Alabama Pastor for Conservative Principles
Lauren Day
June 4, 2014
Alabama Pastor for Conservative Principles
The 43-year-old life-long Alabama citizen Jody Trautwein, also a Leadership Institute graduate, is very active in his community. He's a father, pastor, former educator and candidate for local office. “Psalm 11:3 states, ‘If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?' Our religious liberty is under daily assault and we must fight to protect it,” Jody said. Jody is an associate pastor at House of Grace Church and an ordained minister by the Fresh Oil Fellowship of Churches International. He also serves as the director of operations for a statewide alliance of pastors, ministry leaders, and marketplace influencers called the Alabama Alliance for Reformation. “The preservation of faith, family, and financial conservatism directly determines how well we will be able to protect our increasingly eroding freedoms as American citizens,” he said. “With faith as the cornerstone, the family unit is built squarely on its shoulders,” he said. “At the core of family must be the fundamental right to life,” Jody said. “Our family values also contain the preservation of traditional marriage between one man and one woman especially in the face of a current legal attack against the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment Act here in Alabama.” He continued, “I was privileged to serve as the executive director of an Alabama coalition that worked to see this amendment pass in 2006 by a margin of 81 percent to 19 percent.” In April 2009, Jody took the Leadership Institute's Campaign Management School. He especially likes The Laws of the Public Policy Process. “I have the framed copy of the 45 Laws of the Public Policy Process by Morton Blackwell displayed on our mantel as daily reminders,” he said. He's used these laws while on previous campaigns too, be they gubernatorial, city council, state supreme court, state senate, and other state representative races. He and his wife Sunny and their three-year-old son Joshua live in Helena, Alabama. “When I think about the future for our three-year-old son and his generation, it evokes the deepest sense of duty I can fathom to battle for the soul of our nation,” he said. In addition to faith and family, Jody is also a proponent of financial stewardship. “As a current pastoral staff member and financial manager for two churches, I am responsible for the daily oversight of multi-million dollar budgets and thus, must model fiscal conservative principles every day,” he said. He continued, “As Americans, we must rein in spending, reduce debt, eliminate waste, create smaller, more efficient governmental systems, and ask three questions of every line item budget expense: Is it Constitutional? Do we need it? Can we afford it?" As a former teacher, coach, and Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) president at his alma mater, Huffman High School in Birmingham, Alabama, Jody believes parents hold the primary responsibility for training their own children. “I am in favor of heavy local control with a great deal of parental involvement in the educational process,” he said. He's taught at public and private schools at the elementary, middle, and high school levels as well as with college-age students, and even as a church youth pastor. “Parents and local authorities must no longer allow our God-given responsibility to educate and train our children to be usurped by increasingly bigger government with a desire to indoctrinate with an ideology that is hostile to our founding principles and based upon revisionist history,” he said. Jody recently lost his primary for state representative in Alabama, but he's received several accolades for his community involvement. He was honored with a Hidden Hero Award by the Birmingham Mayor's Office for his work improving the lives of youth and was also voted as one of Birmingham's 100 Most Influential Men by Woodlawn High School. “The Leadership Institute has given me the practical knowledge, the tools, and the subsequent confidence that comes from being well-equipped to lead,” Jody said. “Strong problem-solving, leadership, and marketing skills taught at LI have helped me in the operations, outreach, and advocacy sides of ministry.” When it comes to successful youth, Jody says strong family is pivotal. “The most pressing issues for young students today all find their common root in one general area: the lack of fully functioning, consistent, loving fathers,” Jody said. “The breakdown of marriages and the resulting insecurity of family life and structure are tough for kids. The questions swirl in their minds, ‘Will somebody love me? Will somebody lead me? Will somebody believe in me? Will somebody fight for me?' The National Fatherhood Initiative sites fatherless statistics dating back over 50 years. The numbers do not lie. As fatherlessness increases, so does poverty, promiscuity, poor education, incarceration, and emotional disorders just to name a few.” In 1995 when Jody was 23 years old and just graduating from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a bachelor's degree in business management, his father died from a massive heart attack. “I quickly discovered that God truly was my heavenly Father,” he said, “and then I developed a deep desire to show and tell a generation of young people at my high school alma mater that even though their earthly fathers may not be functioning in their full fathering roles, their heavenly Father loves them, would lead them, believes in them, and fights for them.” After many years in education, Jody left it to enter full-time ministry. “I did eventually leave education as a profession because I was able to be an influence only in the lives at that campus. As a full-time pastor, I have the ability and flexibility to reach out to many students at multiple campuses thereby potentially affecting greater societal change,” he said. Jody has worked through the church, the schools, out on the field, and through public policy to strengthen society. “I would recommend the Leadership Institute for those currently in office, seeking office, considering candidacy, those working with current elected officials, potential candidates, or those interested in the public policy process,” he said. Register now for a LI training. Please congratulate Jody Trautwein for receiving LI's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
College Conservative Runs State GOP, Activating many into Politics
Lauren Day
May 21, 2014
College Conservative Runs State GOP, Activating many into Politics
New Orleans will host the annual Republican Leadership Conference May 29-31. The Republican Leadership Conference has “become one of the premier Republican events in the country – it attracts key activists, consultants, elected officials and donors from across America,” conference organizer Charlie Davis, also a Leadership Institute graduate and faculty member said. The conference will host many notable politicos including: Rick Perry, Reince Priebus, Phil Bryant, Ron Johnson, Marsha Blackburn, Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump, Haley Barbour, Ted Cruz, David Bossie, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mike Lee, Allen West, Tony Perkins, Michele Bachmann and Elbert Guillory, their website states. The Leadership Institute will host four trainings for conference attendees. The topics include: Engaging the Youth - tactics to get your voice heard Increasing your Online Presence - tips and techniques Conservative Comeback: how video activism is making a difference Building Your Sphere of Influence – growing your organization But Charlie's relationship with the Leadership Institute didn't begin here. It goes way back. While in college at Louisiana State University, Charlie took the Leadership Institute's Youth Leadership School, the flagship training nicknamed “the bootcamp of politics” in 1995 or 1996, he says. At this training, Charlie learned how to organize a mass-based youth campaign for the candidates and causes of his choice. “I often tell others that the Leadership Institute is one of the most important organizations in the conservative/liberty movement today. There is no doubt that Morton Blackwell has had a profound impact on the majority of political organizations in our country and therefore the Leadership Institute and its graduates are shaping the future of America,” Charlie said. Shortly thereafter, he became state chairman for the Louisiana Federation of College Republicans. Later, Charlie ran for national chairman of the College Republican National Committee in 1997 and then moved to Washington, D.C. That's when Charlie took a job at the Leadership Institute as the director of the Campus Leadership Program. He developed a plan to establish conservative student-run organizations on college campuses across the country. Check out all the resources LI's Campus Leadership Program offers students now. Shortly after, he became the executive director and deputy chairman of the Republican Party of Louisiana. And, he's been organizing the Republican Leadership Conference since 2010. More recently, Charlie served as the Louisiana state chairman for Ron Paul during the 2012 presidential election and led the effort to win more than 60% of the delegates elected to the state convention. “I hope the various factions in the party can get together,” Charlie said. “I think it not only makes the most sense philosophically but it is also probably the only way to win.” Currently, he's a partner at Gatorworks, an award-winning digital advertising agency in Louisiana, and since 2000, he's been president of Liquid Ventures, an association management and strategic consulting firm that specializes in mass-based organizing, major events, media relations, technology and fundraising. “I've worked for numerous conservative and liberty organizations over the years and I even met my wife while she was an intern at the Leadership Institute,” Charlie said. His wife Ellen is equally impressive. She's worked as the political director of GOPAC and the executive director of the Republican Party of Louisiana. But now, she spends most of her time homeschooling their four children: William 6, Sarah 5, Anna 3, and Charles Jr. 10 months. “I think that the Leadership Institute is one of the most important organizations in the conservative/liberty movement today,” Charlie said. “I rarely meet a senior person on a campaign who hasn't been through one of Morton's classes.” Register now for a LI training. Charlie has two pieces of advice for young activists looking to make a difference in politics: “First, go to every LI training you can. Second, choose the positions that offer the best opportunities to learn new things and meet new people,” he said. “The lessons that I learned on campaign technology have had a huge impact on my business ventures and political causes,” he said. Please congratulate Charlie Davis for his consistent efforts in activating conservatives into the political process and 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, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Breaking Records & Boundaries to Take LI Training to Your Living Room
