About the Leadership Institute


Publication: 2014-01-20


The Leadership Institute difference: While many liberal organizations exist to increase the involvement of liberal activists, few similar organizations exist to serve conservatives. Because conservatism tends to focus on the power of ideas, most conservative organizations are think tanks that focus on policy or legislation. The left excels at organizing and mobilizing large numbers of people -- activating them in the public policy process. While philosophy is very important, the lack of widespread, active conservative participation is one of America's greatest practical weaknesses. LI increases the number and effectiveness of conservative activists and leaders in the public policy process. The Institute doesn't analyze policy; it teaches conservative Americans how to influence policy through direct participation, activism, and leadership.

Supporting the conservative movement: The Leadership Institute actively supports the entire conservative movement. Unique among conservative nonprofits, the Leadership Institute freely shares its most valuable resource -- its list of students trained and its list of conservative student campus groups -- with other conservative organizations. LI information is used by other conservative organizations as a source of participants for their valuable programs, saving them countless hours of recruitment. LI information-sharing benefits the entire conservative movement and connects conservatives into a nationwide conservative network and a lifetime of civic involvement. Virtually all significant conservative organizations across America now employ Institute graduates.


Name:Leadership Institute


Founded in 1979 by its president, Morton C. Blackwell, LI provides training in campaigns, fundraising, grassroots organizing, youth politics, and communications. The Institute teaches conservatives of all ages how to succeed in politics, government, and the media. The Institute offers 40 types of training schools, workshops, and seminars; a free employment placement service; and a national field program that trains conservative students to organize campus groups.


  • ConservativesSince 1979, LI has trained more than 143,000 conservative activists, leaders, and students.

  • Conservative Activists

  • Conservative Students

  • Conservative Leaders Students

  • Conservative Campus GroupsThe Institute's unique college campus network has grown to more than 1,500 conservative campus groups and newspapers.

  • Conservative Campus Newspapers

  • Leadership Institute Board of Directors

  • Morton C. BlackwellFounder and President -- Morton Blackwell began in 1960 to identify, train and place bright young conservatives for activism in the public policy process. Founder of the Leadership Institute in 1979 and its president since then, Mr. Blackwell has wide experience in and out of government. In 1980, Mr. Blackwell organized the national youth effort for Ronald Reagan. He served for the first three years of the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison. While on the White House Staff, he was the President's liaison to conservative, veterans and religious groups. He also served as the Project Officer for the White House Outreach Working Group on Central America. In January, 1984, Mr. Blackwell left the White House Staff to work full-time as the president of the Leadership Institute, his educational foundation dedicated to training and placing conservatives. Today Morton Blackwell continues to increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists through the programs of his Leadership Institute, which now has more than 108,097 graduates of its training and more than 1,335 independent, conservative student groups active on college campuses in all 50 states.

  • M Dennis Daugherty1st Vice President

  • Craig MurphyTreasurer

  • Ed CorriganSecretary

  • Jade WestDirector

  • Rev. Fred Fowler IIIDirector

  • Charles ThornhillDirector

  • Michael RothfeldDirector

  • John MaxwellDirector

  • Leadership Institute Staff

  • Cathy GrahamExecutive Assistant to the President -- Cathy Graham grew up in the great state of Texas. After serving as a page at age 16 at a Texas State Republican convention, Cathy was bit by the political bug. Her moral beliefs motivated her to volunteer on many campaigns, with Concerned Women for America, and to attend almost every Republican convention. A Bachelors degree in Consumer Sciences was obtained from Texas Woman's University. After several years in consumer affairs in the private sector, Cathy packed her bags and winter wear for our nation's capital of Washington, DC. Through the Heritage Foundation, Cathy landed her first political position as a staff assistant with the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. Following the committee, Cong. Dave Weldon (FL) hired Cathy as his Executive Assistant / Scheduler. Cathy loved the excitement and buzz of working on the Hill and stayed until Cong. Weldon announced his retirement. Cathy now counts it a wonderful privilege to serve as the Executive Assistant to one of the fathers of the conservative movement, the Leadership Institute Founder and President, Mr. Morton Blackwell. Outside of work, Cathy stays busy at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

  • David FennerVice President of Programs -- David Fenner is Vice President of Programs for the Leadership Institute. He has worked in the Conservative Movement for 14 years. He has served as Director of Programs at Council for National Policy, Vice President of CNP Action, Inc., and Treasurer for the Conservative Leadership PAC. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, David received his Bachelors Degree from Emory University and his Law Degree from George Mason University.

