LI Grad Interview: Homeschooled Farm Kid, City Councilman, Generation Joshua Mentor
Kirsten Holmberg
October 21, 2021
LI Grad Interview: Homeschooled Farm Kid, City Councilman, Generation Joshua Mentor
“My town was in desperate need of honest, careful, and principled leadership. So, I put my hat in the ring, ran the race as a local political unknown, and — by God's grace and a lot of hard work — won a seat on the council.” Meet Joel Grewe, Leadership Institute (LI) graduate and faculty, and Executive Director at Home School Legal Defense Association Action.I recently interviewed Joel to learn about his background, what drove him to get involved in local politics in Purcellville, Virginia, and his work as Executive Director at Home School Legal Defense Association Action. Can you tell me a little about yourself and your background?I am just a farm kid who doesn't like farming, has a strong justice streak, and cares about people who are hurting. I grew up in Spokane, Washington, got married in 2004, and now my wife and I have three amazing, rambunctious boys. I worked in demographic research and got interested in politics back during Newt Gingrich's Contract with America. My dad is a local lawyer, and my grandpa was connected with local politics, so I had a ring-side seat to the work of unseating House Speaker Foley. I've been involved in the conservative political movement ever since. Is it true that in the 6th grade you convinced your mother to homeschool you? Could you tell me a little bit about that?Absolutely! My mom is an awesome lady, though she was a bit intimidated at the idea of homeschooling me. At the end of 6th grade, I was bored in school, and I asked my mom to homeschool me. She said she thought she wasn't up to the task. I responded that I would homeschool myself if needed, but I desperately needed to be let out of that school building. We struck a deal, and I never went back. Homeschooling was an incredible advantage for me growing up. You're currently the Executive Director at Home School Legal Defense Association Action; tell me a little about that organization and why you decided to get involved.Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is the national legal defense and advocacy organization for homeschoolers—they help make homeschooling possible. HSLDA Action is the sister organization of HSLDA: we handle the federal advocacy, political work, two Political Action Committees, and Generation Joshua, our youth civics education and engagement program. As a homeschool graduate, I feel privileged to help ensure homeschooling is free and possible for future generations. What inspired you to run for city council in Purcellville? It was actually one of my Generation Joshua students, who, as I recall, is also a recipient of Leadership Institute training. My wonderful little town of Purcellville, VA, went through a cascade of scandals back in 2016, all the way through 2018. Purcellville ended up on the front page of the Washington Post—twice—and not for good reasons. As the scandals mounted and the problems facing the town grew, that student—now my friend—asked to chat with me. He came to my house with the copy of the Washington Post and asked me a question. He said, “Joel, you talk a lot about how important it is that good people be involved in government, and how if they don't, bad things happen.” I responded: “Yes I do.” He continued, “Well, considering the situation that Purcellville is in, is that just something you say, or do you actually believe it?” It was a blunt challenge, and it wasn't like I hadn't put my time in. I'd helped train more than 25,000 students and coordinated political efforts to reach more than eight million voters. But he was right: my town was in desperate need of honest, careful, and principled leadership. So I put my hat in the ring, ran the race as a local political unknown, and—by God's grace and a lot of hard work—won a seat on the council. How did the Leadership Institute (LI) training you received help you in running for public office?The first LI class I ever took was the Future Candidate School, back in 2008. The class was the crucial step I needed to think about what my life would need to look like in running for office: it gave me the perspective to understand what the commitment of campaigning for office requires. That was a crucial part of both assembling my team for office (with other LI graduates) and communicating what taking this on would mean for my wife and boys. I couldn't have done this without their support — and without a clear view of what it would take, we couldn't have been ready to weather the challenges we faced. I regularly quote lessons from my LI training to my interns, my policy staff, and myself. I have taken a host of LI classes, and although it does not make me, as the candidate, the expert in every part of my campaign, I understand what each part does, why it is important, and how to prioritize it and discuss every issue with understanding. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?I would first tell them that freedom is messy, that we don't get it right all the time, that we often don't get it right the first time, but that we never get it right if people don't engage. I know it seems like engaging our civic—well, I would say “discourse,” but that is too polite a word, so let's call it our civic “arena” — feels like it's fraught with peril. And that's not always a wrong assessment. It's messy and dangerous and rather vicious as of late. But in times like these we must engage – because these moments in history are when freedom needs its defenders the most. If you are ever going to get involved, get involved when the fighting is hot, and the need is dire. People who work for freedom only during smooth seas and fair winds are, at best, fair-weather friends of freedom. We need people committed to the virtue of freedom — the idea that it is better to be free than unfree, always — and who are willing to stand in support of it. Our country and our future deserve nothing less.This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities. Don't miss out! Sign up here.
How to be a Better Manager, a Conversation with Ben Woodward
Caleb Pascoe
October 19, 2021
How to be a Better Manager, a Conversation with Ben Woodward
I recently sat down with Ben Woodward at the Leadership Institute (LI) to discuss best management practices. Originally from the United Kingdom, Ben's track record of success at the Leadership Institute started when he joined LI as an intern during the summer of 2015.In Ben's five years at LI, he was promoted from intern, to Career Services Coordinator, to Deputy Director of Career Services, to his present role as Director of Communications Trainings. In his last few weeks at LI before starting a new position at Deloitte Insights & Solutions, Ben gave some important advice on how to be a great manager.Making the move from internship to management is a long track, but what are the biggest take-aways from your time as an intern, a career services coordinator, and a manager?You always learn how to be a manager even when you're not a manager.You observe bosses you have that are good and bosses that are bad. I learned some key things from different bosses that I had.When I was an intern, my supervisor had a real commitment to excellence. She taught me to pay attention to those small details that matter, and the importance of following the standards set by the organization.As a manager, one of the key things I learned was to set an example for your staff. If you're showing up late to work, your staff will start showing up late to work. If you start leaving early your staff will start leaving early. So, you've got to set the standards, because people will look to you for how they should behave.As I supervised more interns, I gradually learned a lot. Setting expectations early on is key. Also, learning what the author Kim Scott calls radical candor, which is being very honest in the feedback you give. You have to be kind, but honest. Being able to say, ‘here's what I liked about your project, here is what you should do differently.' Or, if there is time in an ideal world, you tell them what they should do differently, and you let them go away and fix those things for themselves.What recommendations do you have for people to overcome the fear of overseeing other people for the first time?Good managers do their subordinates no favors if they fail to be honest. You're their boss and their mentor, and your job is to get them up to the standards that the company expects of them.First time managers -- change your mindset about the nature of the work you are doing.As a manager, your job goes away from being the doer, and you now get things done through the people who work for you. Of course, there's a lot of work you still must do yourself, but where possible your mindset is now that you are accomplishing things through other people, and that's how you will be judged.How do you become a conductor and leader of the team you are managing so a project goes well?That's a big question. Let me tell you a few key things to start you on the right path.Identify what your team is good at and what your team is bad at. Be open minded about ideas, and the new innovative things that employees bring in, especially when they are new employees. They come in with fresh eyes, and they come up with their own ideas, where a manager may not see the possibilities.So, pivoting a little bit, what have you found in day-to-day life that has taught you do be a better manager? Observing my dad, for certain, was a big factor. He was self-employed and had a small business.He had two to three people working for him at any given time. I would get to observe him when I was younger, especially when I would go into his office and study, which I did frequently. I really enjoyed that, and I got to see how he worked as a manager.He was just brilliant because he was so calm even when I knew he was stressed. He was the epitome of a duck on water, calm and gliding on the top, even though he was franticly kicking underneath. That calming energy was instilled into his team, even when the going got rough. They knew that panicking was never going to be a productive activity.My dad was a calm, solutions-oriented person, and I really respect him for that.When you have an employee who has just flubbed the project, and maybe not even apologetic about it, how do you deal with a situation where you're trying to communicate that they have done something wrong and need to correct themselves?Number one, just as your staff should never surprise you, you should never surprise your staff. They should know the standards expected of them at all times.They should also know the strategic direction of the department you are running, and their role in it. Which means that they will know when they've flubbed it. If the employees don't know they have really messed up or that the standards haven't been met, then you really haven't done a good job setting the standards.I have always worked on the philosophy that you praise in public, and you criticize in private; and you should praise a lot more than you should criticize.If you are criticizing too much, you're a bad manager because your staff clearly can't do their jobs. Praise in public means that when someone does something good, you're sending all staff emails, and you're including the department head or the CEO.Praising in public is a big thing.There is absolutely no reason to criticize in public. I would suggest that when something goes wrong you bring it up right away. Don't wait. Explain what the problem is and why it's important. You want to be calm and in control of your emotions at all times. If there is a problem, you'll deal with it calmly and in a way that's professional. So, when things are going wrong, bring it up right away.Your first instinct should be performance improvement. Your staff are not disposable commodities; they're an investment, and the investment needs care.Just one more point; a good manager will plan for succession. Your staff should be so well trained and so effective that they should be able to function largely without you breathing down their neck. Most people, when they get promoted, are likely doing their bosses job in some way already. Too many managers let their egos get in the way, and they get defensive about the big juicy, high profile projects.A good manager will praise their staff constantly and will do so to leadership without seeking to take all the credit themselves. They'll look good because their staff looks good.Well on that note, Ben, thank you very much for taking the time today, and congratulations on moving on to a new position at Deloitte!Thank you! Very excited about the new challenge but will miss LI terribly. It's been a fantastic five years.If you would like to learn more about becoming a better manager, attend the Leadership Institute's online Management 101 training and sign up for more careers training at LeadershipInstitute.org/Training.
