LEAD 2018 Speakers

Check back for new speakers—added every week!

 

Evening Chapel Speakers

Don Denyes - Week 1

Senior Pastor at South Church

Pastor Don DenyesDon Denyes has served as the Senior Pastor at South Church in Lansing, Michigan since 1995. After giving his heart to Christ in his teen years, Don felt that God was calling him into the ministry. He sought further preparation in Bible College, studying at Bob Jones University, Biblical Theological Seminary, and finally earning his doctorate at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In addition to his duties as pastor, Don serves on the boards of Cornerstone University and Asia Biblical Theological Seminary and teaches at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Nancy, have been blessed with five daughters and five grandsons.

Sarah Kissling - Week 1

Executive Assistant, Office of State Senator Mike Shirkey

Sarah is an Executive Assistant to State Senator Mike Shirkey. Her role includes scheduling, answering phones and emails, meeting with constituents, and general office management. Before she started her current job, she worked for a brief period as the Office Manager for the House of Representatives Republican Policy Office, and over 3 years for a Chiropractor’s Office out of Flint.

Sarah grew up in a family surrounded by 8 siblings and two wonderful parents who helped to push her beyond her comfort zone to where she is today. She attended SSI as a student from 2007-2009, and then came back as an ADC and Chaperone from 2010-2012. These years are looked back upon with fond memories and times of immense growth in her relationship with God. In her free hours she enjoys spending time with her much-loved family, knitting, gardening, reading, and so much more!

Frankie Dame - Week 1

Law Clerk to the Hon. Bernard Friedman

Frankie Dame is a lawyer and law clerk to the Hon. Bernard Friedman, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Michigan. A law clerk helps his judge decide cases by researching the law and writing opinions. As a federal law clerk, Frankie sees cases in many different areas of the law: constitutional, tax, contract, tort, insurance, social security, criminal, etc.

Frankie is from West Branch, Michigan. He has seven younger sisters and two wonderful parents and is married to his lovely wife Kelsey. He was homeschooled through high school and attended SSI four times: once in the House and three times in the media track. He graduated with a BA in Political Science from Thomas Edison State University and a J.D. from MSU law school. During law school, Frankie interned for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. and the United Nations in the Netherlands.

Larry Carter - Week 1

President of Great Lakes Christian College

Mr. Carter received a B.S. in Biblical Studies from Cincinnati Bible College. While a student, he served as Youth Minister of the New Burlington Church of Christ and the Felicity Church of Christ, as well as Youth Coordinator of an inner city Salvation Army. He then received a Masters of Christian Ministries degree from Huntington College, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

Tim Hill - Week 2

Club Director, Youth for Christ/CityLife Detroit

Tim Hill is a father of three children: Michelle 25, Caleb 22, Jordan 20. He is the Club Director of YFC/ CityLife Detroit, police officer at Dearborn Heights Police Department, and Director of Security for Holiday Inn. He has done Urban youth ministry in the city of Detroit for 30 years. Tim grew up in a single parent home with a father who was an alcoholic and a mother who loved the Lord and made sure her children knew Jesus and had a personal relationship with Him. He moved to Michigan from Tennessee in 1988 to attend college at William Tyndale College and started full time ministry with Youth Encounter/ Christian Urban Outreach. God has given Tim the gift and ability to share a Christ in a very real and relevant way for today’s youth. God reminds Tim daily He has a plan and that in turn is the message Tim shares with all those he comes in contact with. His life verse is Jer. 29:11.

John Fort - Week 2

Nonprofit Executive

John Fort has been a non-profit executive and administrator for over 30 years. He grew up in Detroit, attended Detroit Public Schools, and graduated from Detroit’s Cass Tech and then the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

While attending the University of Michigan, he began to confirm through his studies that the foundation of his faith in Christ was based on reliable facts of history and not just a leap of faith or a religious culture which was passed down to him from his parents. He was active with several Christian groups on campus which gave him a good overview of a variety of Christian doctrinal views and most importantly solidified his commitment to know God, walk with him in a personal day to day relationship, and to discover God’s plan for his life.

John has committed his career and volunteer time to helping others. He developed a personal vision of how his life could count for the Kingdom of God through his career by being a faithful employee and leader in the non-profit world. He has worked for four non-profit agencies. Thirty years have been with two primary agencies. He has worked with pre-parolees, youth and family programs, and in career education/workforce development. He has provided leadership regionally for a college internship program at several colleges in four states. He now provides marketing, communications, public relations support, and fundraising support to the nation’s oldest youth serving and leadership development organization.

He is married and has 5 children who have all completed SSI and volunteered and/or recruited others to be a part of SSI.

John Mashni - Week 2

Attorney and Film Producer

John Mashni is an attorney at Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith in Lansing, Michigan.  John advises individuals and businesses in the areas of business, nonprofits, tax, intellectual property, and entertainment. John teaches in the Tax program at Cooley Law School as well.  John also writes a popular blog about reinvention and similar topics.   John has produced multiple faith-based films, most notably 40 Nights and the recently released Wild Faith.  Before practicing law, John managed a media department for a large leadership development company where he oversaw all video, audio, marketing, and compliance.   John has a law degree from Cooley Law School, an undergraduate degree from Michigan State University, and attended film school at the New York Film Academy.  John lives in DeWitt, Michigan with his wife and four young children.

