Student Exposes Bullying Professor
Anna Swick
October 23, 2013
Student Exposes Bullying Professor
It was a normal Wednesday when sophomore Evan Schrage went into his literature class at Michigan State University (MSU) – until the lecture and questioning turned vicious. His professor, William Penn, veered off track in the creative writing class with a rant about “dead white Republicans” who had “raped this country.” Evan videoed the diatribe and posted it online at the Leadership Institute's Campus Reform news site, where the video went viral. (Watch it here.) Campus Reform, which has had more than three million unique visitors this year, is the web's number-one source for news about college campuses. “I really honestly couldn't believe what was happening at first,” Evan said, “[He] was using his position as a professor to indoctrinate students into thinking [in] a way that was pleasing to him.” “It was a little unnerving to hear that from somebody who's trying to teach me how to think,” Evan continued. “I'm paying… for a class on literature and I shouldn't have to hear political rants and hatred of certain individuals, whatever it is, right or left.” At one point in the video, Professor Penn asked a student, “You look like you're frowning. Are you frowning?” “He tried to antagonize me,” said Caroline Freeman, the student Professor Penn questioned. "He was talking about how Christians are dumb and don't know what they're talking about…It had nothing to do with class." Two days after the video was posted on Campus Reform, the university removed Professor Penn from the classroom. "Evan should be commended for standing up and exposing what is really going on in America's college classrooms," said Leadership Institute Vice President of Campus Programs Bryan Bernys. "As more and more student whistleblowers like Evan come forward to expose liberal indoctrination and bias in the classroom, we will move closer to true intellectual diversity in the classroom." When Evan learned of Professor Penn's dismissal, he decided to go public. “I had to involve myself more than just being behind the camera,” Evan said. “The Leadership Institute offered to train me, which was especially welcome considering I had never been interviewed on TV before, much less national television.” The calls for interviews immediately started “flowing in,” he said. The highlight was an interview on Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor. (Watch it here.) Evan found out about the Leadership Institute (LI) and Campus Reform through a College Republican meeting at MSU. “The Leadership Institute has been very influential in promoting conservatism to college students…[It] is a great avenue for young people to get involved with politics and make their mark on the world,” Evan said. Three weeks ago, he met with Josiah Ryan, editor-in-chief of Campus Reform, for an LI Student Publications Workshop at MSU. The intensive, four-hour training teaches students how to start their own campus publication, from defining a mission to recruiting staff to raising money. (Learn more or request a Student Publications Workshop at your school.) When asked what advice he could share to other young conservatives, Evan said, “Never be afraid to stand up for what's right…Though the slings and arrows may seem overwhelming, what matters is that you stay true to yourself.” Please congratulate Evan Schrage for his bravery in exposing his professor, and please applaud him for receiving LI's Conservative Leader-in-Training Award. To take advantage of the training Evan received before his national interviews, sign up here for LI's On-Camera Television Workshop. If you are interested in learning more about LI's other communications trainings, click here. 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.
Millennial on the Move
Anna Swick
October 15, 2013
Millennial on the Move
Who says that Millennials are the “go-nowhere” generation? Jessie Markell doesn't fit that description. The 21-year-old is working hard as the youth coordinator for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli—a 2005 graduate of Leadership Institute grassroots activist training. Previously, Jessie was the state chairman for Young Americans for Liberty in Florida, his chapter's president, and an intern for multiple organizations—all while putting himself through college. Jessie got his start in politics while studying economics. “I quickly realized I was much more interested in economic policy than economic analysis, so I switched majors to political science and got involved in campaigns,” Jessie said. After helping with Ron Paul's presidential campaign, Jessie found Young Americans for Liberty in Florida, which is when he discovered the Leadership Institute. “I first learned of the Leadership Institute (LI) after getting involved on campus and starting my Young Americans for Liberty chapter at the University of Florida,” Jessie said. “I was approached to attend LI's student activism conference and Youth Leadership School in the summer of last year.” Soon after graduating from LI's Youth Leadership School, Jessie was recruited to be a part of LI's internship program. As an intern in the Events department, Jessie earned valuable hands-on experience and had access to all of LI's trainings. He went on to take 11 trainings, including the Activist Workshop, week-long Future Candidate School, and the Advanced Campaign Bootcamp. He finished the internship in December 2012. “Everything I know about campaigning has come from Leadership Institute-taught skills,” Jessie said. “The Leadership Institute has been, and will continue to be, the foundation for any young politically effective activist. The Institute is the epitome of one of its own teachings, ‘You owe it to your philosophy to learn how to win'—that is, you owe it to your philosophy to come and learn from the Leadership Institute,” he explained. In July, Jessie accepted his first full-time job as youth coordinator for Ken Cuccinelli's gubernatorial campaign in Virginia. When asked if he could have pictured himself in this job five years ago, Jessie answered, “At only 21, I probably couldn't have imagined myself in this position two years ago, let alone five or 10. Getting involved with the Leadership Institute has propelled my conservative career to heights that I never could have imagined and I will forever be grateful to LI for that.” Jessie will graduate from the University of Florida this December. Please congratulate Jessie Markell on his important work as a youth coordinator for an exciting gubernatorial race, and please applaud him for receiving LI's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award. If you want to take one of the LI trainings that launched Jessie's conservative career, go here to sign up and you'll not want to miss LI's Campaign Management School the first week in December. 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.
Strong Families, Strong Economy
Lauren Day
October 8, 2013
Strong Families, Strong Economy
Two days from now social conservatives across America will gather in Washington, DC for the annual Values Voter Summit, organized by the Family Research Council. Throughout the two-and-a-half days, attendees will hear from notable speakers, attend breakout sessions, network with their fellow Americans, and receive information from conservative organizations. “Social conservatives bring a lot to the conservative movement, as they stand strong for protecting the sanctity of human life and promoting traditional family values,” Family Research Council (FRC) Web Editor Krystle Gabele said. “A strong family is the key to a prosperous society and ensuring that future generations have an even better America to look forward to.” Krystle started at FRC in December 2008 as its web editor. She's responsible for maintaining FRC's online content and distributing alerts. She writes for the organization's blog, manages its email campaigns, and contributes to FRC's daily radio commentaries. You can find her work on the Washington Update and on the Social Conservative Review. This weekend's Values Voter Summit will be held from Thursday through Sunday -- October 11 through 13 -- at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in DC. The Leadership Institute is partnering with FRC for the conference, and will have a booth in the exhibit hall and host Saturday's career fair -- which is free for attendees. Click here to pre-register for the career fair. Last year at the Values Voter Summit's Faith, Family, and Freedom Gala, the Leadership Institute's President Morton Blackwell was honored with the 2012 James C. Dobson Vision and Leadership Award. Krystle said, “I am looking forward to hearing Sen. Rand Paul speak at the Values Voter Summit, and I am also excited to interact with the various bloggers who will be there covering the event as well. The straw poll is also a lot of fun, and it is amazing to see the energy from participants during the three days of the summit.” Krystle, a small-town girl from Taneytown, Maryland, grew up in a loving family that “placed a high value on faith and trusting in God no matter what life may throw at us,” she shared when discussing what most shaped her. One of her “major goals” was to be the first person in her family to graduate with a college degree. In 2004 Krystle's dreams came true: she graduated with honors from Western Maryland College (now known as McDaniel College) with a degree in social work. In college, she interned for former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) in his district office and for Carroll Lutheran Village, a continuing care retirement community between classes, homework, and exams. “After graduating college, I went to work for a social services agency in Pennsylvania,” Krystle said. “I decided after observing the bureaucratic processes of the foster care system that my talents were better suited to fight for the conservative values I believed in, so I took an internship in the personal office of former Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-IL). It was great to see how my degree could be implemented in the public policy process.” At the conclusion of her congressional internship, she took a position as the executive assistant to the Executive Director Alex Mooney at the National Journalism Center (NJC), a program of the Young America's Foundation. In that role, she recruited and placed interns with news outlets in the DC metro area. Later, Krystle went to work at the National Right to Work Committee as its director of communications. “I first learned of the Leadership Institute through Alex Mooney, my former boss at the NJC. Alex spoke highly of LI's programs and recommended that I take a few courses through the Leadership Institute to help me develop skills that would be beneficial to my career and the conservative movement,” Krystle explained. Krystle has taken eight LI trainings: the Public Speaking Workshop and advanced version, Broadcast Journalism School, and Public Relations School in 2006; Campaign Management Workshop in 2007; and the Blogging Workshop, Advanced Public Relations School, and the New Media Workshop all in 2008. “In terms of LI's Public Relations Schools, I learned how to write press releases and how to handle things during a crisis. This definitely proved beneficial during the events at FRC of last August,” Krystle said, referencing the tragic shooting at FRC's office in August 2012. “The Leadership Institute has been extremely helpful to me over the years. I found most of my jobs through LI's ConservativeJobs.com, and the tips I received from LI's Employment Placement Service have been especially beneficial in my professional growth,” Krystle said. “One thing that I would credit LI and Morton Blackwell with is the encouragement to read conservative authors and to become well versed in public speaking. I never realized how my public speaking skills needed to be refined until I attended the Public Speaking Workshops and Broadcast Journalism School. Life is all about learning and growing. There is no doubt that I would not be where I am today career-wise without the assistance and support of the Leadership Institute,” she added. In her spare time, Krystle has her own blog: Crystal Clear Conservative. She started it on Christmas Day 2007 as an outlet for “my frequent venting about the state of affairs,” as she termed it, though she is now on sabbatical from political writing and focused on other passions: running and fitness. If her blog returns to politics, it may be to focus on raising awareness of human trafficking, an issue she cares about deeply. “The Leadership Institute helps shape conservatives by providing them with the essential training to be leaders,” Krystle said. “LI has taught me to become an effective communicator and become active in making my community a better place. LI can help you as well.” We hope to see you at Values Voter Summit! Register here. Please contact LI's Career Services Coordinator Aynsley Harrison at 703-247-2000 for information about the employers recruiting at the career fair or for help pre-registering. “The Leadership Institute helps shape conservatives by providing them with the essential training to be leaders,” Krystle said. “LI has taught me to become an effective communicator and become active in making my community a better place. LI can help you as well.” Please congratulate Krystle Gabele for advocating for life, strong families and healthy societies. Congratulations Krystle on receiving LI's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award! “As Christians and conservatives, we should always remain strong and steadfast for these core values without bowing down to what society thinks. There will be attacks, but they build character and amazing backbone,” Krystle said. “Always persevere and work hard for advancing the issues we are passionate about. I firmly believe that we should also pray for those who persecute us. Ephesians 6:13 says it best, ‘Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.'” 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.