LI Grad Interview: Californian, International Communicator, Presidential Campaign Spokesman
Kirsten Holmberg
September 22, 2021
LI Grad Interview: Californian, International Communicator, Presidential Campaign Spokesman
“The world is run by those who show up…. America has plenty of critics. What the country needs are conservative men and women in the arena.”Meet Ron Nehring, Leadership Institute (LI) graduate, faculty, and Director of International Programs. I recently interviewed Ron to hear about his experiences running for office and his time as Spokesman for Ted Cruz for President. Last year in the 2020 general elections, Ron won local office in his hometown in California.Can you tell me a little about yourself and your background?Shortly after I became the President of my College Republican club at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, I learned of the Leadership Institute and Morton Blackwell. After attending seven LI trainings, I used those skills to become Chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County, Chairman of the California Republican Party, Republican nominee for Lt Governor of California, Senator Ted Cruz's presidential campaign spokesman, and a local office holder. You were the national spokesman at Ted Cruz for President. What motivated you to get involved in the campaign?As 2016 approached, I wanted to be involved in the presidential election. Senator Cruz was a solid conservative and first-time presidential candidate. While more established candidates like Jeb Bush had large organizations already around them, there were greater opportunities with a candidate who was building his national organization, and I was motivated by his clear and unapologetic conservatism. Do you have any insightful stories from your time on the campaign or as a candidate? In politics, you get to define what victory means. If victory only meant winning the office, no one would run for any office where the odds are against him. But, the movement needs candidates who will step up for a battle that's uphill. When I ran for Lt Governor, the odds against me were overwhelming. And yet, the campaign further raised my profile and was helpful in my becoming Senator Cruz' California chairman, and later his spokesman. The benefits of stepping up for a campaign may not be immediately apparent. Yet a solid effort can open important doors in the future. How has the Leadership Institute helped you during your time in public service? I hold a Political Science degree, yet most of what I learned about winning a campaign came from LI — both as a student, and later as a faculty member. If you really want to master a topic, try teaching it. It forces you to delve much deeper into the subject and understand its relationship to other areas. When I ran for local office in 2020, the campaign was designed exactly to match what we teach at LI. The strategy was developed from the same methods we teach, and implemented using the same tactics. While victory can never be guaranteed, I'm grateful to the voters for the overwhelming support I earned through this effective campaign. You are the Director of International Programs at the Leadership Institute. Tell us a bit about your position.Leadership Institute brings literally world-class quality training in organizing and communicating to conservative leaders, parties, and groups around the world. Many of the leaders and potential leaders LI has trained have gone on to successfully win public office, and from there put conservative ideas of free markets and individual liberty into action. I work diligently to take proven techniques and adapt them to different countries, cultures, and political systems. Center-right organizations worldwide know when they need high quality training to improve their effectiveness, to call on the Leadership Institute. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?The world is run by those who show up. We are blessed to live in a country which welcomes political involvement. Americans of any background can be involved in shaping our government, and advancing ideas to improve the human condition. As Morton Blackwell has observed, being right in the sense of having the best ideas is not enough to win. America needs leaders who want to do something, not just be someone, to maximize their effectiveness with the skills necessary to win. Teddy Roosevelt put it this way: "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."America has plenty of critics. What the country needs are conservative men and women in the arena. This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities. Don't miss out! Sign up here.
LI Grad Interview: Arizonan, Conservative, School Board Member
Kirsten Holmberg
August 26, 2021
LI Grad Interview: Arizonan, Conservative, School Board Member
“If we're going to maintain our republic, we must get involved in the political process and school boards are key to preventing the wholesale takeover of our country.” - Chris King, School Board Member in Vail, Arizona.Meet Chris King, Leadership Institute graduate. I recently interviewed Chris to hear about his election to school board. Last year in the 2020 general elections, Chris earned his seat on the Vail Unified School District Governing Board in Arizona. Can you tell me a little about yourself?I am a combat veteran and alumni of the University of Arizona with a Bachelors in Government and Public Service and a Masters in International Security. I attended LI's boot camp and Field Representative training while working on my master's degree and a campaign. You currently are a member of the Vail Unified School District Governing Board in Arizona. What inspired you to get involved with your local school board? As a conservative, I recognized years ago that if we're going to maintain our republic, we must get involved in the political process and school boards are key to preventing the wholesale takeover of our country. Prior to filing to run, I reached out to the board members who were up for reelection to see if they were running. I researched the other candidate who had filed and determined that he wasn't who we would want to represent our district and made the decision to run.What is one challenge you have faced during your time on the School District Governing Board and how did you overcome it?The largest challenge we have faced during my time on the school board has definitely been Covid and the subsequent issues surrounding it. Since before assuming my position on the board, I made my position clear in not supporting mandatory mask-wearing as I believe it should be an individual choice. I agree with former Justice Scalia in that it is not the government's duty to protect us. There have been many other challenges which have presented since my election, but most of them have stemmed from Covid.How has the Leadership Institute helped you during your time in public service? Leadership Institute was key in preparing me for several aspects of serving. Morton Blackwell's Laws of the Public Policy Process hangs in my living room and is referred to often. The ability to talk to others regarding sensitive issues was something LI helped me with. During LI's Field Representative training, I was assigned to gather signatures on a pro-life petition. This was by far one of my weakest skills. Since then, I have become more educated on this issue in addition to more vocal in my support for pro-life issues.Another area LI has helped me is the area of Social Media. The law of not arguing on social media has kept me from being pulled into the mud puddle of local politics.Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?More than 90% of politicians/public servants self-select and are not recruited by a political party. When people say the party did this or that, I let them know that they ARE the party and they can make a difference if they get involved. Politics is a game with very confusing rules that seem to be designed to keep the average person out. Find a mentor, work with them to become knowledgeable, and donate one of the 3Ts: Time, Treasure, or Talent. That is how we can really make a difference. The grassroots folks who get involved, can and will eventually rise to the positions where they can make decisions on the direction of the parties.This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities. Don't miss out! Sign up here.
