Cultivation Crew Recap: Lesley Albanese
On October 2nd, AFF was pleased to host the latest installment of its Cultivation Crew professional development series. Each Cultivation Crew event features a special guest speaker, a great luncheon and plenty of time for Q&A and networking. This month’s meeting was held at the Cato Institute and brought together 30 young professionals working in nonprofit development. Our featured speaker was Lesley Albanese, Vice President for Development at the Cato Institute.
A seasoned development professional, Lesley leads a team of staffers dedicated to sharing the mission of Cato with both longtime and potential sponsors. Lesley spoke to the group for 45 minutes, sharing some background on her career (which included a brief stint in the Cato government affairs department!), answering questions and offering unique insights on how to succeed in a competitive fundraising environment. Her tips are paraphrased below:
Be Dedicated To the Mission: As you might guess, it’s easier and more rewarding to pitch the benefits of an idea or program you believe in. Not only will sponsors be drawn to an earnest spokesperson, but dedication to the mission can also help you keep the daily challenges of your career in perspective: long nights spent planning a development event, for example, will all be worth it when you’re able to support the projects you and your team believe in.
Be Tenacious: Set high goals for yourself and set the standard for those around you. Your superiors will appreciate your ambition and drive while your colleagues will see you as a leader they should work to keep up with.
Be Creative: While much of development is process-oriented, there’s still room for creativity. Distinguish yourself and your organization by delivering your message in a way that sets you apart. At Cato, for example, the development team hosts monthly e-briefings for sponsors where they are able to interact directly with a Cato policy expert. Find your organization’s strengths and create a unique opportunity to engage your sponsors.
Be Tough: Rejection will always be a part of outreach and it’s important to learn to not take it personally. You can be the best possible spokesperson for your organization and still run into “no” on a regular basis. Look at rejection as an opportunity to refine your pitch, and as a catalyst for the creativity and tenacity mentioned above.
Interested in learning more about AFF’s professional development programs? Check out our Upcoming Events page for an event near you and then head to our Join Now page to learn about the career-building perks of AFF membership!
Heather A. Curry is an advisor for America’s Future Foundation.
Were you able to join us at the recent Free the Future Happy Hour in downtown Washington, D.C.? Held in late September, the happy hour was a special event to promote this very blog and the great publishing opportunities it presents for young professionals across the AFF network.
For anyone new to the blog, Free the Future is your one-stop shop for all things professional development, politics and policy. In addition to great advice posts by leaders like Tom Palmer and Claire Kittle, we also feature profiles on organizations and individuals in the liberty movement.
The best part of all of this? Free the Future is looking for new contributors! To learn more, email Heather Curry (email@example.com)
Oh, and check out some of the event pictures below! View the full album here.
Heather Curry is an advisor for America’s Future Foundation.
45 young professionals gathered at The Claddagh on Wednesday, September 18th for the Southeastern Michigan AFF Launch Event. For the first hour, guests arrived and enjoyed drinks and appetizers. The attendees chatted with each other and networked. Only a handful of guests knew each other - it was a great mix of professions and backgrounds. Only several attendees had ever heard of AFF before, so it was a great opportunity to introduce these 45 individuals to AFF and its mission. Heather Pfitzenmaier, the chapter leader, gave remarks about why she got involved in AFF in DC and why she’s passionate about bringing AFF to Michigan. For the event, Katie Vernuccio moderated Jarrett Skroup with the Mackinac Center and Chris Demming with Northwood University, who debated conservatism and libertarianism and discussed which political philosophy is more desirable for a free society. The discussion was followed by a lively question and answer session and many stayed after to keep talking and networking. Guests left excited to get involved with AFF – and said how much they are looking forward to getting involved.
Interested in learning about AFF opportunities or events in your area? Check out our Local Chapter Highlights to learn more!
Kathryn Shelton is the Director of Chapter Advancement for America’s Future Foundation.
How to Keep National Parks Open? Privatize!
The government shut down affects all Americans. This past Tuesday, however, veterans took the shutdown personally. A group of World War II veterans arrived in D.C. on Tuesday as part of a trip sponsored by the Honor Flight Network and found that their destination, the memorial erected in their honor, was closed. The World War II Memorial was ordered shut at 12:01AM EST on Tuesday as were all of the nation’s national parks. Carol Johnson, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, explained that this was not a decision made by the National Park Service but rather an act in compliance with the terms of the shutdown.
News coverage of this event is varying. Some express gratitude towards Representatives Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Alan Nunnelee (R-MS), Gregg Harper (R-MS), Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) for moving barricades to allow WWII veterans into the memorial. Others use the event to propose false vendettas held by politicians towards retired military personnel. Both of these accounts, however, neglect the important lessons that can be learned and applied in the future.