  • Patricia SimpsonDirector of Political and Career Programs -- Patricia is the Director of Political and Career Programs at the Leadership Institute. In addition to overseeing the Department's trainings, she manages all aspects of Conservative Jobs - the Institute's free job placement service. Prior to this position, she served as the Institute's Director of Online Training, where she managed the online production and distribution of LI programs to strategic partners and to the general public. During her early days at LI, she served as the Deputy Director of Grassroots where she was responsible for identifying, recruiting, and training conservative leaders and activists around the country. Patricia came to LI with a background in campaigns and grassroots organizing - spending time working on national, state, and local races as well as organizing small business owners through her work at a trade association. Raised in Rome, New York, Patricia graduated from the College at Brockport's Delta Leadership Honors Program. In her spare time, Patricia enjoys last-minute road trips, all things nautical, and although being a native New Yorker, she is an official citizen of Red Sox Nation.

  • Aynsley HarrisonCareer Services Coordinator

  • Jacqueline SilsethIntern Coordinator -- Jacqueline Silseth currently serves as Intern Coordinator at the Leadership Institute. Previously she was Chief Executive Officer of Market Aces, a web design, internet marketing and software development firm. Jacqueline has over ten years experience working with start-up ventures. Before starting at Market Aces as Vice President of Operations, she spent eight years working at Viper Motorcycle Company, heading up dealer licensing, aiding in investor relations, acting as office manager, as well as creating marketing materials and running social media campaigns. She obtained a degree in English from St. Cloud State University where she was active in over ten student organizations. During her undergraduate career she served as Volunteer Director for Year of Youth, empowering youth to run for state and local offices, and was nominated as Student of the Year by an international non-profit organization for her work with the project.

  • Rachel PhillipsDirector of Communications Training -- Rachel Phillips is the Director of Communications Training for the Leadership Institute. Prior to joining LI, Rachel interned at the Council for National Policy where she supported the Council in daily office activities and preparation for annual meetings through various research projects, administrative duties, and member relations. In May 2008, Rachel graduated from Hillsdale College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing Management.

  • Carol WeheDigital Communications Coordinator -- Carol Wehe is the Digital Communications Coordinator for the Leadership Institute. In this position, Carol manages the new media, fundraising, and online training at LI. Prior to working at LI, Carol managed new media and events at Hillsdale College's Allan P. Kirby Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship; acted as new media manager at the Independent Women's Forum, a non-profit dedicated to limited-government; and was a Recruitment Assistant at Professional Oklahoma Educators. Carol received a BA in Political Economy from Hillsdale College. She now lives in the little town of Washington, D.C.

  • Leah CourtneyPrograms Coordinator

  • Kyle BacceiCommunications Manager -- Kyle Baccei is the Communications Manager for the Leadership Institute. Previously, Kyle was a State Policy Associate at Americans for Tax Reform. Kyle is a recent graduate from the Catholic University of America with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics.

  • Miguel Angel Moreno San JuanDirector International & Government Training -- Miguel is the Director of International and Government Programs at "The Leadership Institute" (L.I.) At L.I. he is responsible for recruiting, training, and working with top-level government officials from around the world, as well as business executives and heads of international conservative organizations. He also develops and executes the International Leadership Training Schools, in the US, Europe, Africa, Asia, Latina America and Australia, where selected conservatives are trained in the technology and strategy of International campaigning, fundraising, communications, and organizational entrepreneurship. Miguel has 15 year of experience organizing and speaking at several international seminars. He has been responsible for running large corporations in the spheres of education, banking, social insurances, housing and health services. He is an expert in Total Quality Management and Re-engineering. Among others, he was work experience with USAID, the German, Japanese and Sweden Cooperation; Inter-American Development Bank; World Bank, University of California and National American University. He is a Candidate for a Ph.D., in Higher Education; MBA; Master of Public Policy and Government, a B.S. in Military and Naval Science and a B.S. in Education.

