in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2011, Matt helped Lenar Whitney secure a spot in the Louisiana State House. “I took over all daily and GOTV operations in the final three weeks of the runoff campaign,” Matt shared. “With no staff to manage, I developed a volunteer base and directed an aggressive, targeted canvassing program resulting in a 59 percent victory!” Also in 2011, Matt helped Jeff Thompson win a state representative seat in Louisiana. “I took over all day-to-day and GOTV operations in the final 20 days of the campaign and directed an inexperienced staff of four to an election night victory of 57 percent, defeating an opponent who spent $200,000 of his own money.” He also successfully worked in 2011 as the Statewide Director of Operations for Gov. Bobby Jindal's reelection campaign, for which he oversaw all grassroots operations in the state. Matt managed more than 100 interns, the volunteer database, the yard sign identification and voter ID programs, and the GOTV strategy for 4.5 million residents. Matt worked in February 2011 to bring Jonathan Perry, a candidate running for Louisiana State Senate, from 10 percent behind his opponent to winning by 2 percent in just a mere 12 days. Boom! And in 2010, Matt worked as the GOTV Strategist to secure Tim Echols as Georgia's Public Service Commissioner. Matt implemented an aggressive grassroots operation that took Echol's campaign from “an expected second place finish to an election night victory in the four-way race by more than 7 percent,” Matt recalls. Not only are hard work, guiding principles, and winning elections ingredients for getting added to the campaign hall of fame, but so is a good team environment. Being a team player is the fourth attribute of highly successful campaigners. Matt says his wife also had a large role to play in this achievement. “In reality, the award [from Campaigns & Elections] should honor my wife as well,” Matt said. “We work together on most races and she is a constant source of strength and encouragement, coupled with incredible abilities in graphic design and photography.” Not to mention the many staff, interns, and volunteers Matt worked with over the years that played a critical role in bringing home so many victories. Winning takes a team of folks that work well together. Finally, highly effective campaigners are trained and continue to learn. Matt first learned of the Leadership Institute through a friend in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lived. She encouraged him to sign up for a Youth Leadership School coming to Oklahoma. Since then, Matt has taken 18 LI trainings from campaign management, public relations, campus elections, public speaking, direct mail, future candidate, international leadership training, and television training. He was also a field representative and an intern for the Leadership Institute. “I learned one can never stop learning. The moment you rest on your current knowledge, using the resources and strengths you have garnered to-date, is the moment someone else is getting better than you. Leadership Institute classes and resources allow you to continue expanding your knowledge and ability to be successful. I specifically would like to thank the LI grassroots division and Robert Arnakis, for allowing me to learn so much during my tenure at LI.” “Having learned so much during my tenure at LI, I understood the importance of maintaining relationships with fellow Leadership Institute graduates and staff,” Matt said. “Those relationships have proven helpful when needing advice or anything from fundraising to contacts. More importantly, these relationships have allowed me to give back to the people that invested in my growth.” When asked to share some advice, Matt said: “Simple: Go to the Leadership Institute and get involved. The longer you wait to apply yourself to learning, the quicker your opponent will beat you.” Register now for LI training. Don't let your opponent beat you. Please welcome Matt Hutson as a campaign all-star and as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Remembering Judge Robert Bork: Conservative Legend and Leadership Institute Donor
Morton Blackwell
March 21, 2013
Remembering Judge Robert Bork: Conservative Legend and Leadership Institute Donor
Remembering Judge Robert Bork: Conservative Legend and Leadership Institute Donor By Morton Blackwell The staff of the Leadership Institute honors generous donors who make the work of the Leadership Institute possible. We are saddened at the death of one of our long-time donors, conservative hero Robert Bork. The Leadership Institute received Judge Bork's final donation just one day before he died. My staff and I honor Judge Bork, a stalwart for judicial conservatism. Conservatives will remember Robert Bork as President Ronald Reagan's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. I attended his recent funeral. Along with other conservatives, I was thrilled when the president nominated Judge Bork. He graduated from the University of Chicago and was a professor at Yale Law School for over 15 years. This brilliant man, who served in the Marine Corps before and after obtaining his law degree, would be a boon to conservative principles and values on the Supreme Court. But it was not to be. Defender of the Constitution meets liberal onslaught It soon became clear that the liberals in office were going to stop his nomination. Joe Biden, then Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, led the charge against Judge Bork. Bork was criticized for stating that the Constitution should be interpreted as the framers originally intended. Rumors began to circulate that the Reagan administration might quietly ask Bork to request that his name be withdrawn. But Bork—and conservatives—wanted a vote, because conservatives had every intention of holding senators who voted against him accountable. During the nomination proceedings, I wrote a personal letter to Ronald Reagan, asking him to make sure the Senate voted on Bork's nomination. I thought