LI Grad Interview: From LI intern to Heritage Foundation VP, Andrew McIndoe Furthers Faith and Freedom
Kirsten Holmberg and Mark Madsen
December 22, 2021
LI Grad Interview: From LI intern to Heritage Foundation VP, Andrew McIndoe Furthers Faith and Freedom
Meet Andrew McIndoe, a former Leadership Institute (LI) intern, current LI faculty, and the highly successful Vice President of Development at The Heritage Foundation.In my recent interview with Andrew McIndoe, we discussed his experience working for Morton Blackwell and how Andrew sees the trajectory of conservative politics. Andrew left me reenergized to further the principles of faith and freedom, not just in my professional life but in all that I do.Can you tell me a bit about yourself?I was born and raised in Oak Ridge, North Carolina. I spent 18 years there before making my way to Grove City College in western Pennsylvania. Then I moved to DC right after graduation, and after doing a few internships I landed at The Heritage Foundation where I have worked for almost ten years. As a former LI intern and now Vice President at one of the leading conservative think tanks, when did you become interested in the world of policy and politics?My earliest political memory is doing “kids' voting” with my dad. We went into a little kids' booth that's much shorter than a regular booth. And I just thought it was so cool that we could go and have a say. It was neat because you felt like you were able to contribute. Even at a young age, I could feel the weight of fulfilling one of the most important civic duties.I don't remember a ton of political conversations around the dining room table. Though we must have had some, because I ended up working on a congressional campaign in high school. I attribute that to the Leadership Institute's Youth Leadership School (YLS).I took a YLS binder from the Leadership Institute and basically ripped it off and presented it to this candidate and said, “You need to have a youth campaign.” Working on a campaign plus doing a lot of speech and debate is how I entered electoral politics.I remember finding Heritage Foundation research and reading it over and saying, “Wow I agree with a lot of this stuff. This is cool.” It quickly became my go-to source for evidence in the speech and debate world and later in my studies. I never dreamed or thought about working at Heritage someday.What important skills were you able to develop through your Leadership Institute internship?During my time at the Leadership Institute, I was fortunate to be Morton Blackwell's intern. Morton is an exemplar of good character in the conservative movement, and through him I learned the importance of having integrity in all that you do.This experience working for Morton showed me that I could have a career advancing freedom, liberty, and the principles that make this country great. If it wasn't for that realization, I'd probably be out selling widgets and figuring out how to make a certain product faster or better. But instead, I found that there is great fulfillment and opportunity in supporting the free market and limited government and winning new audiences over to our side.And then the actual vocation and the actual work too. To realize that you could get paid to advance the cause of freedom was a remarkable lightbulb moment. I'm a lot more fulfilled working in the conservative space than I would have been if I had started in the private sector like a lot of my classmates.What were the most useful LI trainings for you? Getting to go to every single training that LI offered during that summer was a great perk of the internship, and I did my best to take as many as I could. Certainly, the Comprehensive Fundraising Training was an important one. I wasn't thinking about development as a full-time profession at that point, but looking back, that is one that I think is great even if you don't think fundraising is in your future. I learned what good donor relations looks like. Again, I think about Morton's rule: You can't save the world if you can't pay the rent.As a leader within the conservative movement, who are some of the people who helped you most to get where you are today? I'll just praise Morton Blackwell. He lives out his laws of the public policy process. What he says about "expanding the leadership” and “giving them a title and getting them involved” is great. I believe that he exhibited that advice well with me as an intern. While getting to work on special projects for him, he would share his wisdom and advice. He played an instrumental role in guiding me into the conservative movement and taught me some of those early lessons that have made all the difference in my career. I'm particularly grateful to Morton for that.As the Vice President of Development for The Heritage Foundation, what has your position taught you about the conservative movement?It wouldn't be a surprise for you to hear me say that the best ideas and solutions don't come from inside of DC – they don't come from the swamp – they come from outside the beltway. They come from people who have met payroll before, who have invented something, who made something of themselves. We need to bring more of those ideas and more of those people into the solutions here in DC.I think that too often our movement is focused on what happens inside of the beltway. And so, with 500,000 Heritage members across the country, a couple thousand in every congressional district, you need to speak into what's going on in the policy-making process and get them a channel or vehicle to do that. Are there changes we should be on guard for as a movement looking forward? First, I think the movement is about a lot more than just one person. It's about policies, and we need to winsomely articulate what those policies mean and tell really great stories about what it means for people on an individual basis.We've got a huge opportunity in a post-Covid education space, and if we don't take advantage of that we will have missed a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the conversation about education. That's something I'm concerned about. So, if we can't present an alternative that's compelling and empowers parents to make good decisions for their own kids, I think we've done a disservice to the moment that exists right now.Second is a tendency to preach to the choir. I think the Leadership Institute does a great job of training people to not do this. We need to go out to non-traditional audiences, people who aren't in the pews already, and bring them into the fold. And we've got an opportunity with the wide variety of issues to do that. We need to speak to people about what's happening in their local communities. A lot of apolitical people are fired up right now, and we should look for more opportunities to highlight the contrast between the bankrupt policies of the left and the policies on the right that advance freedom and prosperity.What is an underutilized resource that we have as conservatives? I think that conservatives should be proud to put bumper stickers on their cars and yard signs in their front yards and not be ashamed of those things. We need to just embrace who we are and be willing to step out and say, “No, conservatives are not three-headed monsters. Just because I believe in school choice and believe in lower taxes doesn't make me a crazy person.” But too often I think we feel self-conscious because of the way that the mainstream media portrays issues, the way we are taught in our schools, the way that conservatives are portrayed in Hollywood. It's easy for us to feel like we are a silent minority. But we are really just a more silent majority.The Leadership Institute believes that all politics are local. And LI, before anyone else, understood the importance of school board elections and city council races, mayoral races, state senate races, etc. More of these battles are happening at the local level, and so the Leadership Institute's focus on training local leaders to step up and to serve in more of these important races is a massive comparative advantage and is of huge strategic importance to the conservative movement. Those are reasons that I am a donor to the Leadership Institute as well.What would you say to the people who feel apathetic about politics?I think it's easy to look around and be discouraged. You look at inflation and prices soaring, and it hurts people at the gas pump and grocery stores. It especially hurts the people who are having a hard time making ends meet. You look at a botched withdrawal in Afghanistan that was completely avoidable. You look at all the legislation being passed that contains hundreds of billions in wasteful spending, at critical race theory and transgender ideology permeating culture in schools and it's understandable for people to feel discouraged. But then, on the other hand, you look at what happened in the Virginia gubernatorial race. One candidate said that parents should have a say in their children's education, that you shouldn't have to wait for hours in line at the DMV, and that decisions shouldn't be made solely in Richmond.This candidate won dramatically in a state that has not been trending in the right direction. So, I think there's great reason to be encouraged by the fact that Americans are waking up. They don't believe in critical race theory. They believe that America is an exceptional nation and that our founders should be appreciated and revered.We should expect great things in 2022, and I think at this point it's ours to lose. And so, I hope that for those who have felt apathetic or discouraged in the past you can look at some of these things that have happened lately and get a bit more pep in your step and be encouraged because there are great reasons to be. If Andrew's words encouraged you to get involved in your local elections next year to send America back in the right direction, sign up for a Leadership Institute 2022 training. You'll learn how you and your conservative community can make a difference.
Disney Fan and California Girl, Madison Marks-Noble helps college students have a voice on campus
Alyssa Jones
December 1, 2021
Disney Fan and California Girl, Madison Marks-Noble helps college students have a voice on campus
Meet California girl Madison Marks-Noble. A Disney lover and fervent conservative activist, Madison loves to encourage college students and give them the resources and network to find their voices on campus. Madison is from Fresno, California. She graduated from San Diego State University. Madison is the Leadership Institute (LI) Regional Field Coordinator for California and Hawaii. She shows selflessness in her work and wants students to become humble leaders. How does your job fulfill you?I get to make an impact in my community and my state. Many see California as a lost cause, but there are young people fighting for conservative principles every day on campus. Traveling around this beautiful state is also a great perk! Outside of the Leadership Institute, what are some things that you enjoy?A few things I enjoy are true crime podcasts and anything Disney. Everyone is so drawn to true crime, and I have hopped on the bandwagon! It passes the time on my long drives to various parts of the state. Disneyland is special to me because some of my best memories are from childhood family trips to Disneyland. My dad and I had always loved the park's history and how magical a place it is. I have been an annual pass holder since 2017, and it is a great escape from stress!As a Leadership Institute Regional Field Coordinator (RFC), you work with students daily who are where you were just a few years ago. How do you use your position not just to give resources, but to inspire them as young conservatives? It's great for students to host speakers and fun activism events, but honestly, the most important things I can do as an RFC are empower them and give them confidence. A lot of conservative students in college feel alone. When they bring up their politics on campus, it can result in rejection. Without visible conservative peers, some students start to censor themselves. I want students in LI's network to leave college knowing they have a voice and that they matter to the conservative movement. They should move into their career - in whatever field they choose - empowered with leadership abilities they learned working with their campus groups.How has the Leadership Institute impacted your life?The Leadership Institute gave me my first job after college - as a field representative and now as an RFC helping college students. I had zero political connections or experience, and LI gave me the chance to work hard and work my way up. Working here has also taught me how important it is to be movement-minded. In politics, it's very easy to get caught up in what "you" do and "your" accomplishments, but LI is not here to self-promote. As Morton says, "build a movement, not an empire." I keep that in mind constantly. Do you think what you have learned at the Leadership Institute will help you in other areas of life?I've learned that you can apply almost any skill regarding grassroots organizing to anything you do. Recruitment and being a people person are valuable skills for any job or position in life. Problem-solving is useful. When students consult with me about an issue in their club or with the school administration, my mind is trained to think outside the box to find solutions to a multitude of problems. Public speaking is also very useful, and while I've had tons of public speaking experience throughout my life, I can never practice too much.So, absolutely. I've gained many invaluable skills. Are you a college student in California or Hawaii? Contact Madison for help. You can find more information about getting help on your campus at LeadershipInstitute.org/Campus.
