LEAD 2021 Speakers

Check back for new speakers—added every week!

House & Senate Track Speakers & Coaches

James Muffett
Founder & President, Student Statesmanship Institute

James MuffettJames has been active in Michigan’s public arena for over 30 years. Married to Margot since 1979, a father of 5, former pastor, nationally recognized spokesperson for traditional family values in Michigan, statewide organizational leader, and passionate citizen – he brings an experienced view and vibrant vision to Michigan’s cultural landscape. His perspective on how the Bible, history of our nation, current times, and future tie together inspires everyone, leading them into effective cultural engagement – whether running for office, educating their church, or simply enhancing their appreciation of our religious freedom. His motivational speaking inspires and trains leaders for this and the next generation. James’ bucket list includes a visit to an SSI alum in the oval office.

Aimee Chauvin - Senate Instructor

Aimee has been working with SSI since 2015 as the Director of Programs.  Before hiring on, she had attended SSI as a student twice and volunteered as an ADC for four years.  Aimee has experience as a tutor, and for five years after graduating high school she worked with homeschool groups and co-ops offering classes in math, English, speech, debate, and American Sign Language.  She loves helping people understand things which is why the environment at LEAD is so perfect for her.  Aimee also enjoys coaching the Lansing area homeschool junior high soccer team (LA Dragons) and playing music in her spare time (especially show tunes). 

Lennie Mailand - Worldview Instructor
For nearly forty years, Mr. Mailand has worked in the field of education at the college and secondary level as an administrator, teacher, and coach. He has taught classes in a variety of subjects including Bible, apologetics, history, government, and comparative world-views. Along the way, he was able to attend seminars conducted by Dr. David Nobel, founder of Summit Ministries. In his own teaching he has utilized an adaptation of the “Understanding the Times” curriculum. His other contributions have included curriculum development, teacher training, and coaching where his teams have recently won three National Homeschool Soccer Championships.
Scott Greenlee
Scott Greenlee is a lifelong Michigander who is the President of Greenlee Consulting, a full service political and corporate consulting firm with operations throughout Michigan, an Asian office in Manila, the Philippines, and clients worldwide.  Scott has served the State of Michigan as Export Director at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and in the Executive Office of Attorney General Bill Schuette.  He was elected and served as the International President of Junior Chamber International (global arm of the Jaycees) for the 2007 year and also serves on the Board of Directors for Police Week Michigan, the Kiwanis Club of East Lansing, the Michigan District of Kiwanis, the Kiwanis Foundation of Michigan, and is appointed to Chair the International Kiwanis Partnership committee currently.  He has served on many other boards and in roles supporting community causes over the years.  An accomplished and experienced speaker, Scott has spoken in front of groups ranging from 2 people to over 20,000, has shared the stage with world leaders, and looks forward to sharing tips about public speaking to our group. 
Rusty Hills
Rusty Hills is a lecturer in Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.  He has spent the better part of three decades in public service and politics. Most recently, Hills served as Senior Advisor in the Michigan Department of Attorney General.  He was twice elected unanimously to serve as Chair of the Michigan Republican Party, and served ten years as one of Governor John Engler’s chief lieutenants.Prior to politics, Hills worked as a reporter and anchorman for CBS and NBC television and radio affiliates in Michigan cities including Lansing, Jackson, and Flint, as well as South Bend, Indiana. 
DeeDee Briski
DeeDee Briski holds a Liberal Arts degree from Macomb Community College with a specialization in journalism and certification in Behavioral Sciences. A former newspaper journalist, she is also certified with the Macomb Literacy Partners as an English as a Second Language and reading tutor. She authored the book “Impressive Deception / Creation or Evolution — You Decide” in 2004.
Sen. Lana Theis
State Sen. Lana Theis was elected to the Michigan Senate in November 2018 after serving four years in the Michigan House. Theis serves as the chair of the Insurance Committee and Education Committee and vice chair of the Regulatory Reform Committee. She is also a member of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and Oversight committees. 

Lana Theis attended California State University Fullerton where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry. She was elected treasurer of Brighton Township in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012. Theis has served on the Brighton Planning Commission and Brighton Area Fire Authority. She is the immediate past chairperson of the Brighton Area Fire Authority, Livingston County Republican Party and Livingston County Treasurers Association. 

Theis and her husband Sam have two children, Jacob and Gabrielle. 

The Honorable David Rutledge
Rutledge recently completed his final term representing Michigan’s 54th District. This fall, he begins serving as Central Michigan University’s sixth Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government.