  • Manuela PopoviciVolunteer -- International Relations and Communication Professional -- Manuela has a wide experience in International Relations, European Programmes, Event Planning and Public Administration. She had worked at the European Documentation Centre of the University of Alicante, Spain, for three months within the Leonardo da Vinci programme and after her return in Romania, she had worked as an International Relations Professional at the International Relations Department of the University of Oradea, for five years. During her activity there, she had organized several scientific, social, humanitarian and cultural events, like international seminars with MEPs, international conferences with international government officials and professors, UN models, activities for international staff and students, fundraisings etc. She had managed several programs on Education and Culture by the European Commission and in the same time she had help consolidating the brand of the university internationally. She had several staff trainings on programs management and communication at top institutions in Europe and Turkey and she has performed a number of monitoring visit at prestigious higher educational institutions in Europe. Since July 2012, Manuela is the Dean's Personal Assistant at the Faculty of Economic Sciences - University of Oradea, where she has managed to extend the Faculty's international relations, by negotiating and concluding international agreements with prestigious universities from Europe and Turkey. Manuela is also an active member of the ROTARACT Club Oradea (Rotary Club Oradea) where she served as a PR & Communication Professional during 2012-2013, and as an International Relations Professional for the 2013-2014 term. She constantly manages or gets involved in educational and humanitarian projects. Manuela holds a Bachelor degree in International Relations, European Studies from the National School of Administrative and Political Sciences and the University of Oradea, and a Master degree in Cross-Border Relations, Euroregional Studies from the University of Oradea.

  • Amanda AndersonDirector of Events -- Amanda graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2008 with degrees in Political Science and Philosophy. As a veteran College Republican and principled student activist, Amanda was instrumental in promoting the newly founded Students for Paul at UNC, assisting with events and welcoming Dr. Paul to campus. She interned for the Pope Center for Higher Education, an organization dedicated to promoting free markets, freedom, and life long learning. Previously, Amanda worked for the Ron Paul 2012 Campaign as Youth for Paul Operations Coordinator where she helped supervise volunteers as part of Dr. Paul's Get Out the Vote effort for New Hampshire and Iowa. Later she administered the Ron Paul 2012 National Headquarters front office, coordinated volunteers, and assisted with fundraising. Amanda was born in Steubenville, Ohio, lived in Seattle, Washington but grew up in most of her life in Cornelius, North Carolina. After spending a few years living in the Florida Keys, She now lives in Arlington, Virginia and is the Director of Events at the Leadership Institute. Amanda Anderson serves as a board member to the Ladies of Liberty Alliance, a non-profit educational organization which provides leadership training to equip women with the tools and techniques necessary to spread the message of liberty. In addition to perpetually volunteering on various campaigns, she is also the Secretary of the Arlington Falls Church Young Republican Club.

  • Lauren DayDirector of External Affairs -- Lauren Day is the director of external affairs at the Leadership Institute, where she oversees the LI brand and public image externally, while managing marketing and communication activities. Previously, Lauren worked for a conservative Texas Congressman on Capitol Hill, reported on foreign direct investment news at China Briefing Media located in Shanghai, China, managed marketing campaigns and business development as the marketing coordinator for a engineering firm headquartered in Texas, coordinated press interviews at Abilene Christian University as a media relations specialist, and taught a graphics course for three semesters to 120 college sophomores and juniors at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications as an instructional associate. During college, Lauren interned at advertising agency -- GSD&M -- on the SBC (now AT&T) media planning account and at worldwide public relations agency Weber Shandwick Worldwide. As a seventh-generation Texan, Lauren has lived in four countries and traveled to more than 19. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications from Abilene Christian University in her home state of Texas, receiving the Best Representative of the Year award during one of her terms in student congress. She completed the public diplomacy graduate program at Syracuse University in New York, where she received a M.S. in Public Relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs. Lauren and her husband Nathaniel live in Arlington, Virginia and attend Cherrydale Baptist Church.

  • Anna SwickIntern

  • Bryan BernysVice President for the Campus Leadership Program -- Bryan Bernys is currently the Vice President for the Campus Leadership Program here at the Leadership Institute. Before coming to work at LI, Bryan served as the New Hampshire Field Director for the McCain 2008 campaign. As one of the first people hired onto the McCain campaign in September of 2006 Bryan worked to re-establish Sen. McCain's presence among New Hampshire voters, hired and trained campaign staff, located and opened a campaign headquarters, and ran the day to day ground operations for the campaign. In addition to his work with the McCain campaign Bryan also comes to LI with a wealth of campaign experience. He has served as the Field Director for the Tarrant for Senate campaign in Vermont, Campaign Manager for Robinson for Delegate in Virginia, consultant for the Ball for Delegate special election in Virginia, and field staff for the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign in Michigan. While in college Bryan worked for the Carlyle Gregory Company, a political consulting firm in northern Virginia. Working for the Carlyle Gregory Company, Bryan assisted on several campaigns around the country for all levels of public office. He graduated from American University with a bachelors degree in C.L.E.G.

