LI Graduate To Be Named “Conservative of the Year” at the Conservative Leadership Conference

College student Mark Ciavola is a political rock star.

Mark’s not only chairman of the College Republican Federation of Nevada and the student body president at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, but he’s also the political director for the re-election campaign of Rep. Joe Heck (NV-03). If that isn’t enough, he manages all this while being a full-time student.

It’s no wonder the Conservative Leadership Conference will name him “Conservative of the Year” this weekend in Las Vegas.

“I’m honored to receive the award for my contributions to advancing conservative principles in Nevada,” Mark shared with the Leadership Institute. “It goes to show that anyone can make a difference if they get involved, work hard, stay focused, and follow through on their goals.”

In 2009, Mark launched Right Pride, a conservative organization spreading a limited government and free market agenda within the gay community, which propelled him into politics. Shortly thereafter, Mark worked for the Republican National Committee’s Victory Program and then onto Rep. Heck’s campaign and leading College Republicans in Nevada and at his university.

However, Mark’s road to college and into politics wasn’t without its challenges.

“Like many others, I put college on hold to find a job and earn enough money to support myself. I spent about a dozen years in both restaurant management and sales management before deciding to go back to school to earn my degree in a field that I love: political science,” Mark said.  “My first day of classes was the day of President Obama’s inauguration. Since that time, I have worked as a field rep for the RNC’s Victory Program and volunteer coordinator for Dr. Joe Heck’s successful 2010 campaign for Congress.”

His days are typically 12 to 14 hours, he says.

“My days are spent hard at work preparing for the Nevada Republican Primary on June 12, and several of my evenings are spent interviewing candidates who will form our new team in student government on the heels of my ticket’s election in April,” Mark said.

Last year, when Mark served as president of the UNLV College Republicans, he “grew the organization from 50 members to 800, raised more than $31,000 without taking a single dime from the Republican Party or UNLV, and formed our state federation with the chapter at the University of Nevada.”

It’s really no wonder he’s being recognized for his efforts.

“I first learned of the Leadership Institute when I attended a training in Las Vegas,” Mark reflected.  “Since that time I have attended numerous LI workshops, all of which have been extremely informative.”

Mark has taken LI’s Campus Elections Workshop in October 2011, Travel-Future Candidate School in June 2011, and the Internet Activist Workshop in June 2011.

“I have made lifelong friendships and other relationships through the Leadership Institute, and have found it to be one of the most important and helpful organizations to those who wish to have a better understanding of leadership, activism, and political strategy,” Mark said.

“I describe the Leadership Institute to others I know as a great resource for information, an incredible training tool, and a valuable network of individuals whose collective knowledge and experience help develop the future leaders of our nation,” Mark said.

Mark joins more than 107,000 graduates trained by the Leadership Institute since 1979.  Please welcome him as LI’s Graduate of the Week.

To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate to be featured as LI's graduate of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Hart at