The endowed position honors CMU alumni Sen. Robert P. Griffin, who graduated in 1947, and Marjorie Griffin, who graduated in 1944. The Griffin chair leads the university’s efforts to elevate political awareness and activity among students, faculty and citizens.

Throughout his years in public service, Rutledge served in positions including United States Air Force captain, Superior Township supervisor, Washtenaw County Road Commission chair and Washtenaw Community College trustee. As a representative, Rutledge served as minority vice chair on the military and veterans affairs committee as well as a member of the local government committee and transportation and infrastructure committee.

Today, appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, he serves as a member of the Michigan Veterans Facility Authority, which is charged with building and operating high-quality living facilities for disabled and elderly veterans.

Aaron Wentz
Aaron Wentz was saved in 1992 while studying music as a percussion major at the Interlochen Arts Academy in northern Michigan. Aaron’s conversion was so profound that he immediately started telling people about Jesus and joined two music groups touring the United States, sharing his personal testimony. 

In 1994, Aaron went to the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Evangelism and Discipleship. Three years later, Aaron and his wife, Tonya, joined Open Air Campaigners (OAC), a street evangelism organization dedicated to preaching the Gospel to children on the street, college campuses, and inner-city neighborhoods. Upon graduation, Aaron and Tonya moved to Boston and served with OAC for 15 years. This gave Aaron the opportunity to talk to college students, professors, scientists, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, and everyone in-between, teaching him how to use apologetics to share the Gospel. 

In 2011, Aaron graduated from Biola University in southern California with a Master’s Degree in Christian Apologetics. Two years later, the Wentz’s moved back to Michigan and started the ministry of The Michigan School of Apologetics. Additionally, Aaron works as a Reliant campus missionary at Michigan State University in partnership with Riverview Church and conducts seminars at other local churches.  

Media Track Speakers & Coaches

Zeke Talmage - Track Instructor

Zeke has been attending the Student Statesmanship Institute since 2006, first as a student and then as an aide-de-camp helping with the Media Track. In 2014 he took on the role of Broadcast Director and then moved on to become the Media track instructor, where he has been ever since. In his youth, he had such jobs as paper boy, fencing instructor, Awana leader, philanthropist, cameraman, video editor, and library page but now finds purpose impacting the future generations by teaching classical fencing and LEGO robotics to 1st-12th graders. In his spare time, you may find him studying Italian martial arts from the 14th-19th centuries, listening to audio books, or debating literary canon.

Dan Armstrong
Dan Armstrong is the corporate communications specialist for Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability and Filtering in Owosso, MI. He handles the public relations and promotion of the company. Prior to his current role, Dan directed the marketing and communications department at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and spent 10 years as a television news anchor and reporter at two NBC stations in Michigan. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television Broadcasting from Bob Jones University and master’s degree in Journalism from Regent University. He and his wife Amber have four kids with a fifth on the way.
Kendall Wingrove
Kendall Wingrove took a position with the Michigan State Police Office of Highway Safety Planning in March of 2015. Kendall was formerly the Senior Writer at Delta Dental since 2011. Before that he worked in the Communications Department of the Senate Republicans, where he started in October 2005 after many years as a press secretary in the Michigan House. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree from Michigan State University. Kendall is also a free-lance historical writer and columnist who is regularly featured on the editorial page of several Michigan newspapers.
Matt Sowash - Week 3
Matt Sowash is a lobbyist with the multi-client firm Michigan Legislative Consultants with a variety of corporate clients, associations, and non-profits.  

Prior to joining MLC, Matt served as legislative director and the point person on policy with the House Commerce and Trade Committee. Matt was integral in setting the committee strategy and moving policy development through the committee. He quickly developed a reputation of being able to get things done and is known for his trust and results-driven attitude. Matt’s experience working daily with multiple legislators in the Michigan House of Representatives positions him as a genuine and impactful lobbyist. Matt also held other positions in the State House and was an analyst with the legislative corrections ombudsman. 

As an entrepreneur, Matt started Sowash Strategies, a political consulting firm based in Lansing, Michigan. Matt worked with over 15 House and Senate candidates during the 2014 election, winning elections with over 90 percent of the legislators he consulted. 

Matt holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Economics from Calvin College and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Michigan State University. 