Carol Wehe
May 8, 2014
Breaking Records & Boundaries to Take LI Training to Your Living Room
The Leadership Institute broke the all-time webinar training record for live attendees during the April 25 webinar Growing Your Digital Reach featuring lecturer Ericka Andersen, The Heritage Foundation's digital media manager. One hundred eighty-one conservatives watched this live lecture online to learn how The Heritage Foundation connects with so many people, and how other conservative groups can grow their digital reach through email lists, multiple social media platforms, friends, allies, and giving back online.Click the picture to the left to hear The Heritage Foundation's Digital Media Manager Ericka Andersen speak about growing your digital reach.Twitter Abuzz About #LIwebinarSome attendees took to Twitter to live tweet Ericka's lecture. The Franklin Center of Government & Public Integrity's Outreach Manager Chris McCoy (@ChrisYMcCoy) tweeted one point she learned, “DON'T automate! Don't hook the same exact messaging to FB Twitter Instagram etc #LiWebinar Be Real.”America's Future Foundation (@AFF) told their followers to watch: “Happy Friday! Want to learn the secrets of growing your digital reach? Join @LeadershipInst today for a free webinar!"Karin Davenport also thanked LI saying, “Thx for the @LeadershipInst webinar today! As Comm Dir. of @USEnglishInc, it gave us lots of great new ideas!”Tweeted from behind the scenes in the control room at LI Studios, this picture to the right shows Ericka Andersen wrapping up her popular lecture on growing your digital reach, and Paulo Sibaja reading through the many attendee questions on twitter and email.Video LibrarySince 2011, the Leadership Institute has trained 3,450 attendees through free live webinars online, taking training to conservatives everywhere, from their living rooms to their offices, and with their local campaigns and tea party groups. After airing live, LI archives webinars and makes them available through the Leadership Institute's Online Video Library. Click below to see the archive of LI's recorded webinars.Watch the Leadership Institute's archive of recorded webinar trainings in any of these categories – Activism, Campaign, Campus, Career, Communications, Fundraising, and New Media. These webinars are free thanks to LI's generous donors and faculty, who give their money and time to make LI training possible. Generous Leadership Institute donors make webinars available at no cost to activists because they believe in training the next generation of conservative leaders. LI's speakers, experts in their respective fields, generously volunteer their time and expertise because they, like the Institute, want to increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists in the public policy process. As LI President Morton Blackwell says, “Political technology determines political success.” >
Last weekend: Young Republican Leadership Conference
Lauren Day
May 6, 2014
Last weekend: Young Republican Leadership Conference
This past weekend leaders from Young Republican clubs all across the country descended on the nation's capital for the biennial Young Republican Leadership Conference, organized by the Young Republican National Federation (YRNF). “Young Republicans (YRs) are the oldest political youth organization in the United States,” the YRNF website states. “Important to the growth of the Republican Party, the YRs reach out to registered Republicans, 18 to 40 years of age, and provide them with better political knowledge and understanding of the issues of the day.” The YRNF Chief of Staff Rich Counts, also a Leadership Institute graduate, helped plan the conference with other executive board members and volunteers. “The conference has become known as a must attend event for up-and-coming young conservatives and libertarians,” Rich said. “The goal of the conference is to bring in Young Republican leaders from across the country for three days of networking, political trainings, and meet and greets with Republican lawmakers and party leaders.” The three-day conference began Thursday with YR club officers visiting lawmakers from their state and others on Capitol Hill and an afternoon visit to The Heritage Foundation with a networking reception that evening. The Leadership Institute (LI) was invited to train their attendees Friday. LI hosted five workshops in morning and afternoon sessions: Campaign Communications Workshop, Campaign Management Workshop track one and two, Campaign Fundraising Workshop, and On-Camera Television Workshop for club chairmen. The evening offered attendees a visit to the Republic of China (Taiwan) embassy. Saturday was used for break outs of various committee and regional meetings, a lunch panel about minority engagement with Leadership Institute staffer Paulo Sibaja, and a formal gala to conclude the annual conference. Rich was appointed chief of staff in July 2013 to “represent the organization here in DC and to help facilitate partnerships with like-minded groups both in DC and around the country. The chief of staff also works as a liaison between the chairman of the YRNF and YRNF committee chairmen,” he explained. Rich grew up on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. But, he spent many summers enjoying the slightly cooler temperatures of Michigan with his father's family. He went to college at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he majored in political economy and minored in engineering science. After his May 2007 graduation, Rich moved to DC because he says he “had become passionate about politics and wanted to get more involved,” and that's when he learned of the Leadership Institute. “When I first arrived in DC, Marcus Skelton, chairman of the DC Young Republicans at the time, mentioned that I should definitely attend training at the Leadership Institute. I took his advice and I certainly saw the benefits,” Rich said. “In addition to providing me with best practices and political knowledge, the Leadership Institute really prepared me to grow from an entry-level kid right out of college into a professional,” he said. “The training was invaluable, not just for me, but for several of my friends and colleagues.” So just a few months after moving to DC, Rich enrolled in LI's Grassroots Campaign School in August 2007. “LI was way ahead of the curve when it came to social media,” Rich said. “I still remember a class that Chris Malagisi taught in the Grassroots Campaign School that was instrumental in helping us develop what became an effective social media strategy for DC Young Republicans.” In March 2010, Rich was elected chairman of the DC Young Republicans club and served until March 2011. “Running DC Young Republicans was a great experience. It really gave me the opportunity to learn and grow as a leader at a young age,” he said. “We had an amazing team of activists. By the end of my term, we deployed more than 400 volunteers to 16 cities in nine states, increased membership by 300%, and most importantly, changed the culture of the organization to help members grow professionally and socially through our campaign deployment trips, networking events, and weekly e-letters.” Two months into his chairman position –in May 2010—Rich came back for more LI training. This time it was LI's Campaign Workshop. “LI's campaign schools really prepared me to develop "DCYRs on Tour," the DC Young Republicans volunteer deployment program,” he said. “It taught me how to plan efficient and effective GOTV deployments, but to also make sure that the activities were exciting and enjoyable for all participants. Getting out the vote is hard work, but it was always a goal of ours to make it fun work as well.” In January 2011, Rich became the co-director of the popular networking event, “It's First Friday,” a monthly networking hub for Capitol Hill conservatives that has spawned similar events in other states. “It's First Friday has had many special guests, including Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist, S.E. Cupp, and John Boehner, but the best thing about First Friday is that it is a place where conservative and libertarian politicos can kick back with like-minded folks and connect not just over politics, but form long-term friendships as well,” he said. In addition to providing voluntary leadership to Young Republican clubs across the country, Rich works full time for Townhall Media, a subsidiary of Salem Communications. Salem Communications is America's leading radio broadcaster, Internet content provider, and magazine and book publisher targeting audiences interested in Christian and family-themed content and conservative values. Townhall Media is the parent company of five of the country's leading conservative websites, including: HotAir.com, HumanEvents.com, RedState.com, Townhall.com, and Twitchy.com. Altogether, the Townhall Media network receives more than 100 million page views per month, Rich says. As the senior account executive, Rich “works to bring in revenue to support our various editorial and marketing endeavors,” he said. “The majority of revenue has traditionally come from advertising and email marketing, but some also comes from sponsorships to support events like the RedState Gathering held annually in August,” he continued. The RedState Gathering, an event the Leadership Institute frequently sponsors, will be held in Fort Worth, Texas this year August 8 -10. Rich was featured by The Hill as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People for 2011, received the DC Republican Committee's "Up and Comer" award in 2010, was selected as a DC delegate to the 2012 Republican National Convention, and served as DC Campaign Co-Chair for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. “There are many different think tanks in this city, but the Leadership Institute has for years trained conservatives on how to make things happen on the local, state, and national levels. LI doesn't just tell people to do more; the faculty train and guide conservatives on how to get it done,” Rich said. Rich has graciously offered his time and expertise to serve as volunteer faculty for the Leadership Institute, where he lectures and shares his acquired knowledge with other young activists. Register now for a LI training. “The Leadership Institute offers invaluable trainings on the key issues for people who are serious about pushing themselves both politically and professionally,” he said. Please congratulate Rich Counts for his consistent efforts in activating young conservatives into the political process and the whole YRNF leadership team for a successful conference this past weekend. 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, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org. The Leadership Institute is classified by the IRS as a 501(c)3 non-partisan, not-for-profit organization. LI does not endorse or oppose political parties, candidates, public officials, or legislation. All programs are open to the public.