Leadership Institute Grad, Intern, University of Oklahoma Senior – Published in National Review
By Morton C. Blackwell
July 27, 2021
Leadership Institute Grad, Intern, University of Oklahoma Senior – Published in National Review
Your Leadership Institute's summer interns still have one month left in their program, but many of them already put their training to use.One intern, Kiara Kincaid, used her experience in LI's Political and Fundraising Training department to write an article for National Review's website.Kiara is a senior at the University of Oklahoma. In her piece, she exposes the censorship tactics used by leftist professors on her campus. As Kiara explains, many of the faculty at the university undergo training on how to shut down speech they disagree with in the classroom.Kiara's piece reveals that even at relatively conservative universities like hers, liberal bias undermines students' freedom of speech.You can read Kiara's National Review article here: https://www.nationalreview.com/2021/07/classroom-censorship-comes-to-the-university-of-oklahoma/Young conservatives like Kiara give me great hope for the future.Thanks to Leadership Institute donors' generous support, Kiara was able to expose leftist bias for a national audience and inspire other young conservatives to stand up for their principles.The Leadership Institute's donors truly invest in the next generation of conservative leaders and make a tremendous difference for America.
LI Grad Interview: Texan, Fire Department Volunteer, City Councilwoman
Kirsten Holmberg
July 20, 2021
LI Grad Interview: Texan, Fire Department Volunteer, City Councilwoman
Meet Mackenzie Kelly, Leadership Institute graduate. I recently interviewed Mackenzie to learn about her background as a fire department volunteer, her drive to get involved, and how the Leadership Institute's training helped prepare Mackenzie to become a member of the Austin City Council in Texas.Can you tell me a little about yourself?Before being elected to City Council, I served at the Round Rock Fire Department Training Division, Williamson County Emergency Management and with the City of Austin Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). In 2019, I was elected president of the 100th class of Austin Police Department's Citizen Police Academy. My close working relationship with the Austin Police Department gives me a rare perspective on local law enforcement and why it must be passionately supported and fully funded. I volunteered with the Jollyville Fire Department from 2005-2013, where I gained a profound respect for those who protect life and property in our capital city. While there, I completed a year-long fellowship through the Disaster Science Academy.Serving Austin's elderly population is another passion of mine, having worked in home health care for several years. I have also served as an appointee by then-Governor Rick Perry to the Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities. I am an advocate of good geographic representation, having run in the first city council election under the 10-1 plan in 2014. As for my greatest accomplishment, I am a mother of an inquisitive daughter, Rebekah, a student in the Round Rock ISD. I am happily married and am a 2005 graduate of Westwood High School (Go Warriors!).You currently are a member of the Austin City Council in Texas. How did you get involved with the City Council and what does your position involve?I have always had a love for public service. Before becoming elected, I was a volunteer firefighter for 8 years with the Jollyville Fire Department. After that, I was appointed to the Committee for People with Disabilities by former Texas Governor Rick Perry. I was then appointed by former Austin City Councilmen Don Zimmerman to the Women's Commission. I would also attend council meetings and speak during citizen testimony on pieces of legislation that resonated with my core values. What is one challenge you have faced during your time as a City Council member and how did you overcome it?One of the biggest challenges I've faced is being in a non-partisan role. The Austin City council is a 10-1 system or, 10 council members and 1 mayor. With 10 other Democrats on the dais and me being the only Republican, people may think that I'm isolated. What I've done in my role on council is open communication and collaboration with the other members so that I could find common goals to work on together. How has the Leadership Institute helped you during your time in public service?The Leadership Institute has prepared me with educational materials, mentorship, and resources to help prepare and equip me to be the best I can be in my role as an Austin City Councilwoman. Additionally, LI's Campaign Candidate School gave me the framework and confidence to run an effective grassroots campaign. This was not only vital to my success but the tools I have now allow me to keep a pulse on my constituency. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?I've learned in my role that it only takes one voice to make meaningful change. The best way to see change made in your community is by getting involved in any way you can, no matter how small it may seem. I started out by testifying before the council. As I got more and more involved, the more change I saw. Now, I'm in a role that will allow me to have a direct impact on the community.This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. You can be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities with an email delivered straight to your mailbox. Don't miss out! Sign up today.
Four Travel Tips for the New Traveler
Lee Jackson
July 12, 2021
Four Travel Tips for the New Traveler
My favorite part about my job at the Leadership Institute is traveling the country and working with young people who want to improve their communities. Growing up, my family frequently traveled by car, but jumping on a plane to your next destination is a very different experience. The first few times can be scary and overwhelming.I reached out to a few of my coworkers who travel and delved into my own experience to share with you four tips to plan a successful trip.1. Understand Your Flight and Travel DetailsOne lesson I always share with my students is that prior planning prevents poor performance. This alliteration is true for the classroom, on the campaign trail, and when you're traveling. Before you head to the airport, you should have your trip's logistics planned out.Get to the airport on time. The rule of thumb says to arrive at the airport two hours before your flight takes off. Most people do not realize they have to wait in multiple lines before they fly. Unless you're pre-enrolled in various programs, you'll have to wait in line to check your bags, to get to TSA, and then go through TSA.Plan by your flight boarding time, not takeoff. The time on your ticket is the time your flight leaves. Your flight probably boards 30-45 minutes prior. That means you must be at your gate and ready to go when your flight is boarding. Do not be the person who misses their flight because they thought they had an extra 20 minutes to kill at the airport Applebee's.Set up your airline app. I do my best to always fly with American Airlines (more about that later). The American Airlines app is incredibly helpful. The app has a copy of my tickets, tells me when it's time to check-in, tells me where I can pick up my checked bags, and much more.Have your hotel information handy. I always put my hotel information (address, phone number) in my phone's calendar. Having the hotel address handy will prevent you from having to dig through emails. There is also a small chance a bag gets delayed, and your airline will ask for your hotel's address to deliver your bag when it arrives. I also share the information with family in case someone has to get a hold of me.Figure out how you are getting to your hotel. I Uber multiple times a week for work. I love it. If you plan on using Uber, you should set up the app ahead of time. Uber's availability varies by city and the time of day. Your hotel may have a free shuttle that will pick you up.2. Pack Smart (and light) Make a list- check it twice. Packing for a weekend trip is an art and a science. Yes, you want clothes for every occasion, but traveling with extra bags is a pain, more expensive, and exhausting. I make a list of things I should pack (X number of undershirts, my apple watch charger, etc.). I have found it helpful to go through my schedule and make sure I have the right clothes for each part of the day. After I have a list that's way too long, I figure out what I can remove. I used to bring two suits for a two-day conference. I now bring one suit and two very different dress shirts, ties.Bring a steamer. Nine times out of 9 ½, a $25 steamer will perform better than a hotel iron. Honestly, sometimes a hotel iron does more harm than good. If you forget your steamer, you can hang your clothes in the bathroom while you shower.3. Pick an Airline (and do your best to stick with it)Like many companies, airlines reward loyal customers. Airline loyalty programs usually include free miles, upgrades, free checked bags, and more. If you plan to travel more than ten times a year, it could be worth it to book with one airline and start earning perks.Usually, the best airline for you is a combination of personal preference and which companies fly to your local airport. I picked American Airlines because they can get me to most cities around the United States and have a quick, direct flight to my home airport in Maine.4. Stay CalmThere's a chance something could go wrong. You could miss a connecting flight (always get a direct flight if possible), a storm could cancel your flight, etc. Remember, these things happen.The best thing to do is stay calm and work directly with your airline to solve the problem.If you have to reschedule a flight for any reason, remember your airline will have multiple ways you can contact them. If I'm at the airport waiting in a long line to speak to an agent, I'll also call the national customer service number, and direct message the company on Twitter.Doing this has allowed me to get the last seat on the next flight home when the people in line ahead of me are bumped to a much later flight.Bonus: One of my coworkers, Stephen Rowe, always watches YouTube videos about cities he and I are heading to before traveling. Because of this, Stephen is the go-to guy. He knows where to get pizza in Chicago and the best ribs in Memphis. Take a trick out of his book, and you'll not only enjoy your destinations more, your travel companions will too.Use some of your newfound travel skills at one of the Leadership Institute's trainings. You can travel the country and learn to win for your conservative principles. Click here to find some great training options.
