Youth coordinator mobilizes support, propels Air Force Brigadier General to Congressional victory
July 28, 2017 | By Sara Wajda
“Pack your bags, Sara. We’re getting on a plane in 24 hours to make you the new Youth Director for the campaign.”
It took a second for those words from my colleague at the Don Bacon for Congress campaign to sink in. Even now, I still can’t believe it sometimes.
Let me tell you about the journey you put me on — that helped a committed conservative and retired Air Force Brigadier General win election in a battleground district.
God had a different plan
When someone asked me why I would ever want to get involved in politics, my first answer was shocking. I didn’t want to go into politics. I actually wanted to become a labor and delivery nurse, but obviously God had a different plan for me.
As my freshman year at Creighton University in Nebraska came to a close, the former youth director on now-Congressman Don Bacon’s campaign invited me to join the team. Intrigued, I told myself I would get my feet wet in campaigning, but nothing more.
In a few weeks I was knee-deep in campaigning!
LI’s Youth Leadership School opens new doors
Shortly after joining the Bacon campaign, the Leadership Institute’s “boot camp of politics” — their Youth Leadership School — came to town in Omaha. At the school, I gained an abundance of knowledge I could use both on college campuses and on the campaign trail.
After the two-day, intensive training session, the campaign asked me to fly to Arlington, Virginia to receive further training and become the new youth director on Don Bacon’s campaign.
In Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, the race was neck-and-neck with a Democrat incumbent congressman, Brad Ashford.
Armed with Leadership Institute training, another youth coordinator and I quickly canvassed every major college campus in Nebraska’s second district and organized students to volunteer and vote for Don Bacon.
More than 150 students regularly volunteered on Don Bacon’s campaign! Hundreds more pledged to vote for him.
The Youth for Bacon groups we organized worked 11,300 man-hours for the campaign and knocked on more than 125,000 doors. The Congressman himself credits the Leadership Institute’s practical, tried-and-true training with his victory.
From youth coordinator to Institute intern — and beyond
Following the Bacon victory, I received an invitation to intern at the Leadership Institute. After my amazing previous experience with LI, I knew this was an opportunity I could not turn down. As an LI intern, I grew leaps and bounds in both my career and personal life. I had the opportunity to rub elbows with the most influential leaders in the conservative movement.
I worked as a true member of the Institute team, not just someone who makes copies and gets coffee. Through numerous networking and career opportunities, I landed my job at the National Right to Work Committee, where I lobbied for federal Right to Work legislation.
Life-changing opportunities abound at the Leadership Institute
The Leadership Institute changed my life. Without the LI training my colleagues and I brought to the campaign, Congressman Don Bacon would not have defeated a Democrat with a 60 percent favorability rating. Without LI, I would not be on a path to advance conservative principles nationwide. Without LI, I truly believe the left would have taken the majority in the House and the Senate.
I know that I have found success by dint of my commitment and hard work, but I also know that were it not for the Leadership Institute, none of the opportunities I’ve had would’ve been possible.
I’m so grateful to Morton Blackwell, to the Leadership Institute — and especially to donors like you whose support helps make this country great.
Sara is now back in Nebraska. At just 20 years old, she continues her political career as the state-wide Field Director for Governor Pete Ricketts’ reelection campaign. Please join the Leadership Institute in congratulating her on her excellent work advancing the conservative movement at such a young age.