News Archive: 2011

Watch Tonight's Presidential Debate Hosted by American Enterprise Institute, CNN, and the Heritage Foundation

Tonight’s presidential debate on foreign policy and national security begins at 8 p.m. EST.

Join the conversation online here. Also at this site, you’ll have access to Heritage’s expert commentary and notes from behind the scenes.

You can host a debate party and receive a free watch party kit here.

“The timing couldn’t be better. We’re setting the table for some lively family discussions at Thanksgiving,” Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner said. “Nothing is more important to the future of our nation than how we approach national security and foreign policy.” 


Congratulations to LI's 100,000th Graduate, Alejandro Capote

The Leadership Institute announced its 100,000th student trained since 1979: Alejandro Capote. Alejandro, a Florida State University sophomore and recently naturalized US citizen, graduated from the Institute’s Youth Leadership School, its flagship training.


After completing his first Youth Leadership School in Arlington, Virginia in July, Alejandro organized a 35-person Youth Leadership School on his college campus in Tallahassee, Florida on October 15.


At the Tallahassee training, Alejandro was named LI’s 100,000th graduate. He receives free Institute training for life and a travel scholarship to any LI training in the U.S. in 2012.


“In 1965, experienced conservative friends much older than I advised me there was no way to earn a living doing what I hoped to do, building the conservative movement, so I am proud today to celebrate the 100,000th student trained by my Leadership Institute,” said Morton Blackwell, president and founder of the Institute. “Alejandro Capote demonstrates the purpose of my Institute’s training: to produce a new generation of conservative leaders and activists.”

100 People Learn About Conservative Careers at LI’s Workshop This Week

One-hundred people attended the Conservative Career Workshop Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at LI’s Steven P.J. Wood Building in Arlington, VA.

“This was some of the best advice I've received for my job search.  I learned about the interview process and negotiating a salary. I had no idea how to negotiate salary prior to this! I feel more confident about tweaking my resume and going into an interview now," said Heritage Foundation Coalition Relations Intern Dixie Cline.

The Conservative Career Workshop helps those looking to sharpen their professional skills and for those searching for their next career move. Attendees learned about different paths in the conservative movement from working on the Hill, in a think-tank, or for a non-profit.

“I learned how to take my private sector experience toward perspective job opportunities in the conservative movement," said Robert Towner, a Government Technical Coordinator for Verizon Wireless.

LI Graduates of the Week: Newly Elected Virginia Delegate Mike Watson and Campaign Manager Annette James

Leadership Institute graduates Mike Watson, founder and president of Control Automation Technologies Corporation and, as of last week, newly elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, together with his Campaign Manager Annette James are this week’s Leadership Institute Graduates of the Week.

“Mike Watson and I met at LI just under one year ago and this past week, we brought home a victory for Mike as the new delegate over an incumbent in a district with a 53 percent Obama approval rating, and where the generic ballot test favored the Democrat,” Annette said.  “It was an uphill battle, but we succeeded.”

Mike and Annette met at LI’s week-long Campaign Management School in December 2010.

“LI is one of the best things that you can do if you are interested in politics,” Annette said.  “The amount of information you receive is a bit like ‘drinking from a fire hose.'"

It’s Veteran’s Day; Thank a Veteran

While recognition of military service is prevalent throughout American history, the modern-day view of Veteran’s Day largely began in 1926 when most states established November 11 as a legal holiday.

The original name was Armistice Day, which changed to Veteran’s Day in 1954.

Across America, communities honor those who sacrifice greatly and selflessly to defend the United States.  There are hundreds, if not thousands of events today, but here are some of the highlights for the Washington, D.C. area:

Conservatives Polish their PR Skills at LI’s Advanced Public Relations School

The past three evenings this week, 20 conservatives gathered in Arlington, Virginia at the Leadership Institute’s Steven P.J. Wood Building to enhance their public relations skills at LI’s Advanced Public Relations School.

Attendees came from many backgrounds, including: non profits, government agencies, and defense contractors.

The training blended the lecture style most common with LI trainings with hands-on practice.  As LI’s Director of Communications Training Rachel Phillips noted, “PR is about practice. You can learn these skills the more you work on them.”