Outside of work, Matt likes spending time outdoors, hunting, fishing, and golfing. He is also an avid sports fan and enjoys playing hockey. Matt, his wife Megan, daughter Madelyn, and son Henry reside in Delta Township on the west side of Lansing. 

Business Track Speakers & Coaches – Week 1

Gary W. Britten - Track Instructor
Gary W. Britten is a 1973 graduate of the University of Michigan School of Business and a 1976 graduate of the University of Detroit School of Law. He has been on the faculty of the Gainey School of Business at Spring Arbor University for twenty-eight years, teaching law and strategy courses.
Ryan Kolis - Track Instructor
Ryan Kolis attended Macomb Community College to earn his Associates Degree in general business and was on MCC dean’s list. He also attended Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration. He has worked as a high school math tutor since 2008.
James Muffett - Speaker

Founder & President, Student Statesmanship Institute

James MuffettJames has been active in Michigan’s public arena for over 30 years. Married to Margot since 1979, a father of 5, former pastor, nationally recognized spokesperson for traditional family values in Michigan, statewide organizational leader, and passionate citizen – he brings an experienced view and vibrant vision to Michigan’s cultural landscape. His perspective on how the Bible, history of our nation, current times, and future tie together inspires everyone, leading them into effective cultural engagement – whether running for office, educating their church, or simply enhancing their appreciation of our religious freedom. His motivational speaking inspires and trains leaders for this and the next generation. James’ bucket list includes a visit to an SSI alum in the oval office.

Alicia Ceccarelli
Alicia Ceccarelli was born into a family of entrepreneurs and her parents ran their company out of the home. Being immersed in business at a young age laid the foundation for a future in real estate and business ownership.  Through their Christian home, her parents also instilled Alicia with a passion for working for God’s glory. As an adult, Alicia has spent almost 20 years in real estate and co-owns a multi million-dollar structural repair company with her husband Craig. Their company has been honored with several awards including placing in the Inc.5000 list for the past three years. Alicia’s background in business and passion for Christian education came together in unexpected ways this past year when she became the Head of School at Washtenaw Christian Academy (WCA) in Saline. She has been honored to be a part of God’s plan for WCA, including a new vision and subsequent historic growth. Together with Craig, she has three children who attend WCA. When she is not working, you can find her cheering much too loudly at her kids’ basketball games or renovating her 100 year old farm house. 
Keith Granger
During more than 30 years at Granger Waste Services, Keith has watched his family business grow from a small waste hauling company into a comprehensive firm providing waste collection, disposal and recycling services. As chief executive officer, Keith has experience advancing a diverse range of product lines by capitalizing on technology, innovation, and planned growth. His focus on developing relationships and business practices centered on integrity and mutual respect has given Granger a trusted foundation and an ideal market position. 

Before becoming CEO, Keith spent 14 years guiding the sales, marketing, and operational aspects of the company. Under his leadership, Granger experienced unprecedented growth in residential waste hauling, and his direction to promote operational efficiency helped establish recycling operations into a viable business venture with greater benefits for the community. Keith holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Hope College and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan. He serves on several boards, including chairing the Board of Directors of Granger Waste Services.  

Keith resides in East Lansing with his wife Lisa and has three grown children. In both his professional and personal life, Keith relies on his Christian beliefs to guide him.  

Blaine Schultz
Blaine Schultz is the President of the AccessPoint Staffing Division and responsible for the day-to-day management of the staff, financial, accounting, and computer operations. Prior to joining AccessPoint in 2014, Blaine was President of Advance Employment. Previous positions include Controller of the Michigan Republican State Committee from and an accountant at Lindell Drop Forge. Blaine received a B.S. in Accounting from Michigan State University in 1986.
Diane Smith
ChoiceTel’s President, Diane Smith, has more than 30 years of telecommunications experience in a wide range of specialties including consulting, voice, data, cyber security, and telephone equipment.  Diane has worked across many different vertical markets from large corporations, such as Enterprise, to medium sized organizations.  Diane has participated in several government cyber and technology missions and helps with several committees in the State of Michigan, such as the Broadband Committee. 

