LEAD 2021 Speakers

Check back for new speakers—added every week!

Evening Chapel Speakers

Coye L. Bouyer - Week 1

Pastor, Kingdom Life Church

Coye L. Bouyer is the pastor of Kingdom Life Church in Lansing, Michigan. He works in the ministry alongside his wife, Keturah, whom he has been married to for 21 years.  Pastor Bouyer graduated from Western Michigan University in 2001 with his Bachelor’s in Social Work.  While at WMU, Pastor Bouyer ran track on a scholarship with the Men’s Track Team.  Also, while at WMU, he married his long-time middle school friend Keturah Sudduth.

Having been called to the ministry at the age of 17, Pastor Coye fondly remembers the countless number of people who encouraged him along the way, which is why when he graduated from Dallas Seminary in 2005, he returned back home to Lansing, MI where in 2008 he started up Kingdom Life Church.  Passionate about his relationship with the LORD, Pastor Coye Bouyer has committed himself and his life to preaching the Gospel, developing disciples, and advancing God’s Kingdom.

Lorenzo Sewell - Week 1
Lorenzo Sewell was born and raised in Detroit, MI. As a result of his father going to prison and his younger brother being killed, Lorenzo became heavily involved in drugs and became a gang leader. On April 18th, 1999 during his senior year at Fraser High School he had a “Damascus Road,” encounter with Christ that set his heart on fire. He immediately started winning souls to Christ and began formally preaching in 2000, attending Bible school and discovering a love for apologetics and business. Lorenzo accepted a position at Straight Gate Church International in Detroit, and in 2010 was called into a coaching ministry focusing on leading pastors in establishing a culture of prayer. This led to his position as Pastor of the Woodside Pontiac Campus and Director of the Dream Center.  In January 2019, he was called to a new position as Lead Servant of Evangel Ministries in his hometown of Detroit.  Lorenzo is happily married with three beautiful children. 
Christiana Nuñez – Week 1

Program Director for Minnesota Family Council

Originally from Michigan, Christiana has been politically active since she could walk and talk at the same time. She was an SSI student in 2006 and has been actively involved with SSI Michigan since 2010. She has served as an ADC, a chaperone, and later as the Program Director until 2015. Since 2017, she has been the Program Director for LEAD MN which is a program of the Minnesota Family Council. She has always been passionate about discipling, encouraging youth, and political activism. She currently resides in Minneapolis although her love of travel and people take her all over the world in her free time.

Wally Hostetter - Week 2

Assistant Pastor, Mt. Pleasant Community Church; Missionary

Wally and his wife Linda have served the Lord for forty-two years. They are “Revivalists” of the Twenty First Century having served in ministries ranging from a rural pastorate, a mega-church pastorate, a church planting pastorate and a mission’s ministry at a large church in Michigan. In 2001, God called them to the mission field to preach, teach and work with the widows of the world. Of late, Linda and Wally have been very involved with Widows Might Ministry. Wally and Linda have served and continue to serve the Lord by working with indigenous ministries and helping widows in Nigeria, Guatemala, Mali, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Belarus, Siberia, Moldova, and Sierra Leone. Currently, Wally is serving as the Teaching Pastor at Mt. Pleasant Community Church in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

Canena Adams - Week 2

Founder and Director, WOW (Women of Worth, Inc.)

Canena wears many hats (wife, mother, author, small business owner, nonprofit founder/director, etc.); she’s a wife of 18 years to her business partner and best friend Gregory Adams; she’s a mother of 5, and a mentor to many. Canena has held various leadership positions, which includes her current position as Founder and Director of WOW/Women of Worth, Inc. WOW is a local nonprofit in the Jackson, MI community, birthed from Canena’s personal survival story of Adverse Childhood Experiences, a once High School Drop-Out, and her personal journey as a teen mother. The overall mission of WOW is to empower women, youth, and families to live their absolute best and healthiest life.

Canena is very vibrant and passionate! She believes that life is precious, and we are here to make an impact and to have an amazing contribution to the world and those around us! Her motto and favorite quote: “You were born for the time you were needed most…”

Mary Grace Braatz - Week 3

Public Speaker; Founder, LEGIT.