Madrid Taxi Driver to Texas Congressional Campaign Manager: Thomas Beach, LI’s Graduate of the Week

Thomas Beach packed his bags and left his beloved Alabama for a new opportunity in the Lone Star State: managing a congressional campaign for James Kuiken in Texas’ 15th district.

“My main focus is on the Republican primary election in March and using what I learned about the science of campaigning at the Leadership Institute to win,” Thomas explained. This campaign is his fifth.

On his first political campaign, Thomas explained, “I was full of spit and fire, and thought I knew what it took…We won 16% of the vote. I had no experience and no training at the time, but I poured my heart and soul into that campaign.”

After his candidate lost, Thomas wanted to understand why. “In my search for answers,” he said, “I discovered the Leadership Institute. Afterward, I helped on various campaigns and organizations, and now I am in Texas fighting for the conservative cause.”

Thomas was raised by his Mexican mother and Jewish father. After several tours as a U.S. Army Airborne Ranger, he traveled the world by way of various jobs: Madrid taxi driver; English teacher in Brazil and Mexico; and fisherman in South Korea.

As Thomas’ international perspective grew, so did his conviction that liberty is the only solution. “I witnessed firsthand the results of centralized governments and their progressive policies,” Thomas recounted.

So began his involvement in the public policy process.

Leadership Memo: Village Idiots At Large

The American left is still shaken by the success of spontaneous conservative grassroots participation in tea party activities leading up to the 2010 elections.  In desperation, leftists now hope to profit from the Occupy Wall Street gatherings which have spread to many other locations.

Haven’t the mainstream print and broadcast media, overwhelmingly liberal, given massive and sympathetic coverage to the Occupiers?  Isn’t this a good way to build enthusiasm among the base the left needs to win the 2012 elections?

Probably not, even though Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, many extremist labor unions, the Socialist Party USA, the Communist Party USA, and others on the left are singing praises of the current demonstrators.  So many want to lead the Occupiers.

One week after the Occupy Wall Street protesters first gathered, the New York Times ran an opinion piece by Michael Kazin, “Whatever Happened to the American Left?,” offering his guidance in left-wing movement building.  He urged the demonstrators to focus on “demanding millions of new jobs that pay a livable wage.”

A fat lot of good that demand would do.

LI’s International Leadership Training Seminar Trains 77 Conservatives From Around the World

Last week the Leadership Institute hosted 77 representatives from 12 countries—Bolivia, Kenya, Latvia, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, Romani,  Russia, Spain, Tanzania, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The International Leadership Training Seminar (ILTS) was a week-long crash course in communications, fundraising, negotiations, and on-camera techniques.

Member of the Bolivian Parliament Paola Zapata Montaño said, “The Leadership Institute has made me proud of being a conservative, and has equipped me with not only the right tools, but also the right principles that motivate me to recover the democratic lifestyle that Bolivia deserves.”

Notable attendees included Armando Vera, the founder and president of the Hispanic Tea Party; Paola Zapata Montaño, a member of the Bolivian parliament; Lkhagvajav Dolgorjav, the Secretariat’s manager for the Democratic Party of Zavkhan province; and Dr. Ole-Ronkei Morompi, the advocacy director at Compassion International.

LI’s Graduate of the Week: Passionate Public Policy Pro Jessica Talbert

Ohio native Jessica Talbert first became interested in politics as a student at Flagler College in Florida.  Her passion for politics and participation in public policy only grew.  

Now, Jessica has worked in most areas of the public policy process, ranging from the executive and legislative branches to PACs, lobbying groups, Capitol Hill, and political committees.

Jessica came to the Leadership Institute first for the Capitol Hill Staff Training School in November 2010 and returned for the week-long Campaign Manager School in December 2010.

“I highly recommend the Leadership Institute for conservatives who want to get firsthand training in a variety of topics from campaign management, public speaking, grassroots, and the list goes on,” Jessica said.  “In addition to offering great training, the Leadership Institute also brings together conservatives from across the nation, creating relationships that will last our entire careers.”  

Jessica continued, “Having volunteered in numerous capacities with campaigns, I attended LI’s Campaign Manager School to learn the overall operations of a campaign. I was amazed by the experts who spoke at this training…. This training was thorough, extremely informative, and overall a great experience.”  

Jessica worked in government affairs in D.C. for seven years, but, as she explained, “once Republicans took over the House, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to get firsthand experience working on policy and legislation.”

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