it would be a terrible mistake for the Bork nomination to be withdrawn—there had to be a recorded vote for many good reasons. About a week later, I received a letter back from President Reagan. He assured me that he intended to keep the nomination active and force the Senate to vote on it. A liberal-controlled Senate rejected Judge Bork's nomination in a hotly-contested 58-42 vote. Bork: Friend of Reagan, Friend of Morton I was happy to receive that letter of assurance from the President, but I was by no means confident that he had actually seen the letter—it might have just been drafted in the Presidential Correspondence office. Some years later, a friend was researching at the Reagan library. There, he found my original letter to the President, the President's hand-written draft of a response to me, and a copy of the final letter which was typed word-for-word as Reagan had drafted it. It moved me to learn that President Reagan had personally penned his response to me. LI and Bork: mutual support of conservative principles My acquaintance with Robert Bork goes back to the 1970s, long before the Supreme Court nomination. While Robert Bork was a professor of law at Yale University and I was on the U.S. Senate staff, I brought his son Charles Bork to intern for me. After Bork's rejection by the Senate, Leadership Institute graduates led a 200-strong protest against liberal Republican Arlen Specter, who along with Senator Biden and Senator Ted Kennedy, opposed Bork's nomination. In 1995, a Leadership Institute graduate at the University of Oklahoma battled and outwitted liberal Professor Anita Hill (the one who lobbed allegations against Justice Clarence Thomas) to bring Bork to standing room-only lectures at that university. And since that year, Judge Bork has been a faithful donor to the Leadership Institute. But not only a donor, Bork also gave talks to gatherings of Leadership Institute donors. Robert Bork believed in the Leadership Institute's work of training conservative activists and students on college campuses throughout the nation. My staff and I thank him for his 17 years of sustained and loyal support. Our condolences go to the family and friends of the Honorable Robert Bork.
Ron Paul:
Amanda Anderson
March 19, 2013
Ron Paul: "LI graduates played key roles in my campaigns"
“Leadership Institute graduates played key roles in my 2008 and 2012 campaigns,” former Rep. Ron Paul said last month. “The training these liberty activists received from the Leadership Institute is a major reason why the liberty movement has made such tremendous progress over the last five years. It is encouraging to see so many young people interested in advancing the cause of individual liberty and limited government taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the Leadership Institute.” Ron Paul's liberty movement has attracted unique people from varying backgrounds with a common bond not well known: many key staffers and activists are Leadership Institute graduates. In June 1998, a little- known congressman from Texas—Ron Paul—spoke at the Leadership Institute's monthly Wednesday Wake-Up Club Breakfast. LI's President Morton Blackwell invited the congressman to speak nearly a decade before he and his 2007 rEVOLution gained national attention. Ron Paul's presidential runs in 2008 and 2012 ignited the grassroots movement now dubbed the “liberty movement,” which was largely built by LI graduates. John Tate, formerly LI's vice president of Membership is now president of Campaign for Liberty (C4L), a grassroots organization founded by Ron Paul after his 2008 presidential run. Under John's leadership, C4L led the successful effort to pass Ron Paul's Audit the Fed bill in the House of Representatives. In 2011, John took a leave of absence from C4L to serve as campaign manager for Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign. John was instrumental in developing and executing the "delegate strategy” under which liberty activists joined the grassroots members and state leaders of the Republican Party. “I have been privileged to be associated with the Leadership Institute throughout my career in politics and grassroots activism,” John Tate said. “Anyone looking to learn how to effectively advance the cause of liberty should attend a Leadership Institute school." Many LI graduates have gone on to form their own organizations and hold influential political positions. Leadership Institute graduates lead Campaign for Liberty, Young Americans for Liberty, and the Coalition to Reduce Spending, just to name a few. These groups have thousands of supporters, activists, and staff who impact the course of public policy today. Chris Younce—an LI graduate, former intern, and former staff member – went on to make ballot access history in the 2012 election season. Chris successfully got Ron Paul on the ballot in all 50 states before any other campaign in 2012. “My political education at the Leadership Institute gave me more practical political knowledge than all of my college courses combined. LI schools gave me the tools I needed to perform at a high level for Dr. Paul in his campaign for president," Chris said. The Leadership Institute offers more than the nuts and bolts of how to become an effective activist. LI training through Morton Blackwell's principled leadership helps students understand the real nature of politics. Another former LI staffer Steve Bierfeldt said, "The Leadership Institute taught me the political tactics to win, and showed me a clear distinction between the moral people in politics and the amoral people in politics. As executive director on Ron Paul's campaign, I looked for staffers with high moral character as well as leadership traits and characteristics that were becoming of Ron Paul and also professionally representative of the liberty message. I am reminded of one of my favorite Laws of the Public Policy Process Morton Blackwell champions: Personnel is policy.” As for me, the current director of events at the Leadership Institute, I took a Youth Leadership