Student Travels 6 Hours to Sharpen Political Arsenal
Anna Swick
October 3, 2013
Student Travels 6 Hours to Sharpen Political Arsenal
You care about your cause, but do you have the tools to make change happen? Scott Gibbons of Blowing Rock, North Carolina now has the knowledge and tools after traveling six-and-a-half hours to attend the Leadership Institute's Tactical Warfare Workshop last month – with more than 150 other conservatives Scott traveled to Arlington, VA to add to his political arsenal to fight the left. Students began their first lecture on Tuesday, September 17 with a crash course on the history of the left from Chris Doss, LI's Deputy Director of Grassroots Programs. Chris explained to students that understanding history will help them strategize more effectively. Attendees then learned Saul Alinksy's thirteen “rules for radicals” to better understand what to expect from the left. “Applying Alinksy's Rules for Radicals and Sun Tzu's Art of War to the political battlefield was brilliant,” said Joshua Parrish, southeast regional director for Young Americans for Liberty. Chris wrapped up his lecture by giving students six specific lessons for conservatives trying to advance their cause. Day two of the Tactical Warfare lecture was equally engaging. Greg Mourad, vice president of legislation at the National Right to Work Committee, taught attendees about “kill zones” and the finer points of pushing a bill through Congress. “I loved how he used politics to relate to the art of war,” said Robert Kenyon. Joshua Parrish added, “I really enjoyed getting an inside look at the winning legislative techniques used by the Right to Work Committee.” Campaign for Liberty's Senior Consultant for State Operations Kirk Shelley spoke next. “The more tools you have in a tactical toolset, the bigger your vision is going to become,” Kirk explained as he took attendees through various political battle maneuvers. Attendees learned various reasons to avoid battle and tactics for maneuvering once engaged in battle. Kirk encouraged conservatives in attendance to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses as well as those of their enemies. At the end, Greg Mourad said, “This was a great LI training. Kirk Shelley's lecture on tactics is just incredible material that's extremely helpful for anyone involved in the political process.” Attendee Scott Gibbons shared that he plans to apply his new tactical tools not only to political activities but also to “broader organizations and institutions.” To see photos of the week-long training, check out the pictures on Facebook here. Activists can also hone their skills at the Leadership Institute's Debate Workshop on Friday, November 8—go here to learn more and sign up. To see additional trainings LI offers, go here to see the upcoming schedule.
Do the Right Thing
Anna Swick
October 1, 2013
Do the Right Thing
Dave Wallace's father always told him to do the right thing— “No matter how hard it is, do the right thing.” Dave, a small business owner, husband, and father of three, has spent his life trying to do just that, including using the profits from his business to promote the message of liberty. “I've always loved freedom,” Dave said. From the time he was a youngster, growing up in a “postage-stamp-sized yard” in Maryland, he realized the importance of liberty. “I would play with my ball in the yard, and if it ever went over the fence into my neighbor's yard, the neighbor would yell, ‘Don't you touch that ball; it's in my yard now. You'll get it back when I'm ready to give it back.'” Dave was thrilled to move to another house without fear of the menacing neighbor. This life experience reminds him of the type of government that he fights today as an adult. Dave graduated from college with a degree in biology, but went in a different direction when he decided to open his own small business selling cabinets. Soon, Dave began to invest the money that his business made in a conservative radio talk show and a foundation called Restore America's Mission. Dave, a tea party leader in his area, founded both projects, and has since extended Restore America's Mission to a website that provides conservative news. Dave has also dedicated his time to grassroots efforts for Ron Paul's presidential campaign, on a U.S. Senate race, and even ran for Congress himself. His drive to promote economic freedom doesn't end on the campaign trail. He promotes freedom in his small business, Chesapeake Kitchen Wholesalers. When asked how he ran for Congress while managing his business, Dave credited his employees, whose productivity is a by-product of the freedom they are given. “It's all about setting up protocol…That way, anyone who steps into the position can do the job. Then, that person can use his own talents to better the job.” In order for employees to flourish and grow, they must be given freedom. The same is true for American citizens. In the fight for freedom, Dave's advice to other conservative activists is to "talk to the heart. Value the person that you're speaking to and realize that nothing is more important than the person that you've got in front of you. Treat them with respect." Dave credits his Leadership Institute communications training with helping him. "LI's communications training helps you become successful. I came because I'm a conservative and want to advance the conservative message in my community," Dave said. Dave has taken 10 Leadership Institute trainings, ranging from the Public Speaking Workshop, fundraising training, Future Candidate School, to the Written Communications Workshop. Sign up here for one of LI's upcoming communications trainings, including the Public Speaking Workshop being held on Thursday, October 16 at LI's offices in Arlington, Virginia. Please congratulate Dave Wallace on his work in the conservative movement in Maryland, 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
State Chairman of Florida College Republicans
Lauren Day
September 18, 2013
State Chairman of Florida College Republicans
Stephen McDuffie, a 24-year-old born on a U.S. Air Force base in West Germany just months before the Berlin Wall fell, is now state chairman of the Florida Federation of College Republicans (FFCR). “My role is to lead and be the face of the College Republicans to our state,” Stephen explained. As chair – a role he started in April – he manages the executive board and officers and represents FFCR to all external entities, including the media, the Republican Party of Florida, the Republican National Committee, and the College Republican National Committee. “The College Republicans strive for liberty and small government that is accountable to the people. With our conservative leadership, we show that personal responsibility, sound fiscal policy, and a passion to succeed are the guides to our future success,” Stephen said. Stephen explained that the FFCR's role is to bring together Republican college students to work as a group and support the party's activities. The group does this by promoting Republican principles to college students in Florida and presenting the views of the college community to the party leadership. FFCR also provides aid to the party in elections. This summer Stephen interned for Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-26) in her Miami field office, where he assisted policy staff. “Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has pushed me to pursue bigger and better things,” Stephen said. "Senator Marco Rubio is also a great inspiration to me. He teaches at my school and is an honest conservative leader." During the spring 2013 semester, Stephen served as president of the College Republicans at Florida International University, the college he transferred to in the fall of 2011. “I led the College Republicans at FIU,” Stephen said. “I grew the organization from 100 to 160 people and l led the fight for conservative principles on a liberal campus.” Stephen is also a member of the Miami-Dade Republican Executive Committee. He received the Most Patriotic Award and a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for his community service from Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen. Before politics, Stephen worked at Wendy's, Food Lion, Dot Foods, and Walmart. “These past jobs taught me how to work,” Stephen said. “Each job I had served as a learning experience showing me how to incorporate different skills into my professional and personal life. Each job was always a stepping stone to the next great job, which would lead to another opportunity.” At 21, Stephen married his wife (pictured right). “It was the greatest decision of my life!” “I first learned of the Leadership Institute from working on some 2008 campaigns and again during the 2012 campaigns,” Stephen remembered. At the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), he took his first training. “I attended the Leadership Institute's How to Land a Job and Internship Workshop, the Elected Officials Accountability Workshop, and the 2013 CPAC Job and Internship Fair where I got to meet with employers,” he said. LI's Job and Internship fair connected more than 480 jobseekers like Stephen with 39 employers in the conservative movement and the private sector. Employers advertised openings, took resumes, and interviewed candidates. Stephen shared, “I learned from these different LI training sessions how to make a professional resume, how to dress, how to speak and show confidence, and much more. I also learned how to keep our elected officials accountable to the people!” He's even registered for LI's upcoming Issues That Unite: Latinos and Conservatism in Miami, Florida on Thursday, October 10. “The Leadership Institute has helped me push for what I want, and helped me be a better leader for my College Republicans organization. LI has also pushed me to start my own business as well,” Stephen said. Stephen hopes one day to start his own communications firm that specializes in campaign consulting, marketing, advertising, and grassroots organizing. “I also want to run for political office in the future to help bring the nation back and give my children and others a future,” he said. The Leadership Institute will be hosting its intensive, week-long Campaign Management School the first week of December. Hope you'll be able to join so you can learn how to effectively run a campaign. “The Leadership Institute is a premier organization that teaches those willing to become leaders,” Stephen said. Please congratulate Stephen McDuffie on receiving the Leadership Institute's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, and please encourage him in his political pursuits. You can follow him on Twitter @StephenMcDuffie. There will be no feature article next week; however, this series will resume the week of September 30. 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 Isn’t Free: It Must Be Fought For
Lauren Day
September 10, 2013
Liberty Isn’t Free: It Must Be Fought For