LI Grad Interview: Dog Owner, Political Activist, Florida Senate Staffer
Kirsten Holmberg
November 23, 2021
LI Grad Interview: Dog Owner, Political Activist, Florida Senate Staffer
"Learn about what is happening in your community and get to know your neighbors. National politics attracts the most attention, but big decisions are being made in your backyard by city and county leaders."Meet Natalie Brown, a Leadership Institute (LI) graduate and Legislative Assistant for Florida State Senator Danny Burgess. I recently interviewed Natalie and heard about her experience as a Legislative Assistant, her advice for conservative activists, and how the Leadership Institute's internship and training helped her become the political activist she is today. Can you tell me a little about yourself and your background? I became interested in politics in high school while participating in a program called Youth in Government. In 2016, I graduated from Florida State University with a degree in economics and moved to Arlington, VA, where I participated in the Koch Associate Program and worked in communications for Concerned Veterans for America.After surviving two blizzards, I returned to Florida. I've been with the Florida Senate as a Legislative Assistant since 2018. I live in Lakeland, Florida, with my husband Ethan and our dog Spock. You currently work as a legislative assistant for Florida State Senator Danny Burgess. How did your work with the Leadership Institute (LI) help prepare you for that job?This year will be my sixth Legislative Session and my second with Senator Danny Burgess. Since my time at the Leadership Institute, I have seen all 45 Laws of the Public Policy Process in action. One of my favorites is Rule 33: "Governing is campaigning by different means." Everything we do at the state level is scrutinized by other elected officials, the media, and most importantly, our constituents. As an LI intern, I was able to attend a variety of Leadership Institute schools and workshops. I use lessons from LI's Public Relations School every day. I even have the sample press release from PR School to show my interns every year. Do you have any insightful stories about working in the Florida Senate? As one Senator often says, the Florida House is an Army with a few leaders and a large infantry, but the Senate is 40 warlords forced to work together to accomplish anything.It is the truth. With only 40 members, the Senate is a small, collegial body. Some of the smaller committees have five members, so every vote matters. Every Senator has to work with their colleagues, and it's a very collaborative environment. Unfortunately, most Floridians don't know that and expect Democrats and Republicans to be at each other's throats on the Senate floor. You used to work as a Digital Communications and External Affairs Intern for the Leadership Institute. What experience did you gain from that position? My time at the Leadership Institute taught me so much about public service, but being the Digital Communications and External Affairs intern gave me the chance to develop specific skills. I learned graphic design, public relations, and social media management. I also wrote blog posts and email copy for the different training divisions. In my current role, I use much of that experience. I regularly write and send newsletters and press releases. I manage my Senator's social media accounts and write speeches and talking points. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?I encourage everyone to log off of social media and get involved at the local level. Learn about what is happening in your community and get to know your neighbors. National politics attracts the most attention, but big decisions are being made in your backyard by city and county leaders. Use your voice to improve your community and develop relationships with other community leaders through civic and service organizations. Make it personal. Share your experience. Why do you care about this issue? If you are sharing your opinion with your state legislators or your congressman, do a little research. Do they sit on a committee where the bill will be heard? Have they already voted on the issue? If so, did they share why they voted for or against legislation? (You'd be surprised how many calls we get asking us to tell a senator to vote against their own bill.) Share how the proposed legislation affects your livelihood or your family. Sending a form letter via email is a drop in the bucket, but a personal email detailing your experiences or concerns will get attention, sometimes even a phone call. This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities. Don't miss out! Sign up here.
Campus Leader turned Campus Resource, Michigander Monika Konrad shows college students how to make their mark
Alyssa Jones
November 15, 2021
Campus Leader turned Campus Resource, Michigander Monika Konrad shows college students how to make their mark
Meet Michigander Monika Konrad. She thrifts, campaigns, prays, and shows college students how to make their mark. Monika is a Leadership Institute (LI) Regional Field Coordinator who helps college students in Michigan and Wisconsin. Monika is from Chesterfield, Michigan and earned degrees in political science and international relations from the University of Michigan upon her graduation in 2019.Monika believes in saying yes to opportunity. She teaches Leadership Institute students how to find those opportunities throughout the conservative movement. In her answers, Monika shows that she cares about building up the next generation of young conservatives. What first drew your interest to the conservative movement? I was fairly apolitical throughout high school. The summer of 2016, after my first year of college, I was offered the opportunity to intern on a congressional campaign in my home district for a conservative state senator. Throughout that summer, I was exposed to conservative ideas and discussion that resonated with me. I realized that my beliefs and values aligned best with the conservative movement. After that, I invested my time in conservative groups on campus and in the community. I went on to intern for various conservative leaders, organizations, and campaigns, and then worked full-time in the movement following graduation.What is your favorite event that you have helped students put together, and why? My favorite event so far has been working with Turning Point USA at Lake Superior State University to host the Michigan Abolitionist Project for a speaker event on preventing human trafficking. Through this event, I think that more students have also developed a heart to bring awareness of this issue to their campus. Students are eager to learn how they can make a positive impact on their community and what they can do to make a difference on their campus. How has the Leadership Institute impacted your life? Over the years, the Leadership Institute has been an integral part of my conservative career. In college, my LI Regional Field Coordinator (RFC) guided me through the process to start a chapter of Network of Enlightened Women, which helped me make my mark on my campus. During my time as field staff for one of our partner organizations, the LI staff members I collaborated with were always so kind and helpful. After my time managing a political campaign, I was looking to move to the Washington, D.C. area. A job offer from the Leadership Institute allowed me to follow my dreams of moving to D.C. The people I have met since working for LI have become lifelong friends. I have been able to network with D.C. locals that I would not have met had I not come to work at the Leadership Institute.Outside of work, what are some things that you enjoy?I love adventuring around the DC area, thrifting, attending DC networking and educational events, spending time outdoors, and traveling. One of the best parts about being a Regional Field Coordinator (RFC) is that there is a lot of opportunity to travel around the country, whether for one of our Student Activism Conferences or to work a table at a partner organization's conference.What is your advice to students who hope for a career in DC or the conservative movement?Apply for the job, network, and get involved. I interned in DC in 2017, graduated in 2019, and moved to DC in 2021. I interned in DC in 2017 and it was the best decision I could have made. Due to COVID, my initial move to DC was slightly delayed, but when I finally moved, I had a feeling of relief and realization that this is where I was meant to be. I had been praying and praying for an opportunity to move to DC during uncertain times, and LI was the biggest blessing.My advice is simple. Pray about it. If you feel called to make the move, take the risk. The conservative movement has so many different opportunities and there are numerous pathways you can take to be successful in whatever field you want to pursue. If you need an internship, apply for the program at the Leadership Institute!Are you a college student in Michigan or Wisconsin? Contact Monica for help. You can find more information about getting an internship or job at the Leadership Institute at LeadershipInstitute.org/Jobs.
