For many, Leadership Institute training marks the start of a lifelong career advancing conservative principles in politics. So it is for Jim Pfaff, chief of staff for Congressman Tim Huelskamp and LI graduate of the week.
Jim’s political career stretches nearly three decades. He’s been president of grassroots organizations, led winning statewide campaigns, served as a campaign manager and consultant, and even worked as a talk radio host.
“LI has produced an amazing list of graduates like me who have gone on to have a great impact on the national and state levels,” Jim said.
His first Leadership Institute training was in 1984. Jim was an English major and political science minor at Indiana University after graduating high school from The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. It was a “one-week grassroots training,” Jim recalled. In that same year, he interned at LI, and worked with Ralph Reed to start Students for America, a pro-life political action committee.
“My LI training experience in 1984 was a fundamental part of my political career, which includes various statewide campaigns, public policy efforts, a political consulting business for nearly 20 years, and ultimately my coming to Congress this year as a Chief of Staff,” Jim said.
As a campaign consultant, Jim helped elect eight conservative candidates and later managed George Witwer's 1996 campaign for Lt. Governor of Indiana. He also served as administrative director for the Opportunity Project of Indiana, which gave $90,000 to fiscally conservative candidates for state legislature in 1994.
In the private sector, Jim served as president and chief executive officer at Innovative Research and Data Solutions, LLC (IRDS) for 13 years. The company's work matched his background, offering consulting in public policy and public relations; business research; media strategies; and even on-the-ground consulting for political campaigns and grassroots organizations.
In 2005, Jim managed a highly successful conservative grassroots effort in Kansas to pass a traditional marriage amendment -- which received 70% of the vote. He worked for Focus on the Family Action and started several organizations: Colorado Family Action; the Colorado Family Institute; and Americans for Prosperity's Colorado state chapter in 2008. He also led a successful effort to pass a similar marriage amendment in Colorado though outspent nearly six to one by opponents.
Jim's work garnered praise from Erick Erickson of RedState, who called him a "nearly indespensable person in social conservative grassroots politics." Social conservative leader Ralph Reed said Jim was "one of the greatest grassroots organizers in the country."
Jim still finds time to teach lessons he once learned at the Leadership Institute to conservatives across the country. He's been a faculty member at 12 LI campaign, fundraising, and communications trainings, from the Institute’s Steven P.J. Wood Building in Arlington, Virginia to Grand Forks, North Dakota.
"As an LI trainer, I could do nothing less," Jim explained. "I decided to dedicate some of my time to help with LI trainings because I believe they fill an important need in the conservative movement to prepare effective grassroots, media, and campaign strategists."
Please congratulate Jim Pfaff as this week’ Leadership Institute graduate of the week.
Jim is the chief of staff for Congressman Tim Huelskamp, who will speak at LI’s Wednesday Wake-Up Club Breakfast on October 5. Please join conservatives and Institute supporters for breakfast with Congressman Huelskamp.
To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate you know to be featured as LI's graduate of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Hart at LaurenHart@LeadershipInstitute.org.