Mock Trial Speakers & Coaches – Week 2

Scott Robe - Track Instructor
Scott M. Robe, Esq., earned an A.B. degree summa cum laude in History at Ohio University in 1984. He received a Master of Public Policy and a Juris Doctor degree from Regent University in 1986 and 1989 respectively. He passed the Virginia Bar Exam in 1989, the District of Columbia exam in 1990, and the Ohio exam in 1991, and is admitted to practice in each of those jurisdictions.
Steve Jentzen - Track Instructor
Steven M. Jentzen, founder of Steven M. Jentzen, P.C., has been in private practice for over 30 years and provides a broad range of legal services to clients throughout Michigan. He has participated in landmark cases in family law, land development, free speech, and religious liberty, is a Fellow of the Michigan State Bar, listed in Who’s Who in American Law, and affiliated with several national attorney associations. Jentzen graduated from the University of Detroit School of Law in 1978. He received a B.A. in History cum laude from Colorado State University in 1975, where he was a Rhodes Scholar Nominee, recipient of the Merrill-Gheen Award, and captain of the Colorado State University Wrestling Team.
Justin Robe - Track Coach

Justin Robe works down in the hinterlands of Southeastern Ohio as an Intervention Specialist at a small high school. While not born in that area, Justin lives in Athens, Ohio and has for the vast majority of his life. He went to school for many years and graduated several times, most recently from Ohio University, where he worked on Mathematics, History, and Education. In his free time, which is not much, Justin enjoys collecting (and then reading) books and keeps in decent shape playing and reffing soccer. Justin went to SSI as a student for 4 years some years ago and now comes back each summer to help coach the Mock Trial track as well as the Campaign track. 

The Honorable Michael Schipper
The Honorable Michael Schipper was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the Barry County District Court in July of 2011.  He was elected by the people of Barry County in 2012 and served a 6-year term. After earning an economics degree from Hope College in 1985 and going on graduate from The Ohio State University College of Law in 1988, Judge Schipper began his legal career in Grand Rapids at the Clary Nantz law firm.  He also acted as the prosecutor for the City of Kentwood and served for 20 years in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Grand Rapids.  Judge Schipper’s most cherished accomplishments, however, come from his work with kids.  He has coached sports for over 20 years.  He currently coaches both football and swimming at Hastings High School.  He also is a regular speaker at all of the schools in Barry County and shares about topics such as teen crime, leadership, the proper role of a judge in our system of government, and the Constitution.  
Thomas Emery
Thomas J. Emery is a retired Michigan Assistant Attorney General where he served for 25 years, having achieved the position of Assistant in Charge of the Natural Resources and Environment Division. He conducted extensive water and air pollution litigation in both state and federal courts. He also provided legal counsel to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, Water Resources Commission, and Air Pollution Control Commission. In addition, he is a retired Colonel from the Michigan Army National Guard with 32 years combined active duty service in the U.S. Army and reserve component service. He served as a military lawyer and ultimately as Michigan’s State Judge Advocate. He now serves as the Perry Township Attorney in Shiawassee County.  

Moot Court Speakers & Coaches – Week 2

Reka Holley - Track Instructor
A LEAD alumna and Moot Court instructor, Reka Holley earned both her law degree and her Master’s in Government from Regent University in Virginia. She has served as a summer associate with the American Center for Law and Justice, a legislative aide in the Michigan House of Representatives, and currently works with the Michigan Agency for Energy. She is a member of the Michigan Bar Association.
The Honorable Elizabeth Clement
Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court

Justice Elizabeth T. Clement joined the Michigan Supreme Court on November 17, 2017, becoming the 113th Justice and the 11th woman to serve on the bench. Before her appointment by Governor Rick Snyder, she served as chief legal counsel for the Governor, advising him on a wide variety of legal, legislative, and policy matters. She previously held the positions of cabinet secretary and deputy chief of staff as well as deputy legal counsel in the Governor’s Office.

Clement was licensed to the State Bar of Michigan in 2002. She graduated from the Michigan State University College of Law that same year where she served as an executive member of the Moot Court Board. She attended Michigan State University on an academic scholarship and graduated in 1999 with a B.A. in political science. Justice Clement lives with her husband and their four children in East Lansing.

The Honorable Stephen Markman
Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court

A former appeals court judge, federal prosecutor, U.S. Assistant Attorney General, and U.S. Senate counsel, the Honorable Stephen Markman serves as Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and held the office of Chief Justice from 2017-2019. An accomplished scholar, he teaches constitutional law at Hillsdale College and has authored articles for publications such as the Stanford Law Review, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, and numerous others. He has traveled to Ukraine on two occasions on behalf of the State Department to provide assistance in the development of that nation’s post-Soviet constitution. A Fellow of the Michigan Bar Foundation, he is also a Master of the Bench of the Inns of Court and a member of the One Hundred Club. Justice Markman has spoken before hundreds of youth, civic, charitable, and legal groups throughout Michigan and nationally and has coached Little League baseball and basketball. He lives with his wife Mary Kathleen in Mason and has two sons, James and Charles. 

