More than 130 TFAS alumni, supporters and friends escaped chilly November temperatures to attend the 2014 Leadership Conference in Naples, Florida on Nov. 13-14. Held in conjunction with TFAS strategic partner, the Foundation for Teaching Economics (FTE), the annual conference unites all members of the TFAS family – donors, partner organizations, board members, alumni and staff – to come together to celebrate past achievements and to develop future goals.
Peter Feldman (IPVS 04, LSI 07) is one of several alumni who traveled to Florida to attend the conference. “The Leadership Conferences are always a great opportunity to reconnect with TFAS leaders, regents, donors and others who have chosen to play an active role in the life of the organization,” he said.
In addition to uniting TFAS friends and supporters, the conference gave attendees an insider’s look at student programs and explored America’s post-election landscape with insights from TFAS alumni who played an important role in the 2014 races.
Chris Wilson (ICPES 90), a partner with WPA Opinion Research, treated conference attendees to a detailed analysis of the 2014 elections and trends in America’s voter base. Alumni Adam Waldeck (CSF 06) and Erin Veltman (IBGA 07) led a panel on “What We Saw on the Campaign Trail: Lessons and Insights of Election 2014.” Waldeck drew from his experience at the American Legacy PAC where he serves as the executive director, and Veltman shared lessons from working on state election races as executive director for the Republican State Legislature Committee.
Later, TFAS alumnus Will Weatherford (IBGA 02 )spoke about his experiences as a member of the Florida House of Representatives where he served as speaker of the house before terming out of office earlier this year.
While taking the stage, all of the conference alumni speakers attributed much of their success to TFAS for helping them get to where they are today and thanked supporters in the audience for making the programs possible.
“TFAS changed the trajectory of my life,” said Weatherford. “I don’t know what I was going to do with my life at that point, at 20 years old, but I knew when I left after that summer, that public service was going to be a part of it, and it was not a part of it going into that summer. It absolutely in a very profound way changed my life, and I want to thank you for the thousands of people that you have done that for across this country.”
Throughout the weekend, TFAS and FTE professors were also central to the conference conversation, sharing their classroom lessons and stories with attendees.
During the conference’s kickoff dinner, TFAS Professor Nikolai Wenzel gave examples of how markets provide human flourishing and happiness and how he demonstrates this to students as a professor in the TFAS Asia Institute for Political Economy (AIPE) in Hong Kong.
The next day, FTE professors Debbie Henney and Roger Butters administered a classroom game to show how they break down economics into digestible concepts that high school students comprehend. The popular activity had participants off their feet and trading prizes to demonstrate economic concepts, including measurement of wealth, mutual satisfaction and opportunity cost.
The conference also served as a planning session for TFAS boards including the Alumni Council where members discussed ways to increase outreach to TFAS alumni and to keep them actively involved.
Council member Joey Maxwell (IPVS 11) said members were able to develop strategies and provide key input during the meeting. “The TFAS Alumni Council allows all alumni to give back to TFAS in a substantial way by helping develop new programs, invigorate the organization with ideas, and represent the thousands of individuals who have been transformationally changed by this organization,” he said.
The conference concluded with a dinner at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples where Stuart Varney, host of Fox Business Network’s “Varney and Friends,” delivered optimistic remarks speculating on America’s future.
Thank you to all of our alumni who made this year’s Leadership Conference a success. Please mark your calendars for several exciting TFAS events already scheduled for 2015 including conferences in Gettysburg and Colorado Springs, as well as a cruise through China. For dates and details, please visit www.TFAS.org/Events.