SUTTON'S PLACE: A place for current trends in campaign messaging and strategy
Steven Sutton
May 1, 2014
SUTTON'S PLACE: A place for current trends in campaign messaging and strategy
Many graduates of Leadership Institute (LI) political training have asked if LI provides any follow up to the sessions on strategy and messaging. To provide for a way to continue your education in this important area, LI will provide a new feature and service --- an occasional commentary called "Sutton's Place," written by LI's Vice President of Development Steven Sutton, on current campaign messaging and strategy.Welcome to Sutton's Place...a small slice of campaign strategy and messaging heaven. The purpose of Sutton's Place is to continue the education you received at a Leadership Institute training school. Hope you find it interesting, educational, and complimentary to your LI training.We start off the first of these commentaries with an article which appeared recently in the Washington Post entitled, House Democrats plot strategy against long odds to win back chamber.Click here for the full Washington Post article.This article reports on an "annual retreat at a resort on Maryland's Eastern Shore." Both major political parties have these annual retreats, but the Democrats appear to actually discuss strategy and messaging in a disciplined way that results in attempts by their leaders and rank and file members to coordinate and implement a strategic message that they articulate to voters. As the article reports, House Democrats developed and refined the following theme for the 2014 elections: As stated by Congressman Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee...the DCCC, the Dems will champion "building an economy that works for everyone and not just special interests."Other Dem Members state: "The majority is supposed to...move us forward..." There's that word again..."forward.""If Republicans shirk their responsibility...we're ready to lead.""Dem unity will give voters a clear choice...More obstruction...or get something done."You can see the beginning of a clear theme, but there are some big problems with it.It will be very difficult for Dems to make the case that they will "lead" when their political leader (President Obama) has shown himself to be the weakest leader/President since Jimmy Carter (now there's an interesting way for the GOP to message back on this).Another problem is that the very high "wrong track" polling numbers suggest that Americans don't want to be led in the direction suggested by the left. And another problem is that this message is unlikely to sufficiently motivate the left's base to come out to vote this year, and that is the challenge and goal for the left. Negatives (such as fear) are more powerful motivators. The above themes are simply not strong enough to motivate their base. That suggests (once they realize this) that things will get much more confrontational/negative as Election Day nears. This retreat was held earlier this year (in February). I sense a shift in the left's strategy since then (more on that in a future Sutton's Place article).Prior to joining the Leadership Institute, Steven Sutton was a chief of staff in the House of Representatives for more than 14 years, where he specialized in setting up Congressional offices for four different incoming freshmen Members. He has also managed numerous political campaigns from city council to U.S. Congress, specializing in challenger campaigns. As a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Steve has a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering with many interesting stories to boot!As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Leadership Institute does not oppose or endorse any faculty opinions such as Steve's thoughts above, or any legislation, candidate, or elected official. LI offers more than 41 types of training programs, works with more than 1,589 conservative campus groups on colleges across the country, and helps employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 146,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org>
An Academic in Action Teaches Conservatism
Mitch Nozka
April 22, 2014
An Academic in Action Teaches Conservatism
"I'm extremely proud of my time at the Leadership Institute,” said Young Conservatives Coalition President Chris Malagisi, also an adjunct professor at American University. “It might be cliché, but Morton Blackwell and the Leadership Institute (LI) changed my life," he continued. "In the past decade, I have regularly interacted with LI staff both personally and professionally.” Chris is president of the Young Conservatives Coalition (YCC), a Washington, D.C.-based young professionals' leadership, educational, and networking organization. YCC organizes the Young Conservative Leaders Fellowship – a six-month program to equip young conservative leaders with conservative philosophy to apply those principles in the political battlefield. In March, the 2014 fellows class launched with 13 rising leaders within the conservative movement that work on Capitol Hill, in think tanks, media, nonprofits, and the private sector. They also represent various branches of the conservative movement – economic, social, national security and constitutional conservatives. Just last week the class met with historian Dr. George H. Nash, as seen in the photo to the right. Previous speakers have included former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and columnist and author Jonah Goldberg. Chris seeks to preserve the America his grandparents sought when fleeing communism in Greece. “I was the beneficiary of the American Dream my grandparents had, and that sentiment stayed with me growing up,” he said. “I think conservatism is a natural extension of the American Dream. Its goal is to conserve the uniqueness that made America the exceptional nation my grandparents left their home country for.” In high school, Chris made the most of it. He served as a congressional page in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998, getting to run errands for Members of Congress and have floor access. In college, Chris pursued a B.A. in Political Science at American University in Washington, D.C. His studies included a semester in London with visits to over a dozen European countries, and a semester at sea around the world. Back stateside, Chris interned in the Bush White House in 2001. After obtaining a Masters of Public Administration at Syracuse University in 2004, the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) hired Chris to be their Ohio youth director. “I was in charge of the student outreach field program in the lead up to the presidential election,” he said. “To prepare for this challenging position, I went for training at the Leadership Institute.” Chris discovered once he became involved with the Leadership Institute, the relationship would continue throughout his career. After he attended several Leadership Institute trainings, LI hired Chris as a grassroots coordinator to train conservatives across the country on how to win campaigns. Later, Chris became LI's director of political & new media training where he taught activists how to develop a message, speak in public, debate, build coalitions, and manage a campaign as the campaign manager and even as the candidate. Along with recruiting attendees, Chris recruited top-notch volunteer faculty to teach at more than 200 trainings. “I'm proud that during my time at LI, we trained more than 5,000 candidates, activists, and organizational staff across the country,” he said. Later, Chris joined the American Conservative Union as the director of national CPAC & external relations. The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is the nation's largest gathering of conservatives nationwide. The Leadership Institute partners at CPAC and hosts various trainings and events during the conference. In 2014, LI engaged with 1,216 attendees through six trainings and events. Next, Chris joined the Leadership Institute's Conservatism 101 project to teach conservative students the history and philosophy of conservatism. Since 2008, Chris has taught the History of the Conservative Movement class at American University in Washington, D.C., and a class on voting behavior, elections, and campaigns. Every semester, Chris' version of the Conservatism 101 class has a waitlist of students who clamor to get one of the maximum of 30 spots available. LI's Conservatism 101 project establishes for-credit courses on college campuses to balance the overwhelmingly-liberal course curriculum most colleges tout. The Conservatism 101 project acts as a compliment to LI trainings. Whereas LI's 41 unique types of training schools teach conservatives how to win against the left, Conservatism 101 teaches students how to articulate their conservative beliefs. The Leadership Institute also recruited Chris to help launch an online component of the Conservatism 101 project to reach students nationwide. Chris joins conservative figures such as Wall Street Journal columnist Stephen Moore, author and radio talk-show host Mark Levin, Leadership Institute president Morton Blackwell, and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz to teach students conservative principles through online lectures. Go here to view these lectures for free. Himself a recognized conservative leader, several publications and news programs such as Washington Examiner, American Spectator, Washington Times, Fox News, CNN, and CSPAN have tapped Chris for his political analysis. He's also been awarded the Rising Star award by Campaigns & Elections. He has high hopes for the 2014 and 2016 elections. “Barack Obama has turned out to be a great gift for conservatism as he's helped reboot a movement that strayed in the latter Bush years,” Chris said. “With presidential scandals and perceived legislative failures piling up, conservatives stand to gain ground in 2014 and are well-positioned to have a strong presidential candidate pool to choose from in 2016.” Through his teaching and training, Chris strives to teach conservative principles to the next generation – and restore a prosperous and free United States of America. He credits the Leadership Institute with much of his success. “Whether attending LI trainings as a attendee, working as Leadership Institute staff, training others as a faculty member, or keeping in touch with some of the best friends I've made in DC, there is no way I would have been prepared to run CPAC and YCC, give political consultation, and teach at the university level without the Leadership Institute,” he said. “I'm honored to have worked with Morton Blackwell and other LI staff, and can't thank them enough for their guidance and support along the way. If you want to win, go to the Leadership Institute.” Please congratulate Christopher Malagisi on a great start to the second annual Young Conservative Leaders Fellows Class of 2014 and 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, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Beauty Queen Liberates Millennial Ladies
Jessica Yu
April 8, 2014
Beauty Queen Liberates Millennial Ladies