Mary Grace Braatz graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Communications, and worked in Marketing for Fortune 500 company Time Inc. right out of college.  During this time, she especially enjoyed working with Sports Illustrated as she’s always been a huge sports fan. When she had her four children, she decided to stay home and give homeschooling a try! Through various experiences in her life, she has become a very busy inspirational/motivational speaker, both writing and speaking on many different topics such as the Pro-Life issue, Parenting, Trauma, Finding your Identity, Adoption, and Homeschooling. She has also founded a Women’s group called LEGIT which stands for Ladies Encountering God in the Trenches. She loves the Lord, enjoys following politics, and is thrilled to be speaking with the students at the Student Statesmanship Institute! 

Chris Lambert - Week 1
Chris Lambert thought seeking a marketing degree while living the frat life at Indiana University might lead him to law school and later to a career as a real estate developer. Man, was he off!  During his junior year, a spiritual awakening led to Bible studies replacing beer bongs. Then Chris felt called to Fuller and Gordon-Conwell seminaries, where he earned his MDiv and doctorate in preaching.  For seven months in 2007, he and his wife helped a Liberian village raise needed resources for a well, farm animals and a new school building. That experience cemented his passion for community development. Upon returning to the U.S., he founded a church called Ekklesia. In 2010, he started Life Remodeled, loosely based on the TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” After three years of focusing on building houses from the ground up in just six days and then deeding them to deserving families, Lambert partnered with Detroit Public Schools to refocus Life Remodeled’s efforts to aid under-resourced high schools and surrounding neighborhoods. These efforts evolved into a transformative, citywide community rebuilding initiative.  In the last five years, Life Remodeled has mobilized $26M and more than 55,000 volunteers from business, community and church organizations to set the groundwork for sustainable change in four Detroit neighborhoods, each focused on bettering public education and creating safe passages for attending students.  Maybe that development career wasn’t so far off after all. 
Esther Jentzen - Week 1
Esther Jentzen joined Central Transport, LLC, a leading LTL transportation provider headquartered in Warren, Michigan, in February of 2019. Esther has served in a variety of industries, including nonprofit stakeholder relations, the Michigan Department of Attorney General, and statewide political campaigns. She most recently served as Director of Scheduling on Bill Schuette’s campaign for Governor.  

Esther grew up in Ypsilanti, Michigan in a large homeschooling family. She graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a B.A. in Music and minor in Communications and Theatre Arts. Esther still performs at Greenfield Village and other local venues whenever she gets the chance. Today, Esther lives in Detroit, Michigan and enjoys experiencing all the city has to offer. She is an active member of Detroit Young Professionals, Detroit Lutheran Fellowship, and America’s Future Foundation. Esther spends her free time exploring the city, chasing around her 16 nieces and nephews, and spending as much time outdoors as possible. 

Dan Redford - Week 1
Dan is a proven innovator, skilled communicator, and risk taker. As a fluent Mandarin speaker, he has pursued a diverse international career focused on creating and managing cross-border businesses linking China with Western markets. Dan is passionate about and skilled at helping communities and companies compete in the digital age, particularly in his home state of Michigan. 

Dan lived and worked in Beijing, China for seven years where he filled a number of roles within Chinese and American companies. Dan founded Fullreach China, a China-focused sports digital marketing agency based in Beijing and Detroit that provides Western sports teams with expert marketing and consulting services to grow their fan base and commercial viability in that market. He grew the firm out of his experience working at Chinese web giant, Sina.com (SINA), from 2015 to 2017, where he was the first non-Chinese foreigner ever to be hired in house. Last year, Dan returned to Michigan and is living in Detroit where he serves as a senior consultant for CGS Advisors, a strategic transformation advisory firm. 

Dan holds a dual degree in International Relations and Chinese from Michigan State University. In 2012, Dan received the prestigious “Distinguished Young Alumni Award” from his alma mater. 

