Home » News » 2023-24 TFAS Public Policy Fellows Explore Roots of Conservative Thought

2023-24 TFAS Public Policy Fellows Explore Roots of Conservative Thought

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Ryan Wolfe, director of the Center for Excellence in Journalism, welcomes Fellows during orientation.

The 2023-24 Public Policy Fellows began their continuing education programming this fall in Washington, D.C. The cohort, which consists of 20 young professionals, includes young leaders representing The Washington Free Beacon, National Review, the American Enterprise Institute, as well as other top organizations in the nation’s capital.

The curriculum for the 2023-24 TFAS Public Policy Fellowship focuses on the question, “What is conservatism?” Fellows explore post-war conservative thought and how thinkers like F.A. Hayek, Russell Kirk and Frank Meyer attempted to resolve the tensions between freedom and order in public policy.

Fellows Haydon Parham, Thomas Kenna, Jared Bulla and Hannah Florence, enjoy their time together in Russel Kirk’s residential library.

On September 8, the cohort gathered for their orientation and welcome reception. Ryan Wolfe, who leads continuing education programming at TFAS, led the Fellows in an overview of TFAS and outlined the calendar for the year. Following orientation, the Fellows met with alumni for an intimate welcome reception. At this event, past Fellows connected with the current cohort and shared advice and built connections with the current class.

TFAS Public Policy Fellows then gathered for their first academic session on September 9 with a panel discussion on “The History of the Conservative Movement.” TFAS regent emeritus Dr. Lee Edwards, TFAS Senior Scholar Dr. Donald Devine and President and Chief Executive Officer of The Federalist Society Eugene Meyer co-led the discussion. This powerhouse trio told personal stories of the early years of the conservative movement and discussed the political figures, philosophers, and institutions that shaped the movement over the past 70 years. The session served as an introduction for fellows as they embark on a study of fusionist conservative thought.

Public Policy Fellows discuss the work of Russell Kirk with Dr. David Corey. Read more about their visit and see photos at the Kirk Center’s website here.

TFAS Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Anne R. Bradley led the Fellows’ October session on “Hayek & The Constitution of Liberty.” She spoke about Hayek’s writings including “The Use of Knowledge in Society” and “The Creative Powers of a Free Civilization.” Dr. Anne additionally guided the Fellows in understanding Hayek’s contributions to the conservative movement’s understanding of liberty and the role of government in society.

This fall, the cohort traveled to Mecosta, Michigan, for a three-day retreat to visit the ancestral home of Russell Kirk. During the retreat, the Fellows explored the “The Roots of American Order as the Foundation for a New Fusionism.” Through this topic, the Fellows discussed the history of civilization and American political tradition outlined in “The Roots of American Order” by Russell Kirk’s as well Kirk’s other writings and additional assigned texts.

The discussion sessions were led by Dr. David Corey, professor of political science in the honors program at Baylor University and Michael Lucchese, PPF ’22, visiting fellow at the Liberty Fund.

Fellow Charles Hilu participates in a discussion session.

Reflecting on the retreat, current Fellow Maggie Black said: “The retreat’s discussions regarding our country’s Judeo-Christian roots inspired vigorous conversations about our country’s past and our way forward.”

Finally, for the December session, the director of domestic policy studies and the inaugural Patrick and Charlene Neal Chair in American Prosperity at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Matthew Continetti, Novak ’08, led a discussion on “The Political Thought of William F. Buckley, Jr.” He outlined the life and legacy of William F. Buckley, emphasizing Buckley’s deep passion for individual and educational freedom. Continetti also shared stories from Buckley’s childhood and highlighted how his conservative principles were instilled in him by his father.

Public Policy Fellows gather during an academic session.

The Public Policy Fellowship curriculum revitalization is one part of the Future of Freedom Initiative at TFAS, funded by the John William Pope Foundation. Thanks to this grant, TFAS is engaging these emerging leaders in broad and thoughtful discussion and collaboration about how to advance the principles of freedom and the Western rule-of-law tradition.