Avid Fisherman and North Carolinian, Ryan Glennon Helps College Students Make a Difference
Alyssa Jones
November 8, 2021
Avid Fisherman and North Carolinian, Ryan Glennon Helps College Students Make a Difference
Meet Ryan Glennon, Leadership Institute (LI) Regional Field Coordinator. Ryan helps college students in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Ryan is from North Carolina and holds two Bachelor's degrees and a Master's degree from North Carolina State University. Ryan first got involved with the Leadership Institute when he attended an LI Youth Leadership School. Ryan felt empowered by LI's training and began his career at the Leadership Institute as a Summer 2020 intern. Upon the completion of his internship, Ryan was hired to be an LI Regional Field Coordinator. I recently interviewed Ryan to discuss favorite aspects of his career and learn about how the Leadership Institute continues to build the conservative movement on college campuses across the nation. In his answers, Ryan shows that he truly enjoys his career and genuinely cares about the success of his students and their campus movements.Outside of the Leadership Institute, what are some things you enjoy?I have loved to fish since I was a little kid. It was something that my Dad and I have always enjoyed together, and it is still something that brings me immense joy. I fished tournaments with the bass fishing team in college. It's a very challenging sport that teaches you adversity and patience, but it can also be a relaxing activity with friends and family.How does your job fulfil you?The biggest thing is just seeing the groups I have helped make a difference.Starting groups has given a lot of people a sense of direction in college along with community and friendship. That is so important, and it goes beyond politics.What is your favorite event that you have helped students put together, and why?The Cabot Philips speech at Liberty University (October 2021) and the Andres Guilarte speech at Virginia Tech (February 2021) were both pretty great. Both events attracted more than 100 attendees and were the two of the best speeches I have ever heard. There was a lot of enthusiasm. It generated a lot of support for what groups were doing on campus. Students gained confidence in what they were doing and their abilities, and it created a lot more conversation on campus.There is nothing like a solid speaker event to really drive up the enthusiasm, get people involved, and stay involved. These events create excitement.As a Regional Field Coordinator, you work with students daily who are where you were just a few years ago. How do you use your position to inspire them as young conservatives? I try to figure out what they want to accomplish. From that moment forward, I come up with a plan to help them start and build a club. I help them realize I am there to be a resource. I am invested in their efforts and success.I am there to help and guide them, give them advice and opportunities, and motivate them.I've seen a lot of people just appreciate the fact that someone came along and helped. When I was a chapter leader, any kind of help I got was exciting. It goes a long way when I say “Hey, I'm Ryan. I'm here to help your club. What can I do?”How did the Leadership Institute change your life?Nothing helped me more than attending a Leadership Institute training and learning how to be effective. It has helped me in my job and has helped me guide and instruct others to make a huge impact on campuses.Training yourself and investing in your own knowledge and competence leads directly to helping others and improving their effectiveness.That's the beauty of LI trainings. You take what you know and spread it to others, who spread it to other leaders, and the process continues. It creates a well-trained movement.Do you think that what you have learned at the Leadership Institute will help you in other areas of life?Absolutely. Working at the Leadership Institute and being able to network and communicate with dozens of student leaders, guide events, and speak at trainings personally has helped me build my confidence as a leader, mentor, trainer, and public speaker.This job has helped me learn to work independently to achieve my goals and see work pay off. It has helped me build meaningful relationships.Are you a college student in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, or Delaware? Contact Ryan for help. You can find more information about getting a job at the Leadership Institute at LeadershipInstitute.org/Jobs.
Campus Reform’s Correspondent Director, Kate Hirzel is Leadership Institute’s Employee of the Quarter
Carol Wehe Cocks
October 28, 2021
Campus Reform’s Correspondent Director, Kate Hirzel is Leadership Institute’s Employee of the Quarter
On October 26, 2021, Morton Blackwell announced Kate Hirzel as Leadership Institute's Employee of the Quarter.Speaking to a room full of Leadership Institute (LI) staff in LI's Stephen P.J. Wood Building in Arlington, VA, Morton said:“Since joining LI in March 2021, Kate has grown the Campus Reform Correspondent Program from fewer than 50 to 159 correspondents, representing 37 states plus D.C. and 114 colleges and universities.“Not only has Kate set a record for the number of correspondents, but she has also improved the quality of experience for correspondents, facilitating quality training and networking opportunities with notable Campus Reform alumni.“Thank you, Kate, and congratulations.”Join Morton and the rest of Leadership Institute staff congratulating Kate on a job well done.If you're interested in working with Kate to become a Campus Correspondent for Leadership Institute's Campus Reform, you can apply here. The Leadership Institute's Campus Reform Campus Correspondent Program recruits, cultivates, and pays conservative student journalists all across the country to investigate and report liberal abuses and bias on college campuses throughout their state.These student contributors, working as investigative reporters, will work hand-in-hand with Campus Reform's team of professional journalists to develop their writing and reporting skills, build a professional network, and get published in national media outlets.
LI Grad Interview: Homeschooled Farm Kid, City Councilman, Generation Joshua Mentor
Kirsten Holmberg
October 21, 2021
LI Grad Interview: Homeschooled Farm Kid, City Councilman, Generation Joshua Mentor
“My town was in desperate need of honest, careful, and principled leadership. So, I put my hat in the ring, ran the race as a local political unknown, and — by God's grace and a lot of hard work — won a seat on the council.” Meet Joel Grewe, Leadership Institute (LI) graduate and faculty, and Executive Director at Home School Legal Defense Association Action.I recently interviewed Joel to learn about his background, what drove him to get involved in local politics in Purcellville, Virginia, and his work as Executive Director at Home School Legal Defense Association Action. Can you tell me a little about yourself and your background?I am just a farm kid who doesn't like farming, has a strong justice streak, and cares about people who are hurting. I grew up in Spokane, Washington, got married in 2004, and now my wife and I have three amazing, rambunctious boys. I worked in demographic research and got interested in politics back during Newt Gingrich's Contract with America. My dad is a local lawyer, and my grandpa was connected with local politics, so I had a ring-side seat to the work of unseating House Speaker Foley. I've been involved in the conservative political movement ever since. Is it true that in the 6th grade you convinced your mother to homeschool you? Could you tell me a little bit about that?Absolutely! My mom is an awesome lady, though she was a bit intimidated at the idea of homeschooling me. At the end of 6th grade, I was bored in school, and I asked my mom to homeschool me. She said she thought she wasn't up to the task. I responded that I would homeschool myself if needed, but I desperately needed to be let out of that school building. We struck a deal, and I never went back. Homeschooling was an incredible advantage for me growing up. You're currently the Executive Director at Home School Legal Defense Association Action; tell me a little about that organization and why you decided to get involved.Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is the national legal defense and advocacy organization for homeschoolers—they help make homeschooling possible. HSLDA Action is the sister organization of HSLDA: we handle the federal advocacy, political work, two Political Action Committees, and Generation Joshua, our youth civics education and engagement program. As a homeschool graduate, I feel privileged to help ensure homeschooling is free and possible for future generations. What inspired you to run for city council in Purcellville? It was actually one of my Generation Joshua students, who, as I recall, is also a recipient of Leadership Institute training. My wonderful little town of Purcellville, VA, went through a cascade of scandals back in 2016, all the way through 2018. Purcellville ended up on the front page of the Washington Post—twice—and not for good reasons. As the scandals mounted and the problems facing the town grew, that student—now my friend—asked to chat with me. He came to my house with the copy of the Washington Post and asked me a question. He said, “Joel, you talk a lot about how important it is that good people be involved in government, and how if they don't, bad things happen.” I responded: “Yes I do.” He continued, “Well, considering the situation that Purcellville is in, is that just something you say, or do you actually believe it?” It was a blunt challenge, and it wasn't like I hadn't put my time in. I'd helped train more than 25,000 students and coordinated political efforts to reach more than eight million voters. But he was right: my town was in desperate need of honest, careful, and principled leadership. So I put my hat in the ring, ran the race as a local political unknown, and—by God's grace and a lot of hard work—won a seat on the council. How did the Leadership Institute (LI) training you received help you in running for public office?The first LI class I ever took was the Future Candidate School, back in 2008. The class was the crucial step I needed to think about what my life would need to look like in running for office: it gave me the perspective to understand what the commitment of campaigning for office requires. That was a crucial part of both assembling my team for office (with other LI graduates) and communicating what taking this on would mean for my wife and boys. I couldn't have done this without their support — and without a clear view of what it would take, we couldn't have been ready to weather the challenges we faced. I regularly quote lessons from my LI training to my interns, my policy staff, and myself. I have taken a host of LI classes, and although it does not make me, as the candidate, the expert in every part of my campaign, I understand what each part does, why it is important, and how to prioritize it and discuss every issue with understanding. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?I would first tell them that freedom is messy, that we don't get it right all the time, that we often don't get it right the first time, but that we never get it right if people don't engage. I know it seems like engaging our civic—well, I would say “discourse,” but that is too polite a word, so let's call it our civic “arena” — feels like it's fraught with peril. And that's not always a wrong assessment. It's messy and dangerous and rather vicious as of late. But in times like these we must engage – because these moments in history are when freedom needs its defenders the most. If you are ever going to get involved, get involved when the fighting is hot, and the need is dire. People who work for freedom only during smooth seas and fair winds are, at best, fair-weather friends of freedom. We need people committed to the virtue of freedom — the idea that it is better to be free than unfree, always — and who are willing to stand in support of it. Our country and our future deserve nothing less.This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities. Don't miss out! Sign up here.
