One of AFF’s many successful young professional members, Chaz Cirame founded Cc: External Affairs just over a year ago. This new venture works with non-profits, trade associations and corporations to forge relationships in the public policy arena through coalition building, third party engagement and fundraising. Before starting Cc: External Affairs, Chaz worked at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as the Senior Director of Membership.
Chaz first learned about America’s Future Foundation when a co-worker gave him tickets to see the late Tony Blankley speak at an AFF Leadership Dinner. Chaz was inspired by the spokesman of freedom and appreciated the professional advice he received at the event. Chaz also credits the fun atmosphere of happy hours and the opportunity to meet new people as one of the reasons for joining AFF: “I have met some of my best friends at AFF happy hours and roundtables since moving to DC eight years ago.”
When asked how he became interested in politics, Chaz said: “I have always wanted to change the world. I get that trait from my dad who is a devout leftist. I get my politics from my sense of rebellion, and from my Mom and stepfather who were certainly more conservative than my dad. I guess I would say I have always been a free market conservative, but growing up in Maine, ‘conservative’ wasn’t part of the vernacular. It wasn’t until I moved to DC that I realized people segmented themselves into Conservative or Libertarian camps. I think we would be all better off to focus on solutions and actions and less on these descriptors.”
In 2002, Chaz began his political career during the Maine Governor’s race, a career move which first introduced him fundraising. Reflecting, he observed: “So-called ‘Campaign Finance Reform’ had dropped the maximum contribution for the Governor’s race from $5,000 to $500. As a result, the campaign spent all its time fundraising– sometimes we would do two or three fundraising events a day! Everyone involved had to spend much of their time fundraising. Thus a fundraiser was born.”
Chaz’s credits his success as a fundraiser to an approach to membership and fundraising that he sharpened while at ALEC. “In 2011, I set four BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) for my time at ALEC. One was to recruit 500 new state legislative members. This was a daunting task that required state legislators to write membership checks—the reverse process to what most politicians are accustom to! Another was to host legislative recruitment events in all 50 states. The third was to recruit 50 new corporate and non-profit members. The fourth was to raise eight million dollars. I was advised not to set my goals so high because I would be held accountable for missing even lofty goals. After a lot of convincing, however, I managed to get organizational buy-in for these BHAGs. I put together a good plan and had assembled a top-notch team. In the end we recruited something like 530 legislators, held a recruitment event in all 50 states, recruited 72 new corporate and non-profit members members, and raised $9 million dollars, significantly shattering all previous organizational records. ”
Chaz’s advice for young professionals pursuing a career in development is advice that can apply to every field: “Find good mentors. I don’t think a mentorship needs to be a formal thing where you lunch with someone every few months and ask for career advice. Your best mentors are going to be folks you work with. Learn from them every day and let them challenge you.”
The key to finding a good mentor is to grow your network of professional contacts. AFF’s networking events create unique opportunities to engage your peers as well as established policy, communications and development folks. Chaz notes: “Many of the key people I work with on a near daily basis, from donors to policy experts to activist leaders, I have met within the AFF community. As a side note on that, DC is amazing city where today’s interns quickly becomes tomorrow’s White House staffers, campaign managers, non-profit leaders and elected officials. Invest in people based on who they are, not what’s on their business card today–because it will change in an instant.”
Jordan Pic is a former intern with America’s Future Foundation. To learn more about other leaders in the liberty-movement, please visit AFF’s Profiles in Liberty.
L. Brent Bozell III, Founder and President of the Media Research Center, is considered one of the most influential leaders in the conservative movement today. The MRC focuses its efforts as the nation’s premiere watchdog on the exposure and neutralization of “liberal media bias”. Under Bozell’s leadership since 1987, the MRC has expanded its initiatives to include the popular NewsBusters.org blog site; CNSNews.com; the Business and Media Institute; and the Culture and Media Institute. The MRC also includes over 500,000 members and the largest video archive in the world. Additionally, Mr. Bozell is a nationally syndicated columnist.