 

Jayson Boyers - Week 1
President of Cleary University

Jayson Boyers, MLD, Ed.D., tenth president of Cleary University, assumed office on October 1, 2015. Before Cleary, Boyers was the Vice President and Managing Director of Champlain College’s (VT) Division of Continuing Professional Studies (National Online Division). In 2017, he acquired a Doctor of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership at Creighton University. He has a Master of Leadership Development degree in Organizational Leadership from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies from the University of Indianapolis. Boyers is passionate about creating a lasting legacy and making a difference in the lives of others. As such, he leads, serves and actively contributes to numerous professional and civic organizations, giving unselfishly of his time, talents and finances to improve the quality of life for others. Past board leadership involvement includes appointments as board member of the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce, vice chair and board member of Hunger Free Vermont, and board member of the Burling City Arts Foundation. Deeply committed to family and community, Boyers and his wife reside in Brighton, Michigan. 

William Wagner - Week 2
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. 
Linda Lee Tarver - Week 2
Linda Lee was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan in a two-parent Christian home and she is the youngest of 10 children. This massive family and Christ-centered home contributed to her understanding of being content and long suffering and her ability to share, wait, trust, forgive, and love unconditionally. Linda Lee is an active member and teacher at Mt. Zion All Nations Bible Church in DeWitt, MI.  

Dr. Tarver is President of Tarver Consulting and has worked over 34 years with the State of Michigan. Linda Lee has a bachelor’s in business management, a master’s in organizational psychology, a doctorate in theology, and is completing a doctorate in education. Her published work, “Dyed in the Wool,” complements her political passion as President of the Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan. 

She is married to Clint Tarver and is the proud mother to two young adults. Jennifer is a graduate of MSU and Terrance graduated from Howard University and is currently serving as an Army Captain, stationed in Iraq. Please pray for this Blue Star mama!  

Charleston Day - Week 3
Charleston Anthony Day was born and raised in Pontiac, Michigan. He is a graduate of Pontiac Central High School. He also attended Birmingham Bible Institute and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s where he studied Sociology, Theology and Music. Charleston has served over the years as Minister of Music/Music Consultant for various choirs and groups including the Pontiac Community Youth ChoirNational Baptist Convention College Departmentand Oakland University Gospel Choral. His musical gift birthed his own Gospel Hip-Hop Worship group “The Gideon Crew”. Their music has taken them inside of over 80 plus prisons throughout the United States and garnered them a Detroit Music Award. His calling to the ministry came 21 years ago. His desire to serve God and win souls has been his passion for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has preached throughout the country for Revivals, Youth Conferences, Men Retreats, and more. He has received numerous awards from The City of Pontiac, The City of Detroit, County of Wayne, and various organizations. Pastor Day’s gift is working with young people and he has a special anointing to reach teenagers of this generation. He founded a character education and prevention program for boys called, “It’s-n-The Male”. The program has touched the lives of thousands of boys throughout Michigan. Currently, he serves as Director of City Life Detroit and Director of juvenile justice ministry, and formerly served as the high school administrator for Westside Christian Academy. He is the Pastor of The R.O.A.D. Church in Detroit. He serves as a Board Member for Incarcerated Youth Ministry and a platform artist and speaker for Prison Fellowship International. Pastor Charleston Day is a community advocate, husband, father, grandfather and Entrepreneur. He is an anointed Man of God and has truly seen the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in his life. Pastor Day strongly believes he is God’s CHOSEN ONE!   
Elizabeth Hundley - Week 3
Elizabeth (Betsy) Hundley was appointed as the Livingston County Clerk and began her service on January 1, 2016.  Later that year, she was elected to a 4-year term that started in January 2017.  Prior to service as County Clerk, she was the President of Advance Metal Alloys, Inc., a local family owned scrap metal recycling company.  Elizabeth has been a member of the Michigan Bar Association since 2000, when she graduated from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.  She also holds a BBA from Cleary University with an emphasis in accounting.    

Elizabeth and her husband, Bruce, have three grown children and two grandchildren and have lived in the Howell area since 1989.  They believe strongly in supporting local charities and giving back to the community to make it a better place to work and live.   

House & Senate Track Speakers & Coaches

James Muffett - Instructor
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

Programs Coordinator – Student Statesmanship Institute

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.  

