The Next Great Communicator Works to Defund "ObamaCare"

August 20, 2013 | By Carol Wehe

“Sorry for the delay; we’re trying to defund Obamacare,” Nathanael Yellis said.

Nathanael stays busy.  By day he’s deputy political director of Heritage Action, the 501c4 sister organization of The Heritage Foundation.  He’s also a trainer of conservative activists and young leaders.

“I joined Heritage Action a month after it launched, in July of 2010,” Nathanael said.

Three years later, their focus for this fall is clear: defund the Affordable Care Act.

“I'm excited about our effort to defund Obamacare,” he continued. “We're working to make this the issue when Congress returns in September.”

Yellis stays busy this August at a time when many in the nation’s capital vacation.  But, you won’t hear him complaining.

“It's really exciting stuff bringing conservative activists along and seeing Members of Congress respond as they hear the message from all sides,” Nathanael said.

Nathanael’s enthusiasm for helping conservatives extends into his own time as well.  He has a history of helping activists and young leaders interested in politics.

During his time at Patrick Henry College (PHC), he worked for Teen Pact leadership schools.  Teen Pact gives high school students “a conservative civics education,” he shared.

While at PHC, he went into debate – not originally his idea.

“I started debating in college,” he said, “because my now-wife asked me to.”

That wasn’t his only reason for long.

“I stayed in debate because it helped me learn -- knowing I had to make my own arguments gave my research and writing real purpose,” Nathanael said. “The skill of quickly seeing and communicating the essence of an idea is the key thing I learned from debate, and I use that skill every day.”

Nathanael coached debate at Patrick Henry, and won many awards, including the All-American Debater title from the National Educational Debate Association.

He went on to train with Ethos debate camps, and still uses his debate skills to train leaders.

His advice to aspiring communicators?

“Practice,” he said.

That may sound simple, but Nathanael learns from history and says practice is key.

“Communicating is a skill that one builds only by doing it,” he said.  “We saw this in the 2012 presidential election when President Obama flopped in the first debate because he didn't practice. There is no better way to learn, so join Toastmasters, a debate club, or anything that pushes you to practice.”

Like a good leader, he follows his own advice and practices his public speaking by being a faculty member for the Leadership Institute.

“One of my mentors challenged me to speak to a new group every quarter to stay sharp as a communicator,” Nathanael said. “Training with LI helps me meet that goal.”


Now Leadership Institute faculty, Nathanael has attended courses at LI since 2006.

“At my first LI training I talked with the most interesting speaker and a few months later began interning for his company. That connection helped launch my career.”

Now Nathanael trains future leaders and activists.

“Teaching for LI,” he said, “keeps me sharp on how what we're doing helps the conservative movement. I enjoy surveying our work at Heritage Action and presenting the best of what we do to LI's audiences. The Leadership Institute enables our successes and our mistakes to help other conservatives, and that's part of our mission: building the movement.”

That’s what the Leadership Institute does with the help of faculty like Nathanael– LI trains conservatives and builds the movement.

“I describe LI as two things: a solid foundation for conservatives and a strong network,” he said. “If you want to be an activist, staffer, journalist, campaigner, etc., then you at minimum need to attend the relevant LI training. As you take the next step and become a leader in your field, the Leadership Institute is the place to give back and build the network.”

You can watch Nathanael Yellis’s next LI training, a free live webinar, August 28 at 3 p.m. EDT.  He will talk about Smart Debate: Confronting slick leftists in public arguments.

You can learn more about LI training, and watch Nathanael’s upcoming LI webinar appearance.

Please congratulate Nathanael Yellis on his work helping American citizens make their voices heard in government and training conservative activists.  Please applaud him for receiving LI’s Conservative Leader Award.

To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award where they will have an article written about them, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.