In this interview from November 11th, 2013, Mr. Bozell weighs in on the success of the MRC and explains why today’s conservative movement should make it a priority to confront liberal bias in the media.
1. You have had many roles in the conservative movement; what sparked you to become an advocate for conservatism?
It’s in the blood, I suppose, on both sides of the family. McCarthy and His Enemies was written by Brent Bozell and Bill Buckley– the one my father, the other my uncle. I grew up in a political household though the irony was that ultimately my father would reject the political in favor of the spiritual.
2. To what do you attribute your success as a leader in the conservative movement?
I should answer snarkily that given the lack of success of the conservative movement in recent years, I question how well I’ve led the movement or influenced anyone. I suspect people would recognize their patience and perseverance. I, however, am impatient by temperament. On the other hand I eschew the game of politics. My goals have always been transparent, as have my actions. I have been denounced for my beliefs but no one serious opponent has ever impugned my motives. Honor breeds respect; respect is a pre-condition for influence. Honor means everything to me.
3. What makes the MRC successful as a watchdog over left-of-center media bias?
Two things, I think. First, it’s the MRC’s middle name — research. Before the MRC there was no quantitative analysis of the media and therefore no scientific documentation about that which is undeniable. Documenting that bias allowed us to expose not just examples but provide empirical evidence of long-term agendas. The combination is deadly, and a continuation of denial by a liberal journalist renders that liberal a flat earther. Second, it’s the MRC’s dedication to marketing: There is nothing the MRC does that lacks a marketing component. If I can’t show impact, I won’t do it at all.
4. Is the liberal media actively changing public opinion or are they just pandering to their audience?
If the liberal media were pandering to their audience they wouldn’t be liberal. Or to put it another way, if the media were pandering to their audience they’d all be Fox News. The left in America has three natural power centers: Academia, the entertainment industry and the news media. All three are communication perches from which to advance the liberal ideology. Note that the word “reporter” has virtually disappeared. No one wants to be a “reporter” because a reporter… reports. No, everyone is now a “journalist,” which (in their mind) allows them to transcend simple reporting. It is why there is such advocacy in the “news” business, in a very real way a contradiction in terms.
5. Is television media becoming irrelevant in the age of Internet? If so, how does the right stay ahead of media bias online?
Increasingly so. The “Big Three” networks aren’t so big anymore: they’ve lost some 50% of their audiences in the past ten years, and their numbers continue to crater. On cable it’s even worse. Consider CNN’s ratings. Its average daily audience is now approximately 300 thousand. In a nation of 310 million. That tells you something about influence. Now, that said, the online footprint enjoyed by some old media outlets — like CNN — is enormous. While television continues to dominate from the standpoint of overall impact, it is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Indeed we are fast approaching that time when broadcast television and online television will become one and the same.
6. What is the biggest challenge the MRC encounters in attempting to hold the media accountable?
Perhaps it is that not enough conservatives see the importance of fighting the liberal media. As I will not tire saying, fighting the liberal media is our top priority but should be everyone else’s second highest priority, What difference does it make how sound our arguments for tax relief, or how noble our support of life, or how essential our defense of freedom — if everything we believe is chewed up and spat out to the American people by the liberal media? If everyone in the conservative movement were to commit to fighting the leftist press, even if just on their particular issue, the sheer level of opposition to the press would smother it.
7. How do you suggest young conservatives best advocate against media bias in our society?
The Internet has provided us with an opportunity to communicate directly with our audiences, without going through the filter of the liberal press. But we must be focused on two things here.
First, be honorable. At all times be truthful. Never lower yourself to the methods of your opponents, so many who relish the politics of character assassination. It gives them an advantage to do this, to be sure. Dostoevsky told us “without God all things are possible.” The same could be said about truth. Second, follow the rules. It is true that “reporters” constantly violate the rules of journalism in the old media, but in the new media there are those who insist there are no rules to violate. Not so. The “news media” rules apply to everyone, regardless of medium.
Jordan Pic is an intern with America’s Future Foundation. To learn more about other leaders in the liberty-movement, please visit AFF’s Profiles in Liberty.