Anthony Weber - Worldview Instructor

Pastor and Teacher – Northwestern Michigan College

In addition to being a pastor for the past 17 years, Anthony Weber was an English, Logic, and Comparative Worldviews teacher at Traverse City Christian school from 1997 until 2017. He currently teaches a Contemporary Ethical Dilemmas class at Northwestern Michigan College along with his pastoral work.

A lot of Anthony’s life revolves around seeking to engage a wide variety of people in conversation that is bold, honest, and true when it comes to issues of life: God, morality, politics, the church, etc. Anthony blogs on worldview and church issues at empiresandmangers.blogspot.com; he podcasts with two other friends at Breaking the Surface (on Spotify, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, and Google Podcasts)

Hobbies: napping, drinking coffee, writing, reading, and ineffectively trying to avoid arguments on Facebook.

Anthony married up, as everyone in his life will attest. He and wife, Sheila, have been married 31 years and have three boys: AJ (25), Braden (21), and Vincent (15).

Joseph Cecil - House Instructor

Chief Operations Officer, Student Statesmanship Institute

Joseph Cecil serves as the Chief Operations Officer at SSI and is an alumni of the SSI LEAD Summer Program. Previously, he worked in the Michigan House of Representatives as a Legislative Director and Member Advisor. He has also been privileged to work with many local and statewide campaigns. Joseph is passionate about empowering young people and equipping them to be effective leaders in their communities.

Joseph has been married to Charlie Ann since 2015 and together they are raising two dynamic boys. Outside of the office Joseph enjoys spending time with family and is an active member of his church, his community, and Michigan’s political landscape.

Alan Cropsey - House Debate and Communications Speaker

Retired. Former Michigan Senator and Representative

Alan Cropsey earned his B.S. in mathematics education with a minor in composite science from Bob Jones University in 1975 and his J.D. from Cooley Law School in 1978. He was partner in the Kallman & Cropsey law firm, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the Intergovernmental Advisory Council on Education, and served as Chairman of the Advisory Committee on National Juvenile Justice Reform. In 1986, Cropsey wrote the Criminal Justice section of the Source Book of Model Legislation for the American Legislative Exchange Council. He served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1979-1982 and 1993-1998, in the State Senate from 1983-1990 and 2003-2010, and as Senate Floor Leader from 2007-2010. Cropsey is married with four children and twelve grandchildren.

The Honorable David Rutledge - House Speaker
David E. Rutledge served two terms as a State Representative in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2011 to 2016, representing Michigan’s 54th House District. He attended Tennessee State University where he graduated with a degree in political science. Along with being elected to the State House, he has served on other boards and commissions in Washtenaw County. Rutledge and his wife have two children.
The Honorable Lana Theis - House Speaker, Week 1

State Senator, 22nd 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 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.

Aaron Wentz - Worldview Instructor, Week 3
Campus Missionary, Every Nation

Aaron Wentz has degrees in evangelism, apologetics, and leadership and has been a full-time evangelist since 1998. Currently, Aaron is the founder of the Michigan School of Apologetics and a campus missionary at Michigan State University with Every Nation at MSU. In his free time, Aaron likes to play drums and read books. Aaron has been married for 25 years and lives with his family in Perry, Michigan.

Media Track Speakers & Coaches

Zeke Talmage - Track 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 News 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 STEAM 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 - Speaker

Corporate Communications Specialist – Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability and Filtering

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 - Speaker

Communications Manager – Michigan State Police Office of Highway Safety Planning

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 - Coach

Lobbyist, Michigan Legislative Consultants

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. 

Abby Walls - Speaker

Spokesperson for Speaker of the House, Michigan House of Representatives

Abby Walls has worked in political communications since 2009. Abby came to the Michigan Senate after serving in communications roles for two House Speakers and as communications director for John James’ campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2020. She has also worked for top national political communications firms, America Rising and FP1 Strategies. During the 2016 election, Abby worked as a beat reporter covering news at the Michigan state capitol and has weighed in on the political issues of the day on multiple TV and radio programs.

Abby is a native of Dearborn and a graduate of Albion College (Go Brits!). She currently resides in Lansing and is an active member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Jackson. A fun fact about Abby is that she has biked from Lansing to the Mackinac Bridge (a nearly 500 mile trip!) multiple times. Her goal is to bike 2,021 miles in 2021.