Classy fashionista Gabrielle Jackson shows beauty even in politics. “I can still remember my first Leadership Institute training as a 15-year-old in California,” Founder and President of The Millennial Solution Gabrielle Jackson, now 25, said. “My mom drove me two hours to Stanford University from my hometown in Sacramento after hearing about the Youth Leadership School training program.” “Even at that age, I knew that politics was how I wanted to make the world a better place and I was hungry for training to use my passion and excitement to advance the conservative movement,” she said. Now, Gabrielle works in the Washington, D.C. area as the director of external partnerships at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics. In this role, Gabrielle develops strategic relationships with individuals and organizations and provides opportunities for them to partner with the organization to advance freedom and fulfillment. “We reach evangelicals in America who may not understand the connection between their faith and a free economy, and empower them with the knowledge and resources they need to bring about flourishing in their spheres of influence,” she said. She's also the current Miss Fairfax County United States and first runner up at Miss DC United States, and this past weekend Gabrielle was crowned second runner-up at the Miss Virginia United States 2014 pageant. “I encourage young women to stay true to themselves. It may sound cliché, but in order to be successful you really need a strong sense of identity and be able to answer: who are you? what are you most passionate about? And, what do you have to say that the world needs to hear? If you can answer those questions, you will be able to better navigate life's big questions- like job offers and relationships,” Leadership Institute graduate Gabrielle Jackson said. This coming Saturday, April 12 Gabrielle will be speaking at the Liberated with Truth Conference at Langley High School in Northern Virginia. She'll discuss the power of cross-generational collaborations as well as how millennial women can become ambassadors for truth. “The media would have us believe that there is a ‘war on women' waged by the right. This weekend's Liberated With Truth Conference will address the mythical war, and expose the real war that women are fighting in America today. It will bring experts together to address the real history of the feminist movement, the connection between breast cancer and the pill, and the story of what abortion has done to women's rights. In order to reverse this trend and address the lies circulating today, we must come together across generations,” Gabrielle said. Additionally, she is also the founder and president of the Millennial Solution. Her entrepreneurial idea began as a college thesis paper on millennial conservatives. Gabrielle wanted to find the connection between the millennial affinity for volunteering, justice, and entrepreneurship and the pro-liberty movement. “I discovered not only the clear correlation between millennial characteristics and conservative principles, but also the science and solutions behind what makes millennials tick,” she said. Her organization was formed to aid conservative managers to optimize the skill-base and talents of their generation Y employees to excel in the workplace and beyond. The organization focuses on providing collaborative strategies to help managers and the millennial generation succeed and connect the interests of multiple generations so they can work together effectively. Gabrielle recently released her new book, 5 Millennial Myths: The handbook for managing and motivating Millennials. Watch her promotional video here. “My book is a quick-guide for anyone curious about who millennials are and how our unique passion and preferences are changing the way organizations and businesses work. In it, I break down the five main stereotypes floating around about millennials: we are entitled; independent; disloyal; addicted to technology; and unmotivated. This is particularly helpful for non-profits, one of the largest employers of millennials,” she said. Before moving to DC, Gabrielle was selected as a senate fellow in the Capital Fellows Program in 2010. She was also former legislative aide to the Californian State Senate where she worked for two years, from 2010 to 2012. She has a Masters of Arts in Government from Regent University and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from William Jessup University. “LI has been such an incredible resource for me as I have honed my skills as a young professional and in helping me in the direction I am looking to take my career,” she said. “Everything from Morton's reading list, to the in-person training I have received, to the networking it has provided me—I can confidently say the Leadership Institute is the one organization that has been most committed to my personal and professional success.” Gabrielle has taken seven LI trainings as various as the Introduction to Television Techniques Workshop, On-Camera TV Workshops to the Youth Leadership School, the International School of Fundraising twice, and the Women's Leadership Training. “The Leadership Institute is the premier boot-camp for young conservative activists who have a passion to change the world, but still need the training to make it happen. I would encourage anyone who wants to learn more about conservative activism, involvement, and action to get plugged into one of the many amazing programs the Leadership Institute offers and get the tools and training they need to make it happen,” she said. Please congratulate Gabrielle Jackson for a wonderful weekend at Miss Virginia United States and for finding her passion of bridging different generations, especially women, together to advance the conservative movement. Please applaud her for receiving LI's Conservative Leader-in-Training Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Liberty Magic
Jessica Yu
April 1, 2014
Liberty Magic
“Get off your butt and do something! Stop complaining about the size of government and be proactive about our problems. We can't afford to just sit around and talk philosophy with each other. If you want to make a change, stop reading and start doing,” Leadership Institute graduate Brandon Cestrone who is the northeast regional director for Young Americans for Liberty said. “At some point books only become a crutch,” he continued. “People would rather read political theory than learn practical application. Don't make this mistake. Take what you learn and put it to action. That's where the magic happens.” Brandon Cestrone has made significant contributions to advancing liberty through youth activism. He's helped start 50 college Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapters at universities stretching from West Virginia all the way to Maine. Originally from western Pennsylvania, Brandon attended Slippery Rock University and earned a Masters of Arts degree in History. While in college, he cofounded the YAL chapter at Slippery Rock University. “Cofounding the YAL chapter at Slippery Rock University has open doors that I never knew existed! Without having started my chapter I would not be where I am today,” he said. “It afforded me the chance to prove my commitment to the liberty movement and YAL's mission.” Brandon has trained existing YAL chapters on recruitment, leadership development, and fundraising as part of his duties. His other responsibilities include management of the organization's database, YAL University, and some fundraising. “I owe a lot to the Leadership Institute,” Brandon said. “They helped me start and plan my first semester as a YAL chapter. With the Leadership Institute's (LI) guidance, and the help of my chapter members, we grew to be a mighty voice for liberty on campus.” You too can get help from LI's Campus Leadership Program. Click here for all the free resources you may have. Brandon has taken LI's Youth Leadership School, On-Camera Television Workshop, and the Campaign Management School. “The Leadership Institute has been a great resource for my professional journey by offering training, guidance, and a helping hand,” he said. YAL is hosting 12 state conventions across the country where young people can attend a one-day training and networking event designed to build stronger state cooperation, improve activists' effectiveness, and inspire attendees to do even more to advance the cause of liberty. Conventions that have already taken place include: New York, Idaho, Arkansas, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Florida is coming up this weekend. LI is partnering as a Gold Sponsor at all 12 YAL conventions and will host grassroots activism and messaging training during the program. For more information about these YAL conventions and to sign up, please click here. After college, Brandon worked at a major retail store as their sales manager and “was on the fast track,” he says. There, he sharpened his public speaking skills and learned to build relationships with customers, which he believes “are two key components to effective grassroots activism.” “But, my passion has always been to advance liberty. So, I took a chance interning for YAL and it paid off big,” he said. YAL Founder and Executive Director Jeff Frazee also got his start through the Leadership Institute, where he worked prior to starting the organization. YAL Director of Programs & Operations Ed King also worked at the Leadership Institute before moving over to YAL. “The Leadership Institute is an organization dedicated to helping you succeed not only on your campus as a political activist, but also in your professional career. With a large variety of training courses and resources, you don't need to look anywhere else for help,” Brandon said. To register for an Leadership Institute training like Brandon, click here. Please congratulate Brandon Cestrone for advancing liberty among young Americans, and please applaud him for receiving LI's Conservative Leader-in-Training Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Arizona Stateswoman Makes Waves in the West
Jessica Yu
March 11, 2014
Arizona Stateswoman Makes Waves in the West
Being a woman in leadership is beneficial to the conservative movement, former Arizona State Senator and Leadership Institute graduate Lori Klein said. “Women need to put themselves out front, get elected, and hold their ground as a conservative,” she said. Lori has a powerhouse of experience with 18 years on Capitol Hill and seven years as the director of public relations for the Washington Times. Her most recent contribution was coordinating the Western Conservative Conference, which was held a few weeks back in Phoenix, Arizona. As a young woman in Washington, D.C. from 1976 to 1994, Lori learned of the Leadership Institute (LI) and began taking LI trainings. After taking the Leadership Institute's Television Workshop, former Senator Klein says LI was beneficial to her when she worked in radio and television as well as when she campaigned for office in the Arizona State Senate in 2010. “The Leadership Institute was a real help and assistance to me in my career,” she said. Former Senator Klein took office in January 2011. During her tenure in office she successfully worked to repeal legislation that impeded businesses and she worked to reduce their tax burdens. Her achievements in office have subsequently encouraged growth and increased employment in Arizona with a 2.8 percent drop in the unemployment rate – 10.8 percent in January 2010 to 8 percent in January 2013 at the end of her term in the Senate. Unemployment Rate: Arizona, National. – Department of Numbers. Former Senator Klein passed SB 1598, The Regulatory Bill of Rights, in 2011 which streamlined government licensing. The bill assisted businesses to grow and to flourish without unnecessary government intervention. With the legislature having just finished its second session with a structural balanced budget, the bill provided an additional $450 million in surplus. Lori said, “It is tremendously important to have the Leadership Institute around to train and mentor candidates and grassroots activists so that we can be effective getting our message out. LI serves an invaluable service to up-and-coming leaders.” The former Senator encourages women to run for office. “Women actually have an advantage if they're running against a man,” she said. “Women get a five percent bump in the polls. But as a woman, you still need to be professional. You still need to be articulate and you need to understand your values as a conservative and be able to communicate effectively because the future of our country is at stake.” With the future of the country at stake, as Lori says, why not register for one of LI's upcoming Women's Leadership Trainings? It's taught by female leaders and intended to assist women. Register here for the March 29 program. Please congratulate Lori Klein for her coordination of the Western Conservative Conference and her contributions to the conservative movement at large. Please applaud her 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, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Communist Escapee & LI Graduate Now Trains Conservatives Worldwide
