About Grassroots Leadership Academy

What We Believe

We believe that individual liberty and economic freedom provide the greatest opportunity for every American to achieve their version of the American dream.

We are coaching concerned citizens with the skills and convictions needed to encourage their neighbors and community that our founding principles have paved the way for generations of Americans – and that they still can for generations to come.

What We Do

We empower concerned citizens by teaching the most advanced management strategies and grassroots tactics necessary to advance the values of individual liberty, economic freedom, and limited government at the local, state, and federal levels.

Through our certification courses and Insight to Action lectures, we’ve trained thousands of citizens in over 30 states. Get started today by checking out our courses and signing up for a class near you.

Who We Are

 

Thomas Bingham

Thomas Bingham

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Thomas Bingham currently works as a Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist for Grassroots Leadership Academy. Before joining GLA, Thomas worked in the Political Training Division for the Leadership Institute and managed the Campaign Management School and Campaign Data Workshop. While at LI, Thomas trained hundreds of activists on how to influence public policy.

Before joining the Leadership Institute, he worked for the National Rifle Association and managed two major elections in Montana and Northern Virginia as a Campaign Field Representative. Thomas received a B.A. in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Policy and Administration from California Lutheran University.  While in college, he worked on several campaigns in California, fundraised for California Lutheran University, and worked for the National Archive and Records Administration at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. In his personal life he enjoys the outdoors and riding motorcycles.

Ryan Black

Ryan Black

Strategic Director, Midwest

Ryan Black joined the Grassroots Leadership Academy in early 2015, coming from the Indiana chapter of Americans for Prosperity Foundation where he served as Grassroots Director.

With 15 years of experience in campaign management and grassroots organizing at the local, state, and federal levels, Ryan began his career in the early 2000’s with the Indiana House Republican Campaign Committee. During 2010 election cycle, Ryan’s campaign teams helped erase over 150 years of incumbency in Statehouse districts across Southern Indiana. Along with multiple campaign roles, Ryan also worked in the educational choice movement, where he worked to organize support for choice and reform in the Hoosier State.

Rachel Burgin

Rachel Burgin

Senior Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Rachel served as State Representative for District 56 in the Florida House of Representatives from 2008-2012. At that time, she was the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the Florida Legislature. Prior to being elected, Rachel served her community on the local and state levels with the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and the Florida House of Representatives. She also served at the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives under President George W. Bush. Rachel is passionate about grassroots movements and advancing freedom in her role as a Senior Grassroots Trainer for Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

Michael Ciccio

Michael Ciccio

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Michael joined the Grassroots Leadership Academy after serving as Field Director with Americans for Prosperity Foundation in New Hampshire. With nearly a decade of political organizing experience, he has worked as a field director for a New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate, a field representative for several congressional campaigns, and a state political committee. In addition to his grassroots organizing experience, Michael also spent several years working in the New Hampshire State Senate as a Legislative Aide. Michael has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Justice Studies from University of New Hampshire.

Cheryl Couture

Cheryl Couture

Youth Outreach Specialist

Cheryl Couture worked for Americans for Prosperity Foundation as a Field Coordinator in 2012 as well as a Field Director from 2013-2014, and a Sr. Outreach Director for the Bridge to Wellbeing from 2015-2017. Prior to joining AFP Foundation, Cheryl founded a local group that educated citizens on the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, Cheryl homeschooled her 2 sons for twelve years. She assisted local homeschool groups and presented orientations to parents who were new to homeschooling.

Daryl Ann Dunigan

Daryl Ann Dunigan

Strategic Director, Southeast

Prior to joining the Grassroots Leadership Academy, Daryl Ann worked as the Youth Leadership School Director at the Leadership Institute where she was responsible for identifying, recruiting, and training young adults across the nation.

Previously, Daryl Ann was the Campaign Manager for Jeff Thompson’s successful 2011 State Representative campaign in Louisiana. She was also the Youth Coordinator for Congressman Andy Harris’s campaign in 2010.

Daryl Ann graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Political Science and Communication Studies.