Teri Capshaw, a homeschooler from South Dakota, worked as a TV and local newspaper reporter during college. After graduation, she was hired as an evening news producer in Boise, Idaho, where she met her husband -- before starting her own sewing business. Now, she takes her professional background and understanding of the challenges that come with owning a business into meetings with donors and potential partners for Campaign for Liberty, where she serves as the donor relations officer. “I grew up training horses, participating in rodeos, raising small animals, and learning about the small businesses owned by my parents and grandparents. As a result, I brought a unique perspective to the news business—and thoroughly enjoyed reporting in my home area,” Teri said. “Now, I have a huge amount of respect for our donors at Campaign for Liberty, and I think a big part of that is knowing just how much work it takes to make money in a small business.” The Leadership Institute helped Teri launch her career. “I got my job at Campaign for Liberty (C4L) as the result of Leadership Institute training, so I certainly appreciate what you do,” Teri said. “I asked the main instructor from my Legislative Project Management Class, Mike Rothfeld, for advice on finding a job with an organization that would operate ethically and effectively. He interviewed me and recommended me to John Tate, the president of Campaign for Liberty.” Teri's husband Jesse accepted a job in 2009 that brought them from Idaho to Manassas, Virginia – just 45 minutes from the nation's capital. That's when Teri began working for Campaign for Liberty. In October 2009, she started working in the Outreach Department. Three months later, Teri assumed her current position as the donor relations officer in the Development Department. Some of Teri's responsibilities include working with donors interested in supporting C4L's key projects, like its effort to pass legislation to audit the Federal Reserve, its candidate survey program, and its ongoing effort to fight an Internet sales tax. “At C4L we have an incredibly committed base of nearly 750,000 members willing to lobby their elected officials to limit the federal government to its proper constitutional role,” Teri said. “By partnering with our donors we are able to provide the communication and organizational structure necessary to mobilize that membership base. I am also working with the wonderful sponsors we have lined up for the third annual Liberty Political Action Conference from September 19 to 22 in Chantilly, Virginia. I am excited to have the Leadership Institute join us as a sponsor again this year!” The Leadership Institute will have a table in the exhibit hall with several staffers, so please stop by! Also, LI President Morton Blackwell will take the stage Friday, September 20 at 2 p.m. LPAC tickets are available here. “The Liberty Political Action Conference is an opportunity to encourage, energize, and further equip a grassroots army focused on stopping government overreach into our lives,” Teri said. “I absolutely love the camaraderie this event brings out in an extremely diverse crowd. Conservative, libertarian, and constitutional speakers, activists, organizations and businesses all come together to celebrate the principles that made America great—and train for future success,” Teri explained. Teri's background working in media and covering local and state politics shaped the work she does now. “My perspective allowed me to see how often, political decisions are driven by fear, incentives (for those willing to seek power), and a sense of futility. Even elected officials in relatively powerful positions—and whom I respect on a personal level—often seem to be only gears in a powerful system. Feeling frustrated by that and looking for an alternative to politics-as-usual led me to take the Legislative Project Management course at the Leadership Institute. Being introduced to the concept of confrontational politics was an incredible experience,” Teri remembers. “Much of our current political process—of which the media plays a predictable part—rewards politicians for saying popular things to get elected, but then allows them to benefit key donors who lobby for government favors. Confrontational politics short-circuits that system by holding elected officials accountable for their actions.” To learn how to put pressure on elected officials and force accountability, register right now for LI's newest training: Tactical Warfare. Like many, Teri found out about the Leadership Institute through word of mouth. “I asked an elder from a church I used to attend for advice on finding a job in politics with an organization that wouldn't compromise its principles,” Teri remembers. “He suggested that I introduce myself to the Leadership Institute's President Morton Blackwell and ask him for advice. I wasn't quite brave enough—so I did the next best thing and signed up for the Legislative Project Management School.” “I have used most of what I learned during LI's Legislative Project Management School,” Teri said. “Learning how to lobby effectively and use a grassroots approach has been useful both when I help with special projects and when donors ask for things they can do in addition to supporting C4L financially.” In addition to the Legislative Project Management School, Teri took LI's On-Camera Television Workshop. “The Leadership Institute provides excellent resources to help conservatives become effective in the political arena,” Teri said. “I recommend that others who truly want to make a difference for their cause get educated at LI. There are many traps in the political world that can make us feel effective while accomplishing very little. It's crucial to ensure that we are really on the right track to have a lasting impact.” Sign up now for LI's week-long Comprehensive Fundraising Training. You'll learn how to make a lasting impact, or at least the funds to program your initiatives. Topics to be discussed include how to solicit major gifts, what makes a direct mail package most effective, and how to move into raising funds online. Contact Carol Wehe at Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org for more details. In 2010, Teri and Jesse's daughter was born in Manassas, Virginia. Last summer, Jesse's job took their family back to Boise “just in time for our son David to be born in September.” “Today I work from home,” Teri said. “We have a one-acre lot inside the Boise city limits where we are allowed to keep goats and a small flock of chickens—so life at our house is always interesting! I occasionally blog about those adventures at thisblessedlibertylife.com.” Please congratulate Teri Capshaw on receiving the Leadership Institute's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award and please spread the word about the upcoming Liberty Political Action Conference. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award where they will have an article written about them, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Ballerina Dances Her Way Into Colorado Politics
Kelly Macfarland
August 26, 2013
Ballerina Dances Her Way Into Colorado Politics
Alexa Van Anne isn't your ordinary 19-year-old. She's a competitive ballerina, a committed conservative activist, and dreaming of running for office herself – but first, she's got to finish college. Alexa got her start in politics working for the reelection of her congressman, Rep. Mike Coffman, in 2012. As area campaign director for Mike Coffman for Congress, Alexa went door-to-door canvassing and phone banking. As November neared, Alexa became more involved in working on projects with the field director for her district. “Every week or so, we would have large groups of college students come in to help make phone calls and canvass, so I helped to train them on our systems,” Alexa said. Alexa also worked to publicize the debate between Congressman Coffman and his opponent, Joe Miklosi – one of the most competitive House races in 2012. She recruited campaign supporters so they made up the majority of the audience – and media coverage. Alexa's experience with the Coffman team didn't end with November elections. After the election results, she felt inspired by the work her Congressman was doing and decided she wanted to apply for an internship with his fundraising firm, The Starboard Group. Through her internship at The Starboard Group, Alexa got involved with other local political opportunities, including Congressman Corey Gardner's campaign, Colorado Secretary Scott Gessler's campaign, and local non-profits. During the legislative session, Alexa interned for State Representative Jerry Sonnenberg; after the session, for Secretary Scott Gessler's campaign. Alexa is very much an advocate for her state, and has big dreams that include running for office. “I would like to run for elected office in my home state of Colorado,” Alexa said. Growing up, Alexa learned the value that small businesses bring to the community and families. Working for her father's store—Blade Runner Services—Alexa gained valuable insight that has made her appreciate the hard work that goes into building and maintaining a business and the people behind them. “Working at a small business founded by my father provided me the opportunity to know what it takes to run a company,” Alexa said. Alongside being a committed activist for liberty, Alexa has spent the last 14 years of her life practicing ballet. During her time performing, Alexa lettered twice and was in a dance company for six years. After hearing about the Leadership Institute's Youth Leadership School from a friend who took the political bootcamp, Alexa decided to attend. Her experience was one that she will never forget. “I had an incredible experience at LI's Youth Leadership School. I learned exactly what it takes to be a conservative leader, and I was left with the tools to be one,” Alexa said. “The speakers were remarkable, and I was humbled by the opportunity to learn from each of them. Being a part of this two-day training alongside like-minded individuals was a great experience, and I met many promising future leaders. Most impressive, however, was the sheer amount of applicable information.” After taking the Youth Leadership School at the Leadership Institute in July with 141 others, she said she was “better informed” for her political future. And this fall, she will be joining 10 other conservatives to intern for the Leadership Institute. “I would recommend the Youth Leadership School to anyone who wants to become involved in politics. Everyone could learn something because the focus is on highlighting the skills of a selfless leader, which is very uncommon,” she said. Sign up now for one of LI's Youth Leadership Schools (YLS). The weekend trainings are hosted all over the country, or you may contact Daryl Ann Dunigan (DDunigan@LeadershipInstitute.org or 703-247-2000) to host a YLS training near you. Please congratulate Alexa Van Anne on receiving the Leadership Institute's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award and please encourage her to continue advancing conservatism in Colorado. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award where they will have an article written about them, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
The Next Great Communicator Works to Defund
Carol Wehe
August 20, 2013
The Next Great Communicator Works to Defund "ObamaCare"
“Sorry for the delay; we're trying to defund Obamacare,” Nathanael Yellis said.Nathanael stays busy. By day he's deputy political director of Heritage Action, the 501c4 sister organization of The Heritage Foundation. He's also a trainer of conservative activists and young leaders.“I joined Heritage Action a month after it launched, in July of 2010,” Nathanael said.Three years later, their focus for this fall is clear: defund the Affordable Care Act.“I'm excited about our effort to defund Obamacare,” he continued. “We're working to make this the issue when Congress returns in September.”Yellis stays busy this August at a time when many in the nation's capital vacation. But, you won't hear him complaining.“It's really exciting stuff bringing conservative activists along and seeing Members of Congress respond as they hear the message from all sides,” Nathanael said.Nathanael's enthusiasm for helping conservatives extends into his own time as well. He has a history of helping activists and young leaders interested in politics.During his time at Patrick Henry College (PHC), he worked for Teen Pact leadership schools. Teen Pact gives high school students “a conservative civics education,” he shared.While at PHC, he went into debate – not originally his idea.“I started debating in college,” he said, “because my now-wife asked me to.”That wasn't his only reason for long.“I stayed in debate because it helped me learn -- knowing I had to make my own arguments gave my research and writing real purpose,” Nathanael said. “The skill of quickly seeing and communicating the essence of an idea is the key thing I learned from debate, and I use that skill every day.”Nathanael coached debate at Patrick Henry, and won many awards, including the All-American Debater title from the National Educational Debate Association.He went on to train with Ethos debate camps, and still uses his debate skills to train leaders.His advice to aspiring communicators?“Practice,” he said.That may sound simple, but Nathanael learns from history and says practice is key.“Communicating is a skill that one builds only by doing it,” he said. “We saw this in the 2012 presidential election when President Obama flopped in the first debate because he didn't practice. There is no better way to learn, so join Toastmasters, a debate club, or anything that pushes you to practice.”Like a good leader, he follows his own advice and practices his public speaking by being a faculty member for the Leadership Institute.