Lily Telloyan - Production Coach

Teacher, The Potter’s School, LifeTech Academy

Lily Telloyan earned her Elementary Education and Teaching All Learners Bachelor’s Degree from Grace College in Indiana. After graduating in 2018, Lily taught special education and ESL at Madison Elementary School in Warsaw, Indiana for two years. Currently, she teaches elementary students online through The Potter’s School and LifeTech Academy. Her favorite quotation, “The end of all learning is to know God, and out of that knowledge, to love and imitate Him,” (Milton), summarizes why she is excited volunteer at LEAD. In addition to teaching, Lily enjoys making handmade cards; playing piano, flute, and guitar; graphic design; and videography. Lily grew up in Japan until she was eight years old and experienced life in a multigenerational household upon moving to the United States. She now lives with her husband, Alex, in Charlotte, Michigan.

Business Track Speakers & Coaches – Week 1

Gary W. Britten - Track Instructor

Associate Professor 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 over thirty years, teaching law, economics, argumentation, and business strategy.

 

Ryan Kolis - Track Instructor

Business Analyst – Doxim

Ryan Kolis is a LEAD alum and attended the Business Track himself when he was a student.  Ryan studied Business at Macomb Community College and later at Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration. He has worked in the print industry since 2013 and currently works as a Business Analyst with Doxim, a company providing both print and electronic communication solutions to financial institutions and municipalities primarily in the US and Canada.  In his spare time Ryan enjoys working on home improvement projects, and expanding his handyman skill set while he renovates his home in Fraser, MI.

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. 
John Dankovich - Speaker

Partner – MKD Wealth Coaches, LLC

 John Dankovich is a partner in the wealth coaching firm of MKD Wealth Coaches, LLC in Troy, MI, which in addition to providing investment management services, provides philanthropic coaching services to wealthy individuals and families. John’s work with families has led to many wonderful philanthropic gifts including the establishment of a major institute at a Michigan university.

John brings over 30 years of experience to the table working with owners of private companies and established families including the Karmanos Cancer Institute and the Eastern District of the Salvation Army. He holds degrees from Wayne State University and Western Michigan University, and he has worked as a CPA in public accounting and a private practice attorney. John appeared with his family on the Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss teaching children about money and values, and he is the collaborating author and co-editor of The Future of You – Providing Clarity Where Life Intersects Wealth.

Todd Granger - Speaker

Chief Financial Officer – Granger Waste Services

For his entire life, Todd has had a passion to work in the family business that he saw his family build and grow. During his childhood years, Todd learned to work in what he refers to as a “low level management training program” by putting in long hours doing yard work for his grandfather and founder of Granger, Keith B. Granger.

In his current role as chief financial officer, Todd is responsible for oversight of Granger’s market development, accounting, and IT functions; managing insurance and risk strategies; crafting in-depth financial analysis for the Granger Board of Directors; managing the company’s investment portfolios; and raising capital, whether it be for operations or for an acquisition.

Todd has served on the Granger Waste Services Board of Directors since 1998 and on its Executive Leadership Team since 2004. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Calvin College and an MBA from the University of Michigan.

Cassandra Opper - Speaker

Supervisor and Corporate Web Services at Auto-Owners Insurance

Cassandra Opper (AINS, API) works for Auto-Owners Insurance, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Lansing, Michigan. Over the past 8 years, she’s held positions in several divisions including underwriting, Human Resources, and marketing/sales. She is currently managing a team of 11 business analysts and quality analysts who work on the company’s customer-facing digital assets including the website and mobile app. Cassandra is passionate about the role insurance plays in helping put people’s lives back together and about working each day to develop future leaders within the company.

Cassandra and her husband (Zak Weston) are both SSI LEAD alum and enjoy investing in the next generation’s future leaders.

Mock Trial Speakers & Coaches – Week 2

Scott Robe, Esq - 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.