How to be a Better Manager, a Conversation with Ben Woodward
Caleb Pascoe
October 19, 2021
How to be a Better Manager, a Conversation with Ben Woodward
I recently sat down with Ben Woodward at the Leadership Institute (LI) to discuss best management practices. Originally from the United Kingdom, Ben's track record of success at the Leadership Institute started when he joined LI as an intern during the summer of 2015.In Ben's five years at LI, he was promoted from intern, to Career Services Coordinator, to Deputy Director of Career Services, to his present role as Director of Communications Trainings. In his last few weeks at LI before starting a new position at Deloitte Insights & Solutions, Ben gave some important advice on how to be a great manager.Making the move from internship to management is a long track, but what are the biggest take-aways from your time as an intern, a career services coordinator, and a manager?You always learn how to be a manager even when you're not a manager.You observe bosses you have that are good and bosses that are bad. I learned some key things from different bosses that I had.When I was an intern, my supervisor had a real commitment to excellence. She taught me to pay attention to those small details that matter, and the importance of following the standards set by the organization.As a manager, one of the key things I learned was to set an example for your staff. If you're showing up late to work, your staff will start showing up late to work. If you start leaving early your staff will start leaving early. So, you've got to set the standards, because people will look to you for how they should behave.As I supervised more interns, I gradually learned a lot. Setting expectations early on is key. Also, learning what the author Kim Scott calls radical candor, which is being very honest in the feedback you give. You have to be kind, but honest. Being able to say, ‘here's what I liked about your project, here is what you should do differently.' Or, if there is time in an ideal world, you tell them what they should do differently, and you let them go away and fix those things for themselves.What recommendations do you have for people to overcome the fear of overseeing other people for the first time?Good managers do their subordinates no favors if they fail to be honest. You're their boss and their mentor, and your job is to get them up to the standards that the company expects of them.First time managers -- change your mindset about the nature of the work you are doing.As a manager, your job goes away from being the doer, and you now get things done through the people who work for you. Of course, there's a lot of work you still must do yourself, but where possible your mindset is now that you are accomplishing things through other people, and that's how you will be judged.How do you become a conductor and leader of the team you are managing so a project goes well?That's a big question. Let me tell you a few key things to start you on the right path.Identify what your team is good at and what your team is bad at. Be open minded about ideas, and the new innovative things that employees bring in, especially when they are new employees. They come in with fresh eyes, and they come up with their own ideas, where a manager may not see the possibilities.So, pivoting a little bit, what have you found in day-to-day life that has taught you do be a better manager? Observing my dad, for certain, was a big factor. He was self-employed and had a small business.He had two to three people working for him at any given time. I would get to observe him when I was younger, especially when I would go into his office and study, which I did frequently. I really enjoyed that, and I got to see how he worked as a manager.He was just brilliant because he was so calm even when I knew he was stressed. He was the epitome of a duck on water, calm and gliding on the top, even though he was franticly kicking underneath. That calming energy was instilled into his team, even when the going got rough. They knew that panicking was never going to be a productive activity.My dad was a calm, solutions-oriented person, and I really respect him for that.When you have an employee who has just flubbed the project, and maybe not even apologetic about it, how do you deal with a situation where you're trying to communicate that they have done something wrong and need to correct themselves?Number one, just as your staff should never surprise you, you should never surprise your staff. They should know the standards expected of them at all times.They should also know the strategic direction of the department you are running, and their role in it. Which means that they will know when they've flubbed it. If the employees don't know they have really messed up or that the standards haven't been met, then you really haven't done a good job setting the standards.I have always worked on the philosophy that you praise in public, and you criticize in private; and you should praise a lot more than you should criticize.If you are criticizing too much, you're a bad manager because your staff clearly can't do their jobs. Praise in public means that when someone does something good, you're sending all staff emails, and you're including the department head or the CEO.Praising in public is a big thing.There is absolutely no reason to criticize in public. I would suggest that when something goes wrong you bring it up right away. Don't wait. Explain what the problem is and why it's important. You want to be calm and in control of your emotions at all times. If there is a problem, you'll deal with it calmly and in a way that's professional. So, when things are going wrong, bring it up right away.Your first instinct should be performance improvement. Your staff are not disposable commodities; they're an investment, and the investment needs care.Just one more point; a good manager will plan for succession. Your staff should be so well trained and so effective that they should be able to function largely without you breathing down their neck. Most people, when they get promoted, are likely doing their bosses job in some way already. Too many managers let their egos get in the way, and they get defensive about the big juicy, high profile projects.A good manager will praise their staff constantly and will do so to leadership without seeking to take all the credit themselves. They'll look good because their staff looks good.Well on that note, Ben, thank you very much for taking the time today, and congratulations on moving on to a new position at Deloitte!Thank you! Very excited about the new challenge but will miss LI terribly. It's been a fantastic five years.If you would like to learn more about becoming a better manager, attend the Leadership Institute's online Management 101 training and sign up for more careers training at LeadershipInstitute.org/Training.
LI Grad Interview: Californian, International Communicator, Presidential Campaign Spokesman
Kirsten Holmberg
September 22, 2021
LI Grad Interview: Californian, International Communicator, Presidential Campaign Spokesman
“The world is run by those who show up…. America has plenty of critics. What the country needs are conservative men and women in the arena.”Meet Ron Nehring, Leadership Institute (LI) graduate, faculty, and Director of International Programs. I recently interviewed Ron to hear about his experiences running for office and his time as Spokesman for Ted Cruz for President. Last year in the 2020 general elections, Ron won local office in his hometown in California.Can you tell me a little about yourself and your background?Shortly after I became the President of my College Republican club at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, I learned of the Leadership Institute and Morton Blackwell. After attending seven LI trainings, I used those skills to become Chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County, Chairman of the California Republican Party, Republican nominee for Lt Governor of California, Senator Ted Cruz's presidential campaign spokesman, and a local office holder. You were the national spokesman at Ted Cruz for President. What motivated you to get involved in the campaign?As 2016 approached, I wanted to be involved in the presidential election. Senator Cruz was a solid conservative and first-time presidential candidate. While more established candidates like Jeb Bush had large organizations already around them, there were greater opportunities with a candidate who was building his national organization, and I was motivated by his clear and unapologetic conservatism. Do you have any insightful stories from your time on the campaign or as a candidate? In politics, you get to define what victory means. If victory only meant winning the office, no one would run for any office where the odds are against him. But, the movement needs candidates who will step up for a battle that's uphill. When I ran for Lt Governor, the odds against me were overwhelming. And yet, the campaign further raised my profile and was helpful in my becoming Senator Cruz' California chairman, and later his spokesman. The benefits of stepping up for a campaign may not be immediately apparent. Yet a solid effort can open important doors in the future. How has the Leadership Institute helped you during your time in public service? I hold a Political Science degree, yet most of what I learned about winning a campaign came from LI — both as a student, and later as a faculty member. If you really want to master a topic, try teaching it. It forces you to delve much deeper into the subject and understand its relationship to other areas. When I ran for local office in 2020, the campaign was designed exactly to match what we teach at LI. The strategy was developed from the same methods we teach, and implemented using the same tactics. While victory can never be guaranteed, I'm grateful to the voters for the overwhelming support I earned through this effective campaign. You are the Director of International Programs at the Leadership Institute. Tell us a bit about your position.Leadership Institute brings literally world-class quality training in organizing and communicating to conservative leaders, parties, and groups around the world. Many of the leaders and potential leaders LI has trained have gone on to successfully win public office, and from there put conservative ideas of free markets and individual liberty into action. I work diligently to take proven techniques and adapt them to different countries, cultures, and political systems. Center-right organizations worldwide know when they need high quality training to improve their effectiveness, to call on the Leadership Institute. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?The world is run by those who show up. We are blessed to live in a country which welcomes political involvement. Americans of any background can be involved in shaping our government, and advancing ideas to improve the human condition. As Morton Blackwell has observed, being right in the sense of having the best ideas is not enough to win. America needs leaders who want to do something, not just be someone, to maximize their effectiveness with the skills necessary to win. Teddy Roosevelt put it this way: "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."America has plenty of critics. What the country needs are conservative men and women in the arena. This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities. Don't miss out! Sign up here.