 

 

William Wagner
Professor William Wagner is an internationally recognized expert in constitutional law and good governance. As lead amicus counsel in various matters before the U.S. Supreme Court, he authored briefs on behalf of various Christian organizations. He also authored written testimony, evidence, and briefs in such forums as the Swedish Supreme Court, the U.S. Congress, and the U.K. Parliament. He has further addressed many executive, legislative, parliamentary, and judicial audiences throughout the world, and presented at various diplomatic forums including the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Professor Wagner’s public service includes serving as a Federal judge in the United States Courts, legal counsel in the U.S. Senate, senior assistant United States attorney in the Department of Justice, and as an American diplomat, as well as a special appointment as Commissioner to Canada. His writing is published in numerous journals, books, and other publications. 

 

 

The Honorable Brian Zahra
Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court

Justice Brian K. Zahra was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court on January 14, 2011, by Governor Rick Snyder. Prior to serving on the Supreme Court, he served 12 years on the Michigan Court of Appeals and 4 years on the Wayne County Circuit Court. He is currently a senior fellow of Law and Public Policy at the University of Michigan Dearborn and is also involved with many civic & charitable organizations. He resides in Northville Township with his wife, Suzanne, and their two children.

Campaign Track Speakers & Coaches – Week 3

Justin Robe - Track Instructor
Teacher

Justin Robe works down in the hinterlands of Southeastern Ohio as an Intervention Specialist at a small high school. While not born in that area, Justin lives in Athens, Ohio and has for the vast majority of his life. He went to school for many years and graduated several times, most recently from Ohio University, where he worked on Mathematics, History, and Education. In his free time, which is not much, Justin enjoys collecting (and then reading) books and keeps in decent shape playing and reffing soccer. Justin went to SSI as a student for 4 years some years ago and now comes back each summer to help coach the Mock Trial track as well as the Campaign track.

James Muffett - Speaker
Founder & President, Student Statesmanship Institute

James MuffettJames has been active in Michigan’s public arena for over 30 years. Married to Margot since 1979, a father of 5, former pastor, nationally recognized spokesperson for traditional family values in Michigan, statewide organizational leader, and passionate citizen – he brings an experienced view and vibrant vision to Michigan’s cultural landscape. His perspective on how the Bible, history of our nation, current times, and future tie together inspires everyone, leading them into effective cultural engagement – whether running for office, educating their church, or simply enhancing their appreciation of our religious freedom. His motivational speaking inspires and trains leaders for this and the next generation. James’ bucket list includes a visit to an SSI alum in the oval office.

Aaron Wentz
Campus Missionary, Reliant

Aaron Wentz was saved in 1992 while studying music as a percussion major at the Interlochen Arts Academy in northern Michigan. Aaron’s conversion was so profound, he immediately started telling people about Jesus and joined two music groups touring the United States, sharing his personal testimony.

In 1994, Aaron went to the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Evangelism and Discipleship. Three years later, Aaron and his wife, Tonya, joined Open Air Campaigners, a street evangelism organization dedicated to preaching the gospel on the street, college campuses, and inner-city neighborhoods to children. Upon graduation, Aaron and Tonya moved to Boston and served with OAC in Boston for 15 years. The experience of street evangelism gave Aaron the opportunity to talk to college students, professors, scientists, Muslims, atheists, Hindu’s, and everyone in-between. It was this experience that gave Aaron the vast background to know how to use apologetics and the gospel with people, young and old, from all walks of life.

In 2011, Aaron graduated from Biola University in southern California with a Master’s Degree in Christian Apologetics. Two years later, the Wentz’s moved back to Michigan and started the ministry of The Michigan School of Apologetics. Currently, Aaron is a campus missionary with Reliant serving with Riverview Church at Michigan State University. Besides working full-time as a missionary, Aaron conducts seminars with the Michigan School of Apologetics.