To read more about this year’s Fellows, read their biographies below. The Fellowship runs from September 2023 to May 2024 and includes monthly evening sessions and two weekend retreats and continues in January with the following events:

  • January 9  – “Frank Meyer’s Defense of Freedom” by Stephanie Slade, Reason
  • February 23-25, 2024 Spring Retreat: Philadelphia, PA, “Constitutional Conservativism” by Jeff Polet, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation
  • March 12 –“The Enduring Tension” by Donald Devine, The Fund for American Studies
  • April 9 – “Röpke & the Humane Economy” by Samuel Gregg, American Institute for Economic Research
  • May 14 – Closing Dinner

2023-24 PUBLIC POLICY FELLOWS

KAYLA BARTSCH 

William F. Buckley Jr. Fellow – National Review

Originally from Minnesota, Kayla graduated from Yale College in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and humanities. For the past two years, she worked as a program assistant for Hudson Institute Political Studies while pursuing a master’s degree in theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. She is soon to complete her thesis, which focuses on the formation of the conscience according to St. Thomas Aquinas. During her summers, Kayla serves as a teaching assistant for the Hudson Institute Political Studies Summer Fellowship, which offers undergraduates a rigorous education in subjects ranging from classical political thought to Asia-Pacific foreign policy. In conjunction with these pursuits, she helps lead a debating organization for young professionals in the Washington, D.C., area called the Cicero Society, which seeks to foster civic discourse on hard questions.

Apart from her work and studies, Kayla is an admirer of choral music and sings with the Schola Cantorum at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Kayla is currently William F. Buckley Jr. Fellow in Political Journalism for the National Review, covering topics from religion and politics to “Books, Arts, & Manners.”


MAGGIE BLACK

Legislative Correspondent – Senator John Barrasso

Maggie is a legislative correspondent in the Office of Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, where she covers issues related to tax policy, healthcare, education and labor. She graduated from Christendom College in the spring of 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in philosophy. Prior to joining Senator Barrasso’s office, Maggie served in a variety of positions on campus including vice president and president of Christendom College Republicans and founder and president of Christendom’s Network of enlightened Women chapter.

Previously, Maggie completed internships with Senator Barrasso’s office in Cheyenne, Wyoming, The Heritage Foundation and American Legislative Exchange Council. She is a 2022-23 alumna of the Röpke-Wojtyła Fellowship at the Catholic University of America’s Busch School of Business. She is especially passionate about advocating for conservative social policies. She is originally from Cheyenne, Wyoming, and currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia. Outside of the office, Maggie enjoys playing tennis, hiking and baking.


JARED BULLA

External Affairs Associate – American Enterprise Institute

Jared is an associate with the coalitions and outreach team at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), working to advance the mission of the Institute and the work of its scholars. He develops programming for the AEI Alumni Network and young professionals in Washington, D.C., as well as building policy-based coalitions at the state and local levels. Before joining AEI, he was an economic and data analyst at an economic consulting firm, assisting clients involved in antitrust and monopolistic practice litigation.

He received his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University, studying economics and philosophy. While studying, he worked in the U.S. Senate and as a research assistant in political philosophy at George Washington University. Jared is very involved in the young adult Catholic community in D.C. and is often found out in the mountains or reading in one of D.C.’s many parks. As a native Cincinnatian, he proudly supports the city’s sports teams and spreads the word about the rich culture and history of Southwest Ohio.


GABRIELLE DANKANICH

Capitol Hill Outreach Director – Young America’s Foundation

Gabrielle serves as the Capitol Hill outreach director for Young America’s Foundation (YAF), working to advance YAF’s mission on Capitol Hill. Originally from Buffalo, New York, Gabby graduated magna cum laude from The Catholic University of America (CUA), where she studied world politics and theology. Prior to her role as the Capitol Hill outreach director, Gabby completed multiple internships with Congress, think tanks and conservative nonprofits. She was also a 2022 Hamilton National Fellow with The Alexander Hamilton Society.

Throughout her college career, Gabby devoted her time to CUA’s YAF chapter, founded during her freshman year. As chairman her senior year, she hosted the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh for a YAF lecture, which attracted 800 in-person attendees—one of the largest student-organized events in the school’s history. Under her leadership, CUA YAF held six speaker events featuring Matt Walsh, Vice President Mike Pence, Jack Butler, Daniel Di Martino, Dr. Frédéric Sautet and Congressman Dan Crenshaw of Texas. Gabby also helped organize a protest for freedom outside the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, continued CUA YAF’s “Let’s Talk About It” discussion series, and organized YAF’s annual 9/11: Never Forget Project. In addition to leading the CUA YAF chapter, Gabby gained campus recognition for the Alexander Hamilton Society chapter on her campus, hosting five speaker events during her senior year as the chapter’s co-president.