Representative Steve King (R-IA) was quoted saying that closing the WWII memorial is the “most spiteful act ever committed by a commander in chief.” What is puzzling about this declaration, feelings about Obama aside, is that the President himself did not decide to close the government, let alone the memorial. If anyone is “to blame” it is King and his colleagues in Congress who, in their unwillingness to compromise on the budget (a Constitutional duty of Congress,) have shut the government down. But pointing fingers is inefficient and ineffective so how then do we assure veterans and the general public are free to visit the sites they desire to visit even if government is closed? Two words: we privatize.
The privatization of the National Park Service would serve more than one purpose. It would allow important pieces of America to be seen in all circumstances of government activity and it would allow those who work for the National Park Service to receive regular and reliable paychecks, again, whether the government is open or otherwise. In this situation it is easy to feel empathy for our nation’s heroes who were unable to freely visit the memorial built in their honor. Yet we must not forget others who have also been wronged: those who work to keep pieces of American history clean and safe and in this government shutdown are not receiving pay and are uncertain when they will again.
Ideally, the government would do its job and this discourse would be unnecessary. But while we have the opportunity let us consider the potential benefits of privatizing certain programs and services. At the very least there may be greater certainty in a nation determined increasingly by the uncertain fervors of self-serving politicians. After all, they get paid no matter what.
Daisy Letendre is an intern in Washington, D.C., and a graduate of Trinity College.
This post originally appeared on Free the Future on April 10, 2012.
To DC or Not to DC: That Is the Question
Are you passionate about liberty and looking for an internship or full-time job at a non-profit? For many, the logical next step would be to come to Washington, D.C. However, there are full-time opportunities to advance economic freedom at organizations across the country.
If you are looking for an internship or full-time job, there may be great options within your own state. The State Policy Network is a great resource to start looking for potential opportunities. Visit this page to find a list of liberty-advancing non-profits in your state. Once you find a non-profit you are interested in, visit its website or contact someone directly to learn more about available internships or jobs.
If you are looking for a full-time job and don’t necessarily want to come to D.C., you may want to consider the Charles Koch Institute’s Liberty@Work program. Liberty@Work is a web-based professional education and training program as well as a full-time job. It’s designed for individuals interested in advancing economic freedom through their career. Participants in the program work full-time at state-based non-profits throughout the country and spend four hours each Wednesday in professional education and management training.
To learn more about opportunities through the Liberty@Work program, visit this page.
Rodney Vessels is a talent recruiter for the Charles Koch Institute.
Navigating the Hill: Part 1
Before you get the chance to be in the interesting meetings with high-level hill staff and Members of Congress, you have to figure out how to get around Capitol Hill. The good news is this is easier than it seems, and it impresses people who are new to the hill when you can navigate seamlessly through the tunnels and easily tick off all the items they aren’t allowed to bring into the Capitol Visitor Center!
On the House side of the Capitol, there are three buildings that house Members’ personal offices as well as committee rooms. These are Cannon, Longworth and Rayburn.
Each building is assigned a number (Cannon is 0, Longworth is 1, Rayburn is 2), so if you are going to Cannon 345, you’d find that on the third floor like in any normal building. The strange part is finding Longworth 1345 and Rayburn 2345 on the third floor of those buildings as well. (Also, just for fun, Cannon has a fifth floor that can only be accessed by certain elevators).
On the Senate side you also have three buildings: Russell, Hart and Dirksen. Each of these houses personal offices and committee offices.
The Capitol Visitor Center is the gateway into the Capitol building for the public and has meeting rooms that frequently host briefings and events.
Now, a few protips:
The House and Senate side have elevators marked for “Members Only” when they’re in session and votes are happening. Sometimes you can ride these and no one says anything, sometimes this happens. Wait for the regular elevator.
If you’re stuck between meetings and have time to kill, head for the Longworth Basement. There’s plenty of seating and food options as well as excellent people-watching.
The entirety of Capitol Hill is connected via tunnels and a subway. The subway connects the House side and Senate side to the Capitol, but sadly only staffers (or people WITH staffers), can take the subway or access the Capitol that way. The House buildings and Senate buildings are connected as well via their basement levels, and fortunately for those of us on the hill in August, those are accessible to everyone and keep you from having to go in and out of buildings and through security multiple times.
Speaking of security on the hill, Capitol Police work really hard (and are excellent direction guides if you do get lost), so taking off your new statement necklace and putting your cellphone in your bag before you get to security is much appreciated by everyone. When you do set off the metal detectors, know that it’s inconveniencing everyone else as much as it is you, so a little preparation goes a long way.