“One of my mentors challenged me to speak to a new group every quarter to stay sharp as a communicator,” Nathanael said. “Training with LI helps me meet that goal.”Now Leadership Institute faculty, Nathanael has attended courses at LI since 2006.“At my first LI training I talked with the most interesting speaker and a few months later began interning for his company. That connection helped launch my career.”Now Nathanael trains future leaders and activists.“Teaching for LI,” he said, “keeps me sharp on how what we're doing helps the conservative movement. I enjoy surveying our work at Heritage Action and presenting the best of what we do to LI's audiences. The Leadership Institute enables our successes and our mistakes to help other conservatives, and that's part of our mission: building the movement.”That's what the Leadership Institute does with the help of faculty like Nathanael– LI trains conservatives and builds the movement.“I describe LI as two things: a solid foundation for conservatives and a strong network,” he said. “If you want to be an activist, staffer, journalist, campaigner, etc., then you at minimum need to attend the relevant LI training. As you take the next step and become a leader in your field, the Leadership Institute is the place to give back and build the network.”You can watch Nathanael Yellis's next LI training, a free live webinar, August 28 at 3 p.m. EDT. He will talk about Smart Debate: Confronting slick leftists in public arguments.You can learn more about LI training, and watch Nathanael's upcoming LI webinar appearance.Please congratulate Nathanael Yellis on his work helping American citizens make their voices heard in government and training conservative activists. Please applaud him for receiving LI's Conservative Leader Award. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award where they will have an article written about them, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.>
From College Socialist to Conservative Journalist
Carol Wehe
August 6, 2013
From College Socialist to Conservative Journalist
The son of a “hippie vagabond” and a New York City journalist, Lachlan Markay grew up surrounded by liberals, argued his way to conservatism in college, and has become a staple in the conservative world as a journalist and lecturer across the United States.A self-described “proud Yankee,” Lachlan grew up in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut – states not exactly known for their conservatism.“I like to think I'm a product of the American melting pot,” said Lachlan, whose roots come from New York Jews on his dad's side and Wisconsin Catholics on his mom's side.His parents' stories still fascinate Lachlan. “My dad was a Kerouacian hippie vagabond for years,” said Lachlan. “The day after he graduated from high school, he hitchhiked from Long Island to Leadville, CO, where he worked in a mine for five or six years, before hitching back east to Maine.”Then there's his mother, a journalist who joined Newsweek at the bottom rung and “worked her way up… to a prominent spot in their NYC newsroom,” said Lachlan. Lachlan gets his adventurous side from his father, and his love of journalism from his mother.“My love and reverence for my family has really shaped who I am and continues to influence me,” said Lachlan.But, family isn't where Lachlan found his conservatism – his liberal college pushed him toward the right.“I was…a liberal,” said Lachlan. “Socialist might be more accurate.”He was surrounded by liberal thought at Hamilton College, where neither faculty nor students questioned their “knee-jerk” liberal philosophy. And that bothered Lachlan.“No thinking was required, and few of my peers could actually defend their political views,” said Lachlan. “That irked me, so I'd take every chance I could to challenge them, often taking positions with which I didn't necessarily agree.”A contrarian by nature, Lachlan challenged the status quo. “It was a combination, I think, of my affinity for arguing and my late exposure to conservative political thought that spurred the transition.”During his college years, Lachlan started studying conservative and libertarian philosophers.“Burke, Kirk, Buckley, Hayek, Nozick, Friedman, Strauss – theirs were ideas I'd never been exposed to,” said Lachlan, “and I quickly realized that I agreed with many of them.”During his political transformation as a junior in college, Lachlan followed his mother's footsteps, turning to journalism. It started with an internship and, in the end, “I wanted to write for a living,” said Lachlan, “but do so in a way that comported with and/or advanced my views.”He helped start a student newspaper, Dexter, at Hamilton College.After college, Lachlan went on to work in the D.C. area as a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org, the media watchdog site, and posted to the Washington Examiner's Opinion Zone blog. He became an investigative journalist at The Heritage Foundation in 2011. Much of his work can be found at Heritage's blog Scribe.Lachlan now works for the Washington Free Beacon on topics ranging from energy policy to campaign finance to government spending.Lachlan's advice to aspiring journalists and bloggers hits home for many activists.“It sounds harsh,” he said, “but no one cares about your opinion. If you want people to read what you write, add something new to the conversation. Do some reporting. Pick up the phone (please!) and call the people you want to write about.”When he's not investigating, on the news, or appearing on Red Alert Politics' 30 Under 30 list, Lachlan spends his time lecturing across the country for center-right organizations. He has spoken at conferences and trainings for The Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks, Americans For Prosperity, the Franklin Center, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the Institute for Humane Studies, and of course the Leadership Institute, to name a few.Lachlan says “helping folks learn the tools of the trade…has been really rewarding.”Lachlan has lectured at the Leadership Institute since 2010, serving as faculty at the Writing Workshop, Blogging Workshops, and at LI's recent webinar.“When I went into my first LI training session, I assumed I'd be speaking with college students and other 20-somethings. I was pleasantly surprised to see a wide range of ages. This was during the heart of the tea party's meteoric political rise, so it was great to see people from all walks of life getting involved and really trying to learn skills that would help them advance the cause,” he said.“If you need to learn the basics,” he continued, “take an LI course. If you want more advanced training, take a Leadership Institute course. If you're just curious about how to be more effective, take an LI course. There's really no political skill that you can't learn or improve upon through LI's programs.”You can learn more about training, and watch Lachlan's most recent LI appearance in the webinar Secrets to Success at LI's website.Please congratulate Lachlan Markay on his work as an investigative journalist and training conservative activists, 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 where they will have an article written about them, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.>
The Koehler Family Trains at LI
Kelly Macfarland
July 23, 2013
The Koehler Family Trains at LI
At the age of 20, Jessica Koehler has already accomplished much. She finished college with a Bachelor's degree in just two years, taught English to children in Taiwan, and is now helping her father run for state representative in Ohio, where she and her family live. Her path into politics began with TeenPact Leadership Schools, which teaches students how to lead through hands-on activities such as mock legislatures. At the age of 14 while learning how her state government functions, Jessica discovered how she and others her age could impact politics. “Getting my age group involved in political activities is very important to me,” Jessica said. “It's important because my generation has been told again and again that it is acceptable to just sit back and let the world run its course, and that getting involved will not make a difference.” To prove that she can make a difference no matter her age, Jessica got involved in debate. Her mother's urging didn't hurt either. “I began competing in debate and speech when I was 15 years old, and continued until I was 18,” Jessica remembered. “My mom initially forced me, her extremely shy daughter, to attend and compete, but after the first year I was so amazed by the difference I saw in myself that I agreed to continue. It was probably one of the toughest experiences of my life, and it taught me how to be confident, bold, and how to communicate effectively.” Her debate experience also gave her a new perspective. “My favorite part of competing was how much I learned through it,” Jessica said. “I started out as a 15-year-old girl who was afraid to give a prepared presentation in front of her friends, and I finished as a tournament-winning contestant who was able to passionately deliver impromptu speeches to a roomful of competitors and judges.” Jessica's family has also largely contributed to her love of politics. From Springfield, Ohio, Jessica comes from a family of five children, where all of her siblings were homeschooled. Her father is a vice president of a tool and die company, and her mother is a psychologist and director of the national home school group Classical Conversations. Her family has had a normal interest in current events, but that all changed when Jessica's father, Kyle Koehler, decided to run for Clark County Commissioner in Ohio. He lost by only 240 votes, but that didn't deter him. Now, he's agreed to run in his home district for state representative in 2014 because of all the requests from constituents and members of his political party. “The Leadership Institute grabbed our attention because it offered valuable training for those hoping to run a successful campaign,” Jessica said. “While we ran an amazing campaign last time, we want to make sure that we do an even better job this time around. LI training has helped us prepare for the race by providing us with the tools to win no matter what comes our way. Jessica plans to work on her father's campaign full time once she receives her degree in communication from Thomas Edison State College this December. Her job will be to organize the youth campaign, gathering support from local high school and college students. She's graduating two years early through the Verity Institute, an accelerated program that allows college-level students to earn their bachelor's degrees in 21 months and is committed to growing students into Christian leaders. She plans to use the “extra” two years remaining of the standard four-year college experience to gain hands-on experience in the field through internships. Teaching English to children in Taiwan was life-changing for Jessica. “Just this past January I was able to spend a month serving in Taiwan teaching children. It was an incredible experience and it widened my entire perspective on life,” Jessica shared. Jessica first learned about the Leadership Institute from her sister and her mother, who attended a Youth Leadership School in Cincinnati, Ohio. They both encouraged Jessica and the rest of the family to come to Arlington, Virginia to get training too. “My favorite parts of LI's Youth Leadership School were the practical tips and recommendations from the experienced staff who led the training,” Jessica said. “They did not just talk about how a theoretical campaign would look; they took a realistic look at the challenges everyone faces, and gave me the tools to handle them.” Jessica came to LI's Youth Leadership School in Arlington, Virginia just a few weeks ago with her father, brother, and sister. "The Leadership Institute has helped me connect with other professionals who have the same passion to make a positive difference in this country," Jessica said. "LI is an invaluable resource to conservatives who really want to have an impact on our society." Please congratulate Jessica Koehler on receiving LI's Conservative Leader-In-Training Award. Stay connected with Jessica on Twitter @jess_me93. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award where they will have an article written about them, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
“LI Completely Changed My Life!”