School as a student activist and College Republican, but it wasn't until after getting fully involved with the Ron Paul campaign that I began to understand the size and scope of the Leadership Institute's effect on the conservative and liberty movements. While on the campaign trail, I talked to a lot of people – to put it mildly. Everywhere I went, from national headquarters, to Iowa and then New Hampshire, I met field staff, volunteers and high-level staffers who all had a Leadership Institute story to share. I have found that within the grassroots liberty movement, deep connections to LI are abundant and easy to spot. As a former Ron Paul staffer and liberty activist since 2007, I clearly see LI's long-standing impact on the public policy process. The Leadership Institute and Morton Blackwell continue to educate, train, and support graduates who have been instrumental to the modern-day grassroots liberty movement. All conservatives and lovers of liberty should take advantage of the training opportunities offered here at LI. Go here to register for a 2013 training. Please welcome John Tate, Chris Younce, and Steve Bierfeldt as LI's Graduates of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org. The next spotlight will be the week of April 15.
29-Year-Old Represents His Pennsylvania Stomping Grounds
Lauren Day
March 6, 2013
29-Year-Old Represents His Pennsylvania Stomping Grounds
Twenty-nine year old Dale Kerns was recently appointed to the borough council in Eddystone, Pennsylvania, where he now gets the pleasure of serving his hometown neighbors and friends. “A typical workday as councilman involves going to meetings, dealing with town emergencies, helping in the office with clerical work, meeting with state legislators, and numerous other jobs,” Dale shared. “Most of all it involves, for me, sticking to your principles and campaign promises, all while fulfilling the needs of your constituents.” Once Councilwoman Suzane Blissick resigned, Dale's was appointed by Magisterial District Judge Phil Turner to fill the vacancy. Dale has volunteered to give his council stipend back to the borough with half going to the Recreation Department and the other half going to the volunteer Fire Department. “I started after high school in the International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers Local 654, and completed a five year apprenticeship as a journeyman electrician. Then immediately I went to Widener University, where I expect to graduate with a bachelor's in professional studies and a minor in sociology in 2014.” Dale is vice chairman of Pennsylvania's Republican Liberty Caucus and active in local politics. With a heart for the less fortunate, Dale and his brothers—Kevin Kerns and Daniel Schmidt—started The Little Angels Foundation. “At the Little Angels Foundation (LAF) our mission is to help children in need—children with life-threatening illnesses,” Dale said. “I believe in giving back to the community through voluntary charity. I do not believe the government should be used to take people's money for charity. Starting a foundation such as LAF and donating my time helps those who are less fortunate and also helps others understand what true charity is and where it's designed to come from—the heart, not forced government.” Dale first learned of the Leadership Institute through Young Americans for Liberty's Executive Director Jeff Frazee, he shared. And in July 2011, he came to LI's week-long Campaign Management School. “Since my time at the Leadership Institute, I have had jobs working for candidates for U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, and I have run successful campaigns for both delegates to the Republican National Convention and to local town councils,” Dale said. “LI taught me at the Campaign Management School how to correctly manage a campaign through the nuts and bolts! We were taught everything in one week that it takes most people a lifetime to learn. The most effective tools that you need in fundraising, petitioning, and all other aspects of campaign management are learned on the job, but without the Leadership Institute I would not have known where to correctly start.” “LI has given me the tools to be successful, and will give you the winning advantage that is not offered to many that have been in the game for a lifetime,” Dale said. Register now for one of LI's upcoming trainings. “I always tell people they need to see LI for themselves,” Dale said. “LI is like Santa's workshop; somehow all the ‘toys' are made in a short period of time. Those who think they know campaigning don't really know until they have been to the Leadership Institute.” “I loved my time at the Leadership Institute and look forward to coming back in the future. There is always more to learn!” Please welcome Dale Kerns as the LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Rand Paul: LI-trained volunteers and staff are
Leadership Institute
March 6, 2013
Rand Paul: LI-trained volunteers and staff are "secret weapon"
"I ran for the United States Senate in 2010, and I'm proud to represent Kentucky there today," Rand Paul said. "The political elites in both parties opposed me, and the 'experts' didn't give me much of a chance. But let me tell you about a 'secret weapon' I had... that 'secret weapon' is top notch volunteers and staff members trained by a remarkable group called the Leadership Institute. "The Institute's grassroots training has been called the best available anywhere in the country. And Institute graduates prove it to be true. "Leadership Institute training teaches conservative activists how to develop an effective campaign strategy for a candidate or strategic plan for an organization, and how to build a powerful grassroots organization, both for a campaign and for a citizens group, such as a local Tea Party. And much more. "If more conservative candidates have the same secret weapon I had -- top staff and key volunteers trained by the Leadership Institute -- you and I will see many more conservative victories in the future."
