Colorado Student Learns Liberty; Now, He’s Educating with Films and Economic Courses

As a student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Todd Hollenbeck attended College Republican meetings. But it wasn’t until he read books by Frederic Bastiat, Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek, and Ayn Rand in a college course that he began his personal pursuit of liberty.

“That class completely blew my mind and opened my eyes to the way the world is and how it could be and ought to be,” Todd shared with the Leadership Institute.

Now Todd is the college program coordinator at the Foundation for Economic Education and the executive director of the Free Minds Film Festival LLC.

His story has been years and many internships in the making.

Todd found out about the Leadership Institute when an
LI field representative visited his campus.  He decided to take time off from school and apply for the job. Todd was a field representative in the fall 2007 and spring 2008 in eastern Washington and in Colorado, respectively, where he helped start conservative student groups on campuses.

“The field rep program was great,” Todd said. “Those were two of the best semesters I had in college. I learned a lot and have many great memories.”

“As a Field Rep, I was given a lot of autonomy, which allowed me to experiment with ways to reach out to and locate students. This process taught me a lot about how to utilize Facebook, how to table, how to communicate with students on campuses, and how to organize student organizations,” Todd explained. “This helped bring out my creativity and taught me to be entrepreneurial and innovative.”

Later, he spent the summer as an intern for the Independence Institute in Colorado where he wrote a paper on the Taypayer’s Bill of Rights and an op-ed about privatizing health inspections.

In fall 2008, Todd came to DC for an internship with the Leadership Institute.

“The biggest benefit of LI’s internship was the networking opportunity. It allowed me to spend time in DC where I met people and learned about pro-liberty organizations that I otherwise wouldn’t have,” Todd said.

“As an intern for LI, I learned about all of the organizations I didn’t know existed while I was in Colorado, like Foundation for Economic Education, Institute for Humane Studies, Americans for Tax Reform, and Students for Liberty.”

Todd returned to Colorado to finish his undergraduate degree, but then came back to DC to intern for six months at Americans for Tax Reform. He was offered the position while still an intern for LI.

“I would have stayed longer [at Americans for Tax Reform], but I couldn’t afford to, so I returned home and applied for the Koch Summer Fellowship Program and went back to school for my MBA,” Todd said.

“That year I also attended my first International Students for Liberty Conference. Both were amazing experiences. I met so many brilliant, passionate young libertarians and objectivists that I really felt kind of stupid and incredibly encouraged about the future of liberty.”

Through the Koch Fellowship, Todd was able to intern for a second time with the Independence Institute. He later became a campus coordinator for Students for Liberty, and also began planning the first Free Minds Festival, for which he’s now the executive director.

Todd took 15 LI trainings from fundraising to the Youth Leadership School to a conservative career workshop to activism workshops.

“The Leadership Institute was a stepping stone in helping me find the right path. LI exposed me to a lot of great people and organizations, and taught me valuable skills many of which I still use, and others that were still great exposure to new things that helped me discover my own interests and skill sets.”

Launch your career by registering for one of LI’s upcoming trainings here.

“I am still figuring my path out. Every new experience creates new paths, but I now know that I was to affect social change through education of the ideas of liberty and free markets, which is exactly what I am doing with Students for Liberty, Foundation for Economic Education, and the Free Minds Film Festival.”

Perhaps you want information to become a LI Field Rep or Intern.

Click the links for more information on the Free Minds Film Festival or Foundation for Economic Education.

Please welcome Todd Hollenbeck as LI’s Graduate of the Week.

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