Lauren Day
July 16, 2013
“LI Completely Changed My Life!”
Jean Morrow explained that she grew up in a “very patriotic family.” Her father was a 30-year career Navy Captain who served in Vietnam. He and her mother helped instill a love of country, dedication, determination, and hard work in her from an early age. And it's these principles that shaped Jean as an adult. Now, Jean is living out her own dream: working as a development associate at the Institute for Justice, a conservative nonprofit that protects American's civil liberties. “Since the Wilson presidency, there has been a movement in our nation to grow the size of government, throw out the U.S. Constitution and her Bill of Rights, and ultimately usurp the individual liberties our Founders designed for us,” Jean said. “Civil liberties are vitally important to the continuation of our nation; they help protect the American dream.” She continued, “The framers wanted the courts to play an active role in making sure that the government was limited to its expressly delegated powers and to defend individual liberties. It's a great feeling knowing that I'm working for a non-profit that forces the judiciary to uphold its original intent and to continue to be the last defense for individual liberty in our constitutional system.” The Institute for Justice (IJ) has four pillars of litigation: economic liberty, private property, school choice, and the First Amendment. The Institute for Justice has built a reputation over the past two decades as a force for freedom across the country. The organization has litigated 157 cases, including five before the U.S. Supreme Court. IJ has a stellar 70 percent victory rate in litigation and legislation, Jean shared. “The case that first introduced me to the Institute for Justice dealt with educational vouchers, a vital component of liberty and an area which I thoroughly researched while in college,” Jean said. “IJ's first appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court was for the seminal case, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), in which the Court upheld the constitutionality of school choice under the Establishment Clause. This victory has led to more than 200,000 students benefiting from school choice and the Institute for Justice has been dubbed the voucher movement's legal brain trust.” As a development associate at IJ, Jean's chief responsibilities include donor and prospect research and supporting the director of development with meetings with donors. “I also help my fellow development team with sending out thank you letters and materials to donors,” Jean said. “As the Leadership Institute development team taught me, you can never thank a supporter enough!” “I never thought I would ever work in the realm of development, and I'm honored to help the Institute for Justice secure the funds necessary to continue to be a pillar of free society that helps strengthen and deepen liberty as a newly dubbed member of their fundraising team,” Jean said. Jean attended Central Florida Community College for three semesters free of charge before transferring to the University of Florida, where she received her B.A. in political science in May 2010. In college, Jean was secretary of the University of Florida Pro-life Alliance, Florida chair for the Network of enlightened Women, and secretary of her College Republicans chapter. “I was also committed to preserving the memory of 9/11 by spearheading a 9/11: Never Forget Project and Vigil for six years consistently as a college student,” Jean said. Following her college graduation, she went straight into her graduate studies at the University of Florida, where she earned her Master's in Political Science and certificate in Public Affairs in May 2012. In the summers, Jean interned for the Family Research Council's Marriage and Religion Research Institute, the state attorney's office for the eighth judicial circuit of Florida, and in the external relations department for The Heritage Foundation. In spring 2013, Jean interned for the Leadership Institute's development department. “I first learned of the Leadership Institute when I was a kid,” Jean recalled. “I remember my late uncle talking to my dad about all the good that LI was doing. I never realized until recently that he was a donor for many years. That was in the 1990s and today I'm sure he would be proud to know that I was privileged to intern at such a fine organization.” As an intern, Jean took more than 17 LI trainings ranging from TV training to the High-Dollar Fundraising School to the Campaign Management School. “I learned more in the Leadership Institute's semester-long internship than I feel I learned in my two years of graduate school at the University of Florida,” she said. “My life has changed completely because of the Leadership Institute! Before my internship I was working one full-time job by day in a Nationwide Insurance Claims Call Center in Gainesville, Florida and by night I was scanning and bagging groceries at my neighborhood Publix that I had worked at for years,” Jean said. “During all of my free time I was applying for jobs and was starting to get discouraged at the minimal answer rate I was getting. I decided to take a chance and gave up both jobs to intern at LI—one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life! Plus, I'm currently working at a non-profit – the Institute for Justice – that I've dreamed of working at since I first found out about the organization's good work.” Your life can completely change too! Check out LI's training schedule here. “As LI's development department intern, I had the opportunity to work on numerous direct mail, major gifts, and foundations projects,” Jean said. “I especially enjoyed working with Morton and the staff on the day lily project. These projects taught me integral fundraising and non-profit management skills which I plan to utilize in my position at the Institute for Justice.” “The Leadership Institute is the premier comprehensive training organization that is equipping conservatives with the skills needed to succeed in government, politics, and the media. This organization helped catapult me onto my career path and I hope all conservatives take advantage of the great opportunities LI has to offer. I'm sure glad I did and will be eternally grateful!” You too can be “catapulted onto your career path” through LI training – specifically the week-long, intensive Comprehensive Fundraising Training, which is coming up September 30 through October 3. Please congratulate Jean Morrow on landing her dream job, and please welcome her as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Summer vacation at the Leadership Institute
Leadership Institute
July 13, 2013
Summer vacation at the Leadership Institute
Tan and rested they are not. But they return home a little smarter, a lot more effective, and with many more friends in the conservative movement.For an activist like you, this may sound like a holiday.So far this summer, more than 3,700 conservatives just like you agreed -- choosing Leadership Institute training over a beach, trading swimming and relaxing for learning from experienced political professionals, and picking up pens and notepads instead of hot dogs and hamburgers.Our movement and our country will be grateful they did.As Senator Rand Paul said, "If more conservative candidates have the same secret weapon I had -- top staff and key volunteers trained by the Leadership Institute -- you and I will see many more conservative victories in the future."You can imagine how many LI staff, graduates, and donors have that line committed to memory. It cuts to the core of the Institute's mission -- and what graduates like you do every day.Just see some of the highlights from this summer.Issues That UniteSince its launch in May, LI's Issues That Unite: Latinos and Conservatism has trained 410 conservatives. At these intensive evening workshops -- held so far in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and Virginia -- attendees learned how to welcome Latinos into the conservative movement, how to work best with Spanish-language media, and how to talk persuasively about the values Latinos and conservatives share.The influence of Latinos in business, politics, and American culture is growing at a dramatic rate. But their involvement in the conservative movement has not matched that pace. LI and partnering organizations are changing that...one evening at a time.You may register for upcoming Issues That Unite events in Orlando, Florida; Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; or Los Angeles, California.Bring a conservative friend. Better yet? Bring five.Virginia: Voting Is Not EnoughIt is election season in Virginia, which means LI is training activists and campaign staff to work for the candidates of their choice. Since January, the Institute has offered custom, targeted workshops for Virginians, training 540 conservatives so far.But it's really heating up this summer, with five trainings in June, eight trainings in July, and seven trainings already scheduled in August in locations all across the state.Live in Virginia and want to get involved? Contact Christopher Doss, Deputy Director of Grassroots, who's running the show.Impressive numbers at summer trainingsConservatives are hungry to learn how to win. That's one way to explain the eye-popping numbers from trainings at the Institute this summer.In June, the Conservative Intern Workshop trained 98 interns from 30 conservative organizations in and around Washington, D.C. Interns learned how to make the most of their current internships and land full-time jobs when they graduate.In July, the Youth Leadership School, LI's flagship training, welcomed 141 young conservatives. In an intensive, two-day political bootcamp, they learned ho wto run mass-based youth efforts for the candidates of their choice. Look for them on the campaign trail.In August, just last week, the Future Candidate School hosted more than 100 conservatives who plan to run for office. In four days (45 hours of instruction), they learned how to decide when they're ready to run, how to build their networks and raise funds, and how to devise a grassroots-powered political campaign.LI grads have done great things in office. Many of these aspiring candidates will join them soon.With three more weeks of summer, Institute trainings aren't slowing down. They're just getting started.Check out LI's 2013 training calendar. If you register this week, use the promotion code LeadMemo to save 25% on your registration fee. But hurry! The code will expire this Saturday, August 17.>
TN Councilman, the Good Samaritan
Lauren Day
July 9, 2013
TN Councilman, the Good Samaritan
Imagine having polycystic kidney disease. Life would change drastically and very quickly. For Wiley Bird, the disease dispelled both of his kidneys and he spent one year living on dialysis as he waited for a transplant to come through. Thankfully in 2001, Wiley received an answered prayer when a donated kidney match came through. However, 10 years later his body rejected this kidney and he was yet again kidney-less, with many emergency surgeries for a catheter and hooked onto a dialysis machine which left him without a job and on disability, and once again on the transplant waiting list – hoping for a miracle. Enter Nick Steward, a new city councilman in Clarksville, Tennessee and Leadership Institute graduate. Upon hearing the unfortunate news, Nick Steward volunteered his kidney to Wiley, a stranger who happened to be a former coworker's husband. After three months of preparation, the two men went into surgery eleven weeks ago and spent four days in the hospital. While their recovery has been slow and steady, we are pleased that Nick's kidney has been accepted by Wiley's body. Nick's last name—Steward—is more than just a name; it's a way of life: being a servant-leader to those around him and in his community. “Much of my life has been committed to serving others. My choice to donate a kidney to someone in need was a continuation of that service,” Nick shared with me. “I have been an organ donor since I was 18 years old and hearing that someone was in need now, I asked, ‘why not donate while I'm alive if I'm able and it will improve someone else's life.'” In November 2010, Nick was elected with 68 percent of the vote to the Clarksville, Tennessee City Council. In this position, he along with the mayor and other council members set departmental policies for the police, fire, street, parks and recreation, gas and water, electric, and others. In addition to setting policies they also make decisions on projects such as hiring additional police officers, building additional fire stations, and make several zoning and economic development choices each month. “As