Dan Armstrong
Dan Armstrong is the corporate communications specialist for Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability and Filtering in Owosso, MI. He handles the public relations and promotion of the company. Prior to his current role, Dan directed the marketing and communications department at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and spent 10 years as a television news anchor and reporter at two NBC stations in Michigan. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television Broadcasting from Bob Jones University and master’s degree in Journalism from Regent University. He and his wife Amber have four kids with a fifth on the way.
Kendall Wingrove
Kendall Wingrove took a position with the Michigan State Police Office of Highway Safety Planning in March of 2015. Kendall was formerly the Senior Writer at Delta Dental since 2011. Before that he worked in the Communications Department of the Senate Republicans, where he started in October 2005 after many years as a press secretary in the Michigan House. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree from Michigan State University. Kendall is also a free-lance historical writer and columnist who is regularly featured on the editorial page of several Michigan newspapers.
Kaylee Mead
Kaylee Mead began working for the Michigan House of Representatives as a legislative intern in 2011. While a student at Central Michigan University, Mead participated in their Capital City Internship Program and interned for former Representative Kevin Cotter. In 2012, she interned for former Representative Jon Bumstead. Shortly after her internship began with Rep. Jon Bumstead she was promoted to a full-time job as his Legislative Aide. In 2014, Mead began working for former Speaker Pro-Tempore Tom Leonard as his Legislative Aide. She continued working for him while he served as Speaker of the House as the Director of District and External Affairs until she left his legislative office in January 2018 and became the Campaign Coordinator for his campaign for Michigan Attorney General. She was instrumental in his victory at the Republican State Convention in August 2018 and continued working for his campaign through the general election. Mead currently serves as the Legislative Director for State Representative Annette Glenn.  

Kaylee Mead graduated from Central Michigan University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science Degree; she studied Political Science with a focus in Public Administration, and History. Mead has lived in Livingston County for four years and currently lives in Howell with her husband Sean and their puppy, Lincoln.  

Matt Sowash
Matt Sowash is a lobbyist with the multi-client firm Michigan Legislative Consultants with a variety of corporate clients, associations, and non-profits.  

Prior to joining MLC, Matt served as legislative director and the point person on policy with the House Commerce and Trade Committee. Matt was integral in setting the committee strategy and moving policy development through the committee. He quickly developed a reputation of being able to get things done and is known for his trust and results-driven attitude. Matt’s experience working daily with multiple legislators in the Michigan House of Representatives positions him as a genuine and impactful lobbyist. Matt also held other positions in the State House and was an analyst with the legislative corrections ombudsman. 

As an entrepreneur, Matt started Sowash Strategies, a political consulting firm based in Lansing, Michigan. Matt worked with over 15 House and Senate candidates during the 2014 election, winning elections with over 90 percent of the legislators he consulted. 

Matt holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Economics from Calvin College and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Michigan State University. 

Outside of work, Matt likes spending time outdoors, hunting, fishing, and golfing. He is also an avid sports fan and enjoys playing hockey. Matt, his wife Megan, daughter Madelyn, and son Henry reside in Delta Township on the west side of Lansing. 

Peter Baergen
Peter Baergen is SSI’s Director of Communications/IT. He came to SSI after five years of involvement in political campaigns and communications in Michigan, Virginia, Mississippi, and Kentucky, including roles as Deputy Campaign Manager for a U.S. Congressman and general consultant for candidates across the state. When he’s not working, you might find him volunteering in his local church, going door-to-door for a local campaign, or just hanging out at a local city council meeting.
Joslyn Nelkie - Track Leader
Joslyn first attended SSI in 2016 and fell in love with the atmosphere and the people. She developed an interest in politics and campaigning at the age of thirteen and continues to be involved in her not-so-free free time. A former member of the Tawas Bay Figure Skating Club, she has also served as a 4-H Ambassador. Joslyn enjoys spending time with family and helping out on the family farm. She is blessed to have fifteen siblings through the foster care system and is excited to see where God leads her in life. She is currently SSI’s Executive Administrator.    
LEAD is a week-long, hands-on leadership experience for high school students that empowers them to change their world. Click here to learn more about how you can attend LEAD this summer!

Week 1: June 20-25, 2021

Week 2: July 11-15, 2021

Week 3: July 25-30, 2021

For media inquiries, please contact James Muffett at 517-321-6233 or james@ssionline.org.

Past Speakers

Each week of camp, students hear from and are coached by experts in the legislative, media, business, judicial, and campaign fields. Past speakers and coaches have included…

 

Greg Kelley

Executive Director of World Mission

Brian Calley

Lt. Governor of Michigan

Abdu Murray

North American Director, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

The Honorable Richard Bernstein

Michigan Supreme Court Justice

Andy Schor

Mayor of Lansing, former State Rep.

Scott Richards

Vice President, Hallmark Tool & Gage