LI Grad Interview: Mother of four, Politico, Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Board Chairman
Kirsten Holmberg
June 24, 2021
LI Grad Interview: Mother of four, Politico, Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Board Chairman
Meet distinguished Leadership Institute graduate Anna Clark.I recently interviewed Anna to learn how she got interested in Parks and Recreation, how her Leadership Institute training helps her serve in public office, and her take on the current state of politics.Can you tell us a little about yourself?My name is Anna Clark. I reside in Oro Valley, AZ, and have been a Republican my entire life. I have been married for almost 18 years and am the mother of four sons, ages 15, 12, 10, and 8.I am the Chairman of the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Board, the 2nd Vice Chairman of the Pima County Republican Party, and the 3rd Vice-Chairman of Arizona's 11th Legislative District Republican Party. As of 3 weeks ago, I am managing a Congressional Campaign for a candidate running in AZ's 1st Congressional District. You currently are a member of the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. How did you get involved with Parks and Recreation, and what does your position involve?I have lived in Oro Valley on and off since I was 16 and have been a permanent resident for six years. While I was in high school, I worked for the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Department as part of their Summer and Spring Break Camps. I loved working with the kids and learned that good Parks and Recreation programs are necessary for a thriving community. Fast forward 20-something years, and after being very involved in getting our mayor elected in 2018, I sought ways to get involved in my community. I chose the Parks Board because of my unique perspective.Not only did I grow up in Oro Valley and work for the parks department, but I have four sons who use the Oro Valley Parks systems and programs regularly. So, I know our community needs, and I wanted to bring my ideas to help create a robust parks and recreation plan that includes youth, retirees, and everyone in between that live in Oro Valley.I have been on the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Board (PRAB) since January 2019. In February 2021, I was elected as the Chairman of the Board. The most important responsibility we have as members of the Oro Valley PRAB is to advise the Town Council in matters pertaining to parks and recreation, parks design, open space, trail use, and recreation programs.What is one challenge you have faced during your time as a Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member, and how did you overcome it?Being the Chairman of any board can present a myriad of challenges. This last year, our board was tasked with building and passing a 10-year parks master plan for the Town of Oro Valley. As you can imagine, this plan was full of some great ideas and some not-so-great ideas that had to be removed.The biggest challenge I faced was dealing with how to fund these parks projects. I believe that we should not raise taxes to pay for parks. It was challenging to get some of the other board members to vote for a master plan without any new taxes. With the team building and collaboration skills I learned from LI, we passed the Parks Master Plan last month with a 7-0 vote, a unanimous vote. This victory included recommending to the town council that we do not raise taxes to pay for the plan.How has the Leadership Institute helped you during your time in public service? You know that saying, "Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten"? Well, everything that I needed to know to be a successful candidate, campaign manager, and leader within the Republican Party and in my community, I learned from the Leadership Institute! I have taken so many classes through LI that have been invaluable to me. Many people seem disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?In December 2020, I was elected the 2nd Vice-Chairman of the Pima County Republican Party here in Arizona. As part of my new post, I hear Republicans complain quite a bit about not only the state of our nation but the state of things here in VERY liberal Pima County.The best advice I give them, whether they are complaining about the Democrats in control or elected Republicans they disagree with, is to get involved with the party. Complaining about things on social media or to your friends does nothing to help your cause. The first step is to become a precinct committeeman and get involved with the grassroots in your community. Unhappy with how things are going in your city or town? Run for office and be the change! Don't like what the Republican Party is doing in your county or legislative district? Get elected to a leadership position and be the change that you want to see within the party. The bottom line is the time for inaction is over. We must get involved and fight for the very soul of our nation! We see this across the state of Arizona. Since my taking office, our Precinct Committeeman numbers in Pima county alone have grown from 347 to 615 and counting. There are some months that we are outpacing the Democrats in Precinct Committeeman and voter registration! This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities.
LI Grad Interview: ‘It’s up to us,’ says new father, Southern Illinoisan
Kirsten Holmberg
May 28, 2021
LI Grad Interview: ‘It’s up to us,’ says new father, Southern Illinoisan
“You and I may face hardships in this country, and our political system may be broken, but we come from a long line of fighters willing to put it all on the line to stand up for what we believe in.” – David Blair, Executive Director of the Conservative Leadership PACMeet Leadership Institute (LI) faculty member and distinguished graduate, David Blair. I recently interviewed David to learn how he got interested in politics, his advice to young people, and his take on the current state of politics. He even announced a new little arrival on the way soon!Q: Can you tell me a little about yourself?I am originally from Southern Illinois, where my family has lived for more than a hundred years. I moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the Leadership Institute in 2015 and am now the Executive Director of the Conservative Leadership PAC and the President of my consulting firm, the Blair Group. I live in Sterling, Virginia, with my wife Hannah (whom I met at LI). We are about to welcome our first born into the world in June and are very excited to be first-time parents. Q: What motivated you to enter the political world?My motivations to enter politics really stem from my sense of right and wrong. When something seems like it's not right or unfair, I find myself feeling a great deal of moral indignation about the situation. Seeing how our government operates and the total failure of many of our elected officials, I almost couldn't help gravitating towards politics. I can't see something being done poorly, recklessly, or hypocritically and keep my mouth shut. Sometimes this gets me into trouble, but it is what drove me into politics and what drives me to work for the good guys every day. Can you tell me a little more about the work you do as the Executive Director of the Conservative Leadership PAC and as President of the Blair Group, LLC?As Executive Director of CLPAC, I find talented, principled, and driven young people to act as Youth Coordinators on hotly contested election campaigns all over the country. Often in a very close race, a few thousand votes can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Candidates who employ our system of mass-based youth organizing (first pioneered by Morton Blackwell) find that they have a winning edge when it comes to the close races when compared to their colleagues who do not run serious youth efforts. In short, it is my job to find talent and make sure our coordinators win for the candidates we support. As President of the Blair Group, I act as a strategic consultant for candidates, non-profits, and for-profit companies who are interested in grassroots solutions for their causes. It is my firm belief that there is no better source of value in a campaign than a good grassroots movement. I work with my clients to earn media, contact voters, hold events, and gain support through true ground-up grassroots campaigns. I also am an active speaker on the virtues of grassroots organizing and mass-based youth organizing as a faculty member at the Leadership Institute. Your work focuses on mobilizing young people. What advice to you have for those who are just starting out in political work and campaigns?I have more advice for young people than I have space to write here. However, if I were to stress one thing to someone just starting out in politics, it would be to focus on the success of your principles. Don't let your ego, your vanity, or your pride get in the way of the greater mission. We are all working, or at least we should be, toward a cause greater than ourselves. Credit, fame, money, and all the things many young people see as “success” in politics amount to nothing if you aren't working tirelessly to make the world a better place than you found it. So don't get caught up in the number of twitter followers that you have; social media fame has its place, and we have some warriors out there, but you have to find where you add value to the movement and work at that with all of your heart. If it's hard, good. It should be. How has the Leadership Institute helped you prepare for the work you are currently doing? First as a student and now as a faculty member at LI, I've had such a fantastic opportunity to meet the next generation of conservative leaders in this country and abroad. When I speak to a class at LI or club on campus, I know I am speaking to a room full of tomorrow's leaders. My network has grown with solid, work-centered, movement conservatives whom I can call on to get the job done. When I need someone in a particular state for a tough job or for a Youth Coordinator on a campaign, I know I can look to the contacts I have made through LI to find the right connection. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?As Americans, we have the unique ability to profoundly affect our government in every election held at the Federal, State, and local levels. Today the cost of political involvement is historically cheap when compared to our nation's forefathers. The Declaration of Independence was essentially a signed death warrant for the Founding Fathers. Yet, motivated by their love of liberty and love for this nation, they willingly lined up to sign. You and I may face hardships in this country and our political system may be broken, but we come from a long line of fighters willing to put it all on the line to stand up for what we believe in. Americans must not abandon the legacy of freedom and the sacrifices of so many who came before us because we find ourselves in difficult times. America was founded in difficult times, forged in them, and will continue to persevere despite them as long as there are good people willing to work hard and stay in the fight. Voting, volunteering, activism, and old-fashioned hard work are what will cure our current political woes. With COVID coming to an end and the overreaches of Liberal politicians on full display, conservatives have a profound opportunity to make massive gains in 2022. You and I can take this opportunity by the horns and show the American people once again that conservatism is the way to go, or we can allow the opportunity to pass and allow the hard-won gains of our ancestors to fall by the wayside. It's up to us.This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities.
