[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]In April of 2017, I applied to the Koch Associate Program and was selected for the class after a few rounds of interviews. This year-long professional development program trains young professions two trademarked programs: ‘Framework for a Free Society’ and ‘Market-Based Management’ Program participants worked for ‘partner organizations’ which means they agree with the Koch Network on a particular issue. Throughout the year there were three 3-day retreats and in-between, we met every Thursday from 1:00-5:30pm. Beyond learning and applying the two trademarked programs, electives included: writing, policy, fundraising and communications.
I personally enjoyed the Market Based Management aspect of the program because as an entrepreneur, many of us have to create and framework for running an organization from scratch. Creating an environment that inspires and motivates people while keeping them happy and able to pursue other interests is no small feet. I hope to take the things I learned in the program and apply them to not only the business world but my personal life as well.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]When I moved to DC in January 2017, I looked for ways to get involved. One of the first events I attended was called ‘Welcome to Washington’ and it’s hosted each semester by America’s Future Foundation. After going to that along with another Happy Hour by AFF, I learned about their Writing Fellowship Program. Hosted on evenings once a week for a semester, it was a great opportunity to have guest speakers and presenters from all aspects of the DC writing scene. Each one had a different career path and were able to share an experience that we could not obtain in the classroom. In addition, we were given strategies on how to write to different audiences as well as how to pitch our content to various entities in the beltway. While I have little writing in my backround, I found the program to be helpful in getting me to think about writing from a different perspective. For those new to DC and looking to break into the communications scene, this is definitely a must-do program. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]If there is one thing I find frustrating about Washington DC, its the lack of policy chops when it comes to understanding complex systems. The think tanks offer a lot of perspectives but when it comes to economics and other social sciences, I find PhDs, analysts and other to fall into position, arguments, and research that mimics the 1800s at best.
It was a privilege to receive a full ride scholarship for the New England Complex Systems Institute weeklong executive education. The room was filled with people from around the world and in the US, many folks from the Department of Defense and other folks that want to better understand such aspects of systems. Yaneer Bar-Yam is one of the smartest people out there that has been working in the complex systems space for decades.
One of his guest speakers was my favorite author, Nassim Taleb, who spoke on anti-fragility. Nassim was thoughtful and offered a perspective that is not understood much less embraces by academics today.
It is my hope that academics, practitioners and others interested in public policy start to learn about complex systems as it relates to our foreign policy, education, health care and other systems that require and much more rigorous analysis than what is being done today.
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Every semester, The Heritage Foundation receives over a thousand applications to intern in various departments within their organization. Through my acceptance into the Washington Scholars Program, I was able to get a direct spot within the legal center. This was an exciting time to work in this department because of the Supreme Court nomination that was up for debate and confirmation. In addition, I was able to spend some time with Ronald Reagan’s Attorney General, Ed Meese.
Heritage takes its intern class, known as the ‘Young Leaders Program’ and puts its a LOT of effort into professional development. Although a 31 year old intern, I was treated as if I were tenured professional staff. Programming included weekly ‘First Principles’ luncheons, presentations on policy from each department along with field trips around DC and even time with Supreme Court Justice Thomas. Within the legal center, we hosted events on and off-site along with luncheons surrounding a particular issue. While Heritage ‘speaks with one voice’, I found the organization to be diverse in thought and politics and quite frankly, has a very family-friendly work atmosphere. This was definitely a great place to land when I arrived in DC and of all the internships I have had over the years, this one was by far the most impactful. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]I first received the Washington Scholars Fellowship in 2010 through a connection with my biological father to Admiral Cary via the US Navy. AT the time, I turned down the opportunity to move to DC because I had many other irons in the fire on the Indiana political front. Fast forward to 2016 and I re-engaged the program. This relationship with (ret) Admiral Cary and Ed Meese, Reagan’s Attorney General put me directly into the Legal Center of The Heritage Foundation. The fellowship program had reporting requirements but they were also supportive of me participating in any programming outside of work. I participated in as many Leadership Insitute classes as possible as well as policy discussions. I’m thankful for WSP and how they were able to help me transition from one city to the next and plug me into various groups around the DMV. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]While sitting on the Board of Zoning Appeals for the City of Valparaiso, I had the opportunity to help rezone some area in my neighborhood. The goal was to be able to take a building that was formerly used for low-income healthcare service and repurpose it for low-income housing for women. During that public conversation, I got to know the non-profit next door, Hilltop Neighborhood House. This was one of the first non-profits in Valpo to help serve the community through childcare. Over the years it morphed into a very nice program that was able to serve all aspects of the community while offering scholarships for those who were not able to afford the services.
Later in 2013, I joined the board of directors and got involved in fundraising efforts. We raised money through a ‘soups’ fundraiser along with an event during Popcorn Fest and lastly, through direct asks that were paired with direct mail pieces. I helped support the food pantry and helped rebuild the playground during my time and felt that this non-profit was ran like a business and created some of the highest level of deliverables in the community. I am a firm believer that we must lead with our head and follow our hearts. Logic comes before emotion because if you have no money, you have no mission. HNH is no doubt one of my best experiences being able to serve the community at large.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Mayor Costas appointed me to the Town and Gown Committee for Valparaiso University in 2013. This group included the University President, the Mayor along with the top brass from both groups along with a few community members. We met quarterly and discuss the long-term strategic plans of both organizations. For many years the city and university worked in parallel and plans never crossed but after Jon Costas became mayor, not only did the conversation begin, the planning started to work in tandem. One of my favorite parts of the committee was the way the city was able to adapt and cater to student needs in such a short time. For instance, one semester, many international students came to the school just before the semester start but could only find housing on the north side of town. They also did not have effective transportation to campus. The city was able to reroute some of the V-Line buses to ensure that these kids were able to get to where they needed to be. I found this partnership between the two organization to be one of the bigger successes in how Valpo was able to build a stronger, better community. Given that Valparaiso has been predominately white for a hundred years and the university has grown its diversity in a big way, such a partnership has really helped the community become more welcoming to students and integrate the community in a bigger way.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]In 2013, Mayor Jon Costas appointed me to the Board of Zoning Appeals for the City of Valparaiso. This five-member board met monthly and dealt with petitioners for land use variances and zoning changes, both residential and commercial. Before my time, the city adopted a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) which is essentially the government document as to how the city should grow over time and the regulations as to what things should look and sound like. Now this sounds well intentioned for a new city when one can plan everything out but for a historical community that spent well over one hundred years without any local government oversight, the board found itself being far more activities because of the many unique pre-existing structures in the community. While the position paid a whopping $600 per year, it was one of the most rewarding positions I have ever had to serve a community. We were able to help developers, individuals rehab historical houses, multigenerational family-owned business make improvements or investments locally. We had a few community outcries on a few decisions we made but in the long run, everyone ended up being happy and I served with a group of people that were politically diverse but truly unified in making Valpo a better place to work live and play.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]