Are free-markets dead? Not a chance. Tomorrow’s leaders are already paving the way for a freer nation and world. Young entrepreneurs and activists including Cindy Cerquitella of America’s Future; Amanda Covo of Teneo Network; and Marissa Gaston of Washington Policy Center join host and DonorsTrust Vice President Peter Lipsett on the latest episode of Giving Ventures to share how they’re fanning the flames of freedom in their respective communities.
Community Building for Liberty
Many want to create positive change in their community but how do you take that desire and turn it into action? Enter America’s Future. The membership organization has chapters nationwide to build community and act as a resource for those that want to advance liberty in their hometown.
“What we find is that young people are looking for opportunities to connect with people who share their values and they’re looking for ways to take action. They don’t want to be on the sidelines of life,” says Cindy Cerquitella, executive director of America’s Future.
America’s Future has ten chapters in cities across the country and the programming focuses on issues facing young people. A recent event, for example, titled “Not in My Backyard: How Housing Regulations Prevent the American Dream,” focused on ways to fix our housing crisis.
Resume Building for Liberty
In addition to its long-running writing fellows program, America’s Future runs a new activist-training program, titled the GO! Fellowship, and every year hosts the Buckley Awards, which honor individuals that have made a significant contribution to advance liberty at home or abroad.
It’s also home to Talent Market, a job bank and recruitment agency that America’s Future recently acquired. At the helm is Claire Kittle Dixon, who made a name for herself in conservative and libertarian circles recruiting the brightest minds in the liberty movement.
“Believe it or not, Peter, young people want jobs. They are eager to get to work, and one thing that we have found that’s really interesting is over 60% of people involved with AF on the ground across the country have never really interacted with a free-market think tank before.”
Their involvement with America’s Future, however, inspires them to look for work in the freedom movements, says Cindy. That’s where Talent Market comes into play, farming out the best talent to state and national think tanks and free-market nonprofits around the country.
Influencing Industry Leaders
Those at Teneo Network similarly help find and foster conservative talent. While America’s Future specifically seeks to serve as a networking facilitator, Teneo identifies conservative talent across industries and provides a platform for young industry leaders to influence change.
“Teneo’s focus is on developing the right leaders and then deploying those leaders to take our shared ideas to board rooms and editorial rooms and Silicon Valley and the White House and so on,” says Amanda Covo, director of communications at Teneo Network.
Its ultimate goal is to foster conversations and advance ideas that create the conditions for human flourishing, creating a gathering space for professionals from different fields to come together, bounce ideas off one another and go out and influence their industry in a meaningful way.
“So, put simply, our work is to replicate within Teneo what the Federalist Society accomplished—what Leonard and others were able to do within law, we’ll now do in finance and business and media and technology and beyond,” says Amanda.
“So, what we’re building within Teneo the capacity to leverage friendship and talent and ideas to really capture the gaze of the industries that define our culture and shape our society and implement it at a much larger scale.”
Events are King
Few are engaging up-and-coming leaders better than Marissa Gaston, young professionals director at the Washington Policy Center. While Teneo focuses on industry, the team at the Washington Policy Center work to empower free-market leaders throughout Washington state.
“I think that more even than crisply presented policy—or excellently formulated policy solutions that we share with them—the magic ingredient, the secret sauce is the community, is—not to be too quantitative-sounding about it—but to create a positive emotional experience,” says Marissa.
The programming agenda for the young professionals program is robust, as Marissa runs a summer social series; a monthly book club in Seattle and the Tri-Cities; small happy hours; and volunteer opportunities, including a joint WPC/DonorsTrust volunteer day at a park in Seattle.
Perhaps what most sets the Washington Policy Center young professionals team apart, however, is how intentional they are about creating a welcoming environment and building a network of members that consistently show up to be part of the conversation and to make a difference in their communities.
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