Jason Edson

Jason Edson

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Jason Edson comes to the Grassroots Leadership Academy after spending the last decade being involved in political campaigns in his home state of Massachusetts. Jason recently served as the Technology Director of the Massachusetts Federation of Young Republicans as well as serving on many local community board of directors. Jason is grounded to his community as a volunteer firefighter, serving as captain and leading their training department.

Ron Ferguson

Ron Ferguson

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Ron joined the Grassroots Leadership Academy from the Ohio chapter of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, where he served as a Senior Field Director in rural eastern Ohio. Before coming to AFPF, Ron ran for State Representative in 2014 after working five years as a television journalist, most recently at WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio. Ron was born in Florida but was raised in Ohio. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University where he majored in Communications. While enrolled at OSU, he was a Politics, Society and Law Scholar and studied abroad in Mexico City.

Rob Gutierrez

Rob Gutierrez

Senior Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Rob Gutierrez was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He attended Florida International University earning a B.S. in Criminal Justice and a certificate of Leadership Studies. Rob then attend Georgia Southern University where he completed a M.S. in Education, specializing in Higher Education Administration. Before joining GLA, Rob worked at Longwood University and served as the Education Manager for the LIBRE Institute, where he oversaw the organization’s educational programs.

Mallon Graham

Mallon Graham

Director of Leadership Development

Mallon joined the Grassroots Leadership Academy after spending the last 6 years with AFP Foundation working in donor events, team management, and executive teams. Specializing in enabling people to enjoy and achieve, Mallon is passionate about developing and maintaining organizational health and intentionally cultivating culture within an organization. A 2007 graduate of Hillsdale College and an alumnus of the Koch Associate Program, Mallon worked at the Charles Koch Institute before joining AFP Foundation. Mallon is a proud native Wisconsinite but currently lives with her husband and son in North Dakota, where her husband is a pilot for the United States Air Force.

Jhael Hakimian

Jhael Hakimian

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Jhael brings a diversity of knowledge and experiences to the Grassroots Leadership Academy. She is passionate and grateful to be educating and equipping activists with knowledge and skills necessary to advance empowering free market principles. She has broad experience in community outreach through organizing, public speaking, social media, teaching, and grassroots activism training.

Prior to joining GLA, she served as a Field Director for Americans for Prosperity Foundation in Miami, Florida where she recruited, trained, and developed grassroots activists from diverse backgrounds that shared a love of freedom.

In addition to holding a Bachelor of Science in Education and trying to change the world, Jhael and her husband Jack are raising four boys – five if you count her mini-Yorkie, Judah – in South Florida.

Kiran Hill

Kiran Hill

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Kiran Hill joined the Grassroots Leadership Academy after working for the Libre Institute in Nevada. Prior to Libre Institute, Kiran had experience organizing grassroots advocacy at the local and state level within the Republican Party. Kiran served in the U.S. Marines for 11 years, and worked as a contractor for the United States Department of Defense and the State Department in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel.

Ray Hoskins

Ray Hoskins

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Ray Hoskins is a former United States Airforce Pararescue serviceman who served his country with distinction. After serving, Ray returned to Ohio and became a youth pastor and wrestling coach. Additionally, Ray attended Ashland University where he received his Bachelor’s in Education and spent thirteen years in public education. In 2010, he enrolled in graduate school at Kaplan University where he earned his MBA. Ray eventually went on to successfully sell life insurance and help clients protect their retirement savings. He and his wife Jenny have been married for twenty years and have 5 boys together.

Matthew Hurtt

Matthew Hurtt

Senior Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Matthew currently works at Americans for Prosperity Foundation as a Senior Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist after nearly five years in fundraising for free-market organizations. In previous roles, Hurtt worked to raise millions of dollars for causes that helped to further the message of economic prosperity. Hurtt launched his career in conservative activism at the Leadership Institute where he’s trained thousands of activists across the nation. A Tennessee native, Hurtt attended Middle Tennessee State University.

Daryn Iwicki

Daryn Iwicki

Senior Strategic Director, Mid-Atlantic

Daryn joined the Grassroots Leadership Academy after serving as the New Jersey State Director for Americans for Prosperity Foundation. Daryn has years of experience as a political activist and campaign strategist. As a manager of training and curriculum, Daryn uses his experience to create materials and deliver training based upon his wealth of experience in political leadership and economic philosophies.