I had to talk to him
Morton C Blackwell
March 31, 2021
I had to talk to him
It's not often that a young person impresses me so much that I have to pick up the phone and call: but I had to talk to Ben Zeisloft.Ben studies Finance and Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. He's also my Leadership Institute's top Campus Correspondent -- among the 134 student journalists who expose liberal bias and abuse on college campuses.Ben is amazingly productive. Since he started writing for LI's Campus Reform website almost one year ago, he has published more than 300 articles on CRO!Ben's work so impressed me that I called to let him know how grateful I am for his dedication and powerful productivity.Ben was surprised to hear from me, as you might imagine. But he happily shared how writing for LI's Campus Reform benefits him. Campus Correspondents earn a modest sum for each article they publish. Would you believe Ben has earned so much by exposing liberal abuses that he's putting himself through college? Please check out some of Ben's articles on CampusReform.org. I think you'll be just as impressed as I was.In his most recent report, Ben exposed Cornell University for considering partnering with a Chinese university to offer a dual degree program. Even worse, Cornell officials claim this “partnership” would have no influence on academic freedom! Sure.You can read how Ben exposed the Cornell/China connection here: https://www.campusreform.org/article?id=17026.If like me you can't get enough of Ben's reporting, you can access the rest of his 300-and-counting articles here. Thanks to the generous support of LI donors, students like Ben share thousands of shocking stories with a national audience. They report what's really happening on college campuses. By exposing the truth, you and I score clear victories for freedom. Last year alone, Campus Reform reporting led to 36 victories over leftist bias and abuse. That's harmful policies changed, abusive professors and administrators punished or fired, and free speech upheld. As you can see, students like Ben drive real change on campus, thanks to the generous support of Leadership Institute's donors.
LI Trained 230,788 Graduates Since 1979
Karla Bruno
January 12, 2021
LI Trained 230,788 Graduates Since 1979
Did you know the Leadership Institute (LI) offers 47 different conservative training programs? And did you know that LI training continued strong in 2020? In 2020, LI helped prepare 14,874 trainees – students, activists, and leaders – to win for their conservative principles. LI provided an average of 41.9 hours of live training every week.LI training gives committed conservatives the tools they can use to be successful in campaigns, the media, and public policy. Nothing about 2020 was easy, but thanks to LI's experience, skills, and donor support, LI pivoted smoothly into increased online training while continuing in-person training where possible. LI's training falls into two major divisions: Campus Programs and Political Training. Campus Programs is by far LI's largest program, with Campus Reform (CRO) its most visible component.Conservative students often face intimidation and hostility in an arena once prized for open debate, intellectual curiosity, and balanced discourse.The Leadership Institute helps conservative students fight back against liberal abuse and bias on campus, training them with proven techniques. The Campus Leadership Program (CLP) organizes conservative students and trains them to restore balance on American campuses, making them once again places for freedom of thought and diversity of opinion.Campus Reform (CRO) uses a news platform and a national network of conservative investigative student reporters to expose flagrant examples of liberal abuse and bias on college campuses. You may have seen LI's Campus Reform reporters, who appear often on Fox News.In 2020, Campus Reform published 1,957 stories, earned 6,106 republications in other media and 461 national and local TV hits – and 36 victories. A victory is defined as any policy change, apology, or administrative/faculty firing resulting from Campus Reform coverage.Campus Reform's website attracted 11.8 million pageviews; Campus Reform's YouTube channel attracted 34.2 million views.LI's National Field Program trains student leaders to organize conservative student groups and teaches them how to combat liberal bias at America's universities.In 2020, LI's field program now includes 2,001 active student groups, with 287 new groups added, and 29,837 conservative students newly identified. Students held 2,648 on-campus events and 1,219 online events.Youth Leadership Training recruits promising conservative students and teaches them proven techniques to organize and lead conservative youth organizations and activities for candidates and causes of their choice. In 2020, LI's Youth Leadership Workshop (a 3-hour session) trained 1,042 students. LI's Youth Leadership School (YLS – 29 hours of intensive training) trained 428 select student leaders, with 71 YLS graduates going on to work on conservative campaigns – that includes 16 Youth Coordinators.LI's Normandy Coalition helps students fight for free speech on college campuses. LI leads the Coalition of 30 groups which includes 5 pro-bono legal defense organizations, 15 national conservative youth organizations, and 10 conservative non-profit organizations.Since its creation in 2017, the Coalition has held 9,384 campus speaker events using 4,197 conservative speakers on 681 campuses.Forty-seven anti-free speech protestors have been arrested. Damages from 34 lawsuits filed in protection of free speech total $816,800, with 52 free speech victories on record. LI's Political Training encompasses all programs not included in the Campus Program: Activism, Campaign, Communications, Career, Fundraising, and Digital. All combined, these trainings produced 6,428 of LI's total graduates in 2020.Notable LI graduates include Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-02), Jim Jordan (R-OH-4), Kat Commack (R-FL-3), Katherine Timpf (Fox News), Amanda Carpenter (CNN), and Tom Fitton (Judicial Watch).If you are motivated in 2021 to use your talents for conservative activism either on campus or in your community, visit LI's website for the complete list of 2021 trainings available. They are low-cost or no-cost to you, thanks to Leadership Institute donors. Go to LeadershipInstitute.org/Training and sign up now to be successful in 2021 and for years to come.If you are interested in seeing more Leadership Institute 2020 accomplishments, click here.