individuals we have a limited reach and impact on the future. We can raise our children, have an impact on those around us, and work hard to improve our communities, but once we are dead and gone our impact is usually short lived,” Nick said. “Getting involved in public policy as an advocate, campaign operative, or elected official is one way that we can leave a legacy for generations to come.” And leaving “a legacy for generations to come” is exactly what he's doing. “Being an elected official has been a rewarding experience which has provided me with a high level of responsibility. Setting personnel policies for more than 1500 employees and managing an $80-plus million budget has reinforced the importance of performance-based metrics and efficiency that the military and business world taught me,” Nick shared. “Directly representing 11,000 people and developing a vision for 134,000 people has given me the opportunity to devise and implement complex plans.” Since 2009 Nick has been a REALTOR with Keller Williams Realty and has received several distinctions through his involvement in serving Middle Tennesseans' real estate needs. In 2011, Nick was the recipient of the Community Involvement Award and has been a member of the government affairs committee since 2011. Before becoming a REALTOR, Nick was a solider for the U.S. Army. After graduating from Liberty University in the summer of 2005, Nick became an automated logistical specialist with the Army until March 2009. During these years, he served in South Korea, Fort Campbell in Kentucky, and in Afghanistan. Since 2003, Nick has been a volunteer or paid staffer in more than 30 political campaigns in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Some of the more notable races have included: Bob McDonnell for Virginia AG, Bob McDonnell for Virginia Governor, Bill Haslam for Tennessee Governor, and Deanna McLaughlin for City Council in Tennessee. Nick's work has garnered recognition from many. In 2004, he was bestowed the Republican National Committee President's Circle Award for his “dedication to voter registration and your tireless efforts to grow the Republican Party.” From 2009-2010, he was selected to serve on the Clarksville Public Building Authority. In 2011, Nick was chairman of the Clarksville Alzheimer Association Walk and in that year, Gov. Bill Haslam appointed him to the Tennessee Pest Control Board. He's also a member of the Clarksville area Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee and former chair of the Montgomery County Young Republicans. Nick loves other cultures: he's lived in six countries, traveled to 14, and speaks basic Tagalog (Filipino) and basic Korean. He's also crazy about soccer, boxing, NASCAR, hockey, cooking, and chess. Nick received his bachelor's in business administration from Liberty University in 2005 and first learned of the Leadership Institute and President Morton Blackwell there. But it wasn't until January 2010 that Nick took LI's Campaign School and LI's Future Candidate School in August 2011. "The Leadership Institute's Campaign School provided me with the opportunity to organize the skills I had acquired through my experience working on campaigns and provided me with more tools that I was able to use during the year," Nick said. "During the first part of 2010 I used what I learned at LI to provide crisis management assistance to one of my future colleagues. Then, during the spring of 2010 I was part of the five person leadership team running the primary campaign for now Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam in my county. I led the door-to-door efforts." LI training didn't just help Nick's colleagues; it aided his own campaign toward victory! "Going into the summer and fall I was able to use the skills I learned at the Leadership Institute in my own city council campaign, which resulted in a victory with 68 percent of the vote," Nick said. "As an elected official I have also used the lessons learned at LI lectures regarding mobilizing citizens to aid in convincing the council to implement policies I felt were important." You too can take LI training -- specifically the week-long, intensive Future Candidate School, which is coming up the first week of August. "LI is a must for anyone thinking about running for office, helping others get elected, or playing an advocacy role that is serious about winning," Nick said. "Simply having the right ideas is not enough to get us across the finish line. We conservatives must take time to learn how to organize and communicate our message if we are going to be effective. The Leadership Institute provides the tools we need for success." Please congratulate Nick Steward on his recovery, and please welcome him as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Let's Honor America’s Heroes this July 4th
Lauren Day
June 25, 2013
Let's Honor America’s Heroes this July 4th
Heroes should die famous. Sadly, many don't, and that's why Freethink Media—a production company started in 2010 that's devoted to telling stories about freedom, human well-being, and achievement—produced the heartwarming, award-winning documentary film Honor Flight. Honor Flight tells the story of four living World War II veterans and a Midwest community that raises the necessary funds to give them and thousands of veterans the trip of a lifetime: an honor flight to Washington, D.C. to see the memorial constructed for them in 2004, nearly 60 years after war. The film highlights the good work the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit organization, has done in transporting more than 100,000 veterans from WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam War from across 117 cities for an unforgettable 24-hour journey to Washington, D.C. to visit their memorials, recognize their service, and say thanks. My husband and some Leadership Institute coworkers joined me several weeks ago at The Heritage Foundation for an evening screening of the film. What I saw and more, what I felt, moved me to tears and left me with a profound appreciation for those who gave their lives, limbs, time, and families for my freedom decades before I was born. We left Heritage cherishing America and her many freedoms, and I highly recommend seeing this documentary. The film has received many awards including: the Best of Festival Documentary Feature in 2013 by the Richmond International Film Festival; the 2013 winner of the Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Competition by the Cleveland International Film Festival; the Guinness World Record for the largest film screening in 2012; the 2013 winner of the Best of Festival Documentary Feature by the GI film Festival; and the Best Documentary Audience Choice in 2013 by the Omaha Film Festival. But that's not the full story -- at least not where the Leadership Institute is concerned. Meet Jo Jensen, the marketing director for Freethink Media. She's been busy this year raising awareness for Honor Flight, and has worked hard in part because it's personal to her. “My grandfather served in WWII and my mother is a WWII military historian,” Jo shared. “Having the opportunity to meet WWII veterans and hear their stories first-hand is an experience that I am grateful for and will never forget.” Originally from Billings, Montana, Jo went to Mount Holyoke College, a liberal arts college for women in Massachusetts, where she received a degree in political science and a minor in economics. “When I was in college, I was involved with helping a student group called Students for Saving Social Security (S4) get started. By my junior year, 2005 to 2006, we had more than 300 campus chapters comprised of more than 10,000 students. Many of these campus chapters were Leadership Institute (LI) student groups and LI was instrumental with providing training through field reps and helping our organization get started through direct mail donations,” Jo said. Since college, Jo has attended five trainings at the Leadership Institute: LI's Youth Leadership School in December 2010, Public Speaking Workshop in October 2010, On-Camera Television Workshop in September 2010, Legislative Project Management School in September 2010, and Grassroots Activist School in March 2008. In 2009, Jo attended LI's Conservative Job Fair at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where more than 739 jobseekers came to meet with conservative and libertarian employers. Later that year, Jo was selected by one of the CPAC Job Fair recruiters to be a year-long Koch Associate. She was also in the inaugural class of the National Review Institute's Washington Fellows program and helped found Generation Opportunity, where she later became the associate vice president of national stakeholder relations and operations. “Even as I have changed roles, I have continued to participate in Leadership Institute trainings. I just saw a training in public relations that I am considering going to this year,” Jo said. “There are a lot of opportunities to learn how to organize students, communicate your ideas succinctly, and to sharper your on-camera skills.” Jo was instrumental in helping break the Guinness World Record for the largest audience in history at a film screening with 28,442 people in attendance at Honor Flight's premiere in August 2012. For Memorial Day this year, Jo helped organize 80 screenings of the film at theaters and community centers, including one hosted by President George H.W. Bush near his home in Maine. “I recommend this July Fourth making time between the picnics and fireworks to sit down and watch Honor Flight the movie with your family and friends,” Jo said. “Honor Flight is a powerful documentary, but its real impact occurs when families share the experience together and talk about our heritage of where freedom comes from.” After Honor Flight was made available for purchase and download, it immediately became the top rated documentary on Amazon for weeks! You can download Honor Flight on iTunes and the DVD can be purchased on Amazon. More than 640 WWII veterans die every day, and that's why honoring them now is so critical. “The easiest and most important way to get involved is to just express your gratitude for their service. In the movie, we show the WWII veterans being surprised on their trip home with thank you letters from community members and their family. I don't think people realize just how much it means to veterans to have their service recognized and to be thanked with a handshake, a hug or a thank you card,” Jo said. There are multiple opportunities to get involved with this movement of honoring veterans. You can apply to be a guardian for one special veteran, a volunteer to welcome them back home at the end of their journey or to welcome them to DC (there are 117 cities that send veterans with trips every weekend April through October), or considering being a host for a private screening of the film. And of course, if you know of a veteran that should receive this honor trip, please help them apply. “The Leadership Institute has served as a great networking resource to me and also helped me navigate Washington, D.C.,” Jo shared. “I always recommend an LI training to folks new to DC because it's a great way to get connected and sharpen your skills!” Register online for an LI training like Jo and become more effective so this generation continues to preserve freedom! Follow Jo on Twitter @JoJensen. Please congratulate Jo Jensen on her wonderful work of publicizing the gift of service World War II veterans have given, and please welcome her as LI's Graduate of the Week. There will be no featured spotlight next week and this feature will resume the week of July 8. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Lovin’ Data
Lauren Day
June 18, 2013
Lovin’ Data