  • Timothy Communication Editor -- Tim Dionisopoulos graduated from Providence College (PC) in 2011 with a BA in Political Science. As an undergrad, he served as the President of the PC Republicans and led the PC chapter of Youth for Western Civilization, a right-wing activist group. Tim also volunteered in New Hampshire and Rhode Island for the 2008 Ron Paul Presidential Campaign, and has volunteered on various local and statewide races for right-wing candidates. Shortly after graduating, Tim began working for, where he reports on leftist abuse and bias on college campuses.

  • Katherine TimpfCampus Communication Manager -- Katherine Timpf works as a reporter and handles media appearances. Her past stories have included "Yale considers offering sex change surgeries," "Northwestern students demand reparations for 150-year-old massacre," and " Yale hosts workshop teaching sensitivity to bestiality. " Her stories have been featured on several major national news outlets including the Drudge Report. Timpf is also a 2012 Robert Novak Fellow, and is currently working on a project titled, "As California Goes, So Goes the Nation: The Consequences of Following Golden State Policy." Previously, Timpf worked as a digital editor for the Washington Times, the news anchor for NASA's Third Rock Radio, and as a producer and reporter at Total Traffic Network in Santa Ana, CA. She has also been an op-ed contributor to The Orange County Register and The International Business Times, and a featured comedian on the morning drive radio show for Baltimore's 98 Rock. Prior to beginning her career in journalism, she held internships with Fox Business News and KFI News in California. Timpf graduated magna cum laude from Hillsdale College with a B.A. in English, and was accepted into Columbia University's Masters Program in Journalism in 2010. She is also a stand-up comic, and performs at venues throughout D.C., Baltimore, Virginia, and New York City.

  • Caleb BonhamCampus Communication Manager -- Caleb Bonham is the editor-in-chief of Campus Reform. Previously, Bonham served as editor-at-large for Revealing Politics, host of The Caleb Bonham Show, and Crossover with Caleb Bonham. Caleb's videos have received over 3 million views on YouTube. Caleb's work has been published in hundreds of national and international news outlets, including the Fox News Channel, CNN, the Drudge Report, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, TheBlaze, and others. Caleb is a frequent television guest on several national news programs.

  • Sterling BeardCampus Communication Manager

  • Michael ArmstrongNational Field Director -- Mike Armstrong is the National Field Director for Campus Programs at the Leadership Institute. He oversees a team of 8 Regional Field Coordinators providing tactical resources, support, and training to conservative college activists and organizations. Previously, he served as LI's Regional Field Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic from 2011-2012. Prior to joining the Leadership Institute, Mike mananged several campaigns for public office, including a congressional race in Pennsylvania's 5th District in 2008. He also served as the Youth Director for a U.S. Senate campaign in Pennsylvania in 2012. Earlier, Mike served as the Vice Chairman of the Clarion County Republican Party. An alumnus of Clarion University, Mike founded the College Conservatives and served as the organization's chairman until graduating in 2010. He was also a member of Students for Life, Chairman of the Clarion University Legal Symposium, and President of his fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

  • Shane McGonigalRegional Field Coordinator -- Shane McGonigal is a Regional Field Coordinator for the Leadership Institute serving the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, and South Carolina. He has previously worked as a Field Representative for the same organization in the state of Texas were he started over 18 conservative and libertarian student organizations. Born and raised in the great state of Georgia, he graduated from North Georgia College and State University where he ran both his schools College Republicans group and Libertarian club. In 2010 Shane was the Youth Coordinator for Bert Loftman's 9th District Congressional race, an owner and managing partner in a CiCi's Pizza franchise, a delegate to his local Republican party, a blogger covering local area politics, and an events coordinator for the State of Georgia Tea Party. Working with the State of Georgia Tea Party, and over 20 other tea party groups in the North East Georgia area Shane helped organize a gubernatorial debate that drew headlines from the local media for it's large crowd and political pressure on non-conservative candidates. Shane's history in politics goes back to 2008 when he was an intern for the Leadership Institute working for the Rock Grant Speakers Bureau. Shane's involvement in student activism has been picked up by the media, including the 2011 Students for Liberty event of the year, the Zombie Founding Father Crawl in Austin, Texas. Shane is also the Tennessee State Chair for Young Americans for Liberty.

