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.'"
Paul Gessing, president of New Mexico’s free market think tank—the Rio Grande Foundation—is the Leadership Institute’s Graduate of the Week.
“LI has been a big part of my success within the free market/conservative movement,” Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing said. “LI gives some of the best training in politics, public policy, and campaigns of anyone (regardless of ideology) in the nation.”
The Rio Grande Foundation is “a research institute dedicated to increasing liberty and prosperity for all of New Mexico's citizens. We do this by informing New Mexicans of the importance of individual freedom, limited government, and economic opportunity,” their website says.
A native from Ohio, Paul moved to the Washington, D.C. area to work in public policy in 1997. He recalls, “I was a liberal when I came to DC, but through self-reflection and a lucky connection with a Ron Paul staffer, [I] became much more liberty-minded.”
Paul spent most of his professional career in DC working in government affairs at the National Taxpayers Union; however, after 8.5 years in DC he was ready to move on. “There happened to be a think tank leadership opening in New Mexico, which I took since I had significant family in the Albuquerque area,” Paul said.
Paul has attended 6 trainings at the Leadership Institute. They include: Internet Activist Workshop; On-Camera Television Workshop; Public Speaking Workshop 2; Public Speaking Workshop; Grassroots Communications Workshop; and another Public Speaking Workshop in 2004.
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Bill Taylor was never driven to run for public office. He does admit to having a keen interest in politics since his youngest days as a television news reporter. But it wasn’t until he put his 40-plus year media career behind him that he discovered a true desire for public service. He credits the Leadership Institute to helping him make his full commitment to the political process.
“I’ve always viewed life as a glorious adventure where opportunities are seized,” Bill said. “I’ve never felt like I worked a day in my life because I’ve always chosen to do what I love. Therefore, work was never drudgery; it was an exhilarating challenge.”
Bill spent the first decade of his broadcasting career as a TV news reporter, producer, news director and anchorman. He covered anti-war protests and the civil rights tumult of the 60’s and even interviewed Martin Luther King. He admits to being most fascinated by various politicians having had the opportunity to cover President Johnson and President Nixon and interview Hubert Humphrey in the back seat of his limo on the campaign trail. Most memorable was the 70th birthday of famed Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen. Bill went to Dirksen’s home in Pekin, Illinois, where the Senator played his piano and sang for Bill on camera.
For more than three decades, Bill was a media consultant. He was co-founder and CEO of media research and consulting firms based in Dallas, Los Angeles, and London. As a news consultant, he worked to maintain his political neutrality saying, “It was right and proper; I only wish fairness existed into today’s media.” Bill did serve George H.W. Bush’s White House as a consultant in 1991-92, but his focus was not political. He helped develop the President’s Points of Light initiative which honored volunteerism.
After retiring from consulting, Bill says his personal, political road trip began in January 2009 with the initial inkling he might run for the South Carolina General Assembly. Bill says, “It was an itch that needed scratching and like many conservatives I was troubled by what I saw coming from President Obama and the Democrats running Congress. It was not ‘Change’ I believed in.”
Bill spent the next seven months carefully considering his options and opportunities. Enter the Leadership Institute.
“My campaign success was fueled by our enrolling in LI’s Future Candidate’s School; it was a most valuable experience. It’s essential to be as knowledgeable as possible and prepared for the twists and turns of a political campaign. LI smoothed our political road to success. For that we are most thankful,” Bill says.
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Aleq Boyle attended his first Leadership Institute training in 1987 as a college student. Now he's the president and chairman of his own non-profit organization, Fremont Civics Foundation, but he still comes to the Institute for training.
"My first Youth Leadership School was at Northwestern University in 1987," Aleq said. "Having already worked for the Indiana State GOP, under Gordon Durnell, LI was a way to be connected with many like-minded individuals and grow some understanding about our work."
A few weeks ago, Holly Robichaud, Leadership Institute faculty for grassroots, received the 2011 Pollie Award for campaign brochure design and was named to the 2011 Aristotle's Excellence Awards Republican National Dream Team. The awards were dubbed the "Oscars of political advertising" by Esquire.
Since 2008, Holly has travelled across the country as an Institute faculty member. She has trained conservatives in school topics ranging from campaigns, communications, to get-out-the-vote efforts. This is all in addition to her work as the founder of the Tuesday Associates, a political consulting company; a political analyst for the Boston Herald; and a columnist for Winning Campaigns magazine.
As an Institute supporter, you'll like this article from last week’s Washington Post. It details a new project by liberals to copy LI's media training. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, so LI grads should feel flattered.
From the Washington Post: “Brenner [a faculty member] joined the other participants in a wood-paneled room on the carriage house’s ground floor. A camcorder stood on a tripod in the middle of desks arranged in a horseshoe formation. Black and white boards hung on the walls. Brock, with graying hair and blue tie, offered some words of wisdom to the class. Their conservative antagonists had all gone through rigorous media training at the Leadership Institute, he warned, but now they, too, would be armed with the ammunition to compete.”
Sunday’s edition of The Atlantic featured an article by National Journal Political Correspondent Beth Reinhard where she says, “Now, potential presidential candidates know Ryan Rhodes on a first-name basis.”
Twenty-eight-year-old Ryan Rhodes, a former Leadership Institute intern, is a true conservative grassroots activist, arriving here only by way of an unlikely road.
Florida campaign manager Andrea Penton, Vancouver CEO Julian Haigh, Texan entrepreneur Trent Derr, future candidate Virginian Lynda Fairman, and more than forty other conservatives came to the Leadership Institute for its Campaign Management School (CMS), a week-long, intensive "boot camp" in campaign management last week.
The school teaches students the ins and outs of campaigning through intensive training and real life stories, and in doing so, give students the how-to knowledge they need to succeed. As CMS student Gus Leventis of Addison, Illinois said, "The [CMS] will teach you how to win!"
Leadership Institute Graduate Amanda Carpenter, who is currently a speechwriter and senior communications advisor to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has been named one of the Top 10 Capitol Hill Staffers to watch, according to the Washington Post.
Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, spoke January 5 at the Leadership Institute’s monthly Wednesday Wakeup Club Breakfast. Read on for Mr. Phillips’ personal comments on the Leadership Institute and to watch the video.