Romina Boccia is the Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs at the Heritage Foundation. An advocate for fiscal reform in the United States as well as a native of Germany, Romina makes an intriguing spokeswoman against the culture of entitlement in the United States.
Romina’s interest in economic policy began when she was traveling in the early 90s to Southern Italy with her family. Romina recalls her observations of the blatant differences in the societies, “Dirt roads instead of pavement, stray dogs and cats left to fend for themselves in the road, and people who had access to many fewer amenities than we enjoyed in Germany.”
Later in Gymnasium (German college-preparatory school), Romina wrote her thesis on the Cuban Revolution. Through studying the philosophy and history of socialism in Cuba, Romina grew more skeptical of socialism’s means and ends. Before attending University, Romina moved to Washington, D.C. as an au pair and began attending events at the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Cato Institute where she learned more about development theory. Romina decided to enroll in George Mason University to study economics. During her first semester at GMU, Romina attended a conference hosted by the Foundation for Economic Education where she received a copy of Bastiat’s The Law. Romina credits this conference as her introduction to the liberty movement, which has provided further opportunities to learn about economic freedom such as the Koch Internship and Associate Programs and seminars at the Institute for Humane Studies.
Growing up in Germany also influenced Romina’s ideology. Romina explains that, “Before the Hartz reforms to welfare and labor took effect, I saw directly how poorly devised government policies encourage dependence and a gaming of the system. In contrast, my extended family members who grew up working the land were intuitively conservative and emphasized the values of hard work and personal responsibility.”
Romina describes that while her mother was ill she took self-responsibility to help provide for her family: “ A neighbor helped me get a job delivering the catholic weekly paper at the age of 11, two years before the legal working age in Germany. I held that job until leaving for the U.S. and added several others, including childcare, social work, and teaching first aid. My experience shaped me to place a very high value on independence, accomplished through hard work and personal responsibility. These are also values I espouse through my ideology.”
Romina’s hard work has not come without reward, when asked what her greatest accomplishment in her career is she replies, “To have an impact on the public discourse and in the ideas that shape policymaking. Rather than look back at individual breakthrough moments, I get to wake up every day to make a small difference towards liberty and a free society. I am in a great place at the Heritage Foundation, where we have a talented and dedicated team to help get our policy ideas out and make a difference in Washington. Seeing my ideas and products appear in the media and being used by policymakers in a way that moves the country in the right direction is a powerful feedback mechanism.”
When asked what advice she has for young professionals, Romina encourages entrepreneurship: “Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do and how to do it. Continuously improve your abilities through learning and practice.” Liberty Toastmasters, an organization that provides public speaking practice and which Romina is a founding member , is a great example of this initiative. “Become known as the person who gets stuff done” Romina adds.
America’s Future Foundation is another resource Romina describes as a great tool for success, “AFF is a very helpful resource when it comes to networking within the liberty movement and learning about ideas in-depth in a comfortable and inviting setting. AFF’s social events enable young professionals to meet peers and identify collaborators on projects and contacts for career advancement. AFF has helped me become better at networking and forming strong working relationships with peers.”
Jordan Pic is an intern at America’s Future Foundation. To learn more about other leaders in the liberty-movement, please visit AFF’s Profiles in Liberty.
Let’s be honest, when your Uber Lincoln Navigator arrives to pick you up, you feel a little bit like a Kardashian or Frank Underwood. Uber, the popular and fast-growing tech start-up company, now in twenty other countries, and two dozen U.S. cities, is a smartphone app that with a touch of your screen and a cashless transaction, a driver will arrive at your destination. If you happen to be on an intern budget or the town cars just aren’t your style, the Uber also provides regular taxis as well as the recently added UberX feature, which offers a less-expensive hybrid car option. This variety of options demonstrates Uber’s continued innovation and helps explain its broad consumer appeal. Unfortunately, as longtime AFF member Rob Montz uncovers, despite Uber’s popularity, it is increasingly difficult for startup companies and small business to succeed in D.C.
