Fellows – Class of 2014
For our second fellowship program, we selected 13 rising leaders within the conservative movement from Capitol Hill, think tanks, media, nonprofits, and the private sector. They represent various branches of the conservative movement – economic, social, national security and constitutional conservatives.
They will participate in a comprehensive six-month fellowship program teaching them about fusion conservatism – the philosophical coalition of classical liberals/libertarians, traditionalists and anti-communists that were fused together post-WWII by William F. Buckley, Jr. and Frank Meyer, which was the foundation of the modern conservative movement. They will meet with various leaders in the conservative movement in Washington, DC (Yuval Levin, George H. Nash, Randy Barnett, Ryan T. Anderson, Lee Edwards and Charles Murray) to discuss how various conservative strands could be re-fused together and practical applications of conservative philosophy.
YOUNG CONSERVATIVE LEADER FELLOWS – CLASS 2014
Alyssa Silkwood – The Heritage Foundation
Alyssa Silkwood is the Development Associate in Major Gift Operations at The Heritage Foundation. Before her time at Heritage, Alyssa worked under the leadership of former State Senate President, John Andrews, and former U.S. Senator, Bill Armstrong, at the Centennial Institute – a state-based think tank focused on faith, family, freedom and future. Alyssa was first introduced to donor cultivation and stewardship with her work with Centennial Institute’s Western Conservative Summit and key donor events throughout the state of Colorado.
A cum laude graduate of Colorado Christian University, Alyssa received a double major in Political Science and Business Administration with an emphasis in Communication. During college, Alyssa interned with the Colorado Senate, working for Minority Leader, Senator Bill Cadman and Assistant Minority Leader, Senator Mark Scheffel. Throughout her time working in the Senate and in nonprofit think tanks, Alyssa has found a keen interest in learning the balance of monetary stewardship and allocation, while making a career in campaign and non-profit finance and development.
Chad Yelinski – Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Chad Yelinski is a Legislative Correspondent in the office of Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) focusing on several key policy areas, while developing his skills in promoting conservative ideology on Capitol Hill.
Chad recently participated in the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation, where he worked in the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics. During his time at Heritage, Chad assisted Dr. Lee Edwards, Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought with a range of projects including writing correspondence to the Presidents of foreign nations and helping to edit a Heritage Publication focusing on Edmund Burke’s “Little Platoons.”
He is a recent graduate from Colorado Christian University, earning a double major in political science and international affairs with a minor in communications. He was also a 1776 Fellow with the Centennial Institute and took advantage of several opportunities including serving as a student delegate with a range of think-tanks from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, State Policy Network, Western Conservative Summit, and The Leadership Institute.
Christopher Mills – Winston & Strawn LLP
Christopher Mills is a litigation associate in the Appellate and Critical Motions Group at Winston & Strawn LLP. He previously served as a law clerk to the Hon. David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
A 2002 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, he was a Senior Editor of the Harvard Law Review, an Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, and on the Executive Board of the Harvard Federalist Society. He previously worked for the Hon. Alice Batchelder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina.
In 2009, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude with a degree in economics from Furman University, where he was founder and president of Conservative Students for a Better Tomorrow. His work on statutory interpretation and federal preemption of state law has been published in the Harvard Law Review and cited in major articles in the Michigan Law Review and the Georgia Law Review, among others. He is a 2013 Marshall Fellow at the Claremont Institute and an Eagle Scout.
Danielle Davis – HSP Direct
Danielle Davis is an Account Manager at HSP Direct, a political fundraising agency in Northern Virginia, who oversees the direct mail fundraising accounts of some of the top nonprofits, PACs and candidates in the nation, including the Club for Growth, Chris McDaniel for Senate, FreedomWorks, Madison Project, Pat Toomey for Senate, Rick Santorum’s Patriot Voices and Tea Party Express, among others. Previously Danielle served as Deputy Communications Director to Congressman Tom Price and worked for a session at the Georgia General Assembly as a legislative assistant.
In 2010 Danielle won a Gold Pollie Award from the American Association of Political Consultants. In 2013 she was a recipient of the Daily Record’s “Top Twenty in Their Twenties” awards. Danielle is an alumna of WeLEAD – a bipartisan leadership training program for young women, and in her spare time enjoys managing a youth volunteer program in Loudoun County – the Claude Moore Community Builders, and serving on her alma mater’s Young Alumni Council.
Danielle holds dual bachelor degrees in political science and public administration, and a minor in communications, from Elon University. She also holds a master of public administration degree from American University.
Emily Goff – The Heritage Foundation
Emily Goff is a research associate at The Heritage Foundation where she helps advance conservative solutions to transportation and infrastructure policy. Her research and writing offer pragmatic ways for Congress to increasingly empower states, localities, and the private sector to address the transportation challenges their commuters and businesses face. Previously, Goff conducted research on the federal budget and co-authored the popular Federal Budget in Pictures, which explains large, complex statistics through compelling charts. Her research and commentary have appeared in media outlets such as Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and Nightly Business Report.
Goff holds a bachelor’s degrees in political science and Spanish from the University of Georgia. Previously, she interned in the offices of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R). Goff is the Director of the D.C. chapter of the Network of enlightened Women, a conservative book club and networking organization for young women. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Derek Bekebrede is a research analyst within the government practice of a consulting firm based in Arlington, VA, where he specializes in human resources management. Before moving to D.C., Derek graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard University in 2013 with a degree in economics. While at Harvard, he completed a senior thesis focused on the effects of federal financial aid on college attendance and completion and how those effects differed by socioeconomic background and gender.
