September 19, 2019

Meet the 2019 Writing Fellows Alumni Award Winners!

By: Josh Evans

This week, AF hosted our annual Writing Fellows Alumni Dinner, where we celebrated both the program’s five year anniversary and the accomplishments of the 235 writers who have completed the program. So many alumni have gone on to do remarkable things in media, think tanks, and government, and Tuesday’s dinner gave us the opportunity to recognize three of them in particular:

Meet the 2019 Writing Fellows Alumni Award Winners! 1Career Achievement Award — Philip Wegmann
During his time at the Washington Examiner, Philip Wegmann managed to break news while also providing insightful commentary. His reporting on improper reimbursements led to an ethics investigation of Representative David Schweikert and his chief of staff Oliver Schwab, and eventually to Schwab’s resignation. In addition to that, along with two of his colleagues, he uncovered evidence that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore had lied about when his relationship with his wife had begun.

Since leaving the Examiner, Phil has continued to play a role in shaping the national conversation as White House and 2020 election reporter at RealClearPolitics, where he’s written an in-depth profile of the controversial FCC Chairman and a thorough obituary of the White House daily press briefing.

Phil’s career powerfully demonstrates the difference that good writing can make, and embodies, an important lesson we try to teach in the writing program: good opinion writing not only rests on strong arguments, but on introducing new, relevant facts to the audience.

Meet the 2019 Writing Fellows Alumni Award Winners! 2Rising Star Award — Bradley Polumbo
Our rising star award is given out to recognize the achievements of someone who, despite being at an early stage in their career, is already doing great things. While he was still in college, Bradley Polumbo was already hard at work building up his writing skills and establishing himself as a nationally-published commentator. His work has appeared in outlets spanning the ideological spectrum, from National Review, to USA Today, to the Daily Beast.

But beyond just building up his own career, Brad has helped others. As an editor for Young Voices, he worked with other aspiring writers to develop their talents and get their work published. Now, as the deputy contributors editor and commentary writer at the Washington Examiner, he’s quickly becoming an important voice in defining a new generation of liberty advocates.

Meet the 2019 Writing Fellows Alumni Award Winners! 4Op-ed of the Year — Kelvey Vander Hart
We give this award each year for the op-ed that best embodies the principles we teach in the program. One of the most important things we discuss is finding a unique angle on your subject.

It’s far too easy to get stuck in a rut, recycling the same old talking points everyone on our side seems to use. It probably wouldn’t take you very long browsing right-leaning media outlets or think tank blogs to find dozens of articles on government subsidies, on why they’re bad, how they distort the market, or how they waste taxpayer money.

In her op-ed “Down with farm subsidies: Vegans and conservatives, unite!” Kelvery Vander Hart took a look at this well-covered topic, and considered a new angle–what kind of unconventional partnerships might be built around opposing subsidies–and managed to write something attention-grabbing and compelling on what could otherwise be a bit of a dry topic.

Check out photos from the evening to see more of our annual alumni dinner!