Research drives policy messaging. Well, at least for smart conservatives. For Abbey Brokos, she's found a career doing research in her passion: political communications. First she worked for the Republican National Committee as a junior research analyst, and now she's a political communications specialist at FP1 Strategies. “Research is absolutely crucial because it sets the foundation for communication strategies,” Abbey said. “It helps explain the facts why people should believe a specific argument. More and more campaigns, nonprofits, and corporations are hiring researchers because they provide the substance on which to springboard their message and win over an audience.” At FP1 Strategies, Abbey compiles news articles for clients, conducts research, updates social media accounts, writes op-ed pieces, and collects information and quotes for client advertisements. “The fast-paced nature of political communications means there is never a dull moment in the office,” she said. At the Republican National Committee (RNC), Abbey developed research and communication skills. “We were required to quickly research and turn around the information to be used as background for the RNC, a blog post on the website, or a research piece used by the presidential campaign, grassroots activists, and reporters,” Abbey said. “One of the many highlights of working at the RNC was the opportunity to attend the Republican National Convention down in Tampa, Florida.” She's a Michigander, but attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, where she received a Bachelor's degree in political science and graduated magna cum laude. In college, she spent her summers interning in the DC area. In 2009, Abbey was a legislative affairs intern for Concerned Women for America, where she first learned of the Leadership Institute (LI). “After attending the Leadership Institute's Youth Leadership School, I realized that there were so many different practical things that LI could teach me which would give me an advantage in the world of politics. The next summer in 2010 I was excited to learn that I was accepted as an LI intern,” Abbey said. “It was while I was interning in the communication training department that I first realized my love for communications.” So, she enrolled in 14 LI trainings. She jumped at the opportunity to take all of LI's communications trainings: public speaking, television, public relations, and broadcast journalism, she said. “Countless times, techniques I learned at LI have helped me understand tasks at work much more quickly and have given me an advantage in the workforce. Moreover, the Leadership Institute has helped me develop life-long relationships with both mentors and peers in the political world that continue to challenge me to grow as an individual and conservative,” Abbey said. The following summer Abbey interned at the U.S. Department of State. “Young people should care about public policy because it directly impacts our generation and the future of our country,” Abbey said. “Unless we take an active role, future generations may not have the same freedoms and opportunities that we have today.” So, get trained in effective communications at LI so we can preserve freedom! Register for LI's Public Speaking Workshop. “The Leadership Institute wants to take people who have a passion to make a difference in the world of politics and equip them with the foundational tools in order to help them succeed in whatever area of politics they choose,” Abbey shared. “LI helped me develop my love for communications and for that, I will be forever grateful.” Follow Abbey on Twitter @Abbeyebrokos. Please congratulate Abbey Brokos on finding her career love, and please welcome her as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
From Campaign Loss to Student Body President Win
Lauren Day
June 10, 2013
From Campaign Loss to Student Body President Win
Have you heard the famous proverb: “If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again?” For Lee Cohen, trying again proved very successful. In 2012, he ran for student body president at Indiana University South Bend and lost by just 57 votes. This year, running against two other candidates, Lee received 55.9 percent of the vote, while the second place person received 35.9 percent and the last received 8.2 percent. In other words, Lee overwhelmingly won 1.5 times more votes than the second highest candidate and 6.5 times more votes than the third. So, what changed? First—Lee increased his name recognition. After his loss in 2012, he spent this past year getting more involved on campus and making good relationships. “In 2012, I had zero name recognition on campus,” Lee told me. “I internalized the knowledge that people aren't voting for you…They are voting for the idea of you, for the idea of who you are and what you symbolize. Branding yourself carefully and meticulously is imperative –you will become a symbol and a fad. People will sell you to their friends in their discussions with one another without you needing to lift a finger. By branding yourself, you become a discussion topic. Following my first run for office, I had established name recognition and a strong reputation throughout the year.” Second—he got help. In 2012, his campaign team consisted of just him. This year, he recruited a slate of folks to run with him on a conservative platform ticket. “In Morton Blackwell's Laws of the Public Policy Process, his sixth law states, ‘Give ‘em a title and get ‘em involved,' and law #29 states, ‘You can't beat somebody with nobody.' Going it alone in 2012 was an uphill battle, so it drastically helped to establish a team of good candidates and have them well organized,” Lee said. “I gave it 110 percent in 2012, but still came in shy of winning. This year, I gave it 120 percent and had 10 others working for my victory. Together, we more than doubled the prior year's numbers.” “I established a team of candidates with similar viewpoints, creating a powerful coalition. Our team was campaigning against another well-established team of 13 candidates—one presidential candidate and 12 senate candidates. They were all very well connected with the student body and the student housing,” Lee said. But having a strong coalition isn't enough to win elections. Having a strong message is also important. “I ran for Student Government Association president because I felt that students needed someone who would represent their interests and not act merely as a rubber stamp for the university's administration,” Lee said. “I sought the office because I felt that funds were being spent inappropriately and that the student activity fee – an additional fee that students have to pay alongside tuition – was being used as a second, quasi-tuition increase in order to pay for things that the university should be paying for on its own dime through its general fund.” There were four executive positions open–president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. There were three people ran for president and 24 ran for 12 open senate seats. “My team of candidates held a better, more conservative philosophy regarding how student funding should be spent,” Lee said. “This next year, I will be working to establish a system whereby our student government can offer representation to students who are the targets of bias in classrooms and in grading—especially if these biases are rooted in discrimination against a student's worldview, political orientation, or conservative viewpoints—as well as stand guard against restrictions that could impede upon conservative clubs and organizations on campus.” Third—by studying how to win, the election outcomes changed in Lee's favor. In 2009, Lee came to DC for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). “At CPAC, I met Kent Strang from the Leadership Institute and had the opportunity to work with both him and Brenda Alves who was, at the time, the intern coordinator for LI,” Lee remembered. He was encouraged to apply for LI's summer 2009 internship and was accepted. While at LI, Lee took nine trainings, including the Campaign Management School, Television Workshops, Public Relations School, Conservative Intern Workshop, Direct Mail School, Youth Leadership School, and LI's Public Speaking Workshop. Lee took Leadership Institute training. He studied his notes later. He prepared for battle, and then won. “LI taught me everything I to know about campaigning,” Lee said. “Without the Leadership Institute, I couldn't have understood what I needed to do in each unique situation in order to secure a victory for myself and our team.” Fourth—he implemented political technology to his benefit. The ninth Law of Public Policy Process states: Political technology determines political success. Lee said he implemented this law on his campaign. “Technology allowed us to speak to thousands of people at once in 1,000 places, all with the click of a button. All the while, we were getting out the vote in person! I utilized Facebook ads early on; printer templates for flyers, posters, and table tents; stickers; email blasts; and, most effectively, text message blasts,” Lee said. “We worked our GOTV while simultaneously email and text blasting our voting block. I tested my software religiously. There is nothing worse than being right on the front lines of the battlefield when your email blasts are being marked as SPAM and your text messenger is not functioning. I learned the importance of triple checking that everything is in working order and having my email blasts functioning and ready to go on a timer days in advance,” he explained. Fifth—he made sharp campaign materials and used them effectively. “I learned that campaign materials which are sharp, understandable, and motivating are highly effective,” Lee said. He continued, “Good materials, concise talking points, and easy-to-follow voting directions help voters see the value in supporting you and convince them that the time it takes to vote for you is well worth it. Aside from flyers and posters, we had a secret weapon: table towers. We printed hundreds of them and prepared them so that they could be unfolded and set up in seconds. We systematized our campaign materials. “Then, during the early morning of Election Day, we covered the campus with them. They were impressive, effective, and attractive; people loved them,” he explained. “They emanated professionalism and branded us effectively. I ran into a ton of people who said that they voted for us simply because they saw our table towers and followed the voting directions on it.” Lastly—he got out the vote and ran an aggressive grassroots campaign. In 2012, there were 877 voters. In 2013, there were 1,601 students that came out to vote for the candidate of their choice. That's almost double the number of voters. Lee received 55.9 percent of the vote, while the second place person received 35.9 percent and the last received 8.2 percent. And, all nine of their slate's senators won! “This year, I established the campaign strategy months before the campaign,” Lee said. He waited to announce he was running for president until his decision was made and his team was formed. “I began collecting voter contact information in person weeks before the GOTV effort even began. I would go classroom to classroom and give a brief three-minute spiel with handout materials. Following the spiel, I would ask for their pledged support and vote, and then I collected their email and phone number for GOTV far in advance of Election Day,” Lee said. But working hard during the campaign isn't enough; one must finish strong. “I decided to run through the finish line, and then keep running until I could no longer see the finish line in my rearview mirror. Slowing down isn't suicide, but it is detrimental to your margin for error,” he shared. “The more you withdraw yourself from the game, the smaller that margin of error gets and the more your wiggle room shrinks. By running our campaign at full steam toward the end, we secured a massive victory.” In just two years, he went from underdog loser to the most prominent leader on campus. Now he gets to change his campus toward more conservative ways next year as president. Lee learned that failure is just an opportunity to learn from mistakes, correct them, and become stronger and more successful. “The Leadership Institute is the premier political activism training institution in our nation,” Lee said. “There is nowhere else that you can receive the level of in depth training, knowledge, and experience that LI supplies. There is simply no substitute for learning the art of winning political campaigns from those campaign managers and consultants who work in the field day-to-day and provide their expertise at LI trainings." Come to the Leadership Institute to learn how to prepare for a future run for office. Register for LI's week-long Future Candidate School in August. “LI has not only given me the skills for successful organization and campaigning, it has also facilitated long-term friendships for me in the field of politics and nonprofits that will allow me to advance in a career where I can advance conservative principles,” Lee said. We look forward to where Lee's career will go. Follow Lee on Twitter @CohenLee. Please congratulate and welcome Lee Cohen as an elected leader at Indiana University and as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
Teenage Voice Making (Air)Waves
Lauren Day
June 3, 2013
Teenage Voice Making (Air)Waves