LI Grad Interview: Arizonan, Conservative, School Board Member
Kirsten Holmberg
August 26, 2021
LI Grad Interview: Arizonan, Conservative, School Board Member
“If we're going to maintain our republic, we must get involved in the political process and school boards are key to preventing the wholesale takeover of our country.” - Chris King, School Board Member in Vail, Arizona.Meet Chris King, Leadership Institute graduate. I recently interviewed Chris to hear about his election to school board. Last year in the 2020 general elections, Chris earned his seat on the Vail Unified School District Governing Board in Arizona. Can you tell me a little about yourself?I am a combat veteran and alumni of the University of Arizona with a Bachelors in Government and Public Service and a Masters in International Security. I attended LI's boot camp and Field Representative training while working on my master's degree and a campaign. You currently are a member of the Vail Unified School District Governing Board in Arizona. What inspired you to get involved with your local school board? As a conservative, I recognized years ago that if we're going to maintain our republic, we must get involved in the political process and school boards are key to preventing the wholesale takeover of our country. Prior to filing to run, I reached out to the board members who were up for reelection to see if they were running. I researched the other candidate who had filed and determined that he wasn't who we would want to represent our district and made the decision to run.What is one challenge you have faced during your time on the School District Governing Board and how did you overcome it?The largest challenge we have faced during my time on the school board has definitely been Covid and the subsequent issues surrounding it. Since before assuming my position on the board, I made my position clear in not supporting mandatory mask-wearing as I believe it should be an individual choice. I agree with former Justice Scalia in that it is not the government's duty to protect us. There have been many other challenges which have presented since my election, but most of them have stemmed from Covid.How has the Leadership Institute helped you during your time in public service? Leadership Institute was key in preparing me for several aspects of serving. Morton Blackwell's Laws of the Public Policy Process hangs in my living room and is referred to often. The ability to talk to others regarding sensitive issues was something LI helped me with. During LI's Field Representative training, I was assigned to gather signatures on a pro-life petition. This was by far one of my weakest skills. Since then, I have become more educated on this issue in addition to more vocal in my support for pro-life issues.Another area LI has helped me is the area of Social Media. The law of not arguing on social media has kept me from being pulled into the mud puddle of local politics.Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?More than 90% of politicians/public servants self-select and are not recruited by a political party. When people say the party did this or that, I let them know that they ARE the party and they can make a difference if they get involved. Politics is a game with very confusing rules that seem to be designed to keep the average person out. Find a mentor, work with them to become knowledgeable, and donate one of the 3Ts: Time, Treasure, or Talent. That is how we can really make a difference. The grassroots folks who get involved, can and will eventually rise to the positions where they can make decisions on the direction of the parties.This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities. Don't miss out! Sign up here.
Leadership Institute Grad, Intern, University of Oklahoma Senior – Published in National Review
By Morton C. Blackwell
July 27, 2021
Leadership Institute Grad, Intern, University of Oklahoma Senior – Published in National Review
Your Leadership Institute's summer interns still have one month left in their program, but many of them already put their training to use.One intern, Kiara Kincaid, used her experience in LI's Political and Fundraising Training department to write an article for National Review's website.Kiara is a senior at the University of Oklahoma. In her piece, she exposes the censorship tactics used by leftist professors on her campus. As Kiara explains, many of the faculty at the university undergo training on how to shut down speech they disagree with in the classroom.Kiara's piece reveals that even at relatively conservative universities like hers, liberal bias undermines students' freedom of speech.You can read Kiara's National Review article here: https://www.nationalreview.com/2021/07/classroom-censorship-comes-to-the-university-of-oklahoma/Young conservatives like Kiara give me great hope for the future.Thanks to Leadership Institute donors' generous support, Kiara was able to expose leftist bias for a national audience and inspire other young conservatives to stand up for their principles.The Leadership Institute's donors truly invest in the next generation of conservative leaders and make a tremendous difference for America.
LI Grad Interview: Texan, Fire Department Volunteer, City Councilwoman
Kirsten Holmberg
July 20, 2021
LI Grad Interview: Texan, Fire Department Volunteer, City Councilwoman
Meet Mackenzie Kelly, Leadership Institute graduate. I recently interviewed Mackenzie to learn about her background as a fire department volunteer, her drive to get involved, and how the Leadership Institute's training helped prepare Mackenzie to become a member of the Austin City Council in Texas.Can you tell me a little about yourself?Before being elected to City Council, I served at the Round Rock Fire Department Training Division, Williamson County Emergency Management and with the City of Austin Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). In 2019, I was elected president of the 100th class of Austin Police Department's Citizen Police Academy. My close working relationship with the Austin Police Department gives me a rare perspective on local law enforcement and why it must be passionately supported and fully funded. I volunteered with the Jollyville Fire Department from 2005-2013, where I gained a profound respect for those who protect life and property in our capital city. While there, I completed a year-long fellowship through the Disaster Science Academy.Serving Austin's elderly population is another passion of mine, having worked in home health care for several years. I have also served as an appointee by then-Governor Rick Perry to the Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities. I am an advocate of good geographic representation, having run in the first city council election under the 10-1 plan in 2014. As for my greatest accomplishment, I am a mother of an inquisitive daughter, Rebekah, a student in the Round Rock ISD. I am happily married and am a 2005 graduate of Westwood High School (Go Warriors!).You currently are a member of the Austin City Council in Texas. How did you get involved with the City Council and what does your position involve?I have always had a love for public service. Before becoming elected, I was a volunteer firefighter for 8 years with the Jollyville Fire Department. After that, I was appointed to the Committee for People with Disabilities by former Texas Governor Rick Perry. I was then appointed by former Austin City Councilmen Don Zimmerman to the Women's Commission. I would also attend council meetings and speak during citizen testimony on pieces of legislation that resonated with my core values. What is one challenge you have faced during your time as a City Council member and how did you overcome it?One of the biggest challenges I've faced is being in a non-partisan role. The Austin City council is a 10-1 system or, 10 council members and 1 mayor. With 10 other Democrats on the dais and me being the only Republican, people may think that I'm isolated. What I've done in my role on council is open communication and collaboration with the other members so that I could find common goals to work on together. How has the Leadership Institute helped you during your time in public service?The Leadership Institute has prepared me with educational materials, mentorship, and resources to help prepare and equip me to be the best I can be in my role as an Austin City Councilwoman. Additionally, LI's Campaign Candidate School gave me the framework and confidence to run an effective grassroots campaign. This was not only vital to my success but the tools I have now allow me to keep a pulse on my constituency. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?I've learned in my role that it only takes one voice to make meaningful change. The best way to see change made in your community is by getting involved in any way you can, no matter how small it may seem. I started out by testifying before the council. As I got more and more involved, the more change I saw. Now, I'm in a role that will allow me to have a direct impact on the community.This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. You can be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities with an email delivered straight to your mailbox. Don't miss out! Sign up today.
Four Travel Tips for the New Traveler
Lee Jackson
July 12, 2021
Four Travel Tips for the New Traveler
My favorite part about my job at the Leadership Institute is traveling the country and working with young people who want to improve their communities. Growing up, my family frequently traveled by car, but jumping on a plane to your next destination is a very different experience. The first few times can be scary and overwhelming.I reached out to a few of my coworkers who travel and delved into my own experience to share with you four tips to plan a successful trip.1. Understand Your Flight and Travel DetailsOne lesson I always share with my students is that prior planning prevents poor performance. This alliteration is true for the classroom, on the campaign trail, and when you're traveling. Before you head to the airport, you should have your trip's logistics planned out.Get to the airport on time. The rule of thumb says to arrive at the airport two hours before your flight takes off. Most people do not realize they have to wait in multiple lines before they fly. Unless you're pre-enrolled in various programs, you'll have to wait in line to check your bags, to get to TSA, and then go through TSA.Plan by your flight boarding time, not takeoff. The time on your ticket is the time your flight leaves. Your flight probably boards 30-45 minutes prior. That means you must be at your gate and ready to go when your flight is boarding. Do not be the person who misses their flight because they thought they had an extra 20 minutes to kill at the airport Applebee's.Set up your airline app. I do my best to always fly with American Airlines (more about that later). The American Airlines app is incredibly helpful. The app has a copy of my tickets, tells me when it's time to check-in, tells me where I can pick up my checked bags, and much more.Have your hotel information handy. I always put my hotel information (address, phone number) in my phone's calendar. Having the hotel address handy will prevent you from having to dig through emails. There is also a small chance a bag gets delayed, and your airline will ask for your hotel's address to deliver your bag when it arrives. I also share the information with family in case someone has to get a hold of me.Figure out how you are getting to your hotel. I Uber multiple times a week for work. I love it. If you plan on using Uber, you should set up the app ahead of time. Uber's availability varies by city and the time of day. Your hotel may have a free shuttle that will pick you up.2. Pack Smart (and light) Make a list- check it twice. Packing for a weekend trip is an art and a science. Yes, you want clothes for every occasion, but traveling with extra bags is a pain, more expensive, and exhausting. I make a list of things I should pack (X number of undershirts, my apple watch charger, etc.). I have found it helpful to go through my schedule and make sure I have the right clothes for each part of the day. After I have a list that's way too long, I figure out what I can remove. I used to bring two suits for a two-day conference. I now bring one suit and two very different dress shirts, ties.Bring a steamer. Nine times out of 9 ½, a $25 steamer will perform better than a hotel iron. Honestly, sometimes a hotel iron does more harm than good. If you forget your steamer, you can hang your clothes in the bathroom while you shower.3. Pick an Airline (and do your best to stick with it)Like many companies, airlines reward loyal customers. Airline loyalty programs usually include free miles, upgrades, free checked bags, and more. If you plan to travel more than ten times a year, it could be worth it to book with one airline and start earning perks.Usually, the best airline for you is a combination of personal preference and which companies fly to your local airport. I picked American Airlines because they can get me to most cities around the United States and have a quick, direct flight to my home airport in Maine.4. Stay CalmThere's a chance something could go wrong. You could miss a connecting flight (always get a direct flight if possible), a storm could cancel your flight, etc. Remember, these things happen.The best thing to do is stay calm and work directly with your airline to solve the problem.If you have to reschedule a flight for any reason, remember your airline will have multiple ways you can contact them. If I'm at the airport waiting in a long line to speak to an agent, I'll also call the national customer service number, and direct message the company on Twitter.Doing this has allowed me to get the last seat on the next flight home when the people in line ahead of me are bumped to a much later flight.Bonus: One of my coworkers, Stephen Rowe, always watches YouTube videos about cities he and I are heading to before traveling. Because of this, Stephen is the go-to guy. He knows where to get pizza in Chicago and the best ribs in Memphis. Take a trick out of his book, and you'll not only enjoy your destinations more, your travel companions will too.Use some of your newfound travel skills at one of the Leadership Institute's trainings. You can travel the country and learn to win for your conservative principles. Click here to find some great training options.