Virginia Allen: Podcast Co-host
Emma Siu
November 9, 2020
Virginia Allen: Podcast Co-host
15 minute readI got the chance to interview Podcast Co-host Virginia Allen. Here's her story. Virginia Allen is a news producer at The Daily Signal, The Heritage Foundation's multimedia news outlet. She writes on a range of topics and co-hosts The Daily Signal Podcast and Problematic Women. Virginia Allen earned a bachelor's degree in government from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. After graduation, she moved to South Africa for a year to serve as a missionary volunteer, and worked with vulnerable children and youth. Upon her return to America, she moved to Washington, D.C. to pursue new opportunities. Before she joined The Daily Signal, Virginia worked as the administrative assistant in Heritage's communications department for nearly two years. 1. How did you become involved in the Problematic Women and Daily Signal News podcasts?I began my journey at The Heritage Foundation as an intern and then was blessed to get a job in Heritage's communications department in the spring of 2018. I remember observing my colleagues, as they hosted “The Daily Signal Podcast” and “Problematic Women,” and frankly I was quite intimidated! I secretly thought podcasting might be a medium I really would enjoy -- as someone who loves to connect with people and discuss important issues -- but I was nervous to leap into the unknown. One of these colleagues, who helped on “The Daily Signal Podcast” Monday edition, moved back to Texas a little over a year after I started at Heritage. My supervisor, Rob Bluey, asked me if I would be interested in stepping in to help on the show once a week, and I said I would! I still remember how nervous I was the first time I walked into the studio to record. It took months before I finally felt comfortable speaking into a mic, but I work with excellent people and they were so supportive. I helped with the podcast for a few months before Lauren Evans, co-host of “Problematic Women,” asked me if I would consider helping with the show while another colleague was out on maternity leave for a few months. “Maybe,” was my response to Lauren. “Problematic Women” is a high energy 45 to 60-minute show with a good mix of interviews, commentary, and straight news reporting. I was used to only doing interviews and one short news story a week so “Problematic Women” was going to be a big leap! But Lauren convinced me, and after only one episode I was all in. I loved reporting on issues I care deeply about and having the opportunity to be creative and craft a dynamic and fun show with a fellow staffer and friend. Then, about seven months ago, an opportunity opened up on Heritage's Daily Signal team to take on the role of both news producer and regular co-host of “The Daily Signal Podcast.” I was thrilled to take on this new role and again stretch my podcasting abilities. I am loving the opportunity to co-host two very different podcasts and continue to grow in this great field.2. What do you feel is the biggest difference between writing an article for print media and creating a podcasting segment?We all speak a little differently than we write, so even when making notes for a segment, I try to think about how I want to verbally communicate the information in a way that is relatable. Segments on “Problematic Women” tend to be a little more conversational than those in a written news story. Interviews for a written story versus a podcast are very different, both in regard to the content used and how the content is relayed. I may spend half an hour talking with someone for a written story, and then pull four or five quotes, or bits of information, depending on the nature of the piece. When doing a podcast interview, on the other hand, I guide the conversation, but the guest chooses what they will share.3. What does your decision process look like for finding someone to interview?I love personal stories, and so any time I hear about someone who has firsthand experience around a policy issue or a situation in the news, I am eager to have them on the show. I think a person's “lived experience” is powerful when we are considering how policies created in Washington, D.C. actually impact people. But I cannot take all, or even most, of the credit for finding great people to interview on either podcast. My colleagues often send me the names of people they think would be a good fit for “Problematic Women” or “The Daily Signal Podcast.”4. What are some strategies that you use to build a loyal audience?My co-hosts and I want our listeners to feel like they can always trust us to report the news honestly; and that they are a part of a larger community of people who love America. We are especially focused on building community on “Problematic Women” because the show was created as a platform for conservative women to have a voice. We recently started a weekly Twitter poll question on the show, which appears every Thursday morning on my Twitter page, @Virginia_Allen5. The poll provides a fun way for our listeners to engage with the show and share their thoughts with us.5. What has been the most difficult part for you when creating and hosting a podcast?I have learned a lot about my own voice and my own speaking idiosyncrasies as a podcaster. You quickly realize that you repeat certain words way too often or that you have a tendency to slur certain words. It has been challenging learning to pay close attention to how I sound, and critiquing myself, as I seek to communicate in the clearest way possible. I am very much still learning in this field!6. What would you say differentiates a professional podcast from a podcast that is just starting out?Podcasting is frankly quite new, so many podcasters have only been hosting shows for a year or two -- yet they may already have a very large audience. Often the difference between a new podcaster and an old pro can be heard in the level of confidence and voice control they exhibit. And of course, production quality really makes a big difference when it comes to podcasting. A skilled editor can truly make all the difference!7. What advice would you give to someone looking to start a podcast, especially with a saturated topic like politics?Find your niche! It is much easier to start a podcast when you know who your audience is -- moms with young kids, or basketball players, or nature enthusiasts. If you want to launch a more general podcast, then take time to think about what your “value add” is to that field. There are a lot of political podcasts out there. So, if you want to speak out on policy issues, maybe brand your show as a podcast that takes issues in Washington, D.C. and explains how they will impact people in your home state.8. Has creating a podcast changed the way you listen to podcasts?Yes. I am always listening to how podcasters ask questions of their guests, and how they discuss issues. Some podcasters are really good at making you feel like you are just sitting on the couch with them and a part of the conversation. That is something I aspire to, especially on “Problematic Women” because it is more conversational in nature.9. What are some of your favorite podcasts right now?I do enjoy listening to Joe Rogan's podcast because he is very talented at keeping interviews interesting and engaging for the listener. The stock market always has fascinated me, so I frequently listen to “Snacks Daily,” which is an entertaining business news podcast. I also really enjoy “Heritage Explains” because the episode are short, very informative, and the production quality is excellent.
Plan Now for Life After November 3rd: An Open Letter to a Young Campaign Staffer
Lee Jackson
October 8, 2020
Plan Now for Life After November 3rd: An Open Letter to a Young Campaign Staffer
Dear Over-Caffeinated, Underpaid Worker Bee:Congratulations! You made it to October.By now, every day is a new adventure. You're working seven days a week, you're hooked on the campaign high, and you're back and forth between having the time of your life and wanting election day to just get here already.But we need to take a moment and talk about life after November 3rd. Right now, it's probably hard to envision.I had been working for my candidate for roughly a year by the time Election Day rolled around on my last campaign. That means for a year, my boss was the most important person in my life. For a year, he and I had traveled the district together, hoped and dreamed about the future, and he became a second father to me. The most important thing to me was getting him re-elected. I felt that I owed him victory and, for so many personal reasons, failure was not an option.Because of the loyalty I had to my candidate, I felt guilty thinking about life after Election Day. Every second I spent doing so was a second not being spent to give my boss the victory I had promised him. However, I was wrong to think this way -- and he likely would have been disappointed if he had realized what was going on in my head.One of the many things the Leadership Institute is known for is Morton Blackwell's Laws of the Public Policy Process. If you have never read them before, I would encourage you to read them HERE.I always had a copy of the laws framed in my office for campaign volunteers to read.One law that stuck with me was number 18: You can't save the world if you can't pay rent. When I first heard this law, I took it to mean candidates who want win must raise money. Heaven knows I said it to my candidate countless times, stressing how important call time was. However, it rings true for you as an individual as well.The hard truth is, some of your campaigns will win, others will not. For better or worse, elections have clear winners and losers. The good news is, if you win (and work hard), your campaign is likely to offer you a job.Now is the time to start planning your life on November 4th without your current candidate in the picture.If you want to stay in the political arena, start networking now. It's a cruel joke that just as our campaigns need us most, we have to start seriously considering our future. I would recommend having four or five solid leads and a failsafe. For a while, my failsafe was going back to McDonald's.Each year, there are operatives who decide campaign life isn't for them. That's okay. Many of them go back to school or join a sales team and excel in those roles.If you want to stay in the public process, I encourage you to check out the Leadership Institute's Conservative Jobs HERE.Conservative Jobs is your free job bank, connecting recruiters and job seekers of all experiences across America. If you have questions about Conservative Jobs or would like someone at the Leadership Institute (LI) to review your resume, you can email my coworker, Kelsey at kmix@leadershipinstitute.org. LI is proud to be a resource placing conservatives in government, politics, and the media.I also encourage you to look at states that have elections in 2021.During off numbered years, I packed up my car and moved to Virginia to work on a campaign. For better or worse, Virginia doesn't have campaign contribution limits, so local House of Delegate races could be more than a million dollars. Working on campaigns every year allowed me to learn more skills and move up the totem pole twice as fast as many of my peers.No matter what you do next, you owe it to yourself to start planning.I always consider the time between one campaign and the next as my “funemployment.” Don't forget to take the time to unwind and relax too.My final words of advice for the next three weeks: stay away from pizza, try to sleep at least six hours a night, start thinking about life after Election Day, and keep day dreaming of that well-deserved tropical vacation to get you through one more walkbook.Keep on knocking,Lee
