“The late Andrew Breitbart implored us to be happy warriors, and I am grateful for the opportunity every day to be a happy warrior for our principles. If you’re not having fun saving the country, you’re doing it wrong.”
Meet Matthew Hurtt, the Director of Professional Services at Leadership Institute. He is an internationally recognized fundraiser, organizer, writer, and public speaker.
I interviewed Matthew to hear more about his background and draw on his vast political and fundraising experience.
What motivated you to get involved in conservative politics?
My parents were never politically inclined before I ran for office at age 19 in 2006. My interest in current events intersected with a local property issue that was affecting people in my church, and I decided to jump in head-first by running for local office.
That interest stuck, and I remained very involved through college. I co-hosted a conservative talk radio show on 88.3 WMTS with my best friend, wrote editorials for the school newspaper, and was elected to Student Government. Off-campus, I worked alongside my elected state representative and senator and was a fixture in the state capitol before moving to Arlington to work at Leadership Institute in 2009.
You currently serve as the Director of Professional Services at the Leadership Institute. Can you tell me more about your work?
The Director of Professional Services oversees LI’s Careers Training, ConservativeJobs.com, our Internship Program, and provides additional resources and support to LI’s 250,000 trained activists across the country and across the globe. I tell people my role is the “switchboard” into the conservative movement. If you’re looking for activist training, employment opportunities, and other movement resources, I’m your guy.
What would you like our readers to know about Leadership Institute?
Graduates of Leadership Institute training have an underutilized resource at your disposal – LI’s vast network of other trained activists! I speak every day with people who benefit from that one introductory email to another LI-trained activist to help them advance their conservative policy, campaign, or professional goals. If you’ve taken LI training of any sort at any time, reach out to Leadership Institute and allow us to maximize your efforts.
Before coming on as LI staff, you were a distinguished faculty member for LI. Why did you decide to teach for LI? What have been some of your favorite topics to talk about?
I started teaching for LI almost by accident. When I worked as one of LI’s Regional Field Coordinators in 2009, I began offering to help other departments and divisions teach their programming.
I taught a Youth Leadership School at the University of Kentucky in August 2009 and a Campaign Management School during D.C.’s “Snowpocalypse” in December 2009. Once I left full-time employment with LI in early 2010, I continued to teach as guest faculty.
My undergraduate degree actually includes a minor in secondary education. I wanted to be a high school history and civics teacher, but professors told me I’d hate the red tape and bureaucracy. Serving as guest faculty allowed me to scratch the itch to be in the classroom with almost no bureaucracy or red tape with an audience of students who truly wanted to learn.
What is, in your opinion, the most valuable Political and Fundraising training, workshop, or school someone can take here at LI?
I think the training that really has the most potential to produce the most generational benefit for conservatives is the brand-new Conservative Organizational Entrepreneur training.
This training is designed to teach conservatives how to start your own nonprofit or issue advocacy organization.
Our movement would greatly benefit from more organizational entrepreneurs who establish local, state-level, and even nationally oriented groups to advance conservative principles, and Leadership Institute training can point you in the right direction and empower you to launch your own organization.
As the Communications Director of the Arlington GOP, what are you most looking forward to in the upcoming elections?
I love crafting messages that excite our activists and get them off the couch. Conservatives don’t win a lot of elections in Arlington, but our activists are engaged because I help drive a narrative that keeps them involved.
Our 4,000-person email list always engages with our updates, and people turn out to our events because they read about them in our emails or across social media.
We don’t win a lot, but we certainly can’t win if we don’t show up. So, I really enjoy crafting messages that get our activists to show up.
How has LI helped prepare you to serve as the Communications Director for the Arlington GOP?
I think knowing LI’s headquarters is within the boundaries of my local political engagement forces me to be a more effective activist; it allows me to test activism ideas because Leadership Institute is the incubator of conservative activism.
To that end, I feel a certain responsibility to be the best and most effective activist I can be. I can’t teach people about it in LI trainings if I haven’t gone out and done it myself.
Having managed numerous political campaigns, what would you tell a first-time campaign manager?
Your candidate should be knocking on doors and raising money. If you outwork the other guy – especially in a small primary – you can win. Knock doors. Raise money. Spend that money effectively. Nothing else matters.
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 a conservative activist in a community where 80% of my neighbors voted for Joe Biden, I tell people, “I’m the kid in the room full of horse manure, saying there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere.” The late Andrew Breitbart implored us to be happy warriors, and I am grateful for the opportunity every day to be a happy warrior for our principles. If you’re not having fun saving the country, you’re doing it wrong.