HANNAH FLORENCE

Research Assistant – American Enterprise Institute

Hannah is a research associate at the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) Housing Center, where she researches and writes on how housing policy can better meet the needs of local communities. Hannah joined AEI after graduating from Samford University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics.

Previously, she interned for the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in the U.S. Senate, U.S. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, and for Atlantis, a health-care education startup. During the 2018 election cycle, Hannah served as a regional field director for the Massachusetts Republican Party and was the deputy director for briefings and scheduling for the Baker-Polito Inaugural Committee.


LILLY GILLESPIE

Senior Research Analyst – The RXN Group

Lilly is a senior research analyst at The RXN Group, where she conducts qualitative and quantitative research projects for clients in the private sector. Her work primarily focuses on tech disruptors, artificial intelligence, antitrust law and small business advocacy. She also contributes to independent projects for RXN and their associated think tank, The Data Catalyst Institute.  Before joining RXN, Lilly worked at Public Opinion Strategies, where she analyzed political and private sector polling data for an election cycle.

She previously interned at the Religious Freedom Institute. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude from Washington and Lee University in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in politics and romance languages. In college she served as College Republicans president and wrote for The W&L Spectator. Lilly loves to discuss the ethics and interactions of technology, religion and philosophy in American society. In her free time, she attends church, writes articles, listens to Megyn Kelly and Bari Weiss, plays tennis and reads. Lilly grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and Memphis, Tennessee.


JOSHUA GONZÁLEZ ’20

Press Secretary – Congresswoman María Salazar 

Josh serves as press secretary for the Washington, D.C., office of Rep. María Elvira Salazar of Florida. He also manages Ibero Strategies, a political communications consultancy focused on tailoring conservative and right-of-center policy messaging to a Hispanic audience. Before joining Congresswoman Salazar, Josh worked as an analyst at D.C.-based public affairs firm Hamilton Place Strategies (now Penta Group) and reported on Congress for El American (now Voz Media), a bilingual independent media news outlet.

He previously interned with the American Enterprise Institute’s education policy studies team, the Madrid-based think tank Fundación Civismo and the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. Josh is originally from Elizabeth, New Jersey, and lives in Alexandria, Virginia. He graduated from Gettysburg College with a bachelor’s degree in economics and public policy. In his free time, Josh enjoys exploring Old Town Alexandria and debating Spanish politics. Josh also participated in the 2020 Public Policy + Economics program track at TFAS.


CHARLES HILU

Collegiate Network Fellow – Washington Free Beacon

Charles is the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s Collegiate Network Fellow at the Washington Free Beacon, where he writes primarily about the predatory regulations and wasteful spending of the administrative state. A proud native of Novi, Michigan, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan in 2023. There, he served as the chairman of his Young Americans for Freedom Chapter and the editor-in-chief of the Michigan Review, the Collegiate Network publication at the school. He drew the ire of leftists on campus by bringing Ben Shapiro to speak and by exposing the failure of the college’s DEI bureaucracy, the largest in the country. He also covered nationwide campus news as a student journalist for the College Fix.

Between school years, he interned at the Washington Examiner and National Review. In addition to Michigan sports and musical theater, he is passionate about his Catholic faith and American conservatism. He devoted the first semester of his senior year to a paper in which he argued that the conservative movement created in the mid-20th century was the fulfillment of the American Founding. He cares deeply about the movement’s history, and he looks forward to discussing the topic with his Fellow program participants.


DENNIS HULL

State Affairs Coordinator – Americans for Tax Reform

Dennis works on state tax and regulatory policy at Americans for Tax Reform, a taxpayer advocacy group in Washington, D.C. As part of his advocacy efforts around the country, Dennis frequently travels to the ten states in his territory, working with activists and legislators to reduce state and local tax burdens wherever possible. Before joining ATR last summer, Dennis was a student at Washington and Lee University, where he earned his degree in politics and mass communications, and before that, he became the first valedictorian of Mason Classical Academy, a successful charter school in Naples, Florida.