Jayson Veley was a spy. Well, at least when he was a child. At night, Jayson would sneak up on his father yelling at the TV in their Wethersfield, Connecticut home as he watched the evening news and the talking heads. "I had small conversations with my dad about political issues in America, and over the years these conversations became more and more frequent,” Jayson said. “I really owe a lot of credit to my dad, because without him, I never would have started political commentary in the first place.” Jayson's true love is broadcasting his conservative views over the airwaves. In high school he co-founded with his buddy Caiden Cowger Junior Factor Nation to spread the conservative message to youth. Their network provides radio programming, video clips, and columns – all created by teenagers and young twenty-somethings. “As it stands right now, liberalism will be the dominant ideology in America's near future, primarily due to the youth's increasing exposure to classroom indoctrination and media bias,” Jayson said. “The reason I established Junior Factor Nation is essentially to counter these factors, and present the youth with a side of politics that they are not being exposed to.” Jayson just finished his freshman year at Eastern Connecticut State University, where he majors in communications with a focus on radio broadcasting. But you can often find Jayson cohosting a conservative radio show on the campus radio station. Every Monday and Thursday night from 7 to 8 p.m. EST tune in and hear Jayson as the Factor Talk Radio host. The program airs live on the website for listeners to hear along with other shows like The Founding Voice, The Caiden Cowger Program, and The Whitfield Analysis. Jayson was thrilled when he got a special invite to make a guest appearance on Glenn Beck's TV show in April 2010 – calling it his “biggest honor.” “Connor, my local access co-host at the time, and I were given the chance to teach a political lesson at Beck's chalk boards, which was a very neat experience. It has definitely motivated me to keep up the fight for freedom, and it is something that I truly will never forget,” he explained. Jayson first learned of the Leadership Institute through his uncle Scott Veley, also an LI graduate. He registered for LI's Youth Leadership School in August 2010 as a high school sophomore. “My experience with the Leadership Institute was fantastic. I still have all the notes I took during the course when I learned how to organize on college campuses and how to promote the ideas of conservatism to my peers. Now that I am in college, the skills that I learned at the Leadership Institute are much more relevant, and I am definitely going back for more training in the near future,” he said. You too can get trained like Jayson. Register now for LI's Youth Leadership School. “The Leadership Institute staff genuinely wants you to succeed, whether you are interested in radio broadcasting like me or organizing in other ways on college campuses. They are completely committed to spreading the conservative message, and have certainly been helpful to me and my professional journey. LI's Mr. Steve Sutton has been particularly helpful, and has provided me with many opportunities to advance my political broadcasting career.” Jayson has also published his own book called The Other Side. In it, he discusses conservatism and its importance to today's youth. The book is currently available on Amazon. “Freedom is something that everyone deserves to have, and everyone should be fighting for,” Jayson said. “As Ronald Reagan once said, ‘freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction'. If we don't pass on these principles of limited government and constitutional values, then I fear that the Republic will one day disappear altogether. Young people should get involved because it is their country too, and the future of America is in their hands.” Jason's recommendation for getting involved? It starts with Leadership Institute training. “The Leadership Institute is committed to teaching college students how to organize and spread the conservative message on campus. Like everyone at Junior Factor Nation, the staff at LI wants to see freedom protected in this country. They are an organization that wants to educate the youth and ensure that future generations will hold true to our founding values and principles. I would highly recommend the Leadership Institute to anyone willing to join the fight for liberty,” Jayson said. Follow Jayson on Twitter @JaysonVeley and @FactorTalkRadio. Please congratulate and welcome Jayson Veley into conservative broadcasting and as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
“Politics Addict” Goes Online
Lauren Day
May 21, 2013
“Politics Addict” Goes Online
So you think you're a politics addict? Leah Courtney says she's one. Leah was raised in a conservative, military family who idealized Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Oliver North. However, it wasn't until college that these ideas spurred action and developed into her career calling: online communications. This small-town girl claims Florida as home. She is a 2012 graduate of the University of West Florida, and received a Bachelor's of Arts in international studies and political science. In college, Leah was active in College Republicans -- even chair of the group one year -- and involved in student government, for which she served as academic committee co-chair. “I first started getting involved with politics when I was 19 years old, and I've been an addict ever since,” Leah Courtney, now 23, said. She's a social media analyst at DC London, a full-service consulting firm in areas of campaign management, grassroots management, lobbying, message and brand development, and social media. “My job is to watch social media trends to keep clients informed on how their brand is doing and what is popular at the moment,” Leah said. “I got into this field honestly doing exactly what I always do: tweeting and blogging,” Leah shared. “People have to put themselves out there and voice their views on public policy. Be unapologetic; be outspoken. We have free speech in this country; take advantage of it. And, the people in the industry will take notice.” And boy, have folks taken notice. She's now on three international sub-committees for the Young Republicans National Federation: Asia and Oceania, Americas, and Europe, on which she is most active. “We are one of the few countries that has the opportunity to have a hand in public policy decision-making. That being said, it is borderline irresponsible not to take an interest,” Leah said. “Young people need to be reading up on these policies, and voting every chance they get.” In the spring of 2013, Leah interned at the Leadership Institute in the Events Department where she helped promote LI's monthly Wednesday Wake-Up Club Breakfasts and happy hours. Before her LI internship, Leah worked in the fall (August through November) as the field director for the Republican National Committee in Pensacola, Florida. In this position she organized events for 500 to 1,000 people, working in a coalition with the GOP executive committee and local tea party groups. She also taught employees and volunteers how to effectively conduct grassroots operations during the campaign. Before that, Leah interned for Mitt Romney for President in the research department at the office in northwestern Florida. She assisted with event planning for groups of around 500 and did many calls with voters. In the fall of 2010, Leah interned for the Rick Scott for Governor campaign where she made 100 to 125 calls per hour, coordinated the midnight sign placement run for three counties, and campaigned in the community and at events. Leah first learned of LI from a good friend, who was a past intern for the Institute. He invited her to attend a Youth Leadership School, and “I've been a huge fan ever since,” she said. “I've learned so much from the entire LI family,” Leah said. “I got the push I needed to succeed in such a competitive environment, and I also have made a lot of friends through LI that help me in countless ways and keep me motivated.” Leah took 15 LI trainings as various as TV training to High-Dollar Fundraising School to Campaign Management School. “Some things that really stuck with me were from the public relations training and online activism workshop,” Leah said. “How to grab someone's attention and make them want to hear about the brand you're promoting is one thing that was really valuable. Also, I remember learning how to make your point when writing without getting wordy or off-topic.” You too can become a LI intern like Leah. Contact LI's Intern Coordinator Alyssa Condrey at ACondrey@LeadershipInstitute.org for more information. “The Leadership Institute is a great stepping stone for young activists that want to make it in the political world. If you're interested in getting involved, sign up for LI training. I've learned more through this organization then I did during the four years I was in college.” You heard her: sign up for an LI training now. You can follow Leah on Twitter @LCourtney90. Please congratulate and welcome Leah Courtney into the online communications industry and as LI's Graduate of the Week. To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.
IRS targeted Leadership Institute in growing scandal
David Fenner
May 16, 2013
IRS targeted Leadership Institute in growing scandal
At the same time the IRS was bullying tea party and conservative groups, it was auditing the Leadership Institute.On June 1, 2011, LI received notice of an audit of its tax return and activities in 2008.What followed was a more than year-long investigation of more than 23,430 pages of records and requests for items like:--- a list of 2008 interns and their future employers;--- sample emails between employers and LI regarding ConservativeJobs.com; and--- how LI's more than 300 trainings are advertised. Ultimately, the IRS accepted the Institute's tax return as filed."The IRS' indefensible behavior is worse than we first thought, as it targeted both new and existing conservative groups in politically motivated attacks," said Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute. "Fortunately my Leadership Institute had the resources to stand up to the government's bullying and intimidation. Other groups, including grassroots and tea party groups we've helped train, did not. Defending ourselves from the harassing audit cost my organization more than $50,000 in legal fees alone." Timeline of the Leadership Institute's auditDateLI AuditIG Report Date 6/1/2011Notice of audit, initial document request 6/10/2011In-office visit requested 7/2011 "The EO function decides to develop written guidance for the Determinations Unit to process the potential political cases." 1/2012 "Specialists begin issuing additional information request letters to organizations applying for tax-exempt status, requesting that the information be provided in two to three weeks." 2/14/2012..............///.............Additional document request ................................................... 5/2012 "A workshop is given to Determinations Unit specialists assigned to potential political cases. Afterwards, a review of all the open cases is completed to recommend whether additional processing is necessary or whether the cases can be closed (as of December 17, 2012, 160 applications were still being processed)." 7/26/2012Audit closed -- tax return accepted as filed What the IRS asked the Leadership InstituteCopies of applications for internships and summer programs; to include: lists of those selected for internships and students in 2008.-- In regards to such internships, please provide information regarding where the interns physically worked and how the placement was arranged.-- After completing internships and courses, where were the students and interns employed?Information regarding training programs conducted in 2008.-- Copies of training materials utilized in 2008 to include syllabi and/or curriculum.-- How are training sessions/programs advertised?-- How are students solicited?-- Are there students in the programs that are not of the conservative viewpoint? If so, please provide documentation of such.Information regarding instructors of your organization's training programs.-- Are the instructors employees of your organization? If not, are instructions [sic] contracted from exterior sources?-- How are instructors solicited?-- What are the instructors' backgrounds?Information regarding your organization's job placement program.-- How is the program facilitated?-- How are job opportunities provided to your organization and applicants on your organization's job placement website?-- Samples of correspondence between employers and your organization regarding positions available and to be posted on your job placement website.This story will be updated continuously as more information is received. For media inquiries, please contact Louise Filkins at 202-237-2519.>
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