Jessica Yu
February 11, 2014
Communist Escapee & LI Graduate Now Trains Conservatives Worldwide
Communism is real for Zeljko "Zed" Zidaric. A Croatian by birth, he escaped communism and grew up in Canada. “As an escapee from communism with family left behind in Croatia, I know firsthand what communism is about,” he said. “I heard from my family about the hardships and the fear. I knew that communism was a flawed system that benefitted only a few. I was fortunate to have escaped and felt that it was my duty to stand against communism and fight to defend the freedom that we in the West cherish.” So he attended Royal Military College in Canada and became an officer. “I was fortunate that communism collapsed and I did not need to go to war, but I did volunteer to go and protect the new democracy in Croatia as it struggled to escape the shackles of the former communist Yugoslavia,” Zed said. Although Zed grew up in Canada, he was born in a small village near Zagreb, Croatia. His love for his homeland prompted him to develop the Civic Innovation Incubator in Croatia. “I want to take what I have learned and bring it to Croatia so that young Croatians do not need to leave Croatia for a better life, but they can build a better life for themselves and create a better future for Croatia,” he said. His group empowers and supports Croatian youth ages 18 to 35 to have faith in their ability to develop new conservative solutions to the problems that plague the nation. Members of the Conservative Party of Canada recommended Zed look into the Leadership Institute's political training. So he came to LI's Campaign Management School in February 2011. He returned for LI's International Leadership Training School in December 2012, and later he attended LI's Future Candidate School and International Fundraising Training in 2013. “The courses that I took at the Leadership Institute helped me apply what I learned in the corporate space to the civic activism space,” he said. In the fall of 2013, Zed came to work at the Leadership Institute. He volunteered in LI's International Programs department. “While working in LI's International Programs department I met many great people and realized how many of us are fighting for liberty,” he said. “Knowing that there is a large support base and that you are not alone is very empowering. I now have friends that I can contact for just a conversation or help with a problem all over the USA and around the world.” Zed met his sweetheart Alma Ortega, also volunteering in LI's International Programs department. They recently became engaged and are now planning a wedding. “As others told me, I will tell others: The Leadership Institute is the place to go if you want to learn how to be a successful conservative activist and want to meet others that share the same passion,” he said. “When you become a part of the LI network, you are no longer alone.” Please congratulate Zeljko Zidaric for finding his passion to mobilize Croatian youth to advance the conservative movement. Please applaud him for receiving LI's Conservative Leader-in-Training Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Ted Cruz's Visit to LI
Jessica Yu
February 10, 2014
Ted Cruz's Visit to LI
Senator Ted Cruz (R—TX) came to the Leadership Institute's Wednesday Wake-Up Club Breakfast last week and spoke to 229 conservatives about the current state of affairs.Activists, supporters, and LI graduates braved the harsh weather for the largest Leadership Institute (LI) breakfast turnout since the program began in 1997.Senator Cruz began by quoting Sam Houston, “Texas has yet to learn submission to any form of oppression come from what source it may… that is an attitude the Leadership Institute has embraced for a long, long time.”To read more about the role the Leadership Institute played in Sen. Cruz's campaign, please go here for info regarding his field staff and here for info on his pollster. Sen. Cruz spoke to the power and importance the grassroots movement plays in maintaining and advancing the conservative movement.“Right now, today, Obamacare is at its lowest approval rating it's ever been since the day it passed into law,” he said.The people will rise up against restriction upon their freedoms, he said. And it is this, he believes, that drives the grassroots movement to act and be so effective.“If you have a President who picks and chooses which laws to follow and which to ignore – you no longer have a president,” Sen. Cruz said.The website www.makedclisten.org is an initiative he urged attendees to visit and then Tweet about.Senator Ted Cruz said, “If we continue doing what we're doing which is mobilizing and empowering the American people – it's not going to come from Washington – it is what the Leadership Institute is doing every day.”"Liberty is never safer than when politicians are terrified,” Sen. Cruz closed.Please join LI at the next Wake-Up Club Breakfast on March 5. The speaker will be Rep. Steve Scalise, chairman of the Republican Study Committee. Sign up here.>
Freedom to be a fan
Lauren Day
February 4, 2014
Freedom to be a fan
On Sunday, millions of Americans watched the Super Bowl and some had the privilege to watch live in person, after buying tickets. But what if your tickets came with restrictions? “If you go back in time three years, no one had heard of restricted tickets,” Fan Freedom National Manager of Partnerships & Outreach Alex Johnson said. “But restricted tickets existed.” Fan Freedom protects the rights of live event ticket holders, including their right to exchange tickets. They believe that all fans have basic rights as ticket holders, and the organization supports legislation and promotes activism to protect those rights, including: When fans buy tickets, they own them. Fans have the right to buy, give away or sell their tickets however they choose, anytime they choose, in any way they choose, at any price they choose, states Fan Freedom's website. Alex's work at Fan Freedom helps enthusiastic fans who vote across the political spectrum understand the importance of the free market by using a real life example that matters to them: live-entertainment ticketing. The organization works in states across the country to block and repeal anti free-market regulations that stifle freedom among fans of music, sports, and other hobbies. “The primary successes we have had can be measured by earned media, the amount of supporters we have gained, and the legislative battles we have won,” Alex said. And winning legislative battles they have done. Their national campaign has blocked anti free-market legislation in California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas, New Jersey, New York and Oregon. “Our 250,000 supporters have been the backbone of our organization. With their help and the help of other free-market organizations, we have been able to defeat every anti free-market bill we have faced. I personally think this is our biggest victory as an organization,” Alex said. Fan Freedom has been able to educate low-propensity voters on the values of the free-market and get them engaged in the political process through letters to the editor, OpEds, and even by testifying at legislative hearings. “Studies have shown that if the anti free-market legislation we oppose is enacted into law, the average cost of a ticket will increase by $100 in the closed market,” he continued. “Our job is not only to prevent that from happening, but also to educate voters on how they benefit from the free-market system.” The reason Alex got into politics was because of his grandfather. “When I first got to college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so my grandfather told me to take a political science course,” Alex said. “He did this because he was not only a staunch conservative, but he also lobbied for the candy industry during the 1970s.” And Alex's love of sports is what propelled him further into politics. “I took his advice and took Introduction to American Politics. My professor at the time would use the 1985 Chicago Bears as an analogy for everything,” he said. “As a diehard Bears fan, I immediately fell in love with politics.” While in college, Alex was active with the University of Iowa's College Republicans chapter. His senior year, Alex managed a winning City Council race and defeated a six-term incumbent. After graduation, Alex moved to Florida to sell “yachts up until the economy tanked,” he said. “When that happened I was laid off from my job and decided to get back on the campaign trail, where I worked as political director on a congressional race in Illinois. Ever since then, I have been obsessed with politics.” In addition to working at the Republican Jewish Coalition and the polling firm, Wilson Research Strategies, Alex has worked on eight campaigns. These eight campaigns have ranged from U.S. House and Senate races to local city council runs to even the presidential race to the White House. He encourages conservatives looking for employment on campaigns to look through the Leadership Institute's Conservative Jobs website. “I have found several great positions through Conservative Jobs and I highly recommend it to everyone,” Alex said. Alex's boss encouraged him to take Leadership Institute training. “I first learned of the Leadership Institute (LI) from a former boss,” Alex said. “I was a junior staffer and wanted to learn more about campaigns so he told me to take an LI course. I took the little savings I had and flew to Arlington for the Campaign Management School and attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC),” Alex said. In February 2010, Alex took LI's week-long Campaign Management School. “I have taken numerous LI trainings since then and will continue to do so. The Leadership Institute is a phenomenal organization that is truly the backbone of the conservative movement.” Alex has taken LI's week-long Campaign Management School in February 2010, Activist Workshop in January 2011, Fundraising Workshop in January 2011, Public Speaking Workshop in March 2013, Issues That Unite: Latinos & Conservatism Communications Workshop in June 2013, and attended many LI events. “The Leadership Institute has not only helped me improve myself as a professional, but having taken courses at LI and having it on my resume is a door opener,” he admitted. “The Leadership Institute has alumni throughout the country and when you see a resume that has LI on it, it is an immediate qualifier that shows you know what you are doing because you were trained by the best.” Campaigns are Alex's priority and passion in life. “Even though I am busy with Fan Freedom, I am always working with various organizations, candidates, and consultants to help get true conservatives elected to office. My main passion is, and will always be, campaigns,” he said. “With DC the way it is today, I personally believe that we need to start recruiting and electing more conservative candidates that will vote their conscience instead of the party line to help bring this country back to the way it was under President Reagan.” Alex urges all conservatives to work long and hard for their values. “Work as hard as you possibly can and then work even harder,” Alex said. “Life is not easy and politics is one of the hardest industries out there. It is up to us to knock on every door or tally up every vote to make sure we win. We have seen what happens when we lose - we get Obamacare rammed down our throats. It is up to us to make sure that this never happens again. If that means you may not get any sleep for a month, you have to do it. The country is depending on us as conservatives and libertarians to unite and take the country back from the extremists on the left.” Please congratulate Alex Johnson for his work to educate live-entertainment fans about the value of the free market through Fan Freedom, and please applaud him for receiving LI's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award. “The Leadership Institute is the foundation to a successful future. You can learn so much from LI and apply it to all aspects of your life, not just your career,” Alex said. “With the lessons you learn from the Leadership Institute, you are put ahead of others in the political field and are given the tools to be as successful in politics as you can possibly be. It is an amazing organization filled with even more amazing people and provides individuals a place to learn things that you cannot learn anywhere else in the world.” To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Generation Screwed
