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TFAS Alumni Share Transformational Impact of Liberty + Leadership Campaign


During the TFAS Founders’ Day celebration on Feb. 6, President Roger Ream ’76 triumphantly announced that TFAS had surpassed an ambitious $25 million campaign goal, allowing us to expand our educational offerings for young professionals and reach thousands more students with our transformational programs. In a room of more than 140 TFAS students, alumni, supporters, faculty and friends, three alumni who were directly impacted by campaign initiatives took to the stage to thank supporters and speak about their transformational TFAS experiences.

Students from the current TFAS Capital Semester Class of 2020 joined the celebration, where all six decades of TFAS programs were represented.


Charisma Hunter ’18, ’19, a recent graduate of Virginia Tech and legal assistant at McGillivary Steele Elkin LLP, thanked campaign supporters for making her experience as a TFAS Leadership Scholar possible. “I never wanted any barrier or restrictions to interfere with my ability to work hard and become successful,” she said. “I thank this reputable and distinguished organization for equipping me to be able to do what I love, and go beyond what was ever expected of a young, first-generation college graduate, from Southwest Virginia.”

Hunter was one of 49 outstanding students selected over the past two years to receive full scholarships as TFAS Leadership Scholars. This campaign-funded program has enabled TFAS to attract the best and brightest students to attend our transformational D.C. Summer Programs and participate in year-long continuing education programming. By offering full, merit-based scholarships, we are able to recruit young leaders with the talent and drive to become game-changers in professions of public policy, journalism, law and foreign policy.

TFAS Leadership Scholar Charisma Hunter ’18, ’19, tells TFAS Founders’ Day guests about the transformational impact of campaign-funded programs.

Multi-program alumna Melanie Benit ’14, ’15, PPF ’18, provided heartfelt insights on how the TFAS Public Policy Fellowship gives intellectual leaders a necessary outlet to share and discuss ideas. An activism manager at the Institute of Justice, Benit shared how much she looked forward to her monthly Fellowship meetings when she could set her work and personal commitments aside to connect with peer leaders and discuss fundamental ideas, like those espoused in the Lincoln Douglas Debates. “It really was a wonderful time,” she said. “To let go of the burdens of today and think about the bigger picture, like the Experiment in Self-Government.”

Launched in 2008, the Public Policy Fellowship Program underwent an enriching expansion over the past two years. Thanks to campaign support, the fellowship was able to broaden its outreach to attract elite public policy leaders and create a more robust schedule with additional retreats, meetings and professional development opportunities.

Charisma Hunter ’18, ’19, Melanie Benit ’14, ’15, PPF ’18, and Matthew Taylor King, Rago 19, prepare to take the stage and share testimonial remarks on how campaign-funded programs made a lasting impact their lives.

Matthew Taylor King, Rago ’19, spoke about the rewarding experience of interning for the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal as the 2019 Joseph Rago Memorial Fellow for Excellence in Journalism.

“I’m excited to go to work every single day because I think the Rago Fellowship is the best job in the world … Thank you for ensuring that there will be a Rago Fellow for as long as we have eyes to see and ears to hear the good news from The Wall Street Journal,” said King.

Through the generous support of our campaign benefactors, TFAS Journalism Fellowships expanded over the past two years to include the Rago Fellowship with The Wall Street Journal and enriching new programming in New York City and Washington, D.C., for our network of more than 140 working reporters, editors and best-selling authors. The Rago Fellowship was established to honor Joseph Rago, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal who died too young at the age of 34. The inaugural Fellow, Elliot Kaufman, Rago ’18, was hired on full-time as an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal after the completion of his Fellowship.

Campaign Chairman Eric Tanenblatt ’87, himself an alumnus of TFAS programs, also thanked supporters and volunteers for making the campaign a success, and assured them that he too can personally attest to the power of TFAS programs.

“It was TFAS that lit the spark in me, igniting a passion for policy, politics and government and I will forever be grateful.” After attending TFAS programs, Tanenblatt went on to serve in the administrations of three U.S. presidents and is the current global chair of public policy and regulations at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm.

Over 3,700 individuals contributed to the TFAS 50th Anniversary Liberty + Leadership Campaign. We are so grateful to those who contributed and helped us reach our goal. Thank you for investing in young leaders and helping us to teach them the lessons of liberty and leadership. To read more about the impact of the campaign and Founders’ Day event, visit TFAS.org/50thGoal.

View more photos from the TFAS Founders’ Day celebration on Facebook.

Liberty + Leadership News: Winter 2020 – Featuring Impact of TFAS Campaign


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