We’ve all heard the old adage that everyone is at most just “6 degrees of seperation” apart from others. This is all too true for Illinois State Representative Tom Morrison and his Campaign Manager Drew Veeneman.
Drew and Tom first met in 2005 at the Leadership Institute’s Public Relations School in Arlington, VA. Tom recounts, “I was a future candidate who needed a manager and vice versa. Of course, when we found out that we were both from Illinois we knew that we should team up.”
“Thanks to training at the Leadership Institute, my campaign manager and I beat an incumbent Illinois state representative in the primary, and we went on to win in the general election by 24%,” Tom said. “We were outspent in both elections nearly 2-1. Thank you for all of your good work. I've told dozens of people about your outstanding programs, and that you all were the key to my success.”
Tom’s first class was a Grassroots Workshop that the Leadership Institute hosted in Chicago, Illinois – not far from Tom’s hometown of Palatine. A few months later, he came for more training: the Public Relations School, where he met Drew, the Campaign Management School and the Future Candidate School.
Drew has attended four LI trainings: Campaign Leadership School, Grassroots Activist School, Public Relations School, and Youth Leadership School.
Tom said that Drew, his campaign manager, is a “brilliant political consultant who had to work through Christmas to win the February primary.”
Drew is LI’s Grad of the Week, and currently works as a political consultant in Illinois “with a strong emphasis on media.” He has also started a video blog called Political Mechanics.
Drew said that Tom’s “campaign provides some much needed inspiration for conservative candidates in Illinois. Beneath the congressional surface, politics is very tough here in Illinois.”
Tom is not your typical “Good ol’ boys club” politician. He developed his strong work ethic from a young age by lifeguarding like his role model President Ronald Reagan. Tom attended Hillsdale College where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree and pursued a career in broadcast media in Iowa; however, he quickly realized his heart’s desire lied elsewhere – in Illinois.
Tom taught fifth grade for six years at the Christian Liberty Academy. Tom’s entrepreneurial spirit surfaced, and he and his brother entered a SERVPRO franchise, a disaster cleanup and relief company. Tom publicly declared his candidacy for Illinois state representative in September 2009, realizing he could make a difference in his state, and because of his diverse background, he knew he could apply his experience in the state legislature.
Tom and Drew are both notable grads because they took their life experiences and applied them to public service. Conservatives are more closely connected than the “6 degrees of separation” and can certainly be acquainted with one another at training grounds like the Leadership Institute.
If you are seeking great conservative connections, get plugged into LI’s network through our trainings, campus programs, and through ConservativeJobs.com.
For more information on LI’s Grad of the Week Drew Veeneman, please visit his website.
To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate you know for Graduate of the Week, please contact LI’s External Affairs Officer Lauren Hart at LaurenHart@LeadershipInstitute.org.