Recent LI Intern Gets Hired as Graphic Designer
Lauren Day
February 25, 2013
Recent LI Intern Gets Hired as Graphic Designer
Kate Miller—a cheery-about-life, red-headed recent college graduate from Washington state—was an intern at the Leadership Institute a little more than two months ago. And, today marks her first day as a fulltime employee doing what she loves most: design! She is the associate designer at VOX Global, a public affairs and strategic communications DC firm with extensive government, political, private sector and nonprofit experience. “I could not be where I am now had I not been at the Leadership Institute,” Kate said. “LI was pivotal to my DC experience being so successful and joyful.” She first learned of her employer—VOX Global—while interning at LI this past fall. “I draw a direct correlation between my time at LI and my current position. At LI's Comprehensive Fundraising School, I went up to my current boss David Payne, an LI faculty member, and expressed how much I genuinely enjoyed his presentation,” Kate shared. “He and I stayed in contact, so when I found out VOX Global had a design internship, I jumped at the opportunity!” After just 1.5 months as an intern, VOX hired Kate on fulltime. “I never would have known about VOX had I not attended LI's fundraising training.” Get registered at next week's Comprehensive Fundraising Training, the same training Kate took a few months ago. As associate designer, Kate will be designing HTML emails, print documents, and web assets. “Basically, I make pretty things--and I love it! But in all seriousness, I am part of a team that strengthens the visual communication efforts of VOX Global's clients,” Kate said. “VOX Global is a unique place. I'm working with some of the best-of-the-best, learning how to communicate messages more effectively. One of my new projects involves some grassroots efforts with former Leadership Institute staff member John Dunagan.” This fall Kate worked in LI's Recruitment department where she assisted with marketing, communications, design, coalition building, and social media. “Being an LI intern was a great opportunity to build skills. Under the deft guidance of Lauren Day and Abby Alger, I planned and implemented the fall Capitol Hill Walk and live tweeted a lot of our trainings,” Kate said. “Those were two of my biggest ongoing projects, and I really enjoyed both.” She also was very helpful to LI's Development department in branding the Building Leadership newsletter, which goes out quarterly to LI donors, through a redesign of the publication. Kate has taken 18 trainings at the Leadership Institute from Public Relations School, Direct Mail School, TV workshops, Youth Leadership School, New Media Workshops, Civil Service Opportunity School, Conservative Career Workshop, and many others. “My favorite aspect of LI was definitely working with its wonderful staff. I had the privilege of working with many different people, and have been thrilled to stay in close contact as I've attended Leadership Institute events in the new year,” Kate shared. While a summer 2012 intern at The Heritage Foundation, Kate learned of the Leadership Institute. “Heritage only had great things to say about LI,” Kate said. “I applied for LI's intern program, took the Youth Leadership School, and turned down a job offer back home because I knew the Leadership Institute could help me pursue a career surrounding politics. Needless to say, I have not regretted the decision for a minute.” Prior to her internships at VOX Global, the Leadership Institute, and The Heritage Foundation – all in DC – Kate was a college student at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington where she majored in graphic design and public relations. During college, Kate was active on campus developing her design skills through campus jobs: graphic and web designer for Pacific Lutheran University's (PLU) School of Arts and Communication; production director of PLU's Impact Creative Solutions; and graphic design intern for PLU's University Communications. “LI is a place you'll get connected with, if you're smart,” Kate said. “The Leadership Institute has everything an aspiring (or thriving) conservative needs to be successful; LI gives you the tools to turn conservative thought into political action. LI schools teach skills, are great networking opportunities with peers, and might even land you a job with a faculty member!” We congratulate Kate Miller for her recent fulltime employment at VOX Global, and welcome her as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
New Campaigner Wins Local Race
Lauren Day
February 19, 2013
New Campaigner Wins Local Race