Sam Larson
January 28, 2014
Generation Screwed
“Lower taxes, less waste, and more accountable government” is what the Canadian Taxpayers Federation fights for daily. Aaron Gunn, Canadian Taxpayers Federation's director of special projects, has been handed the reins to a new initiative called Generation Screwed. Generation Screwed is “a campus-based movement aiming to raise awareness and solicit action from young people across Canada on issues of government debt, deficits and unfunded liability,” Aaron said. The Generation Screwed campaign currently has 17 campus coordinators working with Aaron to help increase awareness of the rising national debt across Canada. “Our campaign was launched only at the beginning of September so we still have a long way to go. That being said, we are very happy with our progress so far. It can be quite challenging to get an organization like this of the ground,” he said. Aaron grew up in Victoria, British Columbia in “a very stable, middle-class family,” he explained. He spent three years serving with the 5th Field Artillery Reserve Regiment (similar to the United States National Guard) in Victoria, BC under the belief that “everyone should give back to their country and previous generations that have given us so much today.” At 15, Aaron developed skills in public relations and video production through a company he and a couple friends started. This venture helped Aaron pay his way through college and set him up with his current full time position. Aaron first learned about the Leadership Institute (LI) from his current boss and former LI employee Troy Lanigan. Following his recommendation, Aaron enrolled in the December 2013 Portland, Oregon Youth Leadership School (YLS), the department that trained 950 young activists across the globe in 2013. As LI's flagship school, the YLS also known as the ‘boot camp of politics,' is an intense two-day training that focuses on teaching students effective techniques to organize and lead mass-based youth efforts for candidates and causes of their choice. The training specifically focuses on building effective student organizations, getting out the vote, and developing a public relations strategy. Already, Aaron has implemented his training with LI into positive gains for Generation Screwed. “Since LI's Youth Leadership School, I have used the knowledge I gained to better lead the Generation Screwed campaign,” Aaron said. “We have five events planned in January alone, which compares to eight planned throughout all of last semester. I couldn't be happier with the results.” Aaron continued, “I would describe the Leadership Institute as an organization committed to assisting the conservative movement through the dispersion of its vast knowledge of political technology to future conservative leaders.” Please congratulate Aaron Gunn on his work to help build a mass-based youth effort for a smaller government in Canada, and please applaud him for receiving LI's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Working for the right to work
Mitch Nozka
December 17, 2013
Working for the right to work
“If it wasn't for the Leadership Institute, I would not be where I am today,” National Right To Work Committee and National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix said. Across all 50 states Mark and his staff fight leftist laws that require union membership as a condition for employment. Their organization believes that all Americans must have the right to join a union if they choose to, but no one should ever be forced to affiliate with a union in order to get or keep a job. In college, Mark met a person at James Madison University who changed his life. “I walked to the student union and there was a table. Someone stood in front of the table, reached out his hand, said there was a meeting of conservative students that night, and asked if I'd like to come,” Mark said. “Sure enough, I had been recruited by someone who used Leadership Institute training to get me to attend that meeting.” In the 1980s, Mark took Leadership Institute (LI) training himself and learned how to be a strong conservative activist. “I probably have more diplomas as a graduate of Leadership Institute schools than just about anybody,” he said. Mark has taken LI's Youth Leadership School, Legislative Project Management School, Capitol Hill Staff Training School, and many media trainings. After LI training, he landed a position with National Right To Work (NRTW) in 1986, running grassroots campaigns for state legislators. In 2003, Mark became NRTW's president, a position he still holds. Since 1999, Mark has served as a volunteer faculty member at LI where he shares his 27 years of conservative activism experience with LI students. “Government has infringed on every area of our lives. We must stand in the way and say ‘stop.' We can only do that by understanding the nature of politicians and what we can do to change their behaviors,” Mark said during LI's Holding Elected Officials Accountable Workshop earlier this year. Mark shared the secrets of his success at NRTW with more than 50 LI students who learned how to mobilize conservative citizens and activists to put maximum and effective pressure on elected officials. Unprincipled politicians respond to two stimuli – political pleasure and pain – and Mark taught students “the six steps of getting a politician to do what you want.” From 1981 to 1995, NRTW generously housed the Leadership Institute in its building. As time passed, LI grew from a single desk to several rooms on several floors. At the point where LI had outgrown available space, it purchased its own headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. “But the Leadership Institute's success is about more than bricks and mortar. It is about the thousands upon thousands of conservative activists LI has trained. National Right To Work continues to reap benefits from our employees who are talented Leadership Institute graduates,” Mark said. In April 2013, NRTW hired two of the Leadership Institute's Spring 2013 interns, Faith Doyal and Carmela Martinez. “From my days as a Leadership Institute student, to my work now teaching as a member of the faculty at LI trainings, the Leadership Institute has made me more effective,” he said. Please congratulate Mark Mix for his work to keep America free, and 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, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org. The next award recipient will be featured the week of January 19.
National Secretary for College Republican National Committee (CRNC)
Daryl Ann Dunigan
December 3, 2013
National Secretary for College Republican National Committee (CRNC)
“I still appreciate a good bow tie, but I think I have found my calling." For Katie Thompson, her first love was bow ties. A born-and-raised southerner, she began at the University of South Carolina as a fashion merchandising major, but life had other plans for her. A friend convinced her to run for a seat in the student senate. After winning the election, she changed her major to public relations, added a political science minor, and joined College Republicans. Her political career was launched. "I first learned about the Leadership Institute at my very first College Republican meeting," she said. After attending an August 2010 Leadership Institute Grassroots Workshop that covered communications, fundraising, and get-out-the-vote tactics, Katie was elected student body vice president on campus. While browsing LI's ConservativeJobs.com website, Katie saw a posting for a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) intern at the American Conservative Union. "In addition to the trainings, LI was how I found my first DC internship,” Katie said. “That (CPAC) internship was the springboard for my entire political future. Without the Leadership Institute, I know I would not have made it up to DC." After interning for CPAC, Katie went on to intern with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, working to create "Twitter Action Teams" to influence social media in key states. “Going to school, working on campaigns, and going to Leadership Institute trainings are all very important steps to developing your talents and deciding where in politics you want to fall. But my biggest advice to conservatives looking for employment is to take an internship that may be outside of your skill set,” Katie said. “When I came to DC I first took an internship with the American Conservative Union as their CPAC intern to learn about large scale conference planning and then I came back to our nation's capital to work in the digital shop at the NRSC,” she continued. “Those internships dropped me straight into the deep end in areas which I wasn't entirely comfortable with. Both experiences challenged me immensely, but I learned more in those collective eight months than I ever had in a classroom. Take the plunge and try something new, you'll surprise yourself about what you're capable of.” She also has worked for the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit, Joe Wilson for Congress, and as the public relations director of NextGen Journal. Three years later—in February 2013—Katie attended another LI training: the Youth Leadership School (YLS) held in Wilmington, NC. “LI's YLS in February taught me so much about youth engagement on races. From recruiting campus reps all the way down to how to carve your candidates name in the grass on the side of the highway. The amount of information we received in that training added exponentially to my campaign knowledge,” Katie said. “The South Carolina students who came with me are now pros in how to canvass. Thanks, LI!” This past May, Katie was elected national secretary for the College Republican National Committee. “It was truly an honor to be elected as national secretary for the CRNC this past May along with Alex Smith and her team. She's the first woman chairman in the organization's 125 year history. The College Republican National Committee is entering a new era both within our organization and how we reach out to young voters. For the Virginia's gubernatorial race, the CRNC ran a little ad called “Terryfish,” she said. “Terryfish coupled with the hundreds of college republicans from across the country who came to Virginia to knock on doors won Ken Cuccinelli the 18 to 24 year old vote,” she said. The youth effort for the Cuccinelli for Governor campaign was led by three full-time youth coordinators who also took LI's Youth Leadership School and activism trainings. They facilitated youth participation at the grassroots level and were placed by the Conservative Leadership PAC, founded by Morton Blackwell, also president of the Leadership Institute. Katie is looking forward to helping win the youth vote in the 2014 elections and in growing her foreign policy knowledge and experiences. "I would describe the Leadership Institute as one of the most important resources to any budding young conservative. LI trains up-and-coming campaign managers, congressmen, and leaders,” she said. "The Leadership Institute for decades now has been producing young stars who will change the world. I could not be more thankful for LI's role in my political future and my vision to change politics as we know it." Please congratulate Katie Thompson for finding her calling in youth politics, and please applaud her for receiving LI's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Determined Student Now Leads National Conservative Women’s Network