  • Adam WeinbergRegional Field Coordinator -- Adam Weinberg is a Regional Field Coordinator providing assistance and Youth Leadership School training to conservative and libertarian student organizations in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. He first joined the Leadership Institute as a Field Representative in 2008. He graduated with a BFA in Film from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and holds several independent film credits to his name as an Assistant Director and even a few bit parts on screen. Based in California, he collaborates with fellow conservative filmmakers in his spare time. While in college he was the chairman of his campus' chapter of Students for Ron Paul, using the organization to recruit student activists for the Presidential primary efforts in neighboring South Carolina. He is also the Southwest Regional Director for Young Americans for Liberty, which has grown to over 300 campus chapters since launching in 2009.

  • Tony ListiRegional Field Coordinator -- Tony Listi is a Regional Field Coordinator in the Campus Leadership Program at the Leadership Institute. He is responsible for starting and supporting conservative student groups and publications on campuses in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Tony graduated summa cum laude and with honors from Texas A&M University where he studied political science, philosophy, history, and communication. While at A&M, he was very politically active and was the chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas chapter. With the help of the Leadership Institute, Tony rebuilt the extinct chapter from scratch, and it is now a very active and successful campus group. Under his leadership, the group brought several conservative speakers to campus and engaged in activism, including an Anti-Obama Carnival, the exposing of faculty members who signed an online petition in support of Bill Ayers, and a "Brew the IRS Agent" event on Tax Day, which featured a dunking booth. All these activism events received media attention. Tony interned in Washington, D.C. every summer of his college career, working at the Republican National Committee, Americans for Prosperity, and the Heritage Foundation. He was also an ambassador to the Southwest U.S. for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, for which he signed up nearly 700 new members. For his scholarship and activism, Tony was awarded the Ronald Reagan College Leader Scholarship by the Phillips Foundation.

  • Gabriella HoffmanRegional Field Coordinator -- Gabriella Hoffman is a Regional Field Coordinator for the Leadership Institute serving the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Born and raised in Orange County, California, Gabriella attributes her conservatism to her parents - Lithuanian immigrants - who escaped from the former USSR and came here in search of freedom in 1986. She recently graduated from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) where she studied political science and minored in history. While at UCSD, she was president of the Young Americans for Freedom chapter, a contributor to the conservative paper- The California Review- on campus, and a member of the pro-Israel group. During her first year there, Gabriella organized an event with David Horowitz on campus to counter "Israel Apartheid Week" that garnered national attention after a female member of the Muslim Students Association said she agreed with the notion of a Second Holocaust. As a result, she championed conservative and pro-Israel views whenever they were under fire. Additionally, she served as the Executive Assistant of The Rick Amato Show on KCBQ 1170AM, an Assistant Editor of TheCollegeConservative, and the Director of College Outreach for Eagle Forum of San Diego. She coupled her activism with writing and blogging, and has been published in Fox Nation, Right Wing News, the Washington Times Communities, The College Fix, and other outlets. Gabriella previously interned at Young America's Foundation's Reagan Ranch Center, Ann and Phelim Media, LLC, and the Media Research Center's She has spoken at numerous TEA Party and conservative events, and has been a guest on various radio programs to offer a young conservative perspective on issues. Additionally, she has organized two national youth-led movements in support of Israel and conservatism. Gabriella has been recognized for her activism and writing. She is a 2010 Conservative Agenda Project essay winner and a 2011 recipient of a Phillips Foundation's Ronald Reagan College Scholar award.

  • Craig DixonRegional Field Coordinator -- Craig Holland Dixon is a veteran member of the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. First serving as a Field Representative in Indiana and Illinois in 2009, he established a strong network of conservative activist groups. He has worked on a number of political campaigns, including the Rand Paul 2010 Senate Race, and the Ron Paul 2012 Presidential Campaign, where he assisted GOTV operations during the New Hampshire primary. An active political commentator on conservative issues, he recently worked as an editorial assistant at 'The American Conservative' magazine. He returned to the Leadership Institute in late 2012 to serve again as a Field Representative in North Carolina. He is currently serving as a Regional Field Coordinator, overseeing operations in nine states in the Midwest and Great Plains regions.

  • Kristin DobsonRegional Field Coordinator -- Kristin Dobson is the Regional Field Coordinator for the Mid-West region, which includes Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Prior to working as a Regional Field Coordinator, she was a Leadership Institute Field Representative in the great state of Michigan. A 2011 graduate of Depaul University, Kristin participated in The Fund for American Studies Capital Semester Program at Georgetown University. She has also interned with the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Heartland Institute, and the Koch Internship Program.