LI Grad Interview: Mother of four, Politico, Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Board Chairman
Kirsten Holmberg
June 24, 2021
LI Grad Interview: Mother of four, Politico, Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Board Chairman
Meet distinguished Leadership Institute graduate Anna Clark.I recently interviewed Anna to learn how she got interested in Parks and Recreation, how her Leadership Institute training helps her serve in public office, and her take on the current state of politics.Can you tell us a little about yourself?My name is Anna Clark. I reside in Oro Valley, AZ, and have been a Republican my entire life. I have been married for almost 18 years and am the mother of four sons, ages 15, 12, 10, and 8.I am the Chairman of the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Board, the 2nd Vice Chairman of the Pima County Republican Party, and the 3rd Vice-Chairman of Arizona's 11th Legislative District Republican Party. As of 3 weeks ago, I am managing a Congressional Campaign for a candidate running in AZ's 1st Congressional District. You currently are a member of the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. How did you get involved with Parks and Recreation, and what does your position involve?I have lived in Oro Valley on and off since I was 16 and have been a permanent resident for six years. While I was in high school, I worked for the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Department as part of their Summer and Spring Break Camps. I loved working with the kids and learned that good Parks and Recreation programs are necessary for a thriving community. Fast forward 20-something years, and after being very involved in getting our mayor elected in 2018, I sought ways to get involved in my community. I chose the Parks Board because of my unique perspective.Not only did I grow up in Oro Valley and work for the parks department, but I have four sons who use the Oro Valley Parks systems and programs regularly. So, I know our community needs, and I wanted to bring my ideas to help create a robust parks and recreation plan that includes youth, retirees, and everyone in between that live in Oro Valley.I have been on the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Board (PRAB) since January 2019. In February 2021, I was elected as the Chairman of the Board. The most important responsibility we have as members of the Oro Valley PRAB is to advise the Town Council in matters pertaining to parks and recreation, parks design, open space, trail use, and recreation programs.What is one challenge you have faced during your time as a Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member, and how did you overcome it?Being the Chairman of any board can present a myriad of challenges. This last year, our board was tasked with building and passing a 10-year parks master plan for the Town of Oro Valley. As you can imagine, this plan was full of some great ideas and some not-so-great ideas that had to be removed.The biggest challenge I faced was dealing with how to fund these parks projects. I believe that we should not raise taxes to pay for parks. It was challenging to get some of the other board members to vote for a master plan without any new taxes. With the team building and collaboration skills I learned from LI, we passed the Parks Master Plan last month with a 7-0 vote, a unanimous vote. This victory included recommending to the town council that we do not raise taxes to pay for the plan.How has the Leadership Institute helped you during your time in public service? You know that saying, "Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten"? Well, everything that I needed to know to be a successful candidate, campaign manager, and leader within the Republican Party and in my community, I learned from the Leadership Institute! I have taken so many classes through LI that have been invaluable to me. Many people seem disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?In December 2020, I was elected the 2nd Vice-Chairman of the Pima County Republican Party here in Arizona. As part of my new post, I hear Republicans complain quite a bit about not only the state of our nation but the state of things here in VERY liberal Pima County.The best advice I give them, whether they are complaining about the Democrats in control or elected Republicans they disagree with, is to get involved with the party. Complaining about things on social media or to your friends does nothing to help your cause. The first step is to become a precinct committeeman and get involved with the grassroots in your community. Unhappy with how things are going in your city or town? Run for office and be the change! Don't like what the Republican Party is doing in your county or legislative district? Get elected to a leadership position and be the change that you want to see within the party. The bottom line is the time for inaction is over. We must get involved and fight for the very soul of our nation! We see this across the state of Arizona. Since my taking office, our Precinct Committeeman numbers in Pima county alone have grown from 347 to 615 and counting. There are some months that we are outpacing the Democrats in Precinct Committeeman and voter registration! This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities.
LI Grad Interview: ‘It’s up to us,’ says new father, Southern Illinoisan
Kirsten Holmberg
May 28, 2021
LI Grad Interview: ‘It’s up to us,’ says new father, Southern Illinoisan
“You and I may face hardships in this country, and our political system may be broken, but we come from a long line of fighters willing to put it all on the line to stand up for what we believe in.” – David Blair, Executive Director of the Conservative Leadership PACMeet Leadership Institute (LI) faculty member and distinguished graduate, David Blair. I recently interviewed David to learn how he got interested in politics, his advice to young people, and his take on the current state of politics. He even announced a new little arrival on the way soon!Q: Can you tell me a little about yourself?I am originally from Southern Illinois, where my family has lived for more than a hundred years. I moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the Leadership Institute in 2015 and am now the Executive Director of the Conservative Leadership PAC and the President of my consulting firm, the Blair Group. I live in Sterling, Virginia, with my wife Hannah (whom I met at LI). We are about to welcome our first born into the world in June and are very excited to be first-time parents. Q: What motivated you to enter the political world?My motivations to enter politics really stem from my sense of right and wrong. When something seems like it's not right or unfair, I find myself feeling a great deal of moral indignation about the situation. Seeing how our government operates and the total failure of many of our elected officials, I almost couldn't help gravitating towards politics. I can't see something being done poorly, recklessly, or hypocritically and keep my mouth shut. Sometimes this gets me into trouble, but it is what drove me into politics and what drives me to work for the good guys every day. Can you tell me a little more about the work you do as the Executive Director of the Conservative Leadership PAC and as President of the Blair Group, LLC?As Executive Director of CLPAC, I find talented, principled, and driven young people to act as Youth Coordinators on hotly contested election campaigns all over the country. Often in a very close race, a few thousand votes can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Candidates who employ our system of mass-based youth organizing (first pioneered by Morton Blackwell) find that they have a winning edge when it comes to the close races when compared to their colleagues who do not run serious youth efforts. In short, it is my job to find talent and make sure our coordinators win for the candidates we support. As President of the Blair Group, I act as a strategic consultant for candidates, non-profits, and for-profit companies who are interested in grassroots solutions for their causes. It is my firm belief that there is no better source of value in a campaign than a good grassroots movement. I work with my clients to earn media, contact voters, hold events, and gain support through true ground-up grassroots campaigns. I also am an active speaker on the virtues of grassroots organizing and mass-based youth organizing as a faculty member at the Leadership Institute. Your work focuses on mobilizing young people. What advice to you have for those who are just starting out in political work and campaigns?I have more advice for young people than I have space to write here. However, if I were to stress one thing to someone just starting out in politics, it would be to focus on the success of your principles. Don't let your ego, your vanity, or your pride get in the way of the greater mission. We are all working, or at least we should be, toward a cause greater than ourselves. Credit, fame, money, and all the things many young people see as “success” in politics amount to nothing if you aren't working tirelessly to make the world a better place than you found it. So don't get caught up in the number of twitter followers that you have; social media fame has its place, and we have some warriors out there, but you have to find where you add value to the movement and work at that with all of your heart. If it's hard, good. It should be. How has the Leadership Institute helped you prepare for the work you are currently doing? First as a student and now as a faculty member at LI, I've had such a fantastic opportunity to meet the next generation of conservative leaders in this country and abroad. When I speak to a class at LI or club on campus, I know I am speaking to a room full of tomorrow's leaders. My network has grown with solid, work-centered, movement conservatives whom I can call on to get the job done. When I need someone in a particular state for a tough job or for a Youth Coordinator on a campaign, I know I can look to the contacts I have made through LI to find the right connection. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?As Americans, we have the unique ability to profoundly affect our government in every election held at the Federal, State, and local levels. Today the cost of political involvement is historically cheap when compared to our nation's forefathers. The Declaration of Independence was essentially a signed death warrant for the Founding Fathers. Yet, motivated by their love of liberty and love for this nation, they willingly lined up to sign. You and I may face hardships in this country and our political system may be broken, but we come from a long line of fighters willing to put it all on the line to stand up for what we believe in. Americans must not abandon the legacy of freedom and the sacrifices of so many who came before us because we find ourselves in difficult times. America was founded in difficult times, forged in them, and will continue to persevere despite them as long as there are good people willing to work hard and stay in the fight. Voting, volunteering, activism, and old-fashioned hard work are what will cure our current political woes. With COVID coming to an end and the overreaches of Liberal politicians on full display, conservatives have a profound opportunity to make massive gains in 2022. You and I can take this opportunity by the horns and show the American people once again that conservatism is the way to go, or we can allow the opportunity to pass and allow the hard-won gains of our ancestors to fall by the wayside. It's up to us.This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities.
