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Liberty + Leadership News: January 29


We hope you enjoy these news stories about TFAS activities, alumni and events this week. Sign up to receive TFAS updates, and visit us on social media for additional up-to-the-moment TFAS news!

Alexis & Justin Black on Redefining Normal

Justin and Alexis Black participated in the TFAS Asia program together in 2019.

Alexis ’17, ’19 and Justin Black ’18, ’19 are co-founders of Redefining Normal, a media platform that works to redefine societal norms and inspire people to talk about their trauma, as well as coauthors of the books, “I Love You More Than Cereal: Maeva and Dad Redefine Love” and “Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat The Odds and Discovering Healing, Happiness, and Love.” They are both passionate advocates for children, especially concerning those in the foster care system. Alexis attended the 2017 TFAS Capital Semester Program on Leadership and the American Presidency and Justin attended the 2018 TFAS Journalism and Communication Summer Program. They both attended the 2019 TFAS Asia program in Hong Kong and are graduates of Western Michigan University.

In this week’s Liberty and Leadership Podcast, TFAS President Roger Ream ’76, Alexis, and Justin discuss the powerful impact TFAS has had on their lives, how their childhoods growing up in foster care led them to coauthoring two books, the work Alexis and Justin are doing to help both children and parents in today’s foster care system, how traveling the world fundamentally changed their outlook on everything, and a healthy debate over which cereal is superior: Count Chocula or Smart Start.

Jimmy Lai, a Beacon of Hope for Democracy in Hong Kong and across the World

This week, TFAS President Roger Ream penned an op-ed for National Review about the courage of journalist Jimmy Lai, who is currently imprisoned in Hong Kong for his pro-democracy, anti-communist rhetoric.

In the article, Ream explains that while the Chinese Communist Party continues to persecute the 75-year-old Lai through a flurry of legal charges, he still continues to fight for free speech and autonomy.

“Despite Lai’s imprisonment, he continues to serve as a beacon of hope for those in Hong Kong and across the globe who are fighting tyranny,” Ream writes.

TFAS recently awarded Lai with the Kenneth Y. Tomlinson Award for Courageous Journalism in November 2022 for his shining example on behalf of press freedom and democratic principles.

Read more about Lai here.

TFAS Mourns Partner in Economic Education, Jerry Hume

TFAS mourns the passing of Jerry Hume, a businessman and philanthropist who chaired the board of the Foundation for Teaching Economics (FTE) for more than three decades. Hume helped engineer the merger of FTE into The Fund for American Studies, which culminated in 2013. FTE now operates as the high school division of TFAS. The mission of FTE is to introduce young people to an economic way of thinking about national and international issues –– and to promote excellence in economic education by helping teachers of economics become more effective educators.

He insisted on receiving the assessments of FTE programs in the years following the merger with TFAS. TFAS President Roger Ream noted that “through his philanthropy and involvement in the nonprofit sector, Jerry helped organizations improve their performance by employing professional assessment. He was more than a donor to causes he believed in. He influenced the performance of the organizations he funded generously.”

Read more about Jerry’s legacy here. 

 TFAS Faculty, Alumni, Supporters in the News

Courtland Culver ’18, Law ’21, started an internship for House Judiciary Committee.

Madison Iszler, Novak ’17, started as a member of the advisory board of the McCandlist Phillips Journalism Institute (MPJI).

Robby Soave, Novak ’17, writes an article for Reason about the series of emails that revealed the CDC’s role silencing COVID-19 dissent via Facebook.

Stephanie Slade, Novak ’16, wrote about the history of the KKK pushing for compulsory schooling and the development of a federal education department for Reason.

Abby Witt ’15 started a new position as the senior manager of brand & digital strategy for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Luke Zaro ’15 started a new position as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee.

Jasmine Wyatt ’14 started a new position as acting deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

Madison LeBlanc Lingle, ’17, PPF ’21, was recently promoted to government relations specialist at Boeing.

Steff Thomas ’13 started a new position as an associate editor at The Hill.

Elizabeth Messer ’17 was promoted to vice president at Cornerstone Government Affairs.

Daniel Cochrane, PPF ’22, wrote an article for the Washington Examiner about Facebook content moderation policies.

Suzanne Kianpour ’09 wrote about the protest movement for freedom, led by women in Iran for Politico Magazine.

Billy Binion, Novak ’22, spoke about the case of Geraldine Tyleron on the Charles CW Cooke Podcast.

John Hirschauer, Novak ’22, spoke about the roots of deinstitutionalization on the City Journal Podcast.

Haley Britzky ’16 coauthored an article for ABC12 about how the U.S. is preparing to send another aid package to Ukraine while Kyiv is still pleading for tanks.

Jared Keller ’10 wrote an article for Task & Purpose about how unprofessional Russian military leaders are acting.

TFAS senior scholar, Donald J. Boudreaux wrote an article for AIER about how individuals have a comparative advantage at improving comparative advantages.

Brad Polumbo, Novak ’22, wrote an article for the New York Post about Biden’s student-debt bailout.



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