  • Christopher BradfordRegional Field Coordinator -- Chris Bradford is currently the Leadership Institute's Regional Field Coordinator (RFC) for the Mountain West. His region includes Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Before taking his role as an RFC, he was a Leadership Institute Field Representative in Northern California. Before joining LI, Chris was a full time intern for the Ron Paul 2012 Presidential campaign and was elected as a delegate to the Louisiana Republican State Convention. In 2011, he was campaign manager for Tisha Casida's congressional campaign in Colorado. An alumnus of the University of New Orleans, Chris started the UNO Conservatives which bridged the gap between libertarians and conservatives on campus. In 2007, he started Students for Ron Paul at his university and turned out students to vote in the primary and caucus elections. Chris is still involved in Louisiana politics and serves as a committeeman on the Orleans Parish Republican Party and on the Pelican State Liberty PAC board.

  • Carmela MartinezRegional Field Coordinator -- Carmela Martinez is the Regional Field Coordinator for the mid-Atlantic which includes Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and North Carolina. Prior to working as a Regional Field Coordinator, Carmela was a Leadership Institute Field Representative for Virginia and Maryland. While attending college, Carmela worked on two state senate campaigns and one congressional campaign and volunteered on various campaigns in New Mexico. After graduating from New Mexico State University in 2011, Carmela worked in Graphic Design for a year before being recruited as a Leadership Institute Field Representative. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design and was also a Leadership Institute Intern for the Recruitment Department.

  • Daryl Ann DuniganYouth Leadership School Director -- Daryl Ann Dunigan is currently the Youth Leadership School Director at the Leadership Institute, where she is responsible for identifying, recruiting, and training students across the nation. Prior to working for the Leadership Institute, Daryl Ann worked as Campaign Manager for Jeff Thompson's successful State Representative campaign in Louisiana. She was the Youth Coordinator for Congressman Andy Harris's campaign in 2010. She also was a summer intern with the Youth Leadership School department and John William Pope Civitas Institute. Daryl Ann graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Political Science and Communication Studies. She led multiple student groups, bringing high profile speakers to campus such as Mike Adams, Bay Buchanan, and Tom Tancredo.

  • Samuel LarsonYouth Leadership School Coordinator -- Sam Larson is currently the Coordinator for the Leadership Institute's Youth Leadership School. His responsibilities include recruiting, organizing and training at the schools across the U.S. Prior to joining the Leadership Institute, Sam spent time working and volunteering throughout Minnesota politics. Some of these roles included Candidate Director for a U.S. Senate campaign, Legislative Assistant at a non-profit and Page for the Minnesota Senate. Through his volunteer work he helped on multiple State House and State Senate races and was twice elected Chair of his local political party. Sam graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato in the Summer of 2010 with a B.S. in Marketing and a minor in Business Administration.

  • Steven SuttonVice President of Development -- Prior to joining the Leadership Institute, Steven Sutton was a Chief of Staff in the House of Representatives for more than 14 years. He became a start-up specialist, as he set-up the Congressional offices of four different incoming freshmen Congressmen. First was Peter Torkilson of the North Shore of Massachusetts. Then came Frank Riggs from California's Napa Valley. Third was Lee Terry from Omaha, Nebraska, and most recently John Kline from just south of Minnesota's Twin Cities. As Chief of Staff, Steven set-up their offices, hired their staffs, and managed and directed the operations of their Washington and district offices. In addition, he helped them get re-elected, directing their campaign strategies, messages, and voter contact programs. He has also managed numerous political campaigns from city council to U.S. Congress, specializing in challenger campaigns. Steven is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.

  • John DavisDirector of Donor Communications -- John Davis is director of donor communications at the Leadership Institute. John has worked at the Institute since 2005. He manages a $2.8 million budget and more than 30,000 active donors. He is responsible for overseeing the direct mail, telemarketing, and web based fundraising activities of the Leadership Institute. John lives in Springfield, Virginia with his wife, Emily, and their two children, Eliana and Penelope.

  • John PorebaDirector of Regional Development -- John Poreba helps conservatives in the Northeast to build a stronger, more prosperous America through their support of the Leadership Institute's political training programs. He is a graduate of Penn State University and recently earned his master's degree in Statecraft, summa cum laude, from the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC. With a passionate interest in effective political techniques, John has trained hundreds of students, activists, and leaders from more than 26 countries to be great communicators. His writings have been published in The Daily Caller, Human Events, and The International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence.