Prior to joining the AFP Foundation, he served in Governor Rick Scott’s administration and was the Regional Director of North Florida for Romney for President.

Jamie Jackson

Jamie Jackson

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Jamie Jackson joins the Grassroots Leadership Academy after more than ten years as an award-winning, Emmy-nominated journalist. Jamie has worked as a News Anchor and Reporter for CBS, NBC, and ABC affiliates in Ohio, Virginia, and Indiana. He also oversaw video content for The Daily Signal in Washington, D.C. During his career, he has covered countless stories spanning from local neighborhoods, Capitol Hill, and The White House.

Jamie also served as a Communications Director in the House of Representatives. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Justice Studies from James Madison University and is currently working on a master’s degree. He enjoys teaching and has been a guest lecturer at West Chester University and Wheaton College.

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson

Senior Director of Training & Curriculum

Dave Johnson has more than 30 years of experience in grassroots organizing, political advocacy and strategic messaging.

Prior to joining GLA, Dave founded several successful political consulting and public affairs firms.  One of those firms was named a “100 Best” political consulting firm by Campaigns & Elections magazine.

Previously, Dave served as Executive Director of the Republican Party of Virginia and worked in numerous positions with the National Republican Congressional Committee’s political / field division. As GLA’s Director of Training and Curriculum, Dave leads the curriculum team in the development of all training materials and ensures the trainers are up-to-date on the latest grassroots methods and best practices.

Zak Kubin

Zak Kubin

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Zak Kubin joins Grassroots Leadership Academy after spending four years at Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s Arkansas state chapter. As a Senior Field Director and Grassroots Director, Zak worked to build a state-wide grassroots community. While attending the University of Central Arkansas, Zak founded the local Youth for Ron Paul & Young Americans for Liberty chapters and served as the state chair for both. Zak resides in Arkansas where he also serves as a Company Commander in the Army National Guard.

Nick Laurila

Nick Laurila

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Nick Laurila was born and raised just outside of Chicago in Carol Stream, IL. Prior to joining the Grassroots Leadership Academy he has worked in Division I College Athletics at Michigan Technological University, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, and The Ohio State University. In his most recent role prior to GLA he served as the Video Coach for the 2018 Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Michigan Tech in 2010 and his MBA from The University of Alabama, Huntsville in 2016.

Duane Lester

Duane Lester

Strategic Director, Northwest

Duane joined Americans for Prosperity Foundation with years of experience as an independent conservative blogger and former Navy journalist. Duane started AllAmericanBlogger.com in 2007 and earned the Breitbart Blogger Award from the Heritage Foundation and the Franklin Center for Public Integrity in 2012. Additionally, he founded The Missouri Torch, focusing strictly on state-level politics which quickly grew to be the most read and influential conservative blog in the state of Missouri.

Duane now focuses on growing and improving the capabilities of conservative activists across the country through the Grassroots Leadership Academy.

Paige Lewis

Paige Lewis

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Paige “Duffy” Lewis is a South Carolina native, currently residing in Charleston. Paige joined Grassroots Leadership Academy as a Grassroots Trainer and Curriculum Specialist after nearly twenty years serving in political activism and Republican Party leadership, as well as eleven years teaching at the collegiate level. She earned her master’s degree in American history at the University of Charleston and The Citadel. Paige is also an alumna of Queens College in Charlotte, N.C., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in history, drama, and political science.

Rachel Luquette

Rachel Luquette

Program Associate

Hailing from the freedom-loving state of Texas, Rachel joins the Grassroots Leadership Academy after serving in Human Resources Operations at Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Freedom Partners Shared Services. In addition to her passion for forwarding a free and open society, she brings experiences of operations and programming to the GLA team. Rachel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from the University of Dallas.

Stephanie Maier

Stephanie Maier

Director of Youth & Special Programs

Stephanie is a political, democracy and media educator of eighteen years with work spanning thirteen countries. Stephanie’s work has included expanding democracy and free market economies overseas as well as work in campaign management and grassroots advocacy in Florida and Georgia. Stephanie works with the Grassroots Leadership Academy to educate activists on the principles of freedom, prosperity and individual liberty.