5 Things You Should do Before Election Day
Lee Jackson
September 25, 2020
5 Things You Should do Before Election Day
Every year, young people around the country ask me what they can do to make a difference as the country inches closer to election day.As someone who has been responsible for volunteer recruitment and Election Day Operations, I am always going to point you to your closest campaign and tell you the best thing to do is to volunteer. Here is a list of five things you should do prior to election day (in addition to voter contact):1. Check Your Voter Registration Status After spending roughly one million dollars, I won my last election by less than 500 votes. Believe me when I tell you that every vote counts. This November, positions from School Board to President of the United States will be on the ballot. Do not miss out on exercising your right to vote because you forgot to register to vote or you are registered to vote at the wrong address. I have seen students turned away from the polling booth because they thought they were registered to vote at school, but they registered to vote at home. You can check your voter registration HERE. 2. Vote EarlyI'm not aware of a single state in America that does not give the option to vote early in one form or another. Although the terms and guidelines vary from one state to the next, you should have the option to vote early regardless of where you are currently located.You never know what's going to happen on election day. Vote now and get it out of the way. Additionally, there are likely a few races or referendum questions you did not expect to see on the ballot. Getting your ballot early will give you a few days to research this new-to-you-content and allow you to vote responsibly. You can find more information about how to vote early HERE. Side note: Don't let the lingo about voting early intimidate you or stop you from doing so. In Maine, we don't have early voting, but we do have in-person absentee voting. Which is a fancy way of saying you vote absentee, in-person, prior to Election Day -- aka early voting. Also, a lot of jurisdictions are allowing voters to drop of their completed ballot at some sort of drop-off box or track where their ballots are in the mail. Make sure you leave plenty of time for the postal service to return your ballot after you vote. Like I said, this is going to be the year of close elections. Every note needs to count. Double check to see if you need a stamp.3. Keep an Eye on Campus Administration Classes, meetings, and liberal bias: three things a conservative student is pretty much guaranteed to experience during any given semester. When it comes to liberal bias on college campuses, the best disinfectant is always sunlight. If you see something that doesn't pass the straight-face test, you can send an anonymous tip to Campus Reform HERE.4. Take an LI training As we get closer to Election Day, the Leadership Institute (LI) is laser focused on training as many conservative activists as possible, so you can play your part in the upcoming election. LI hosts safe, in-person and online trainings. Many of these trainings are available to you at no cost thanks to the generous donors of the Leadership Institute. You can find LI's upcoming list of trainings HERE. Additionally, the campus leadership team has created three-hour trainings for club leaders and members. These Youth Leadership Workshops (YLWs) are flexible and range from Media and PR to how to recruit on campus. If you would like to organize one of these trainings for your group, you can email me at LJackson@LeadershipInstitute.org.5. Volunteer (Get Paid) to be a Poll Worker on Election DayHave you ever thoughts about what it takes to run an election? Not a campaign, but the administration part of an election? One of the crucial pieces of running an election is poll workers, who help check-in voters, answer clerical questions, and do tasks throughout the day. Due to coronavirus, election administrators are struggling to find people to work the polls. Not only do poll workers protect the integrity of elections, they can also get paid more than $100 for a days-worth of work. You can find out more information in this video by Campus Reform's Editor in Chief, Cabot Phillips. Decide now. What will you do to make a difference for your conservative principles as the country inches closer to election day?
Learning How to Talk the Talk Isn’t Always the Easiest
Lee Jackson
August 26, 2020
Learning How to Talk the Talk Isn’t Always the Easiest
Growing up, my mother did her best to limit my screen time and discouraged me and my sisters from playing video games. However, this did not stop my grandparents from surprising us one Christmas morning with a brand-new Wii and a set of games to go with it.As boring as it sounds, my favorite game on the Wii was golf. I spent countless hours after school working on my drive and reached the title of “Pro” long before any child ever should. The kicker? I had never actually hit a real golf ball in my life. To this day, I can talk golf with friends, coworkers, or pretty much anyone, but I am always “busy” when it is time to play.When I started working on campaigns, I did not have Wii golf to teach me the lingo (and the West Wing only got me so far). Thankfully, I had people who took the time to explain campaign terms and answer my questions. Even though I had people around me who took the time to help me, it was still intimidating when I was in a meeting or on a call and didn't understand half of the words being said. Over the years, I realized my junior staffers and interns went through the same discouraging process. Like those before me, I took the time to clarify any questions they had. However, I am sure there were several times when I missed the signs that they were confused.The Leadership Institute is a proud non-profit that teaches future elected officials, staffers, and members of the media how to be the most effective at their job. In short, LI teaches people how to walk the walk. I am glad to be able to share this new campaign glossary with you, so you can get a head start on learning how to talk the talk as well.You can download How to Speak Campaign 101: A Campaign Glossary at no cost right here, thanks to Leadership Institute's donors.
Easy Guide to Professional Webinars and Online Meetings
Ben Woodward
April 21, 2020
Easy Guide to Professional Webinars and Online Meetings
I was catching up on Saturday Night Live yesterday evening and the show depicted the struggles of comedians as they attempted to hold meetings from their homes with hilarious consequences. One only has to take to YouTube to enjoy a long list of videos where professionals make the most embarrassing possible mistakes because they fail to realize their web cameras are switched on. Luckily, no such embarrassing moments have happened in Leadership Institute (LI) meetings or webinars yet. For years, Zoom, Teams, and other platforms have been an excellent tool to reach audiences who cannot attend LI training in person. During the pandemic, webinars are now critical to deliver LI training. This requires professionalism and high standards translated digitally. Here's how you can ensure – whether you're hosting or presenting a meeting or webinar – you make it as professional as possible.LightingIf possible, you should face natural light on camera. Your entire face should be illuminated. Failing that, order a simple ring light online, they're inexpensive and make a big difference. Remember, just like in a real meeting, people will respond to seeing your face and your expressions.You should always avoid light that shines behind you, which can overshadow your face. SoundTo avoid feedback and other distractions, use headphones and limit outside noise. You should also do a test of your microphone before your presentation to ensure the sound works and your computer is set up correctly. SpeakingIt is a good idea to write a script for you webinar or meeting introduction and sign off. What do you want to say? Is there anything you should advertise or someone to introduce? Keep notes by your side in case you lose your place.Be confident in your presentation style. Practice speaking and record yourself to pick up on any filler words or lack of eye contact. Always try to maintain eye contact with your camera (aka your audience). You can also ask your audience questions during the webinar. It's a great way to keep them engaged. DisplayPower points or other types of illustrations can be very helpful to the viewer, who might otherwise get distracted if you're reading from notes. Make your presentation easy to follow. Most of the information should come from you. Your presentation should simply act as a guide to your key points. Make sure you dress appropriately and hide anything unprofessional in your background. Custom backgrounds are a helpful tool. OtherKeep water on hand during your webinar in case you get a dry throat, and make sure you use the bathroom. Even if someone else is speaking, you may not be able to walk away from your screen once you start. Email instructions to your attendees at least half an hour before your webinar. I also recommend you email them upon registration so they know what to expect. Finally, security is important. As the demands on Zoom and other platforms increase, prevent unwanted attendees with password protection and by disabling guest screen sharing.If you follow these simple steps, you'll conduct webinars and meetings that demonstrate your professionalism and ensure they are as close to the in-person experience as possible. If you would like any further assistance with your webinar and meeting needs, you can attend the Leadership Institute's free webinar: Effective Communications in Business on April 29, 2020.