As a lifelong lover of writing and political discourse, he served for several years as the editor of the Washington and Lee Spectator, a student-run, conservative opinion magazine whose writers frequently drew inspiration from progressive zealots on and off campus. Dennis’s political philosophy is inspired by the ideals of individualism, making him a staunch advocate of liberty and defender of self-interest rightly understood. When not reading or writing for the online publication he co-founded, The Future Conservative, Dennis can be found enjoying the great outdoors – especially, wherever possible, hitting the slopes on a snowboard – or playing the acoustic guitar. He is thoroughly inspired by the overwhelming natural beauty of the American West and of virtually any national park, for that matter. Dennis is also a lover of German culture and cuisine, with half of his family being natives of Bavaria, including an Oma who cooks the greatest schnitzel of all time.


THOMAS KENNA

Policy Associate – Ronald Reagan Institute 

Thomas currently serves as a policy associate at the Ronald Reagan Institute’s Center for Peace Through Strength and the Center for Freedom and Democracy. In this role, he supports the Institute’s defense and foreign policy initiatives, such as the Reagan National Defense Forum, Reagan Institute Strategy Group, Reagan National Defense Survey, Reagan Institute Summer Survey, Peace Through Strength Boot Camp, Reagan-Jackson Security Dialogue, Spotlight: Dissidents Project, Program on the National Security Innovation Base, and the Westminster 2.0 Working Group.

Beyond his professional commitments, Thomas is an AHS-TPIF Security and Strategy Seminar fellow and actively involved in the St. Ann’s, D.C., young adult community. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from American University. As an undergraduate, Thomas co-founded a chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society, served as a leader in the College Republicans and Student Government, and interned with the House Republican Conference and Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the American Enterprise Institute and two political campaign firms. He is a proud native of Long Island, New York.


ZACH KESSEL

William F. Buckley Fellow – National Review

Zach is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism with National Review. A New Jersey native, Zach is a 2023 graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where he led the campus Alexander Hamilton Society chapter. Before joining National Review, he interned with the American Enterprise Institute and the Vandenberg Coalition and completed fellowships with the Tikvah Fund, the Hertog Foundation and the University of Notre Dame’s de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. In addition to National Review, Zach’s writing has been featured in publications including the Washington Post and the Washington Free Beacon.


SHANE LEARY

Baron Public Affairs

Shane is a political science Ph.D. student at Baylor University, where he studies political theory and international relations. He is currently in Washington, D.C., working at Baron Public Affairs. He was previously the research associate and program manager of the China Center at Hudson Institute, where he cohosted the China Insider podcast with Miles Yu. An Upstate New York native, he received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2019 and his master’s degree in political science from Baylor University in 2022.

Shane is an alumnus of the 2019 Hudson Institute Political Studies Summer Fellowship and the 2022-2023 Security and Strategy Seminar fellowship co-hosted by the Alexander Hamilton Society and The Public Interest Fellowship. Before beginning his Ph.D., he worked as the community relations director in the 121st New York State Assembly district, where he was born and raised.


ALEXIS NESTER

Political Director – Parents Defending Education

Alex is the political director of PDE Action and an investigative fellow at Parents Defending Education. There, Alex advocates for parental rights and education transparency at the local, state and federal levels. Before her time at PDE, Alex covered education for the Washington Free Beacon. She also produced podcasts for Nebulous Media, including Ink-Stained Wretches with Eliana Johnson and Chris Stirewalt, Getting Hammered with Mary Katharine Ham and Vic Matus and School of War with Aaron MacLean.

Alex participated in The Public Interest Fellowship from 2020 to 2022, joining TPIF after graduating from Hillsdale College with a bachelor’s degree in economics and journalism. She was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, and is an avid fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Detroit Red Wings.


THOMAS PACK

Director of Incubator Program – Palladium Pictures 

Thomas is the director of the Incubator Program at Palladium Pictures, his family-owned independent documentary film company. Prior to Palladium, Thomas served in several leadership roles at educational organizations including most recently as director of student programs at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and as head of operations at the Upper Darby Arts and Education Foundation. Concurrently, Thomas worked in a consulting capacity at several liberty-oriented start-ups and nonprofits, where he helped grow and scale new projects.