Anna Swick
November 26, 2013
Determined Student Now Leads National Conservative Women’s Network
“Ten years ago, when a woman stepped on campus she found chapters of the National Organization for Women, women's studies departments full of campus feminists, and women's centers not open to supporting all women,” Network of Enlightened Women Founder Karin Agness said. “At the time, there were no women's groups specifically catering to conservative college women.” That's not the case anymore. In 2004, with no help from her university and being turned away from The Women's Center at the University of Virginia, Karin Agness decided to start the Network of Enlightened Women, a network for conservative university women that has grown into more than 20 chapters nationwide. Karin formed the organization after spending the summer of 2004 interning in Washington, D.C. “Rather than throwing out Republican and Democrat one-liners, my female colleagues (during my internship) were eager to talk about nuanced arguments behind legislative proposals and how the issues of the day affected women. It was exhilarating to hear speakers and staffers explain how a 500-page bill would affect me as a young woman,” Karin said. “I returned to the University of Virginia for my third year of college, and I set about to find some semblance of the environment from which I'd just come.” Unfortunately, Karin's search came up empty. “All of the women's college groups at UVA were dedicated to promoting a liberal agenda,” Karin said. So she went to The Women's Center on UVA's campus for help starting the first conservative women's club. “I asked, ‘Would the women's center be interested in cosponsoring a group for conservative young women?' The women's center faculty member looked at me like I was crazy, chuckled and said, ‘Not here',” Karin said. But that didn't stop her. Karin went on to create the Network of Enlightened Women (NeW) in September 2004. The organization, which was started as a book club, aims to advance the intellect and leadership abilities of conservative university women while adding to intellectual diversity on campus. Now, Karin gives her expertise back to aspiring young conservative leaders as faculty at the Leadership Institute. She's taught at six LI trainings, including the Youth Leadership School (YLS), which she took herself in 2006. Through the six trainings she's taught at—the YLS in Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina, and Texas as well as at two Future Candidate Schools in Arlington, Virginia— Karin has taught 165 young conservatives. Most recently, NeW hired former LI Intern Coordinator Alyssa Condrey as their director of programs. "We were pleased to hire Alyssa, who not only founded a chapter of NeW at James Madison University, but also had experience in student programming through her job at the Leadership Institute. She had the opportunity to take on a lot of responsibility (at LI) and grow professionally. Her work with students has helped prepare her for this role,” Karin said. Alyssa said, “I hold the Leadership Institute in high regards because I am so thankful to have started my career at such a principled organization. LI staff truly follows Morton's principle of building a conservative movement and not an empire. The Leadership Institute is a vital component of the conservative movement as they are willing to collaborate with other organizations to advance conservative principles more so than their own agenda.” Karin believes that conservatives must make reaching women a priority. “Those running national campaigns and leading issue groups on the right should be rethinking how to reach women. The left has a seemingly endless supply of cash, organizations and leadership feeder programs,” Karin said. “And we must identify a local niche that is not being filled and fill it.” To join NeW and become a part of their network, please go here. Please congratulate Karin Agness for her determination to start a conservative women's network and advance conservative thought among young women, and please applaud her 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, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Rep. Jim Jordan’s advice to me: Go to LI
Adam Sprecher
November 19, 2013
Rep. Jim Jordan’s advice to me: Go to LI
“Getting to know the people I work with in the conservative movement and their amazing stories have probably been the high point of my career,” said Caleb Parke, a recent college graduate and summer 2012 Leadership Institute intern. “Campaigning with Rep. Jim Jordan, getting a hug from Sarah Palin and meeting Glenn Beck was awesome," Caleb said. "Rep. Jordan called me a champ, Sarah Palin told me I was bold, and Glenn Beck smiled and said, ‘God Bless.'” Experiences like these coupled with skills gained through Leadership Institute trainings allowed Caleb the opportunity to become an important contributor in the pro-life cause. Caleb works in media and development at Live Action. He also works on Live Action's magazine The Advocate to prepare and equip pro-life activists with the proper tools to fight the abortion industry. Live Action was founded in 2003 by Lila Rose, who at the time was 15 years old. Like Caleb, Lila is also a Leadership Institute graduate. She has taken LI's Student Publications Workshop in 2006, the advanced version in 2007, Effective Television Techniques Workshops in 2007, Grassroots Preparation Workshop in 2008, and LI's Communications Workshop in 2009. Live Action, one of the leaders of the pro-life cause, focuses on ending abortion by exposing the ugly truths of the abortion industry. The Advocate, a national magazine targeting college students, is one of the most powerful weapons in Live Action's arsenal. The Advocate's strives to win over new pro-life supporters and also strengthen old ones. Before joining Live Action, Caleb started his D.C. career at the Leadership Institute. He first heard of LI while interning in the district office of Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, who took the Leadership Institute's one-on-one TV training in 2008. While on the way to a campaign event, Caleb asked the Congressman for advice in the next step of his career. “[Congressman Jordan's] first recommendation was the Leadership Institute,” Caleb said. Caleb was accepted as one of 12 summer LI interns and worked in the Career Services Department where he edited resumes and cover letters, blogged, maintained the Leadership Institute's job bank website, and assisted in LI's social media programs. Caleb has attended 12 LI trainings, including: the Youth Leadership School, Public Speaking Workshop, the Written Communications Workshop, Conservative Career Workshop, Public Relations School, and Campaign Management School, among others. Register for upcoming Leadership Institute trainings here. “I have learned so much from LI trainings and from the team at the Leadership Institute. I gained a great deal of confidence from knowing that I am not alone, and the most important piece of LI training would probably be the networking that takes place,” said Caleb. “I believe that LI is the best internship in all of D.C.” Please congratulate Caleb Parke on his work to advance the pro-life cause across America through Live Action, and please applaud him for receiving the Leadership Institute's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
The Walking Miracle
Adam Sprecher
November 12, 2013
The Walking Miracle
Spina bifida is a medical condition that affects the spine and nerves for newborn babies like James Christophersen, now 26, and about 1,500 babies each year. Doctors told James' mother that she should end his life before it began. If allowed to survive, they said, James would not walk on his own or even live to adulthood. Now, more than two decades later, James is a conservative leader fighting against the very same mindset in today's medical community. James works at Students for Life of America as the director of Med Students for Life and Law Students for Life. James connects physicians who understand the sanctity of life with thousands of med students at more than 100 campuses across the country. “I hope to abolish abortion by eliminating the lazy attitude which allows physicians to casually discard children they are afraid they cannot help, and to inspire those same physicians to instead acknowledge the humanity of those children,” James said. He works as a director of the National Pro-Life Physician Speaking Tour, the flagship program of Students for Life of America. This program allows doctors to speak to students about the importance of “giving children a chance” and “taking on the hard cases,” as James puts it. Before working at Student for Life, James worked for almost three years as the executive director of the Judicial Action Group, an organization that works through accountability, appointments, and prayer for the return of the judiciary to its proper, and noble, role of deciding cases and not legislating from the bench. “By returning the judiciary to its proper role of deciding cases and not legislating from the bench, the Judicial Action Group will re-empower Congress, the States, and the People to make laws that favor life, marriage, decency, private property, religious freedom, and other vital American values,” their website states. James attended the Leadership Institute's High-Dollar Fundraising School in September of 2011 and several LI events and networking activities in the past several years. The LI fundraising training focused on the importance of building coalitions to advance the candidates and causes of each attendee's choice, and for James, the pro-life cause. The faculty taught attendees to think past previously-established boundaries and to find unlikely allies to advance their particular cause or campaign. “This principle (of identifying unlikely allies) helped separate me from many in the political movements I have formerly participated in,” James said. Learn these techniques and others at LI's next High-Dollar Fundraising School February 18 and 19. So register now by contacting Carol Wehe. “The Leadership Institute is widely known as the place for conservative political candidates and non-profit employees to up their game,” James said. Please congratulate James Christophersen on his work to advance the pro-life cause among physicians, and please applaud him for receiving the Leadership Institute's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award. You can follow James on Twitter @ChristophersenJ and his organization @Students4LifeHQ. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
RNC Co-Chairman: More Women in Politics!