I had to talk to him
Morton C Blackwell
March 31, 2021
I had to talk to him
It's not often that a young person impresses me so much that I have to pick up the phone and call: but I had to talk to Ben Zeisloft.Ben studies Finance and Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. He's also my Leadership Institute's top Campus Correspondent -- among the 134 student journalists who expose liberal bias and abuse on college campuses.Ben is amazingly productive. Since he started writing for LI's Campus Reform website almost one year ago, he has published more than 300 articles on CRO!Ben's work so impressed me that I called to let him know how grateful I am for his dedication and powerful productivity.Ben was surprised to hear from me, as you might imagine. But he happily shared how writing for LI's Campus Reform benefits him. Campus Correspondents earn a modest sum for each article they publish. Would you believe Ben has earned so much by exposing liberal abuses that he's putting himself through college? Please check out some of Ben's articles on CampusReform.org. I think you'll be just as impressed as I was.In his most recent report, Ben exposed Cornell University for considering partnering with a Chinese university to offer a dual degree program. Even worse, Cornell officials claim this “partnership” would have no influence on academic freedom! Sure.You can read how Ben exposed the Cornell/China connection here: https://www.campusreform.org/article?id=17026.If like me you can't get enough of Ben's reporting, you can access the rest of his 300-and-counting articles here. Thanks to the generous support of LI donors, students like Ben share thousands of shocking stories with a national audience. They report what's really happening on college campuses. By exposing the truth, you and I score clear victories for freedom. Last year alone, Campus Reform reporting led to 36 victories over leftist bias and abuse. That's harmful policies changed, abusive professors and administrators punished or fired, and free speech upheld. As you can see, students like Ben drive real change on campus, thanks to the generous support of Leadership Institute's donors.
LI Trained 230,788 Graduates Since 1979
Karla Bruno
January 12, 2021
LI Trained 230,788 Graduates Since 1979
Did you know the Leadership Institute (LI) offers 47 different conservative training programs? And did you know that LI training continued strong in 2020? In 2020, LI helped prepare 14,874 trainees – students, activists, and leaders – to win for their conservative principles. LI provided an average of 41.9 hours of live training every week.LI training gives committed conservatives the tools they can use to be successful in campaigns, the media, and public policy. Nothing about 2020 was easy, but thanks to LI's experience, skills, and donor support, LI pivoted smoothly into increased online training while continuing in-person training where possible. LI's training falls into two major divisions: Campus Programs and Political Training. Campus Programs is by far LI's largest program, with Campus Reform (CRO) its most visible component.Conservative students often face intimidation and hostility in an arena once prized for open debate, intellectual curiosity, and balanced discourse.The Leadership Institute helps conservative students fight back against liberal abuse and bias on campus, training them with proven techniques. The Campus Leadership Program (CLP) organizes conservative students and trains them to restore balance on American campuses, making them once again places for freedom of thought and diversity of opinion.Campus Reform (CRO) uses a news platform and a national network of conservative investigative student reporters to expose flagrant examples of liberal abuse and bias on college campuses. You may have seen LI's Campus Reform reporters, who appear often on Fox News.In 2020, Campus Reform published 1,957 stories, earned 6,106 republications in other media and 461 national and local TV hits – and 36 victories. A victory is defined as any policy change, apology, or administrative/faculty firing resulting from Campus Reform coverage.Campus Reform's website attracted 11.8 million pageviews; Campus Reform's YouTube channel attracted 34.2 million views.LI's National Field Program trains student leaders to organize conservative student groups and teaches them how to combat liberal bias at America's universities.In 2020, LI's field program now includes 2,001 active student groups, with 287 new groups added, and 29,837 conservative students newly identified. Students held 2,648 on-campus events and 1,219 online events.Youth Leadership Training recruits promising conservative students and teaches them proven techniques to organize and lead conservative youth organizations and activities for candidates and causes of their choice. In 2020, LI's Youth Leadership Workshop (a 3-hour session) trained 1,042 students. LI's Youth Leadership School (YLS – 29 hours of intensive training) trained 428 select student leaders, with 71 YLS graduates going on to work on conservative campaigns – that includes 16 Youth Coordinators.LI's Normandy Coalition helps students fight for free speech on college campuses. LI leads the Coalition of 30 groups which includes 5 pro-bono legal defense organizations, 15 national conservative youth organizations, and 10 conservative non-profit organizations.Since its creation in 2017, the Coalition has held 9,384 campus speaker events using 4,197 conservative speakers on 681 campuses.Forty-seven anti-free speech protestors have been arrested. Damages from 34 lawsuits filed in protection of free speech total $816,800, with 52 free speech victories on record. LI's Political Training encompasses all programs not included in the Campus Program: Activism, Campaign, Communications, Career, Fundraising, and Digital. All combined, these trainings produced 6,428 of LI's total graduates in 2020.Notable LI graduates include Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-02), Jim Jordan (R-OH-4), Kat Commack (R-FL-3), Katherine Timpf (Fox News), Amanda Carpenter (CNN), and Tom Fitton (Judicial Watch).If you are motivated in 2021 to use your talents for conservative activism either on campus or in your community, visit LI's website for the complete list of 2021 trainings available. They are low-cost or no-cost to you, thanks to Leadership Institute donors. Go to LeadershipInstitute.org/Training and sign up now to be successful in 2021 and for years to come.If you are interested in seeing more Leadership Institute 2020 accomplishments, click here.
Virginia Allen: Podcast Co-host
Emma Siu
November 9, 2020
Virginia Allen: Podcast Co-host
15 minute readI got the chance to interview Podcast Co-host Virginia Allen. Here's her story. Virginia Allen is a news producer at The Daily Signal, The Heritage Foundation's multimedia news outlet. She writes on a range of topics and co-hosts The Daily Signal Podcast and Problematic Women. Virginia Allen earned a bachelor's degree in government from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. After graduation, she moved to South Africa for a year to serve as a missionary volunteer, and worked with vulnerable children and youth. Upon her return to America, she moved to Washington, D.C. to pursue new opportunities. Before she joined The Daily Signal, Virginia worked as the administrative assistant in Heritage's communications department for nearly two years. 1. How did you become involved in the Problematic Women and Daily Signal News podcasts?I began my journey at The Heritage Foundation as an intern and then was blessed to get a job in Heritage's communications department in the spring of 2018. I remember observing my colleagues, as they hosted “The Daily Signal Podcast” and “Problematic Women,” and frankly I was quite intimidated! I secretly thought podcasting might be a medium I really would enjoy -- as someone who loves to connect with people and discuss important issues -- but I was nervous to leap into the unknown. One of these colleagues, who helped on “The Daily Signal Podcast” Monday edition, moved back to Texas a little over a year after I started at Heritage. My supervisor, Rob Bluey, asked me if I would be interested in stepping in to help on the show once a week, and I said I would! I still remember how nervous I was the first time I walked into the studio to record. It took months before I finally felt comfortable speaking into a mic, but I work with excellent people and they were so supportive. I helped with the podcast for a few months before Lauren Evans, co-host of “Problematic Women,” asked me if I would consider helping with the show while another colleague was out on maternity leave for a few months. “Maybe,” was my response to Lauren. “Problematic Women” is a high energy 45 to 60-minute show with a good mix of interviews, commentary, and straight news reporting. I was used to only doing interviews and one short news story a week so “Problematic Women” was going to be a big leap! But Lauren convinced me, and after only one episode I was all in. I loved reporting on issues I care deeply about and having the opportunity to be creative and craft a dynamic and fun show with a fellow staffer and friend. Then, about seven months ago, an opportunity opened up on Heritage's Daily Signal team to take on the role of both news producer and regular co-host of “The Daily Signal Podcast.” I was thrilled to take on this new role and again stretch my podcasting abilities. I am loving the opportunity to co-host two very different podcasts and continue to grow in this great field.2. What do you feel is the biggest difference between writing an article for print media and creating a podcasting segment?We all speak a little differently than we write, so even when making notes for a segment, I try to think about how I want to verbally communicate the information in a way that is relatable. Segments on “Problematic Women” tend to be a little more conversational than those in a written news story. Interviews for a written story versus a podcast are very different, both in regard to the content used and how the content is relayed. I may spend half an hour talking with someone for a written story, and then pull four or five quotes, or bits of information, depending on the nature of the piece. When doing a podcast interview, on the other hand, I guide the conversation, but the guest chooses what they will share.3. What does your decision process look like for finding someone to interview?I love personal stories, and so any time I hear about someone who has firsthand experience around a policy issue or a situation in the news, I am eager to have them on the show. I think a person's “lived experience” is powerful when we are considering how policies created in Washington, D.C. actually impact people. But I cannot take all, or even most, of the credit for finding great people to interview on either podcast. My colleagues often send me the names of people they think would be a good fit for “Problematic Women” or “The Daily Signal Podcast.”4. What are some strategies that you use to build a loyal audience?My co-hosts and I want our listeners to feel like they can always trust us to report the news honestly; and that they are a part of a larger community of people who love America. We are especially focused on building community on “Problematic Women” because the show was created as a platform for conservative women to have a voice. We recently started a weekly Twitter poll question on the show, which appears every Thursday morning on my Twitter page, @Virginia_Allen5. The poll provides a fun way for our listeners to engage with the show and share their thoughts with us.5. What has been the most difficult part for you when creating and hosting a podcast?I have learned a lot about my own voice and my own speaking idiosyncrasies as a podcaster. You quickly realize that you repeat certain words way too often or that you have a tendency to slur certain words. It has been challenging learning to pay close attention to how I sound, and critiquing myself, as I seek to communicate in the clearest way possible. I am very much still learning in this field!6. What would you say differentiates a professional podcast from a podcast that is just starting out?Podcasting is frankly quite new, so many podcasters have only been hosting shows for a year or two -- yet they may already have a very large audience. Often the difference between a new podcaster and an old pro can be heard in the level of confidence and voice control they exhibit. And of course, production quality really makes a big difference when it comes to podcasting. A skilled editor can truly make all the difference!7. What advice would you give to someone looking to start a podcast, especially with a saturated topic like politics?Find your niche! It is much easier to start a podcast when you know who your audience is -- moms with young kids, or basketball players, or nature enthusiasts. If you want to launch a more general podcast, then take time to think about what your “value add” is to that field. There are a lot of political podcasts out there. So, if you want to speak out on policy issues, maybe brand your show as a podcast that takes issues in Washington, D.C. and explains how they will impact people in your home state.8. Has creating a podcast changed the way you listen to podcasts?Yes. I am always listening to how podcasters ask questions of their guests, and how they discuss issues. Some podcasters are really good at making you feel like you are just sitting on the couch with them and a part of the conversation. That is something I aspire to, especially on “Problematic Women” because it is more conversational in nature.9. What are some of your favorite podcasts right now?I do enjoy listening to Joe Rogan's podcast because he is very talented at keeping interviews interesting and engaging for the listener. The stock market always has fascinated me, so I frequently listen to “Snacks Daily,” which is an entertaining business news podcast. I also really enjoy “Heritage Explains” because the episode are short, very informative, and the production quality is excellent.