Thomas has now taken his education and management experience back to the family business to direct the Film Incubator Program, which provides funding, mentorship and distribution to the next generation of documentary filmmakers. Thomas received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College and a master’s in education entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a former Hertog Foundation Fellow and a former Claremont Institute Publius Fellow.


HAYDON PARHAM

Executive Director of Outreach and Mission – Project Leviathan

Haydon is a native of Virginia and Massachusetts and studied economics and philosophy at James Madison University, graduating in 2019. He interned with the Department of Defense, selling F-35s to allied nations as part of the NAVAIR program, and since moving to Washington, D.C., has been an active member of the young conservative movement in and around the city. He helped put together the New Whiggery Fellowship program at the Institute on Religion and Democracy and was a part of their flagship class of fellows, furthering the ideas of the great classical liberal tradition. He has also been an active member of both the Cicero Debate Society and the American Conservation Coalition. The former is a parliamentary debate society dedicated to exploring questions of political and moral philosophy, while the latter is a nonprofit advocacy group that works across ideological divisions to conserve the environment, focusing on innovation in sustainable business practices and furthering common-sense policies addressing climate issues through debate and discussion.

Additionally, he is active in his church, Christ Reformed on Capitol Hill. For his day job, he works in the secondary mortgage market, focusing on market risk analysis at Freddie Mac. As a part-time contributor to Providence Magazine, he writes on topics ranging from economics and philosophy to history.


SAM PEAK

Senior Policy Analyst – Americans for Prosperity

Sam is a senior policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity, where he specializes in immigration issues. Sam’s work has been published in a range of outlets including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, POLITICO Magazine, and others. His commentary has also been cited by Forbes, Bloomberg Law, and Law360, as well as by members of Congress, national security officials and economists. Sam is interested in and invested in the ongoing debates within modern American conservatism – especially the apparent tensions between libertarian conservatism and national populism.

Sam is concerned that the American people are suffering from an ongoing crisis of complacency and moral weakness. He hopes that this fellowship can help him be part of the solution to these threats.


ZAYNA RESLEY

State Relations Coordinator – Cato Institute 

Zayna is the state relations coordinator at the Cato Institute, where she works to establish the organization as a primary source for objective analysis and free-market policy options for state policymakers and their staff, as well as coordinating joint efforts with state-based think tanks. She’s passionate about expanding freedom at the state level. Her favorite policy areas include education policy, housing policy, and economic policy geared towards reducing barriers to entering the workforce. Before working in state government affairs, she worked in media relations and grassroots campaigning.

In May 2022, Zayna graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in political science. During her time at the University of Arizona, she served as an undergraduate teaching assistant and held leadership roles on the Greek Standards Board and in her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta. In her free time, Zayna loves cooking, fashion, finding new running trails in the district and staying up-to-date on the latest state policy news.


HAAKON SANTAELLA

Legislative Assistant – Senator Ted Cruz

 

Haakon works as a legislative assistant for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, covering tax, banking, budget and finance issues. Previously, he staffed Sen. Mike Lee of Utah on the Senate Committee on the Budget. He graduated from Hillsdale College with a bachelor’s degree in economics and hails from Arizona.

 

 

 


JOSHUE SILVA

Legislative Correspondent – Senator John Thune

Josué advises on legislative policy and strategy in his role as a legislative correspondent in the United States Senate. Prior to his role in the Senate, Josué served as a public policy specialist at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, primarily focusing on trade and health care policy. He also previously worked in the Colorado legislature and at the Common Sense Institute, the state’s premier economic policy think tank, where he advised on energy, tax and housing issues.

Josué is a Denver native and a graduate of Colorado State University, where he served as student body president and studied business administration and political science. He is fluent in Spanish and enjoys exercising and rooting for Colorado sports teams.



GRACE SULLIVAN

Partnership Advisor – Leadership Institute

Grace grew up in Denver, Colorado. She got her professional start as an intern at the Leadership Institute in 2019. Since then, she has worked in many different areas of development, and now she serves as a partnership advisor, working to further the mission of the Leadership Institute through building relationships with supporters across the state of Florida.

When Grace is not traveling for work, she enjoys spending time with friends from church, reading and hiking.

 

 


 

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