Jeb Morris

Jeb Morris

Senior Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Jeb Morris is a Senior Grassroots Trainer and Curriculum Specialist with the Grassroots Leadership Academy. Before joining GLA, Jeb previously served as Florida Deputy State Director for Generation Opportunity, Senior Field Director for Americans for Prosperity, Operations Director for the Republican Party, and helped numerous campaigns at the federal, state, and local levels. Originally from southern Maryland, Jeb started his career in Florida where he graduated from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. When not on the road with GLA, Jeb enjoys playing golf and freshwater fishing.

Carlos Muhletaler

Carlos Muhletaler

Senior Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Carlos Muhletaler joined the Grassroots Leadership Academy team after working as a Sr. Field Director for AFP Florida and later becoming a Field Relations Specialist for the Field Technology Group at AFP. Carlos has been involved in the advocacy for economic freedom and grassroots organizing for more than 20 years where he worked for advocacy organizations such as Citizens for a Sound Economy and Florida Stop Lawsuit Abuse. Carlos holds a B.A. in Political Science from Regis University and an M.A. in Latin American and Iberian Studies from Vanderbilt University.

Jenna Netherton

Jenna Netherton

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Jenna Netherton is a Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist for the Grassroots Leadership Academy. As a former state senator from South Dakota, she was elected as the youngest female legislator in the state’s history. She served as Vice Chairman of the Education and State Affairs Committees. Jenna is an advocate of liberty at home and abroad. She was honored as a top 10 conservative under the age of 40 and was invited to speak at CPAC. Jenna also received an award for Conservative Excellence from American Conservative Union and has been a delegate to Turkey and China.

Jenna is motivated by the inspirational leadership of our country’s early pioneers and strongly believes in the power of an individual to positively influence their community. She currently resides in Texas with her husband.

Mary Conway Nicholls

Mary Conway Nicholls

Strategic Director, Atlantic

Mary is an experienced grassroots organizer who has worked on local, state and federal political campaigns. Her experience includes work as National Volunteer Coordinator for McCain-Palin 2008 as well as work for the Republican Governors Association and a Colorado Congressional campaign. In 2010, Conway graduated from Suffolk University Law School and enjoys traveling across America, advancing freedom by developing field staff and activists through her role as a Strategic Director program manager.

Slade O’Brien

Slade O’Brien

Vice President

Slade O’Brien is a grassroots organizer and public affairs professional with more than 20 years of success. Slade began his career working for the Florida Republican Party before joining Citizens for a Sound Economy as Florida Director. There, he transformed the Florida chapter into a 45,000 member powerhouse. Slade served as President of Florida Strategies Group for 9 years before joining Americans for Prosperity Foundation in 2011 where he now serves as Vice President for the Grassroots Leadership Academy.

Cait Oponski

Cait Oponski

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

After spending two years owning and operating a horse ranch and trail ride company in Goodyear, AZ, Cait returns to Grassroots Leadership Academy to serve once again as a Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist. As a native Iowan and University of Iowa alumnus, Cait had the unique opportunity to work under former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad during his gubernatorial campaign and administration. She also spent time working for AFP Iowa as a Field Director and a Communications Specialist. Although Cait continues to own her own company, she’s excited to have the continued opportunity to teach the most advanced grassroots skills to communities across the country.

Brandon Osgood

Brandon Osgood

Training Communications Manager

Brandon is the Training Communications Manager for the Grassroots Leadership Academy. He joined the team after serving similar positions in nonprofit and public relations organizations. In his role with the GLA team, Brandon is able to bring his experience in communications to help educate various audiences on the importance of economic freedom and advocacy. Brandon holds a Master of Science in Communications from North Carolina State University and a Bachelor of Science in Communication: Advertising & Public Relations from Liberty University.

Louis Piche

Louis Piche

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Louis Piche serves as a Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist and is passionate about taking what he learned in the field and sharing it by training others. He joins the team after spending six years with Americans For Prosperity Foundation in Florida. He started as a volunteer for the organization and was quickly hooked on the great work he was doing. Over the next six years, Louis was promoted to serve as the Southwest Florida Field Director and then a Sr. Field Director.