Lauren Day
November 5, 2013
RNC Co-Chairman: More Women in Politics!
“The best way for women to be better represented in America is to have more women representatives—from the town council, to the governor's mansion, to the Senate floor, to the White House,” said Leadership Institute 2001 graduate and now Republican National Committee Co-Chairman Sharon Day. “Party politics aside, I like seeing more women involved,” Co-Chairman Sharon Day continued. “We want more women in the political process. More importantly, we need them…we need their voices—whether in elective office or as activists.” Sharon Day, the Texas-born Indiana businesswoman turned Florida political activist and grandmother of five, was elected in January 2011 as co-chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) to serve with Chairman Reince Priebus. In January 2011, they were both reelected for a second term to lead the Grand Old Party (GOP). “People should get involved with Republicans to advocate for smaller government, less regulation for small businesses, less spending and less taxation, and for school choice,” Sharon shared with me. “No child's education should be based on their zip code or their economic status.” Before politics, Sharon and her late husband Larry built several businesses in the insurance and marketing industry and created jobs for hundreds of individuals and families. “The first business I created was out of convenience and being able to set my own hours,” Sharon shared with me. “As a mom, I wanted to have more time with my son and to be a hands-on mom. So, in order for me to spend as much time as I could with him as a young person I created a job that allowed me to do just that.” The businesses that Sharon and Larry created – Stop Loss International and SLI-Re – were created for two separate reasons. “Stop Loss International was created because we saw a need for small businesses to have the same opportunity as large businesses to self-fund their health and life insurance as well as give insurance companies as an opportunity to broaden their insurance possibilities,” Sharon said. “Our second business was created to control our destiny and growth. So, we formed and built our own re-insurance company, SLI-Re, enabling us to set our rates, successfully underwrite, and adjudicate our block of business as the lead underwriter,” she said. “We saw an opportunity to build an important niche market,” Sharon shared with me, “and then as many entrepreneurs do, we decided to fill that need.” Since then, she's been using her success in the private sector to advance conservative principles. Before her leadership role with the RNC, Sharon served the Party in various capacities. For the past 20 years, Sharon has worked to advance the Party's grassroots efforts in Florida – where she calls home. Since 1994, she has been a member of the Broward County Republican Executive Committee and, since 1996, she's been the state committeewoman from Broward County. Sharon was appointed as chairman of the Broward County Housing Authority and has served as commissioner of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. In 2004, she was elected Florida's national committeewoman to the RNC. In 2006, Sharon was elected as one of eight members of the Site Selection Committee for the 2008 RNC Convention, for which she was also selected as chairman of the Convention's Special Events. She was appointed to the Committee on Arrangements for 2008 and was instrumental in getting the 2012 Convention in her home state of Florida. From 2009 to 2011, Sharon served as secretary of the RNC. Sharon has recruited many victorious candidates and worked closely with party activists and supporters to spread the conservative message. “I learned about the Leadership Institute (LI) through the activist grapevine,” Sharon shared with me. “With all the great work LI does, it seems almost impossible to not know about the Institute. Everywhere I go it seems everyone brings up the great work that LI does.” In January 2001, Sharon took the Leadership Institute's Grassroots Activist School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Reflecting, she said: “The Leadership Institute helped provide me with a foundation to build my political activist career on. The whole training from the Leadership Institute was fantastic and taught me things I use every day as a political activist and co-chair of the RNC. I most enjoyed how LI's training put me in a room with like-minded activists and reminded me that I am not alone in the fight for a better America.” Come surround yourself with “like-minded activists,” as Sharon states it, so we can build a better America. Learn how to win campaigns and be an effective activist from the Leadership Institute. Register for LI training here. “The Leadership Institute provides people with an opportunity to learn for professional and personal growth, and is an organization that can assist with your success,” Sharon said. Please congratulate Sharon Day on her work to advance conservatism across America, and please applaud her for receiving the Leadership Institute's Conservative Leader Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
State Representative Matt Krause:  A Deep Heart in Texas
Mitch Nozka
October 29, 2013
State Representative Matt Krause: A Deep Heart in Texas
“I would not be where I am today in the Texas House of Representatives if it were not for the Leadership Institute's training,” Texas State Representative Matt Krause said. “The Leadership Institute gave me the tools to succeed in the political world.” The fourth-generation Texan grew up the son of a pastor, grandson of two pastors, and great-grandson of a pastor. “Being in full-time ministry was a legacy in our family,” said Matt. “But, from an early age, my father helped me see I could have an impact in whatever field God called me to.” In high school, Matt worked as a church's custodian to pay for basketball camps and car insurance. “This experience taught me hard work, discipline, and the importance of budgeting,” he said. Matt's basketball abilities attracted the coaching staff at Christian Heritage College (now San Diego Christian College) in California, and by the time he graduated Matt had earned a full scholarship for both his athletic and academic abilities. Matt met his wife-to-be Jennie his freshman year of college and they married at the end of their junior year. “As a college senior, I had to balance being a new husband to my beautiful wife, carry a full load of classes, serve as student body president, play basketball, and work 30 hours a week,” he remembered. After graduation, the newlyweds moved to Lynchburg, Virginia, so Matt could study law at Liberty University. He graduated third in his class and opened Liberty Counsel's Texas office in 2007, where he specializes in constitutional litigation. “I got involved in politics because of Barack Obama's election,” Matt said. “I now have three kids and a fourth on the way. I didn't want to be the generation that didn't leave a better country to my children and grandchildren than those who came before me.” So, Matt decided he would run for office. But first, he attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2009. “At CPAC, I visited the Leadership Institute's booth and was impressed with all they offered,” he said. “When I started my run for office, I signed up for LI's Future Candidate School.” He continued, “Attending the Leadership Institute's Future Candidate School was instrumental in my political career. Up until that time, running for office seemed like a big mystery. But at LI, I learned the nuts and bolts of campaigning – from how to raise money, to how to dress appropriately, how to deal with the media, and even the best handshake to use when speaking with voters. It was an A-to-Z guide for candidates.” In 2010, Matt ran his first campaign, hoping to win a seat in the Texas legislature. “I ran against a well-known incumbent who heavily outspent me in that election. My campaign didn't have enough money for a campaign manager. I lost, but with the tools I learned at the Leadership Institute, I garnered 42.5 percent of the vote which shocked a lot of folks – especially considering I served as my own campaign manager,” Matt said. “I would not have done so well if it had not been for the Leadership Institute's training.” The 2010 loss didn't stop Matt. “I learned that hard work, strategy, and lots of prayer can outperform money in an election,” he said. “I also learned what not to do during my first campaign.” So in 2012 Matt ran again and won a three-way primary without a runoff vote. Later, he won the general election to become the state representative for Texas' 93rd district. Less than a year into his term, conservative groups already recognize Matt's value in the Texas House. He is ranked the third most conservative member of the entire 150-member House and has been named one of the “Top Five House Courageous Conservatives” by the Texas Conservative Coalition. He has also received the second-highest score from the Young Conservatives of Texas' scorecard, and he received perfect scores from Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and Texas Eagle Forum. Matt also cares for youth and the future of America. As executive director of the Torch of Freedom Foundation, Matt works to shape the next generation of policymakers. Torch of Freedom Foundation runs a Patriot Academy to train future leaders in the political process. During the academy, students act as governors and state representatives and debate bills on the actual legislative floor of state capitols. “It's a perfect complement to what the Leadership Institute does,” Matt said. “If students want to apply all they have learned through trainings at the Leadership Institute, the Patriot Academy is the place to do so in a real-world legislative setting.” The 33-year-old gave his life to Christ on Easter Sunday in 1987. Matt's faith has shaped his life as an honest, responsible, and hard-working Christian conservative. “I take comfort in the fact that God is the one who ‘raises up kings and removes them.' Even when we have bad leaders, God uses us in the political process,” Matt said. “I encourage conservatives to patiently rely on the Lord, but not to be timid. As John Quincy Adams said, ‘Duty is ours. Results are God's.'” Duty is ours; register for Leadership Institute training here. “The Leadership Institute gives you the tools to maneuver in the political world. No matter which area of politics you feel drawn to, the Leadership Institute has a training to help you succeed,” Matt said. Please congratulate Matt Krause on his work to advance conservatism in the Texas legislature, and please applaud him for receiving the Leadership Institute's Conservative Leader Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Total: 286