  • Brian EatonSenior Regional Development Officer -- Brian Eaton is the Regional Development Officer for the Great Lakes Region at the Leadership Institute. Before coming to the Leadership Institute, Brian worked as the Press Secretary for the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. While there he worked with the press on a daily basis and saw firsthand the liberal bias that exists in today's mainstream media. With his considerable experience on Capitol Hill, Brian brings with him a fresh perspective on politics and public policy. Brian was born and raised in a small town outside of Erie, Pennsylvania. He received his degree in Journalism, with minors in Sociology and History, from the Pennsylvania State University. Brian currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA.

  • Karla BrunoDirector of Foundation and Corporate Relations -- Karla Kraynak Bruno is a former English teacher and librarian, with over 20 years as an educator and researcher to her credit. She is a published author of historical fiction and a frequent guest columnist for two regional Virginia newspapers. Ms. Bruno holds a B.A. in English and an M.A.Ed in Secondary English Education from The College of William and Mary, as well as a Master's in Library and Information Science from The Catholic University of America. A life-long lover of liberty and conservative values, she is active in higher education reform and presidential politics.

  • Elizabeth McCulloughDonor Communications Administrator -- As Donor Communications Administrator, Elizabeth oversees responding to all the letters, notes, questions from supporters, making sure they get the right answers. She is also reaches out to new supporters, coordinates the Student Thank You program, and keeps member records up to date. Passionately committed to conservative principles, Elizabeth has worked extensively on both in lobbying as well as 'in the field' with grassroots election campaigns. In her 'spare time' she enjoys hosting events, sewing, sitting along the Potomac, and coordinating weddings.

  • Elizabeth Tara RyanRegional Development Officer -- Elizabeth Tara Ryan is the Leadership Institute's Regional Development Officer for the Southeast region of the country. She attended Hillsdale College where she earned her degree in economics. Proficient in Spanish, Ryan studied for a semester at the free market school, Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala City, Guatemala and traipsed around Central America while learning third world economics. Before starting her work at LI, Ryan spent time helping her troubled home state, Michigan, at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and then worked for Americans for Prosperity Foundation. Ryan is a Flint, Michigan native. She was introduced to the political process while interning for a mayor who served time in jail.

  • Chris VariDonor Relations Officer -- Chris Vari hails from the heartland state of Ohio. He became interested in politics as a young teenager when he happened to come across some old Family Research Council newsletters his family kept in a forgotten nook on the office shelves. It didn't take long before Chris started following elections and public policy battles across the country and got actively involved in local campaigns. Chris was first introduced to Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute (LI) by his personal friend and former Ohio state representative, Ron Hood. Chris took his first LI training at an Activist Workshop in 2005, and has taken 11 LI trainings since. Chris came on staff at LI in January 2012 as an intern, and he joined full time in April of that year as a Development Assistant. In September, 2012, he was promoted again to Donor Relations Officer and is now assisting Elizabeth Ryan in her capacity as Regional Development Officer for the Southeast Region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Missisippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee). Chris graduated in 2007 from Thomas Edison State College with a Bachelor of the Arts in History, and obtained a Juris Doctorate from Regent University Law School in 2011. He loves reading and strategy gaming. During the fall, he follows the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday and the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

  • Heather SherlockRegional Development Officer -- Heather Sherlock grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and graduated from Villanova University in December 2010 with a degree in Theology. Throughout her senior year, she volunteered for congressional, senate, and gubernatorial races. As a member of the Union League of Philadelphia, Heather spent her free time attending events to support her friends' respective philanthropies. After graduating, she was awarded a John Jay Institute Fellowship which included an internship in The Heritage Foundation's Major Gifts department. Heather joined the Leadership Institute in June 2012. Since then she has advanced the conservative movement by raising money to train conservatives to be more effective. Heather is a member of the Philadelphia Society and a lifelong conservative.

  • Mitchell NozkaDonor Communications Coordinator -- In the Leadership Institute's Development department, Mitchell coordinates housefile and acquisition communications with vendors. He also organizes, writes, and edits the Leadership Institute's bi-monthly donor newsletter, Building Leadership. Mitchell aims to steward gifts from the Leadership Institute's supporters to transform the political climate in America toward conservatism -- religious freedom and traditional values, limited government and taxes, and free markets. Prior to the Leadership Institute, Mitchell interned with Representatives Dan Burton (R-IN) and Mike Ferguson (R-NJ), and was a lead technician with a major retail pharmacy. He obtained a BA in International Relations and Political Science from the University of Connecticut. A native of Connecticut, with studies abroad in the United Kingdom and Egypt, he and his wife recently relocated to Virginia. His family are followers of Jesus Christ and members of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

