25-Year Globe-Trotting Educator & Figure Skater, Now a Conservative Activist, Wins ‘Volunteer of the Year’ Award from the Republican Party of Virginia
If you've met Leadership Institute graduate Lynda Fairman you have been graced with a gentle powerhouse of knowledge and dedication. The blonde-headed, bouncy-curled, and smile-beaming woman works with a tenacity second to none. It's no wonder she was selected as the Republican Party of Virginia's ‘Volunteer of the Year.' “This award is quite an honor, especially since so many volunteers throughout Virginia dedicated hundreds of hours to our candidates in the critical 2012 election,” Lynda told me. “This award is less of a reflection of what I did, and more on what all of the volunteers in York County did through our 2012 Campaign Plan and Campaign Victory Headquarters.” Lynda is serving a two-year term as chairman of the York County Republican Committee in Virginia, where her focus has been on developing the headquarters building and operations manual as well as putting together the campaign plan. “When I ran for county chairman in March 2012, my focus was three-fold: learn to win (through education/training); plan to win (set plans with goals); and work to win (provide areas for citizens to put boots on the ground for our candidates),” Lynda said. “When we were able to secure a headquarters for the 2012 election, I was able to use many of the lessons learned from my Leadership Institute training,” Lynda said. “I still remember LI President Morton Blackwell's session on making sure your volunteers were comfortable in clean surroundings and made to feel welcome. As every candidate and state official visited our headquarters, the common comment was, ‘This is the nicest headquarters in the entire state!' My focus is on doing the needed jobs the best we can, on a budget, and with style. The number of general citizens who stopped by just to get yard signs and then stayed to volunteer and help phone bank, man the headquarters, and door knock was proof that we're on the right track. ” On the right track so much so that the Republican Party of Virginia's Newport News Victory Headquarters Director Mike Young said the “York County satellite headquarters was ‘the most productive satellite HQ in the region,'” Lynda shared. “We did more than 23,000 total phone banking calls by November. Just in October, we called 8,000 homes and knocked on 1,000 doors. Mike also said that our York County HQ operation with its Campaign Victory Plan ‘is heads above what others are doing.' The reason for this was two-fold: former Delegate Melanie Rapp Beale was instrumental in sharing her campaign expertise in planning the needed jobs, and the Leadership Institute courses I had taken taught me what was important and should be done. In addition, the two Air Force ROTC instructors I had at the University of Florida, Col. Mayer Littman & Major C. Wharton Cole, taught me well: ‘If something's worth doing, it's worth doing well and with class!'” And doing her job well and with class is exactly how Lynda led her county's GOP activists. She created a volunteer thank you wall, which highlighted each volunteer's name and specific job area on a yellow star sticker. By Election Day, they had filled the wall in the lobby with star stickers, the walls next to the front office doors, and even the walls down the hallway. Her leadership in recruitment and retention of volunteers allowed for 600 new York County contacts to be identified. “Since we didn't take the White House and Senate, the races for Virginia's Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and Delegates are even more critical to protect Virginians and follow our Constitution,” Lynda said. “Our local elected officials and some area businessmen have been so impressed with our York County Headquarters that they've pledged to donate funds for our monthly rent through next November's election. This will allow us to maintain a foothold and visible presence in York County the entire year which will help us reach out to more voters for our candidates. The next goal is to encourage more members to get campaign training so they can help with campaigns or run for office themselves – hopefully they will consider the Leadership Institute's outstanding training.” Lynda first learned of the Leadership Institute through Virginia Delegate Brenda Pogge, she said. When she discovered that LI was coming to Radford, Virginia for a Saturday half-day training, Lynda made the several hour drive and booked an overnight hotel stay. “That short session left me wanting more, so I registered for the Campaign Manager's week-long course in Arlington, staying in LI's basement dorm – a fantastic experience that allowed me to connect with wonderful people on LI's staff and my classmates,” Lynda said. “The conversations in the dorm lobby each evening were great!” Lynda has taken eight LI trainings from