And, finally, if you have to go to the Capitol Visitor Center for an event, travel light – no food, no liquids, no empty coffee mugs (RIP trusty travel mug from my undergrad). Those guys don’t mess around.
Stay tuned for Navigating the Hill: Part 2 to learn about how hill offices are structured and what hill staff do (when the government is running, that is)! It’ll be full of information that will make staffers eager to return your emails, take your meetings and ultimately get you hired for your dream job.
Laura Odato is the Director of Government Affairs at the Cato Institute and a generally awesome source of info on the hill.
AFF-Chicago packed Ontourage on September 11 for a discussion of James Bennett and Michael Lotus’ new book, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century – Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come. Conducted in the style of Bill Buckley’s classic PBS program Firing Line, AFF-Chicago Chairman Eric Kohn explored the topics and themes discussed in the book with Mr. Lotus ranging from what America 1.0 and 2.0 looked like to what to expect in the coming transition to 3.0. Also discussed were the symptoms manifesting itself from this transition including political movements from the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street. There was a lively Q&A afterwards with those in attendance and Mr. Lotus then autographed copies of his book. AFF-Chicago members also took the opportunity to socialize and network after the discussion.
Um, so, you know, um, I think…um, yes, this is a professional advice column about how you can distinguish yourself by speaking more clearly without using filler words. Most people, whether they realize it or not, speak using filler words. Something about silence is bothersome to the point that people make it a habit to add words in their sentences including like, you know, um, so, and uh. Do you use those words regularly?
You will be judged by your speech in job interviews, donor meetings, public events, and even in conversations at receptions and happy hours. It is very important that you speak clearly and articulate your ideas so people can understand without filler words as a distraction. Here are some tips to cut the extra word habit from your speaking:
1. Assess the situation by listening to yourself. You could record yourself talking with your phone or computer and then play it back. Also you should simply keep in mind the extra words when you are talking to people so you consciously refrain and instead pause between words and sentences.
2. Have a friend monitor your speech. Have the person flick the lights on and off every time you use a filler word so you quickly become aware how often you do it. Continue this practice once a week and monitor how you improve.
3. Listen to articulate speakers and study their cadence. You will notice that the most effective speakers do not use any filler words and instead they put silence between their most important points. We are programmed to speak quickly with filler words, but the opposite is actually the best method for communicating clearly. Explore some of the talks on TED and watch the delivery closely.
4. Slow down! Most people talk very quickly but it is simply not necessary. The Bible teaches this is James 1:19when it says “you should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” While the Bible is not a book about public speaking (although I doubt Jesus said um, you know, like, so, and uh very often) it is right on this point. You can practice this by taking a deep breath before you say a sentence and deliberately slowing down the pace. There is no rush – people better understand when you speak slowly and clearly.
5. Never finish your sentence with “so.” The word “so” is a transition that helps you finish a phrase, but many people use it to end their sentences for some reason. Add this to your practice routine described above so you actively think not to say “so” at the end of a sentence.
Roger Custer is the executive director of America’s Future Foundation.
If you’re looking for an internship, hoping to land a new job or just trying to learn about a different line of work, one of the best things you can do is find someone who has the job you’re interested in and invite that person for coffee and a chat. A meeting over coffee (or tea or lattes!) is the ideal professional opportunity; done properly, is the epitome of low-risk, high-reward networking.
How, you ask? Easy.
Many people are happy to help an up-and-coming professional, especially when it means a free beverage, a break from the office and a chance to talk about their own success. Plus, chances are good that your potential new friend is already dialed-in to his or her own strong network and will reference your enviable self-starterness at the mere mention of your name.
(Still interested in the risk? Fine, fine– it’s 30 minutes of casual conversation in a low-key setting with a probably delicious drink. Scary, right?)
Once you know who you’d like to speak with, a short email will do the trick: introduce yourself, mention what you’re hoping to learn about and explain what prompted you to reach out to that person in particular. Keep your request short and sweet and be sure to propose a specific date and time.
Once you’ve made contact, follow these tips for caffeinated success:
Heather Curry is an advisor for America’s Future Foundation.
Lost in the noise regarding the impending government shutdown is a separate deadline Congress faces on Sept. 30 – the expiration of the farm bill. While there’s been incredibly heated debate on the right over strategies for the continuing resolution, when it comes to the nation’s farm programs, it turns out that there’s relatively little disagreement between conservatives, libertarians, and even liberals over the necessary reforms. Unfortunately, neither the House nor Senate is listening.