“Like most powerful innovations, Uber disrupts the status quo by competing with established business interests. In Washington, D.C., the service was an instant hit with city residents – and almost as quickly found itself at odds with D.C.’s powerful taxi lobby and its allies on the city council.”
The Uber Wars: How D.C. Tried to Kill a Great New Ride Technology, is a new documentary from Rob and ReasonTV that highlights the D.C. city council’s attempt to protect taxi drivers by implementing regulations on Uber. One such example was a minimum total ride fare of fifteen dollars. Thanks to an overwhelming flood of support from customers, that amendment was lifted but the battle hasn’t ended there. The council is still debating regulating the service other ways, such as implementing a 3200lb minimum weight requirement that would hurt the new UberX installation, and also annually reviewing Uber’s transactions. Rob believes the city council has the best intentions but something seems to go wrong in the policy making, leading to a city which is “routinely ranked low for entrepreneurship.” Rob explains that he has been looking for the right story to display the bureaucratic challenges faced by small businesses face in D.C . and when the Uber story emerged it had the right kind of appeal to bring it to the forefront.
The Uber Wars are not an issue people only living in metropolitan areas should be concerned about. Rob explains that people don’t realize the decisions that impact their lives the most are usually made by state and local government, and, as such, “I want this to reach everybody.” The idea that the government should play a role in business stunts small business everywhere. This is not just a story about Uber; it’s about the bigger picture.
Consumer choice and the freedom to choose how to run a business is a fight increasingly relevant in the United States and AFF is excited to highlight Rob Montz as a member who advocates for those freedoms.
Jordan Pic is an intern at America’s Future Foundation.
Nena Bartlett, Executive Director for the Ladies of Liberty Alliance, has been on the frontlines of liberty for much of her professional career. Prior to becoming Executive Director, Nena worked for former Congressman Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, in development at the Cato Institute, and in the DC office of Senator Rand Paul.
A NATURAL LEADER
When Nena moved to a new town as a little girl and wanted to make friends, her father suggested she go door-to-door in her neighborhood and ask if there were kids her age she could play with. As Nena recalls, “He wasn’t serious and didn’t think I would do it but I did, and some of those people I met were my best friends for a long time”.
That life experience shapes the advice she gives to young professionals now: “It doesn’t hurt to ask. Ask how you can be of value to others and ask for help when you need it. Don’t be afraid of the word “no,” and don’t be afraid to ask again when the time is right!”
Nena’s natural leadership, ability to cultivate relationships and willingness to ask are essential in the nonprofit world and attribute to her landing her current role as executive director of LOLA. Founded in 2009 by a group of libertarian women, the Ladies of Liberty Alliance is 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization which provides leadership training for liberty-minded women. The founders shared a mutual interest in recruiting women into the liberty movement.
Nena explains: “It is clear to all those involved that we’re going to need a lot more women if we hope to be successful, and the best way to do this is by educating and empowering women who already identify with our philosophy so that they can spread the message of freedom far and wide.”
A LADY OF LIBERTY
A lifelong libertarian, Nena became an activist in 2007, canvassing DC to get Ron Paul on the ballot. Nena stayed involved with the liberty movement through campaigns and volunteering, eventually working as a legislative aid in Senator Rand Paul’s Washington office. In 2013, Nena left Capitol Hill to work with LOLA full-time. .
Under Nena’s leadership,LOLA has flourished and is working to expand its programs across the country. LOLA Social, a chapter-based part of the organization that will focus on the social benefits of being a lady in liberty, is currently being spearheaded by LOLAs across the country.
COLLABORATING FOR SUCCESS
Nena also recognizes the value of working with like-minded organizations and individuals in order to accomplish larger goals. “Our movement benefits from organizations like America’s Future Foundation and LOLA because we are part of a bigger movement and we all play our part in that movement. AFF helps bring more conservatives into what I consider the liberty movement, and LOLA focuses on bringing in more women. Feeling a part of something bigger than yourself is important in life, and we need to help each other in order to help ourselves in our ultimate goal of freedom for all.”
Jordan Pic is an intern at America’s Future Foundation.
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