  • Benjamin HobbsRegional Development Officer -- Ben Hobbs serves as the Regional Development Officer for the South Central Region. During his first year at the Leadership Institute, he was a 2012-2013 Koch Associate at the Charles Koch Institute. A native of rural northeast Ohio, Ben received his Bachelor of Arts Cum Laude from Denison University, studying political science. Prior to joining the Leadership Institute, Ben worked in retail operations consulting with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). After two years in the private sector, Ben switched career paths to advance conservative causes. When not working to advance individual liberty, Ben is an active member of the Washington Beta Theta Pi Alumni Executive Board, and enjoys time spent on his family farm in Ohio. An Eagle Scout, he is also a skiing and shooting sports enthusiast.

  • Brandon BlumDonor Relations Officer -- Brandon Blum joined The Leadership Institute in June 2013. He is currently a 2013-2014 Koch Associate and serves as the Development Relations Officer for the South Central Region. Though born in Chicago, Brandon grew up in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona. He went on to graduate Suma Cum Laude from St. Peter's University in New Jersey with a B.S. degree in Economics. Prior to and after completing his degree, Brandon worked in Chicago's financial and commodities markets. After recognizing the serious threat of growing socialist ideas among Americans, Brandon chose to join the conservative movement. When not working with his fellow conservatives to spread the constitutional principles of freedom and liberty, Brandon enjoys traveling, visiting friends and family, along with being an active member of his church.

  • Bethany JonesDonor Relations Officer

  • Brandon PattersonDonor Relations Officer

  • Adam SprecherDonor Relations Officer

  • Mark CentofanteVice President for Technology and Operations -- Mark Centofante is the Vice President for Technology and Operations at the Leadership Institute. Mark has worked at the Leadership Institute since 1995. He currently maintains all of the organization's critical information system resources and all operational matters. Prior to becoming the Vice President for Technology and Operations, Mark served in the United States Marine Corps. Mark holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Wesley College and a Master of Science in Information Systems Technology from George Washington University.

  • Phil NataliniDirector of Internet and Database Operations -- Phil Natalini graduated from Kutztown University with a Major in Telecommunications and a minor in Computer Science. He moved to work at the Leadership Institute in 2005 as the Director of Database and Internet Operations and is responsible for the institute's web sites, databases, and other tech needs. Prior to working at the Leadership Institute Phil worked for WLVT, a TV station in Allentown PA, for 5 years as the Network Administrator and Master Control Operator. He has worked as a video engineer and Network Admin for a production house based in Bethlehem PA and NY city. Since college, Phil has worked as a contractor in both the computer and television industries. What he enjoys the most is his dog Pluto. Pluto is a regular here at the institute.

  • Nicholas ArgyleDirector of Systems and Network Operations -- Nick Argyle attended Western Carolina University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he studied Information Systems. He has worked in large retail and healthcare information technology environments, with careers as both a Systems Administrator and a Systems Analyst. Nick is responsible for managing the server and networking infrastructure of the Leadership Institute.

  • Peter IldefonsoWeb and Database Programmer -- Peter Ildefonso has been involved in student government since 2000 and has run student campaigns since 2003. At Clemson University, he was on the campaign staff of six student government campaigns, including Campaign Manager for four of those campaigns. When not managing campaigns, he served as Vice Chairman of Finance and Procedures Committee for the Student Senate. Peter was also Director of Research and Development for the Student President's Cabinet, where he was responsible for yearly reforms to Election Policy and analysis of other University Election Policies. A functional four years of constant work with student government campaigns and policies give Peter an incredibly rare level of knowledge on this unique form of elections.

  • Daniel KlenckDirector of Building Management

  • Joanne BoganReceptionist

  • Aaron ReeseDirector of LI Studios -- Aaron Reese is Director of Studios at the Leadership Institute Studios. Aaron is responsible for directing live television shoots and editing videos that the Leadership Institute and other conservative organizations produce. Previously, Aaron worked at the Institute for Justice in the graphics and design department. Aaron graduated from the University of Illinois School of Art and Design with a BFA in Photography.

  • Joseph MetzgerVP of Finance -- Mr. Metzger is the Leadership Institute's Vice President of Finance.

  • David HempelController -- David grew up in southern New Jersey and during high school and college, volunteered with a number of political campaigns. He came to Virginia in 2003 to attend college at Liberty University in Lynchburg, and graduated in 2006 with a degree in Government. Earlier in 2006, he interned with the Leadership Institute after attending two LI trainings. After graduation, he returned to the Institute as a full-time staff member.