More than 110 TFAS alumni, supporters and friends convened in beautiful Colorado Springs for the 2015 Leadership Conference on Oct. 22 – 24 at the Broadmoor Resort.
Co-hosted by TFAS and its strategic partner, the Foundation for Teaching Economics (FTE), the conference focused on how to “Make the Case for a Free Society” in panel discussions, lectures, hands on activities and more.
My weekend at the Leadership Conference was a great opportunity to reconnect with TFAS, learn about the important work they continue to do and spend a few days re-focusing myself on the important issues facing our country, while reflecting on just how big of an impact my summer with TFAS had on me.” – Dan Sepion ’99
Prior to the opening remarks by Gary Walton Award recipient Terry Anderson at Friday evening’s dinner, TFAS and FTE held board and council meetings to discuss upcoming goals and plans for the coming year as well as reflect on successes from the past year.
Saturday of the conference was a day overflowing with topics and ideas surrounding TFAS and its role in a free society.
In the “A View from the State Capitals” panel, TFAS alumni gave attendees an overlook of the innovative ideas and programs happening in their states. Iowa State Rep. Ken Rizer (ICPES 86), former Texas State Rep. Dan Branch (ICPES 77) and Ohio State Rep. Robert Cupp (ICPES 71) spoke on important issues impacting their states and gave examples on how state policies affect people in their daily lives.
The panelists discussed state initiatives on education and the economics of state budgets. Guests heard how alumni leaders in these areas are using ideas they learned though TFAS to combat federal government overreach, to make their states more productive, and to provide free market solutions to state and local issues.
After the alumni panel, columnist Melanie Sturm of Think Again, USA made a presentation about ways to find common ground in our polarized political world.
“If we provide a human face to ideas and values, we can reclaim our political culture and we can bolster our free society one impressionable person at a time,” Sturm said.
Sturm presented attendees with real life examples on ‘how to meet someone halfway’ when speaking about sensitive political subjects. She brought to light the ways different parties use quantitative or qualitative data to make their arguments and provided examples using her own experiences. Sturm reminded the guests to “Think Again,” because everyone can find a middle ground.
Later during the always popular “Inside the Classroom” panel, attendees got an up close look at what TFAS and FTE students learn during their courses. Guests had the chance to hear more about the upcoming inaugural summer program “Leadership and The American Presidency” that begins next June. George Mason University economist Matt Mitchell made a presentation about the sharing economy, which was adapted from his TFAS course on the Economics of Regulation.
FTE teacher Tom Rooney led guests in a classroom exercise about foreign exchange currency rates and world markets. In an activity geared toward high school students, volunteers were encouraged to use “classroom bucks” to purchase candy. There were market situations, exchange rates and real candy bars.
The volunteers “competed” for the candy by bidding with their international currency for “classroom bucks” which got them one step closer to purchasing the candy. Rooney used this method to explain how product prices can remain the same while exchange rates of currency can appreciate and depreciate.
Rooney explained this was one of the many ways he made learning fun, rather than simply replacing learning with fun.
“I say to my students, my job is not called a ‘fun-er;’ I’m a ‘teach-er,’ and my job is teach you,” Rooney said. “I want you to have fun because you learn more when you have fun.”
During lunch, Weekly Standard columnist Steve Hayes (AIPES 94, Novak 00) and executive editor Fred Barnes gave their take on politics in Washington providing examples on where our country was and where it is now. Barnes spoke about his most recent book “Jack Kemp” and told stories about Kemp’s life, highlighting events in Washington from his days there. Hayes praised Barnes on his successful career in journalism and told the crowd that he got his start by following in Barnes’ footsteps and thanked TFAS for the role it played in his career.
The weekend concluded with a dinner with keynote speaker Jonah Goldberg of the National Review. Goldberg gave an overview of where we stand today in the “fight for freedom.”
“The second you forget that the fight needs to be fought every single day by groups like The Fund for American Studies, that’s when we give up,” Goldberg said.
Throughout the entire weekend, attendees like Paul McDonough (ICPES 84) had the opportunity to engage with one another and were reminded of the important values that TFAS holds dear.
“We enjoyed the conference as a unique family gathering,” said McDonough, who attended with his wife and two of their children. “Our family thoroughly enjoyed all of the programs, especially the highly engaging panel discussions and listening to the nationally renowned syndicated columnists Fred Barnes, Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg. The opportunity to meet and interact with other friends of TFAS within the majestic setting of the Broadmoor Resort is an experience we will treasure forever.”
Thank you to the 2015 Leadership Conference sponsors, alumni, supporters and friends. Without your generosity and involvement, events like these would not be possible. Thank you for helping us “Make the Case for a Free Society.”
To learn more about the speakers, topics and ideas discussed at the leadership conference, please visit TFAS.org/LC2015.
To view photos from the conference, please visit TFAS.org/photos.
Save the date! The 2016 Leadership Conference is in Charleston, South Carolina on Nov. 11 – 12, 2016.