Plan Now for Life After November 3rd: An Open Letter to a Young Campaign Staffer
Lee Jackson
October 8, 2020
Plan Now for Life After November 3rd: An Open Letter to a Young Campaign Staffer
Dear Over-Caffeinated, Underpaid Worker Bee:Congratulations! You made it to October.By now, every day is a new adventure. You're working seven days a week, you're hooked on the campaign high, and you're back and forth between having the time of your life and wanting election day to just get here already.But we need to take a moment and talk about life after November 3rd. Right now, it's probably hard to envision.I had been working for my candidate for roughly a year by the time Election Day rolled around on my last campaign. That means for a year, my boss was the most important person in my life. For a year, he and I had traveled the district together, hoped and dreamed about the future, and he became a second father to me. The most important thing to me was getting him re-elected. I felt that I owed him victory and, for so many personal reasons, failure was not an option.Because of the loyalty I had to my candidate, I felt guilty thinking about life after Election Day. Every second I spent doing so was a second not being spent to give my boss the victory I had promised him. However, I was wrong to think this way -- and he likely would have been disappointed if he had realized what was going on in my head.One of the many things the Leadership Institute is known for is Morton Blackwell's Laws of the Public Policy Process. If you have never read them before, I would encourage you to read them HERE.I always had a copy of the laws framed in my office for campaign volunteers to read.One law that stuck with me was number 18: You can't save the world if you can't pay rent. When I first heard this law, I took it to mean candidates who want win must raise money. Heaven knows I said it to my candidate countless times, stressing how important call time was. However, it rings true for you as an individual as well.The hard truth is, some of your campaigns will win, others will not. For better or worse, elections have clear winners and losers. The good news is, if you win (and work hard), your campaign is likely to offer you a job.Now is the time to start planning your life on November 4th without your current candidate in the picture.If you want to stay in the political arena, start networking now. It's a cruel joke that just as our campaigns need us most, we have to start seriously considering our future. I would recommend having four or five solid leads and a failsafe. For a while, my failsafe was going back to McDonald's.Each year, there are operatives who decide campaign life isn't for them. That's okay. Many of them go back to school or join a sales team and excel in those roles.If you want to stay in the public process, I encourage you to check out the Leadership Institute's Conservative Jobs HERE.Conservative Jobs is your free job bank, connecting recruiters and job seekers of all experiences across America. If you have questions about Conservative Jobs or would like someone at the Leadership Institute (LI) to review your resume, you can email my coworker, Kelsey at kmix@leadershipinstitute.org. LI is proud to be a resource placing conservatives in government, politics, and the media.I also encourage you to look at states that have elections in 2021.During off numbered years, I packed up my car and moved to Virginia to work on a campaign. For better or worse, Virginia doesn't have campaign contribution limits, so local House of Delegate races could be more than a million dollars. Working on campaigns every year allowed me to learn more skills and move up the totem pole twice as fast as many of my peers.No matter what you do next, you owe it to yourself to start planning.I always consider the time between one campaign and the next as my “funemployment.” Don't forget to take the time to unwind and relax too.My final words of advice for the next three weeks: stay away from pizza, try to sleep at least six hours a night, start thinking about life after Election Day, and keep day dreaming of that well-deserved tropical vacation to get you through one more walkbook.Keep on knocking,Lee
5 Things You Should do Before Election Day
Lee Jackson
September 25, 2020
5 Things You Should do Before Election Day
Every year, young people around the country ask me what they can do to make a difference as the country inches closer to election day.As someone who has been responsible for volunteer recruitment and Election Day Operations, I am always going to point you to your closest campaign and tell you the best thing to do is to volunteer. Here is a list of five things you should do prior to election day (in addition to voter contact):1. Check Your Voter Registration Status After spending roughly one million dollars, I won my last election by less than 500 votes. Believe me when I tell you that every vote counts. This November, positions from School Board to President of the United States will be on the ballot. Do not miss out on exercising your right to vote because you forgot to register to vote or you are registered to vote at the wrong address. I have seen students turned away from the polling booth because they thought they were registered to vote at school, but they registered to vote at home. You can check your voter registration HERE. 2. Vote EarlyI'm not aware of a single state in America that does not give the option to vote early in one form or another. Although the terms and guidelines vary from one state to the next, you should have the option to vote early regardless of where you are currently located.You never know what's going to happen on election day. Vote now and get it out of the way. Additionally, there are likely a few races or referendum questions you did not expect to see on the ballot. Getting your ballot early will give you a few days to research this new-to-you-content and allow you to vote responsibly. You can find more information about how to vote early HERE. Side note: Don't let the lingo about voting early intimidate you or stop you from doing so. In Maine, we don't have early voting, but we do have in-person absentee voting. Which is a fancy way of saying you vote absentee, in-person, prior to Election Day -- aka early voting. Also, a lot of jurisdictions are allowing voters to drop of their completed ballot at some sort of drop-off box or track where their ballots are in the mail. Make sure you leave plenty of time for the postal service to return your ballot after you vote. Like I said, this is going to be the year of close elections. Every note needs to count. Double check to see if you need a stamp.3. Keep an Eye on Campus Administration Classes, meetings, and liberal bias: three things a conservative student is pretty much guaranteed to experience during any given semester. When it comes to liberal bias on college campuses, the best disinfectant is always sunlight. If you see something that doesn't pass the straight-face test, you can send an anonymous tip to Campus Reform HERE.4. Take an LI training As we get closer to Election Day, the Leadership Institute (LI) is laser focused on training as many conservative activists as possible, so you can play your part in the upcoming election. LI hosts safe, in-person and online trainings. Many of these trainings are available to you at no cost thanks to the generous donors of the Leadership Institute. You can find LI's upcoming list of trainings HERE. Additionally, the campus leadership team has created three-hour trainings for club leaders and members. These Youth Leadership Workshops (YLWs) are flexible and range from Media and PR to how to recruit on campus. If you would like to organize one of these trainings for your group, you can email me at LJackson@LeadershipInstitute.org.5. Volunteer (Get Paid) to be a Poll Worker on Election DayHave you ever thoughts about what it takes to run an election? Not a campaign, but the administration part of an election? One of the crucial pieces of running an election is poll workers, who help check-in voters, answer clerical questions, and do tasks throughout the day. Due to coronavirus, election administrators are struggling to find people to work the polls. Not only do poll workers protect the integrity of elections, they can also get paid more than $100 for a days-worth of work. You can find out more information in this video by Campus Reform's Editor in Chief, Cabot Phillips. Decide now. What will you do to make a difference for your conservative principles as the country inches closer to election day?
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