So you think you’re a politics addict?
Leah Courtney says she’s one.
Leah was raised in a conservative, military family who idealized Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Oliver North. However, it wasn’t until college that these ideas spurred action and developed into her career calling: online communications.
This small-town girl claims Florida as home. She is a 2012 graduate of the University of West Florida, and received a Bachelor’s of Arts in international studies and political science. In college, Leah was active in College Republicans -- even chair of the group one year -- and involved in student government, for which she served as academic committee co-chair.
“I first started getting involved with politics when I was 19 years old, and I've been an addict ever since,” Leah Courtney, now 23, said.
She’s a social media analyst at DC London, a full-service consulting firm in areas of campaign management, grassroots management, lobbying, message and brand development, and social media.
“My job is to watch social media trends to keep clients informed on how their brand is doing and what is popular at the moment,” Leah said.
“I got into this field honestly doing exactly what I always do: tweeting and blogging,” Leah shared. “People have to put themselves out there and voice their views on public policy. Be unapologetic; be outspoken. We have free speech in this country; take advantage of it. And, the people in the industry will take notice.”
And boy, have folks taken notice.
She’s now on three international sub-committees for the Young Republicans National Federation: Asia and Oceania, Americas, and Europe, on which she is most active.
“We are one of the few countries that has the opportunity to have a hand in public policy decision-making. That being said, it is borderline irresponsible not to take an interest,” Leah said. “Young people need to be reading up on these policies, and voting every chance they get.”
In the spring of 2013, Leah interned at the Leadership Institute in the Events Department where she helped promote LI’s monthly Wednesday Wake-Up Club Breakfasts and happy hours.
Before her LI internship, Leah worked in the fall (August through November) as the field director for the Republican National Committee in Pensacola, Florida. In this position she organized events for 500 to 1,000 people, working in a coalition with the GOP executive committee and local tea party groups. She also taught employees and volunteers how to effectively conduct grassroots operations during the campaign.
Before that, Leah interned for Mitt Romney for President in the research department at the office in northwestern Florida. She assisted with event planning for groups of around 500 and did many calls with voters.
In the fall of 2010, Leah interned for the Rick Scott for Governor campaign where she made 100 to 125 calls per hour, coordinated the midnight sign placement run for three counties, and campaigned in the community and at events.
Leah first learned of LI from a good friend, who was a past intern for the Institute. He invited her to attend a Youth Leadership School, and “I’ve been a huge fan ever since,” she said.
“I've learned so much from the entire LI family,” Leah said. “I got the push I needed to succeed in such a competitive environment, and I also have made a lot of friends through LI that help me in countless ways and keep me motivated.”
Leah took 15 LI trainings as various as TV training to High-Dollar Fundraising School to Campaign Management School.
“Some things that really stuck with me were from the public relations training and online activism workshop,” Leah said. “How to grab someone's attention and make them want to hear about the brand you're promoting is one thing that was really valuable. Also, I remember learning how to make your point when writing without getting wordy or off-topic.”
“The Leadership Institute is a great stepping stone for young activists that want to make it in the political world. If you're interested in getting involved, sign up for LI training. I've learned more through this organization then I did during the four years I was in college.”
You heard her: sign up for an LI training now.
You can follow Leah on Twitter @LCourtney90.
Please congratulate and welcome Leah Courtney into the online communications industry and 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 Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.