Campaign School in September of 2010, a Campaign Management School in February 2011, Advanced New Media Workshop in March 2011, Future Candidate School in August 2011, two Online Fundraising Workshops in August and September 2011, High-Dollar Fundraising School in September 2011, and the Comprehensive Online Activist School in September 2011. “LI classes truly are like drinking from a fire hose! I haven't taken notes like that since college! The Leadership Institute's Campaign Management School helped me know what needed to be done to win my chairman position during the elections at the March Mass Meeting. It was a close race: 113 to 103. Knowing the importance of personal contact with York County voters was crucial to turn out people to vote for me,” Lynda said. “From the moment I announced my candidacy, I had a plan with stated goals, passed out flyers with my goals and background information, and hit the ground running – calling people every night for a month and tracking my supporter numbers. LI classes gave me the confidence to know what to do for a winning campaign.” “I remember LI Vice President of Development Steve Sutton's lecture which focused on reaching the youth; it set root and helped us reach out to gather local high school volunteers for phone banking, door knocking, and sign waves,” Lynda shared. “Now, several students want to start a TeenAge Republicans (TARS) club in their high school so I'm working with them to try to be their faculty sponsor. High school outreach was one of my goals when I ran for chairman because we need to make sure our youth are involved in the conservative movement and understand the importance of our conservative constitutional values before they go to liberal colleges.” When not working on campaigns, Lynda is a York County School District tutor for homebound students and also Virginia's first congressional district coordinator for the We the People, a nationwide program that encourages public, private, and home schools to teach the U.S. Constitution using non-partisan curriculum materials from The Center for Civic Education through Montpelier's Center for the Constitution. Lynda graduated from the University of Florida in 1982 majoring in English and speech with a minor in drama. Her senior year, Lynda was selected by the Air Force Association to be their national protocol officer, where she traveled the country giving briefing to cadets and active duty Air Force members. She's also been on many executive boards for Air Force Officers' Wives Clubs as her husband's career took her on many global adventures; in fact, she received the Langley Air Force Base Spouse of the Year award in 1993. For years, Lynda has been a teacher in middle schools helping them win national distinctions, and was even nominated as Teacher of the Year several times. She was selected in 2003 as a Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholar by the Japanese government and was the first ever Virginia Air & Space Center Camp-In coordinator for aerospace education programs. And, as a lover of learning she went through the Republican Party of Virginia's Jennifer Byler Institute in 2009 to advance her political leadership in the Commonwealth. Additionally, Lynda won a U.S. Novice Ladies' Figures gold medal as champion of the 2000 U.S. Roller Figure Skating National Championships. “LI has given me the knowledge to work with campaigns to turn out as many people as possible,” Lynda said. “There's always room for improvement, so I called a York County Republican Committee Executive Board meeting with our campaign coordinators so that I could gather their input for analysis on what worked, what didn't, what needs improvement, etc. for next year's 2013 state campaigns. These analysis reports will be kept in a Campaign Plan Standard Operating Procedure Manual so we're not starting from scratch and ‘reinventing the wheel' each election cycle, but rather having better continuity and focusing on how to improve for more success.” Come get trained. Check out LI's 2013 training schedule here. “The Leadership Institute is both the landing field and take-off zone for anyone involved in campaigns – whether as a candidate, manager, or general volunteer. LI's staff is knowledgeable and willing to share their expertise to help you succeed. I highly recommend all of their classes. There's so much to know when you work on campaigns, and LI gives you the winning information, the confidence to use it, and the desire to know even more,” Lynda said. “Running for office isn't a simple, easy process, but the Leadership Institute breaks down the necessary steps so that even a novice will recognize what's needed and know how to tackle the job to achieve success. With each class you take, you'll grow in knowledge and confidence, and have the power to win.” Please welcome Lynda Fairman as the 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.