A Note from One Mentor to Another
Ben Woodward
November 18, 2019
A Note from One Mentor to Another
From Morton Blackwell to Kay Coles James, the conservative movement has numerous highly accomplished leaders who have dedicated their lives to mentoring and fostering a new generation of talent.As someone only a few years into my career however, I sometimes wonder at what point I will feel qualified to give people advice. Just yesterday, a friend came to me following a fantastic job offer, asking about salary negotiation. Throughout our meeting, I could not help but feel the weight of my advice given that he was about to go into a conversation with his future boss.You will likely find, if you have not already, that soon into your career people will begin asking for your opinion from small things like how to respond to an email to larger, more pressing career questions.While there is no formula to good mentorship, here are 4 rules which have helped me along the way.Be generous with your time and expertiseThinking on the times when you have not been the high quality mentor, you would like to be, I am willing to bet it came down to one of two things; you were too busy, or you became impatient with the mentee. It is easy to become wrapped up in your work and to be frustrated when someone does not appear to take your advice. Remember that people invested in your development, and you likely frustrated them at times. It is important to communicate clearly and to remember that this good practice for you too. After all, you will mentor many people in your career.Understand that you are developing tooIt can be daunting to mentor others when you are new to the workforce. You will likely continue to rely on mentors yourself for many years to come. However, your fresh perspective may be what your mentee needs, especially since you remember better than anyone what it was like to require similar guidance.There are occasions when you will say, “I don't know”It is imperative that the advice you give is informed from your experience and will help the mentee. Remember that your words carry a lot of weight; do not make the mistake of giving advice simply because you do not want to let your mentee down.A good example of this is when a mentee asks me about whether they should go to college or not, or sometimes if they should drop out. Despite my own personal opinion, I will always advise the mentee to speak with their family and with their professors. Sometimes “I don't know” is the best answer.Make a long-term investment in your mentees Your commitment to your mentee does not end when they find a job or move away. That is not to say you should chase them down to give advice -- and if your mentee stops asking then let them take their own path. However, follow-up from time to time, and make sure you are on hand to assist should they require it.Remember, the people you mentor today could be your colleagues and coalition partners tomorrow. Invest in them and it will be both rewarding and pay dividends.
Putting the Business in Business Casual
Sheridan Nolen
August 19, 2019
Putting the Business in Business Casual
If you're like me and always doubt what business casual means, here's a quick tutorial. Business Casual: a style of clothing less formal than traditional business wear, but still intended to give a professional and businesslike impression. It typically includes slacks or khakis, a dress shirt or polo shirt, blouses, dresses or skirts at knee-length or longer, and dress shoes. During cold weather, knit sweaters and vests are also acceptable. Business casual outfits provide a more relaxed look but still indicate professionalism. It can be hard to develop a clear understanding of business casual expectations if you have just started a new job or if it's your first time attending an event. Different employers and groups have a variety of expectations for business casual, but common denominators exist among them. Here are some general tricks to mastering business casual attire.1. Jackets and blazers are optional. Unlike business formal attire, business casual outfits can be worn with or without a suit jacket or blazer. It is entirely optional! You are not expected to wear a jacket or blazer in a business casual setting. via GIPHY2. If you'd wear it to the gym, leave it at home. Sorry ladies, but leggings aren't pants in the business world. They belong underneath dresses and skirts. Gentlemen, windbreakers and track jackets shouldn't be worn in a business casual setting either. Business casual does not include athletic wear. If you'd wear it to the gym, just leave it at home. via GIPHY3. Jeans are hit or miss. In general, avoid jeans in a business casual wardrobe. Some offices permit jeans as acceptable business casual clothing, but you should still avoid light-washed or ripped jeans to maintain a professional look. Pair your jeans with a button-up or dress shirt, a jacket, a good quality belt, and neat shoes. If you are wearing a button-up shirt, adding a tie is up to you. via GIPHY4. Dress up.The stress of feeling under-dressed is far worse than showing up overdressed for work or an event. For this reason, always dress up if you are unsure of business casual expectations. For example, many companies consider polo shirts part of the business-casual spectrum. If you are unsure whether this is the case with your current job or an event you are attending, go with a button-up shirt and a tie. Always dressing up does not mean wearing a three-piece suit as business casual – it means wear a jacket and tie, even if you're not sure if others will. via GIPHY5. Observe other employees.Your easiest tool to decoding what your office considers business casually is looking at your colleagues. Making observations about what people around you wear is the perfect way to gauge what your employer expects you to wear when they say business casual.
LI Employee Assaulted at UC Berkeley
Carol Wehe Cocks
February 22, 2019
LI Employee Assaulted at UC Berkeley
“On Tuesday, February 19, one of our employees, Hayden Williams, was violently assaulted on University of California-Berkeley campus while working to recruit conservative student leaders in his capacity as Field Representative for The Leadership Institute. Hayden was invited to campus by Berkeley students who were part of the local Turning Point USA chapter.This event is shocking, but it is not isolated. Conservative and libertarian students have faced violence and intimidation for sharing their political philosophy on campus from coast to coast in this country. Unfortunately, the Leadership Institute reports on incidents like Hayden's all too often on our news site CampusReform.org.Violence has no place in the public policy process -- and it should never be the response to students who exercise their right to free speech. The Leadership Institute calls on the University of California-Berkeley to identify and hold accountable the assailant to the full extent of the law.”– Bryan Bernys, Vice President of Campus Programs at the Leadership Institute.
Leadership Institute Trained 14,687 in 2018
Carol Wehe Cocks
January 2, 2019
Leadership Institute Trained 14,687 in 2018
The Leadership Institute (LI) celebrated the close of 2018 with 14,687 trained. Since 1979, LI has trained 209,074 students.In 2018, LI trained its 200,000th student at a Youth Leadership School held at LI's Steven P.J. Wood Building in Arlington, VA.Seventy-nine percent of LI's 2018 students were trained outside LI's headquarters. The Institute conducted training programs in 43 states. Leadership Institute graduates serving in the 116th Congress include three U.S. Senators and 26 members of the House of Representatives. LI's Campus Leadership Program finished 2018 with 2,111 active conservative student groups. 52 of these groups were student publications. LI's Campus Reform Online attracted 4,733,130 unique visitors and received 11.9 million page views in 2018 compared to 11.7 Million page views in all of 2017, 10.2 million page views in all of 2016, 5.7 million page views in all of 2015, 4.6 million page views in all of 2014, 5.8 million page views in all of 2013, and 2.8 million page views in all of 2012.CampusReform.org students, staff, and stories were featured 476 times on local and national television programs in 2018 compared to 216 placements in all of 2017.The Campus Reform Campus Correspondent Program published stories by 104 student journalists. Campus Correspondents investigate and report on liberal bias, abuse, and indoctrination on college campuses nationwide. The Institute looks forward to its 40th anniversary in 2019.For a full report of Leadership Institute's 2018 successes, click here.
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