Derek was also President of the Harvard Republican Club, a Vice President of the Harvard Anscombe Society, and a member of Harvard Right to Life and the Harvard University Institute of Politics. He has interned for The Heritage Foundation and Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) and served as a U.S. Senate Page for one semester in high school. He enjoys writing, and his pieces have been featured in Public Discourse, The Harvard Crimson, and The Harvard Salient, Harvard’s conservative publication. He remains interested in education reform, public policy, and the role of faith and morality in the public square.
Jack Thorlin – Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
Jack Thorlin is Counsel to the Minority on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations under Senator McCain. He has worked extensively on international tax, technology, and defense issues. Before the Senate, he worked at the Institute for Energy Research, Boyden Gray & Associates, and Cozen O’Connor.
Jack is a 2012 graduate of Harvard Law School, where he was the co-founder and co-president of the Harvard Law School Tea Party, a member of the executive board of the Federalist Society, an editor for the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, and an editor and contributor to the Harvard National Security Journal.
He is a 2009 graduate of Harvard University, where he received a Ronald Reagan College Leaders Scholarship while majoring in mechanical engineering and receiving a language citation in Russian. He is also the author of two geopolitical thriller novels, Stand of Knights and The Lafayette Initiative.
James A. Christophersen – Government Relations Consultant
James A. Christophersen first discovered his passion for navigating the political process in 2005 when he served as an administrative assistant for a coalition of organizations lobbying in support of now-U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, and later, Associate Justice Samuel Alito.
From 2011-2013, James was Executive Director of the Judicial Action Group (JAG), where he established the Alabama-based organization’s first office in Washington, D.C. In this role, James collaborated with leaders of key partner organizations, as well as U.S. Senate staff, to advance JAG’s ideals of social conservatism and judicial renewal.
Most recently, James led two pro-life graduate student outreach programs at Students for Life of America as their Director of Med Students for Life and Law Students for Life. James is a 2010 graduate of LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, and has participated in numerous political trainings including those conducted by the Young America’s Foundation, TeenPact, The Leadership Institute, and Patrick Henry College.
Currently, James serves the Young Republican Federation of Virginia as National Committeeman and is an independent consultant specializing in government relations and coalition building for non-profit conservative organizations.
James Velasquez – Orange County Register
James Velasquez graduated from Ashland University in 2012 and came to Washington, DC to work as a research fellow in American Studies with the Heritage Foundation. He was fortunate to be selected as a Publius Fellow with the Claremont Institute for their 2013 class, and continued work as a journalist and researcher in the DC area. He currently works with the Clapham Group as a research associate on anti-poverty policy.
James is also the Head Editor of Right Progress – a publishing platform for aspiring undergraduates and young professionals to improve their writing and network with like-minded political center-right individuals. He manages a team of almost 50 writers by pitching stories, assisting in their research, establishing content partnerships, and maintaining editorial standards.
Matthew Gallagher – West Virginia Republican Party
Matthew Gallagher was born and raised in West Virginia. College baseball took Matthew to Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama and then Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. Matthew graduated from Harding University in the fall of 2012 with a degree in Political Science with concentrations in History and Theology.
Matthew became increasingly drawn to politics during college. He was a 2010 Underwood Fellow in West Virginia, helping conservative candidates get elected in West Virginia. He spent time interning in Washington with the Republican National Committee and the Heritage Foundation. He has also managed a WV House of Delegates race in 2012.
He currently works for the West Virginia Republican Party as the Eastern Regional Field Coordinator. He works to implement the joint WVGOP Make it Right precinct initiative in order to flip the WV legislature, a feat that hasn’t occurred in 86 years. Matthew is also an avid guitarist.
Matthew Naugle – Citizens United
Matthew Naugle is a conservative writer and researcher who works for Intermarkets and has supported a number of prominent right-of-center organizations in recent years, such as Citizens United, the Council for National Policy, and The American Spectator magazine. In 2011, Matthew moved to Washington, D.C. to work for conservative icons Mr. Alfred Regnery and AG Edwin Meese on the Conservative Action Project’s Cut, Cap, and Balance campaign. Matthew lives in Washington, D.C. and is active in Liberty Toastmasters. He attends Saint Mary Mother of God Catholic Parish in Chinatown.
Mitchell Nozka – The Leadership Institute
Mitchell Nozka is part of the Leadership Institute’s Development team where he copywrites for the Institute’s housefile, prospect, and cultivation mailings, notably their bi-monthly donor newsletter - Building Leadership. Along with the revenue raised by his work, his selection of marketing vendors reduced costs and earned him the Institute’s Employee of the Quarter award in 2014. Mitchell also serves as a faculty member in the Leadership Institute’s Comprehensive Fundraising School, teaching direct marketing techniques.
Prior to the Leadership Institute, Mitchell interned with Representatives Dan Burton (R-IN) and Mike Ferguson (R-NJ), and was a lead technician with a major retail pharmacy.
He obtained degrees in International Relations and Political Science from the University of Connecticut. A native of Connecticut, with studies abroad in the United Kingdom and Egypt, he and his wife relocated to Virginia in 2012.
Paige Haynes – DHR Holdings LLC
Paige Haynes currently works at DHR Holdings LLC as a staff assistant to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. She is primarily responsible for coordinating the Rumsfeld Foundation’s Central Asia-Caucasus Young Leaders Fellowship Program. She holds a BA in Political Science from Wake Forest University, where she also studied languages and international politics. Upon graduating in 2012, she interned with INTERPOL Washington in the Economic Crimes Division and at The Heritage Foundation in Policy Services.
Her areas of research include Russian politics, U.S. engagement in Eastern Europe, and America’s commitment to NATO. Ms. Haynes as traveled extensively throughout Europe and believes the U.S. should maintain a strong presence on the international stage.