Commonwealth Foundation CEO
It’s almost a given that Heritage interns will go on to successful careers in government, academia, public policy, and the private sector.
Some, such as Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Susan B. Anthony List CEO Marjorie Dannenfelser, and D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neomi Rao, become conservative icons, due in no small measure to the grounding they received in our Young Leaders Program.
In 2019, we honored another conservative leader, Charles Mitchell (shown above accepting the Robin and Jocelyn Martin Young Leaders Program Distinguished Intern Alumni Award from Vice President Bridgett Wagner), with our Robin and Jocelyn Martin Young Leaders Program Distinguished Intern Alumni Award.
Mitchell interned at Heritage 15 years ago. Today, he serves as president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, an increasingly influential free-market think tank in Pennsylvania. In 2019, the organization’s research and advocacy efforts helped convince state lawmakers to pass criminal justice reforms, boost school choice, and reject all proposed tax hikes.
In accepting the award, Mitchell traced much of his success back to our Young Leaders Program. “At a very young age, Heritage gave me an amazing environment in which to begin that transition from being an activist and writer, to being a leader … and I am only one of thousands of people for whom you have done that,” he said.
Mentorship, hands-on experience, intellectual rigor—these are the key elements of the intern experience at Heritage. Launched in 1979, our Young Leaders Program gives young people a firm grounding in our nation’s founding principles and equips them to identify “True North” on policy questions and stand up for what is right. Over the last four decades, we’ve sent more than 4,500 nascent conservative leaders out into the world.
In 2019, we welcomed 188 interns from 118 colleges and universities in 31 different states. Each of our three intern classes participated in our First Principles lecture series, attended weekly policy briefings by Heritage experts, and worked shoulder to shoulder with our staff. Every group enjoyed unique experiences, as well.
For example, our spring interns participated in the March for Life and helped represent Heritage at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference. Following a tour of the Supreme Court, they had a private meeting with Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who fielded their questions for nearly an hour.
Our fall interns met with another “Supreme,” Justice Clarence Thomas. The summer interns visited the National Archives and enjoyed an inspiring tour of Mount Vernon.
Twelve interns also participated in a pilot program co-sponsored by the Gloucester Institute. They travelled to historic Holly Knoll in Gloucester County, Virginia, for two daylong sessions with members of Gloucester’s Emerging Leaders Program. Their frank talks and probing discussions addressed four issues critical to the future of civil society: race, criminal justice reform, school choice, and health care. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and we are planning for more collaborations with the Gloucester Institute in 2020.
Gloucester wasn’t the only new partnership established this year. Always looking to reach new audiences that seldom hear the conservative side of debates, the Young Leaders Program also conducted joint events with the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Turning Point USA’s Young Jewish Leadership Summit, and Christians United for Israel.
Additionally, we hosted briefings for over 65 student groups and spoke at 19 outside youth conferences. In all, the Young Leaders Program carried the conservative message to more than 3,000 students and young professionals in 2019.
Our Phillip N. Truluck Center for Leadership Development also was active in developing young talent. Center staff trained college students at meetings of the Forge Leadership Network and the Hispanic Action Network and conducted two multisession programs of their own.
Through its Local University Conservatives Program and its Conservative Hill Intern Program, the center introduced more than 160 Gen Z and millennials to our country’s First Principles and to Heritage policy solutions. These sessions help us to identify strong candidates for our intern program and to develop young talent for future placement across the conservative movement.
Heritage doesn’t just develop strong conservatives and prepare them for leadership roles—we help them find work where they can lead the nation forward. In 2019, our Job Bank helped 30 former interns land their first public policy jobs.
Over the course of the year, the Job Bank placed 120 conservatives in excellent positions—42 of them in slots on Capitol Hill or in the Trump administration.
Having the right people in the right places is often pivotal to achieving policy success. Dr. Brian Blase is a prime example.
Blase first came to Heritage as a graduate fellow in health policy. He was later promoted to policy analyst. In 2017, he joined the Trump administration as special assistant to the president for health care policy.
Serving on the White House’s National Economic Council, he helped draft and advance regulatory changes to lower health care costs and expand insurance choices. He also coordinated development of the administration’s groundbreaking report, “Reforming America’s Health Care System Through Choice and Competition,” which pairs nicely with our Health Care Choices reform plan.
In September 2019, Blase returned to Heritage as a visiting fellow, where he will continue working to advance conservative policy on health care and entitlement reform.
Vice President Bridgett Wagner organized another outstanding Resource Bank Meeting, held May 28-30 in Scottsdale, Arizona. With a theme of “Rise and Renew,” it was a clarion call for all elements of the conservative movement to rise to meet the challenges of the Left and renew our commitment to conservative principles.
The 547 attendees—including local, state, and national leaders, as well as four foreign ambassadors to the U.S.—represented the full range of modern conservatism. They heard from Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, members of Congress, pollsters, fundraising and communications experts, journalists, and businesspeople, as well as leading national policy experts.
Among the panel discussions, the session on immigration reform generated the greatest interest. It drew a crowd that went beyond standing-room-only to full-fledged overflow.
Two other highlights of the meeting: the presentation of our Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship to journalist and Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway, and the annual Robert H. Krieble Lecture, in which former U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Janice Rogers Brown spoke on “Constitutional Law and Judicial Restraint.”
Wagner’s team also added a new element to the meeting: the Rising Leaders Fellowship. After soliciting movement allies for recommendations of outstanding conservative students and young professionals, we selected 35 of these “Rising Leaders” to join us for the conference. In addition to having access to all general sessions, they attended special networking and communications-training sessions designed just for them. On the strength of participants’ reviews, we have decided to expand the program in 2020.
Bridgett Wagner with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey at Resource Bank’s opening luncheon.
