Lifelong Activist Now Trains Thousands
June 19, 2012 | By Lauren Hart
Born in the Big Apple to Holocaust survivors, college student Henry Kriegel launched the Columbia University Young Americans for Freedom campus group in the early 1980s. His inspiration? It was his parents’ fight for survival during the Holocaust and Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980.
Henry’s passion for survivors moved him across the country to Los Angeles, where he helped Afghan refugees get on their feet and organize a rally against
the Soviet Union in the mid 1980s.
Soon after, he was hired by Washington, D.C.-based Committee for a Free Afghanistan as its public relations director. Two years later he became executive director, a position he held until the Soviets completely withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989. His group worked with Rep. Charlie Wilson and other Members of Congress to support the Afghans.
“The movie and book Charlie Wilson’s War is very accurate,” Henry told the Leadership Institute. “I left Washington, DC in 1990 because I felt I had made my contribution and wanted to join my friends who lived in Big Sky Country—Montana, also known as the last best place."
"I hardly ever looked back until 9/11, when I watched airplanes strike the World Trade Center, in New York, my hometown. Shocked to discover that the terrorists were trained in Afghanistan, I then got re-energized and launched a remote radio PR tour urging the Bush Administration to work closely with the Northern Alliance to exact retribution on the Taliban and Al Qaeda,” Henry said. “I appeared on nearly every major radio talk show and several TV programs while traveling to New York and Los Angeles. I haven’t stopped my activism since that time.”
Now, Henry’s active in local issues.
He’s a Tea Partier: He co-founded the Bozeman Tea Party and initiated the Montana Tea Party Coalition. They hosted the largest Fourth of July Tea Party rally, where roughly every 20th resident of the city took part, despite opposition.
He’s also president of Montanans for Tax Reform, where he collects signed Taxpayer Protection Pledges from local and state-level public officials. Their signature is a pledge to those they represent stating they will not raise taxes while in office. This pledge is a project of Americans for Tax Reform.
Henry hosts a weekly radio show on Thursdays at 9 a.m. mountain time at KMMS-AM 1450 Bozeman, KPRK 1340 Livingston, and on the web at www.kmmsam.com.
He’s additionally the deputy state director in Montana for Americans for Prosperity (AFP), an organization of grassroots leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state, and federal levels.
Henry works with Tea Party and Liberty groups throughout Montana organizing events, rallies, and forums as well as representing Americans for Prosperity to the media. He updates the state website, communicates important legislative updates to members, and provides testimony before the legislature.
“I also helped organize the Leadership Institute training in Bozeman and supported LI’s training in Missoula,” Henry said of the trainings earlier this year. “It was my intent to bring more professional skills training to activists who have the passion and the desire and just need additional training to be more effective.”
Henry first learned of the Leadership Institute in the mid-90’s when he was working in DC and attending the Paul Weyrich Station Club meetings, where LI’s President Morton Blackwell often presented.
“I knew the Leadership Institute to be the leader in activist training and I actually attended a training in the summer of 2001 at LI’s headquarters in Virginia,” Henry said. “When I got involved in the Tea Party movement, I knew our activists needed LI training. It took me over a year to get the Montana Tea Party Coalition and my local Tea Party to sponsor and support the training. AFP was already working closely with LI and they were very eager to get on board with the training.”
Henry has taken three LI trainings: Internet Activist School in July 2001 based in Arlington, Virginia; the Grassroots Activist School in January 2012 based in Bozeman; and the April 2012 Grassroots Activist School in Missoula, Montana. He has also been trained since 2010 on LI’s TeaPartyTraining.org website.
“What I learned at LI was how to apply my public relations and marketing skills to specific candidates and issue campaigns,” Henry said. “I also learned specific techniques and tools I can apply to campaigns and organizational development.”
“You are the leaders in activist training,” Henry said to the Leadership Institute. “I hope to maintain and develop my relationship with LI for many years to come and perhaps serve as a trainer in my areas of expertise and passion—communications, public relations, and crisis management.”
Henry joins more than 107,000 graduates trained by the Leadership Institute since 1979.
“Thank you so much for the honor of featuring me as an LI Graduate of the Week,” Henry said.
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 LaurenHart@LeadershipInstitute.org.