The farm bill is a prime example of special interests at their finest, with a litany of programs too numerous to detail at length here. The most egregious is the direct payments program, which grants farmers cash payments based on the historical production of their land, rather than what they actually plant each year. In a nutshell, you could not farm at all and still get paid.
The most expensive program (costing $14 billion last year alone) is the nation’s crop insurance program. The federal government picks up roughly 62 percent of the tab for farmers’ crop insurance, regardless of their size or income. It also subsidizes insurance companies that sell the policies and provides them with cheap reinsurance.
The most offensive program from a free-market perspective is probably the Soviet-style sugar program, where the government basically limits the amount of sugar in the market and inflates the price, and then buys any leftover sugar to create ethanol. The list could go on and on.
There’s simply no argument for keeping subsidies at the current levels. Farm income is significantly higher than the income of average Americans, and the subsidies tend to flow to the largest, richest farms over the small family farmer made famous by American folklore and Dodge truck commercials. Analysts and activists across Washington acknowledge this truth, promoting solutions along the lines of means-testing or payment limits to impose a much needed check on these subsidies. Yet when the farm bill came up last year, Congress couldn’t find consensus, passed a one-year extension, and in typical fashion, now finds itself in a bind created by its own punting.
So instead of accepting any of the changes proposed by bipartisan coalitions across D.C., the Senate and the House passed farm bills that are even more generous to agribusiness. While both chambers eliminated direct payments and enacted a few other minor reforms, they also created even more generous revenue protections for many commodity farmers, guaranteeing against even modest dips in price. This is incredibly dangerous, given that food prices are at an all-time high and are unlikely to stay there. Payout is almost guaranteed. And what do these new programs cost to for participants? Nothing.
The only reason for the delay in reaching a final bill is the inability to find a compromise on the other half of the farm bill, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly referred to as food stamps). The Senate cut a miniscule $4.5 billion, while the House passed a separate bill that cut almost $40 billion. Rather than winding down support for million-dollar enterprises, the House prioritized cuts to programs aimed at helping those the labor market has hit the hardest.
It’s certainly reasonable to have a post-recession conversation about government’s role in helping the needy, but it’s an undeniable messaging (and, I would argue, moral) disaster to pick that battle rather than engage in honest dialogue about these anachronistic, overly generous subsidies for an industry that no longer needs government support. The GOP is entirely inconsistent, arguing basically that we should control spending by cutting the benefits of Americans who are suffering in Obama’s economy, yet we should spend more on our nation’s farm programs for the wealthiest Americans.
Fortunately, it looks as if the GOP will get another chance. The food stamp portions of the House and Senate bills seem too far apart to find compromise at conference, making yet another extension of current law likely and giving the GOP a golden opportunity to actually be the party of limited government by reforming farm programs.
This would require recognizing that dependence comes in more than one fashion. Agribusiness and large farms have become addicted to government handouts. In fact, this type of dependence is the most insidious, given that moneyed interests are much more capable of extracting the subsidies they desire. Cutting support for these well-connected groups with incomes in the top brackets should be the lowest-hanging fruit in the federal budget.
A positive side effect of doing the right thing on farm subsidies is that the House would then have much more cover for the changes it wishes to make to nutrition programs. Here, the House should tread more carefully, through better messaging, more open dialogue and honest analysis of the state of today’s labor markets. The growth in nutrition spending is worrying, and to the extent that it’s driven by standards that are too loose or that abuse of the system, adjustments need to be made. Last week’s nutrition bill in the House took a stab at solving these problems.
But we also have to acknowledge that jobs for the middle and lower class have disappeared, forcing millions either out of the labor force or into part-time, low-paying jobs. It’s therefore crucial to think through ways not just to cut benefits, but to create opportunity as well. If anything, the fact that next year is an election year should hopefully make Republicans more sensitive to anything that reeks of the GOP once more sticking it to the poor and struggling.
Will the GOP get the message this time? That remains to be seen. An immense lobbying and grassroots effort on farm programs took place both this year and last, with Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, and many, many others (including my organization, the R Street Institute), yet all we have to show for it was a more egregious bill in terms of farm support. For a supposedly tea party house, we should demand more. Hopefully the third time will be the charm.
Lori Sanders is the Outreach Manager and a Senior Fellow for the R Street Institute.
Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., has one more year in Congress before he plans to retire, but he thinks that more than enough time to build on the significant achievements of the Class of 2010. Three years a. […]
President Obama visited a D.C. charitable organization called Martha’s Table to highlight the volunteer work of many furloughed government employees during the recent government shutdown. And yet, t. […]