Heritage President Kay C. James speaks at Resource Bank.
Coalition Relations teamed with our domestic policy experts to conduct a nationwide tour to educate state leaders, lawmakers, activists, and students on the Health Care Choices reform proposal.
The first stop, Kentucky, included briefings with Gov. Matt Bevin, Health Secretary Adam Meier, state lawmakers, and local activists, as well as local staff from the offices of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Rep. Andy Barr.
Following the briefings, our health experts participated in a well-attended press conference, then met with the editorial board of the Louisville Courier-Journal before topping off the evening with a roundtable discussion of single-payer health care with student leaders of the University of Louisville. By the time they moved on to the next stop, they had generated more than a dozen news stories.
Coalition Relations Director Jordan Hess followed this model on similar stops in Arizona, Florida, and Georgia, always partnering with local think tanks. In each instance, the program generated new support for our health care plan—from state think tank leaders, taxpayer advocates, and faith-based organizations, as well as state legislators.
President-elect Nayib Bukele of El Salvador spoke at Heritage in March.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., spoke at Heritage in February about Venezuela.
Our public programs team ran full tilt throughout the year, presenting 159 public events. Among those welcomed to our lecture halls were Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, 14 U.S. senators, 10 U.S. representatives, and one governor.
We also made the Heritage podium available to 13 foreign dignitaries, including the president-elect of El Salvador (above), the president of Taiwan, and the president of the Central Tibetan Administration—more evidence that Heritage’s influence extends not just to Capitol Hill but around the world.
Annelise Butler, Providence College
Joseph Carl, Liberty University
Antonia Passalacqua, Florida International University
Miguel Pontifis, Liberty University
Matthew Prillman, Virginia Tech
Joseph Rodriguez, University of California, Berkeley
Kavya Ramagiri, Baylor University
Isaac Ahn, College of William and Mary
Bryn Allen, University of Notre Dame
Alexandria Halton, Grove City College
Michael May, Seton Hall University
Patricia Patnode, Loras College
Andrew Smith, George Washington University
Courtney Joyner, University of Texas at Austin
Joshua Nelson, Syracuse University
Jonathan Marcus, University of Michigan
Zachary Mettler, William Jessup University
Terra Schroder, University of Michigan
Nicholas Marr, Notre Dame
Delayne Smith, Texas A&M University
Seamus Brennan, College of the Holy Cross
Ben Sachrison, University of California, Los Angeles
James Selvey, Olivet Nazarene University
Abby Klose, Liberty University
Nicole Staley, Pensacola Christian College
Sarah Erickson, Catholic University
Sarah Ford, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Benjamin Burke, University of Virginia
Lianna Farnesi, Florida International University
Clara Hathorne, Williams College
Graham Filby, Grove City College
Timothy Kennedy, George Washington University
Caleb Hempstead, Liberty University
Anthony Jones, Wyoming Catholic College
Riley Arlinghaus, Hillsdale College
Carmel Kookogey, Hillsdale College
Michael Maher, Brigham Young University
Samuel Lucas, University of Notre Dame
Alexandra Nieuwsma, Westmont College
Elias Gavilian, Patrick Henry College
Joseph Casais, Columbia University
Kelly Craig, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sean-Michael Pigeon, Yale University
Alex Roegge, Wake Forest University
Thea Dunlevie, University of North Carolina
Paige Pristas, Pennsylvania State University
Bradley Devlin, University of California, Berkeley
Grant Steele, Wittenberg University
Abigail Vendt, University of Virginia
Patrick Henry Featherston, Texas A&M University
Samantha Michon, Brigham Young University
William Coudret, Miami University
Andrea Hitt, University of Virginia
Julia Mroz, Wake Forest University
Spencer Peck, American University
Sam Wolf, Cornell University
Elena Ehrlin, University of Northern Colorado
Megan Snitchler, Grove City College
Madison Ferguson, Wichita State University
Lucas Drill, Columbia University
Christina Eastman, University of Rochester
Ellen Wittman, Miami University
Sophia Bagley, University of Utah
Jonathan Biagini, University of Notre Dame
Johanna Burke, Christendom College
Josh Cosby, Southern Utah University
Aaron Credeur, University of Dallas/Georgetown
Rachel Gill, Texas A&M University
Clare Hepler, Christendom College
Emma O’Connor, George Washington University
Coleman Raush, Patrick Henry College
Emma Watkins, George Washington University
Alexander Hyatt, Bryn Athyn College
Michael Bugay, Florida International University
Heidi Thom, Whitworth College
Jacob Flood, Washington and Lee University
Caroline Downey, Boston College
Alexander Morales, Florida International University
Jacob Paolillo, Florida State University
Benjamin Paris, Harvard University
Kaylee Greenlee, Baylor University
Caleb Kostreva, Carnegie Mellon University
Cooper Conway, Boise State University
Elisabeth Daigle, Spring Hill College
Morgan Bevin, Grove City College
Kelsey Gaudette, George Mason University
Derek Hosford, Michigan State University
Danielle Merwin, Hope College
Alexander Rigsby, University of Richmond
Brandon Weber, University of Michigan
Elise Stebick, American University
Roe Willcox, Clemson University
Kiran Menon, University of Virginia
Greg Walsh, University of California, Los Angeles
Victor Xiao, Duke University
Dwayne Clark, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Fabio van Loon, Luiss Guido Carli University
Justin Corbin, Grove City College
Caroline Lindey, Grove City College
Michael Johns, Cornell University
Paul Zepeda, University of Dallas
Danielle Ford, Patrick Henry College
Chase Floyd, University of South Carolina
Emily Turek, Drake University
Alexis Huggins, Wheaton College
Peyton Smith, Taylor University