Adam Barr - Week 3

Senior Pastor, Peace Church

Adam T. Barr (MDiv, ThM) serves as senior pastor at Peace Church near Grand Rapids Michigan, a thriving local church with a heart for making disciples. His dad and mom pointed him to Jesus at an early age and showed him what it means to serve the Lord with authentic faith and love. Adam studied at Hope College, University of Aberdeen (Scotland), Western Theological Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia, PA). In addition to his work in the local church, Adam speaks and writes on the intersection of Christianity and Culture, helping followers of Jesus understand and apply God’s Word in an increasingly post-Christian society. Adam lives with his wife, Jennifer, and four sons in Middleville, Michigan. They love raising their boys, reading good books, making music, and visiting the wild places of the USA.

Greg and Canena Adams - Week 3

Greg Adams is a proud father of 5 children and a devoted husband to a beautiful and inspirational wife of 15 years. He is a Michigan State University Alumni with a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a Masters’ Degree in Emotional Impairments. Greg currently serves as the Program Director at Western Career Prep High School for the Western School District in Parma, MI. He has more than 15 years of experience teaching emotionally impaired students, rehabilitating at-risk youth in juvenile detention, and engaging youth in relevant life skills lessons/activities, anger management, and team building exercises to build social appropriateness. Greg’s passion for youth, families and his community has awarded him and his wife, Canena, the opportunity to establish a nonprofit organization and give back in various capacities ranging from teaching marriage and family classes, hosting community events, and mentoring young men by facilitating character building classes and engaging activities.

Canena Adams is a vibrant, passionate Women’s Health Advocate. She is the wife of Greg Adams, and mother of 5 beautiful children. Canena holds a Bachelor of Social Work and will soon complete her Master of Communication and Community Leadership from Spring Arbor University. Her family is her number one priority. The Adams Family is very active in their Community! They have an extreme love and passion for Marriage and Family—and building healthy, purposeful relationships in all areas of life.

Canena sits on the Board of Directors for Marriage Matters Jackson and founded Women of Worth, Inc. (WOW), an organization that focuses on “wholeness” and “healthy” decision making skills in all areas of life through outreach and conferences. She works as a social worker and outreach specialist with the Jackson County Department on Aging. Canena was previously a mentor for teen mothers and a small group leader at Jackson’s Florence Crittenton Home and served with Jackson’s Birthline pregnancy resource center. In her free time, she enjoys quality time with her husband, children, family and friends. She also has a huge love and passion for shopping and eating great food. Her favorite saying is: “Where the mind goes, the body will follow…”

Travon Clifton - Week 3

Speaker and Author

Travon P. Clifton is a wife, a mother, and minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. She was drawn to the gospel at the age of 17 but experienced a setback in her relationship with God when she learned that she was conceived in rape as told by her mother following her 18th birthday. The shocking news sent her on a journey to discover her true identity, which was shared in the mini-documentary “Life Uninvited” sponsored by the Right to Life of Michigan Educational Fund.

In 2014, Travon was interviewed on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk with three other members from Save the 1, including President/Founder Rebecca Kiessling. Travon is currently working on her first book and sharing her journey called “Grief and Grace” on social media about the recent transitions of her mother and grandmothers. Visit www.TravonClifton.com for more information.

House 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.

DeeDee Briski

Author & Speaker

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.

Lennie Mailand

Teacher, 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.

Rep. Phil Phelps

State Representative, Michigan’s 49th House District

State Representative Phil Phelps is serving his third term as the representative for the 49th House District. Phelps serves as the Democratic Vice Chair of the House Communications and Technology Committee and also serves on the Insurance and Agriculture Committees. During his time in the House, Rep. Phelps has been able to pass legislation returning workers comp benefits to Delphi workers who lost out in the bankruptcy, getting the first money to the City of Flint after the Water Crisis began, and helping reform the broken Unemployment Insurance system in Michigan. Rep. Phelps is also one of the founders of the bipartisan, bicameral Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Caucus, which jumped right into work changing outdated terms in Michigan Compiled Law before introducing legislation to help these communities get better access to education and mental health.

Sen. David Robertson

State Senator, Michigan’s 14th Senate District

Senator Dave Robertson has been at the forefront of many of the issues that have defined Michigan in more than 20 years of public service.

He was first elected to the Legislature in 1990 and was an early advocate of property tax relief having participated in the legislative battles culminating in the passage of Proposal A. He returned to the Michigan House after the 2002 election and served until 2008.

Dave has been a consistent and passionate advocate for lower taxes, smaller government, and pro-growth policies. He understands that the key to growing Michigan’s economy is in cutting excessive regulations, standing up for property rights, and harnessing the power of our entrepreneurial spirit.