As a “newcomer” to politics, Leadership Institute graduate Bill Wright won a board member seat in his life-long hometown of Vermilion County, Illinois by 55 votes! “The race was a 'vote for three' type arrangement and there were four of us running for the three open positions. I was running against three incumbents, all from the opposite party, who ran as a team,” Bill shared with me. “It should have been an easy win for the three incumbents. Needless to say, it was an uphill battle.” “When all the votes were tallied, I had won one of the three seats and was the second highest vote-getter, just 58 votes shy of the nine-year veteran. I had more votes than the other two opponents by 195 and 210. Those numbers may sound small, but this is a county district where a mere 3000 votes were cast,” Bill continued. “Some say I am the first of my party to win a seat in this district in 50-plus years,” Bill said. Now, he's one of 27 board members from the nine districts in Vermilion County. He sits on two committees and is vice chairman of one. “I am working on one of my campaign promises to build up the economy of my district by getting a Chamber of Commerce office started here,” Bill shared. “It is very important to deliver on what you promised while campaigning and start the process as soon as you can.” “My time is spent learning all I can about how a county operates. There is a lot of self-study,” Bill said. “While this year's budget was already passed before the election, I am looking at ways to cut spending, not raise taxes, and help give the taxpayer the most effective use of their tax dollars.” Bill first learned about the Leadership Institute through a conference—Right Nation—in Chicago in 2010, where LI was an exhibitor. He picked up some LI marketing materials there and then went to LI's website to learn more. In May 2012, Bill came to Arlington, VA to attend LI's week-long Future Candidate School. “LI's Future Candidate School confirmed for me that running for office was something I should do and could do. Since college, I felt that I was meant to run for office and LI's candidate school reinforced this belief,” Bill said. “Learning how and from who I should ask for donations was a crucial part of my education. There were lively discussion at the Leadership Institute on yard signs, campaign literature, fundraisers, how to dress for television, and how to speak to any gathering, be it constituents, fellow elected officials, or the press,” Bill continued. “The cost of the Future Candidate School is very affordable,” Bill said. “Supporters who underwrite most of the LI cost make this possible. It was at LI's candidate school where I first believed I could really run for office and possibly win. This school gave me the confidence I needed for many different parts of a campaign and put them all into perspective.” Sign up for LI's next Future Candidate School here. “The volunteer faculty who speak at the Future Candidate School are an impressive group of people,” Bill said. “I asked a lot of questions while there, and I remember after one presentation, I followed the presenter out into the hallway to chat. After I explained the type of race I was in, he gave me some great advice that I used when my campaign started. I firmly believe his advice played a key role in helping me win.” Are you thinking about running for office? Bill has a little bit of his own learned advice he would like to impart: “First, make sure this—running for office—is something you really want. You should have, as they say, the 'fire in the belly'. “Consult with your family next and make sure they are on-board with your decision because you need everyone to understand this is going to be a lot of work. “Next, go out and get donations. You cannot be afraid to ask people for either financial or in-kind contributions. If you do not have the stomach for this, you probably should not run. The monetary donations determine what you can spend on yard signs, T-shirts, campaign literature, and the like. “Try to learn all you can from the experts in the area about the district, town, or county in which you are running. Know where you need to focus your campaign. Voter lists are crucial. “Keep your campaign platform simple and short. Three to four items are plenty in a local campaign. This might even be said for state representative or state senate office. “The best advice I received was just to have fun with it. You are at your best when you are relaxed while talking to people going door-to-door. Carrying the weight of the election during every move you make will take its toll. “Finally, I suggest that you map out a strategy for each precinct and then personally visit as many homes as you can. When you think you are done, go visit five more houses. When you want to take a break, work 30 minutes more. I campaigned up to, and including, Election Day. It is best not to be over confident or to have a defeatist attitude. You just never give up. Do not listen to people who tell you that you cannot win.” Check out LI's 2013 training schedule here. “The Leadership Institute is an organization that brings together some of the most knowledgeable people to help candidates and those associated with campaigns to learn all about the science of running a campaign, being a candidate, fund raising and the like,” Bill said. “LI does all this at a reasonable cost to the student. The Leadership Institute makes a life-long impression on those who attend because the quality of instruction is second-to-none.” Please welcome Bill Wright as the LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
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