Nick Reed

Nick Reed

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Nick Reed is a native Texan and joins the Grassroots Leadership Academy after working as an Executive Leadership Coach for freedom-minded thought leaders and revolutionaries. Previously, Nick served as the Director of Passage Bound, Founder of Frontier Liberty, Media Relations Coordinator for the Libertarian Party of Texas and Co-Host of The Voice of Reason Radio Show.

Carlos Reyes

Carlos Reyes

Senior Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Carlos joined Americans for Prosperity Foundation after years of experience working with an international nonprofit organization working directly with members of congress on Capitol Hill. As a Senior Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist with the Grassroots Leadership Academy, Carlos is able to use his experiences to educate grassroots leaders on tactics and strategies for creating effective freedom based movements.

Carlos graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Business Administration from the University of Central Florida and is a proud Floridian. He enjoys spending time with his family and watching college football.

Janisset Rivero

Janisset Rivero

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Janisset Rivero is a Grassroots Trainer and Curriculum Specialist. Janisset graduated with a degree in Communications and Advertising in Caracas and earned a BA and MA in Spanish from Florida International University. Janisset has been recognized as an important Cuban human rights activist. As an Executive Director of Cuban Democratic Directorate, she represented Cuban’s struggle for freedom and democracy at the UN’s Human Rights Council and OAS’s Inter American Commission for Human Rights. She has been recognized by the City of Boston and the US Congress for her efforts. Janisset is a published author and a frequent Op-Ed contributor. Prior to her position at GLA, Janisset worked as the South Florida Field Director for The Libre Initiative.

Paige Kaylor Ruddy

Paige Kaylor Ruddy

Training Operations Manager

At Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Paige is the Training Operations Manager for the Grassroots Leadership Academy. Since joining the network in 2011, Paige has been a strong advocate for team culture. During her tenure, she’s served in numerous roles, consistently finding ways to embrace change, innovate, and leverage her comparative advantages for the team and network.

Prior to joining GLA, Paige received her Masters in Business Administration from Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and a BA in Business Management from Sweet Briar College along with a certificate in Equine Management.

Christopher Stio

Christopher Stio

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Prior to joining GLA, Christopher served in the Bush Administration as a Special Assistant in the Department of Labor’s Center for Faith-Based & Community Initiatives. He also served as the Director of Campus Leadership & Core Schools at The Leadership Institute.  At The Leadership Institute, he trained thousands of activists across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Additionally, he was the Field Representative for the Bush/Cheney ’04 campaign in the Thumb region of Michigan. He holds degrees in Political Science and History from Rutgers University. He lives in Virginia with his wife, Laurie, and son, Teddy.

Caleb Stokes

Caleb Stokes

Strategic Director, Southwest

Prior to joining Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Caleb trained extensively at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, where he was a member of their 2011 Off-Broadway Repertory Company. A lifelong conservative, with experience working with grassroots efforts in over a dozen campaigns, Caleb left theatre full-time to fight for limited government after spending a year at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Mississippi.

Rhachel Toombs

Rhachel Toombs

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Rhachel Toombs joined the Americans for Prosperity Foundation after previous roles in education and grassroots organizing. Rhachel launched her career in political activism as a Field Director with Americans for Prosperity. In this role, she developed and implemented the Torchbearer Program, created AFP’s first recruitment script, and facilitated the only AFP regional Facebook group. As an educator Rhachel taught hundreds, including living in Beijing, China to teach ESL and serve as a missionary. A native of Florida, Rhachel graduated from Rollins College with a B.A. in Music.

Boaz Witbeck

Boaz Witbeck

Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Boaz Witbeck is a Grassroots Trainer and Curriculum Specialist, joining AFP Foundation in Dec. 2016. He previously served as Americans for Prosperity: Arizona’s Policy Analyst and as Policy Director beginning July 2016. Boaz has been involved in grassroots activism for over 5 years through political, media, and governmental positions. Boaz is a proud Sun Devil, receiving B.S. degrees in Economics and Political Science along with a master’s degree in Public Administration from Arizona State University. Boaz is the only brother of three younger sisters and enjoys staying active by hiking, biking, and playing tennis in the Phoenix area.