Robertson serves as Majority Caucus Chair for the Senate Republicans, as well as Chair of the Elections and Government Reform committee, vice-chair of the Finance committee, and a member of the Health Policy, Natural Resources, and Michigan Competitiveness committees.

Robertson is a lifelong resident of Genesee County.

Rep. Lana Theis

State Representative, Michigan’s 42nd House District

State Rep. Lana Theis was first elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in November 2014, and represents the city of Brighton and the townships of Brighton, Genoa, Green Oak, Hamburg and Putnam. Theis serves as the chair of the Insurance Committee and vice chair of the Judiciary Committee. She is also a member of the Regulatory Reform and Law and Justice 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.

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.

Senate Track Speakers & Coaches

Aimee Chauvin - Track Leader

Director of Programs, Student Statesmanship Institute

Aimee has been working with SSI for the past three years 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).

DeeDee Briski

Author & Speaker

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.

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.

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.

Lennie Mailand

Teacher, 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.

Media Track Speakers & Coaches

Peter Baergen - Track Leader

Director of Communications/IT, Student Statesmanship Institute

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, reading POLITICO, or just hanging out at a local city council meeting.

Zeke Talmage - Track Leader

Instructor & Teacher

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 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 - Weeks 1 and 2

Corporate Communications Specialist at Covenant Eyes

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.

Mary Jackson - Week 1

WORLD Magazine Correspondent

Mary Jackson is a San Francisco Bay area correspondent for WORLD Magazine. She primarily writes feature stories with marriage and family-related themes and reviews children’s books. Previously she was a news and feature reporter for The Lansing State Journal and The Washington (D.C.) Times.  She has a bachelor of arts degree from Greenville College. She has been married 15 years to her husband Ryan and they have four children, ages 14 to 1. She home schools three of their children, administrating and teaching for their co-op.

Kendall Wingrove - Weeks 1, 2, and 3

Communications Manager at Office of Highway Safety Planning, Michigan State Police

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.

Business Track Speakers & Coaches – Week 1

Gary W. Britten - Track Leader

Associate Prof. of Business, Spring Arbor University

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-seven years, teaching law and strategy courses.

Ryan Kolis - Track Leader

Business 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.

John Beck

Teacher/Instructor

John Beck is a High School Government/History Teacher at Heritage Christian Academy in Kalamazoo and part-time instructor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids. He has earned a Bachelor’s in History and Masters in Political Science and History. John is married with 3 children.

Terry Hart

President & CEO, T.L. Hart Inc.

A native of Michigan, Terry Hart is the President and CEO of T.L. Hart, Inc., a commercial painting company he founded in 1985. He is a 1968 graduate of St. Johns High School. He earned an Associate’s Degree from Lansing Community College in 1971 and has completed numerous training and management seminars through his active association involvement. He is a former board member and past President of the Associated Builders and Contractors – Central Michigan Chapter, past President of the Michigan Council Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA), former National Board Member of PDCA, and the past Treasurer of the Great Lakes Michigan Council, PDCA. When he’s not busy overseeing T. L. Hart, Terry can be found spending time with his wife and family, reading, writing, engaging in church-related activities and riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle.

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.

 

Blaine Schultz

President of AccessPoint – Staffing Division

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.

Mock Trial Speakers & Coaches – Week 2

Scott Robe - Track Leader

Attorney

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 Leader

Attorney

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.

Moot Court Speakers & Coaches – Week 2

Reka Holley - Track Leader

Moot Court 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

Michigan Supreme Court Justice

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

Chief 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 Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. 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. Chief 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.

The Honorable Brian Zahra

Michigan Supreme Court Justice

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 Leader

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.

Peter Baergen

Director of Communications/IT, Student Statesmanship Institute

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.

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.

Matt Sowash

President of Sowash Strategies

Matt has served in many political positions including Victory Center Director for the Michigan Republican Party, Campaign Manager for State Senate and State House races, Legislative Assistant, Analyst and Legislative Director. In 2014 he started Sowash Strategies, which is a political consulting firm based in Lansing. During the 2014 election cycle, Sowash Strategies worked with over 15 House and Senate candidates, winning over 90% of the elections they worked on. He is also currently a lobbyist for Michigan Legislative Consultants.

Jeff Timmer

Senior Counselor, Sterling Corporation

Jeff Timmer is a political, public affairs, and communications strategist with Sterling Corporation who has spent 30 years providing big-picture counsel and communications for leading corporations, trade associations, political organizations, candidates, and campaigns engaged in the arenas of public policy and politics. Jeff is also an award-winning creator, director, and producer of standout broadcast advertising and persuasive direct mail. Campaigns & Elections magazine has recognized Timmer as one of the most connected and influential politicos in Michigan.

Timmer appears frequently as a pundit in several news outlets, presents political commentary at industry, association, and corporate gatherings, and teaches campaigns and communications to a variety of groups. Jeff is a graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University. He was appointed by the Governor and served on Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers.

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.

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 10-15

Week 2: June 24-29

Week 3: July 15-20

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

William Wagner

Professor & Attorney

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