There are many aspects of The Fund for American Studies that wouldn’t be possible without the support of our outstanding alumni, and the 2015 Leadership Conference is no exception. Alumni are involved at all levels of the conference as board members, alumni council representatives, staff members, speakers and guests.
TFAS alumnus and conference featured speaker, Stephen Hayes (AIPES 94, Novak 00), says that alumni bring a unique and important perspective to the conference.
“People who went through the program are the ones in the best position to understand just how significant and potentially life changing these programs can be,” he said.
Hayes, a senior writer for the Weekly Standard, is a longtime TFAS supporter and alumni volunteer. He was recently elected to the TFAS Board of Trustees, and the Leadership Conference will serve as his first official board meeting.
Hayes says that the people he spends time with at TFAS conferences are special, noting that the conference is an excellent networking opportunity for all alumni.
“It’s a good chance to see old friends and make new ones with similar values and interests.” Hayes said. “It’s great to just catch up with a good group of people.”
During Hayes’ remarks with Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes, guests can expect to gain an inside perspective on the 2016 election and learn more about where America is heading as a nation from one administration to the next.
Three other TFAS alumni will also be serving as featured speakers during the conference. Iowa State Rep. Ken Rizer (ICPES 86), former Texas State Rep. Dan Branch (ICPES 77) and Ohio State Rep. Robert Cupp (ICPES 71) will give attendees “A View From the State Capitals” during an alumni panel discussion.
TFAS President Roger Ream (ICPES 76) is looking forward to the behind the scenes perspective that these alumni will bring to the conference attendees.
“We are pleased to feature these alumni in leadership at the state level, where real change takes place,” said Ream. “They will offer a candid look at what is happening right now in our state legislatures.”
All three alumni possess impressive and unique backgrounds.
Branch has served on the TFAS Board of Trustees since 1990 where he is currently secretary of the board. In 2002, he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives where he served the people of Texas for 12 years.
Rizer was elected to the Iowa legislature in 2014. Before serving his district in Iowa, Rizer served as an Air Force commander and fighter pilot for a successful 25 years. Both Rizer and Branch share the honor of being Barry Goldwater Scholars during their time as TFAS students.
Representative Bob Cupp has served as an elected official in all three branches of government at both the local and state levels: as a county commissioner, a four-term state senator, a court-of-appeals judge and a justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio. He regularly serves as a TFAS guest speaker, giving lectures to law students enrolled in the summer Legal Studies Institute (LSI).
In addition to speaking, panelist Dan Branch is looking forward to hearing stories from TFAS’s newest alumni who participated in the programs during the summer of 2015.
“Hearing their feedback about how transformative their experience was and getting the validation from newly minted alumni is always a high point of these conferences,” said Branch. “A lot of us who are alumni can relate to that and it’s the reason we want to give back, because of what was given to us.”
At the conference, Branch will be joined by other fellow alumni serving on various TFAS boards and the alumni council. In addition to the regular conference schedule, these groups meet to discuss upcoming objectives and goals for TFAS.
Kenneth Klatt (ICPES 70) has been with TFAS from the beginning as student in the very first TFAS class in 1970. He became a founding member of the Alumni Council when it was formed in 2003 where he now serves as the chairman.
As Alumni Council president and member of the Board of Regents, Klatt has experienced his fair share of TFAS conferences and says there are many benefits to attending.
“The conference is a great opportunity for continuing education,” Klatt said.
He enjoys hearing from the speakers who serve as board members, faculty and special guests who reinforce the message of TFAS.
This year TFAS alumna and staff member Lucero Piña (IPVS 14) is attending her first TFAS conference as the new alumni and development associate. She’ll contribute to the Alumni Council’s efforts to connect with alumni and engage the council on developing goals and objectives for the coming year.
Piña is looking forward to meeting, in person, the alumni she’s been communicating with since the beginning of the fall season. As a Texas native, she’s especially excited to meet former Texas State Representative Dan Branch.
“Growing up I would always see “Vote for Dan Branch” billboards and signs because I lived so close to his district, so it’s kind of cool to recognize that name and say: ‘He’s a TFAS alumnus, so am I!’,” Piña said.
At the conference she hopes to learn more about how she can help the Alumni Council reach its goals, but most importantly she wants alumni to connect and have fun.
“This conference one of the things that comes as a benefit of being a TFAS alumnus,” Piña said “It’s an opportunity to not only support each other but also share in the benefits of being a part of the TFAS alumni network.”