Jonathan Robe, ESQ - Track Instructor

Jonathan E. Robe earned a B.S.M.E. degree summa cum laude in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio University and a Juris Doctor degree from Duke University School of Law.  He is admitted to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the State of Ohio.  He is also registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where he focuses his practice on electro-mechanical and medical device technologies.  He practiced for a number of years at a large firm in D.C. but now practices under his father, Scott Robe.  He resides in Athens, Ohio with his wife and two young children.  His favorite book is The Development of the Flour-Milling Industry in the United States, With Special Reference to the Industry in Minneapolis by Charles B. Kuhlman.

Steve Jentzen, Esq - Track Instructor

Founder, Steven M. Jentzen, P.C.

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

Teacher, Miller High School

Justin Robe works as a high school Mathematics Teacher in a rather small school located somewhere in the foothills of the Appalachians. While not born in Ohio, Justin has practically lived in and worked around Athens, Ohio for the vast majority of his life. Justin was once a student at SSI LEAD and now comes back for two different weeks of camp to work with the Mock Trial and Campaign Tracks. Justin graduated from Ohio University with dual degrees in Mathematics and History and then went through a graduate level program in Mathematics Education. His hobbies include, but not limited to, buying and then reading books, playing soccer, reffing soccer, and using all of his energy to chase around his young niece and nephew.


The Honorable Thomas Emery - Judge

Former Michigan Assistant Attorney General

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.  

The Honorable Jonathan Maire - Judge

Jonathan Maire is a retired U.S. Navy officer and has experience as a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and judge. Admitted to practice law in both Michigan and California, he has tried numerous civil cases in state and federal courts, along with being admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court though he has not yet argued a case before it. Jonathan earned his law degree in 1964 from the University of California’s Hastings College of Law. He has served on the board of the Christian Legal Society and the Independent Bank of South Michigan and was a founding board member of the Christian Conciliation Service of Central Michigan.

Kerry Lee Morgan, Esq - Speaker

Attorney

Kerry Lee Morgan is an Attorney admitted to practice in Michigan, Virginia, the District of Columbia as well as the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. He formerly served as an Attorney-Advisor with the United States Commission on Civil Rights in Washington D.C.  In addition to practicing law, since 1980, Mr. Morgan has also written a number of thought-provoking articles in the areas of natural law and unalienable rights. He completed an extensive legal review of religious liberty principles and Supreme Court cases titled, Unalienable Rights, Equality and The Free Exercise of Religion. In 1997, University Press of America published his book, Real Choice, Real Freedom in American Education, a scholarly work that articulates the legal and Constitutional case for parental rights and against governmental control of American Education. He has been nominated every year since 2017 as a Super Lawyer in Municipal law, an honor reserved for the top 5% of Michigan attorneys.

The Honorable Michael Schipper - Judge

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.  

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.

The Honorable Aaron Gauthier - Speaker

Judge, 53rd Circuit Court

Hon. Aaron J. Gauthier is Chief Judge of the 53rd Circuit Court, which includes Cheboygan and Presque Isle Counties in northern Michigan.  He presides over civil lawsuits, felony criminal cases, and family law matters, as well as an adult drug treatment court program.  He has served as a faculty member with the Michigan Judicial Institute, which provides training seminars for other judges.  Before taking the bench, Judge Gauthier served as a Commissioner for the Michigan Supreme Court and as an assistant prosecutor in Cheboygan County.  He also worked as an attorney in private practice, focusing on appellate litigation.  He and his wife Christine homeschooled their three children.

Campaign Track Speakers & Coaches – Week 3

Justin Robe - Track Instructor

Teacher, Miller High School

Justin Robe works as a high school Mathematics Teacher in a rather small school located somewhere in the foothills of the Appalachians. While not born in Ohio, Justin has practically lived in and worked around Athens, Ohio for the vast majority of his life. Justin was once a student at SSI LEAD and now comes back for two different weeks of camp to work with the Mock Trial and Campaign Tracks. Justin graduated from Ohio University with dual degrees in Mathematics and History and then went through a graduate level program in Mathematics Education. His hobbies include, but not limited to, buying and then reading books, playing soccer, reffing soccer, and using all of his energy to chase around his young niece and nephew.

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 - Speaker

Lobbyist, Michigan Legislative Consultants

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.    
Abby Walls - Speaker

Spokesperson for Speaker of the House, Michigan House of Representatives

Abby Walls has worked in political communications since 2009. Abby came to the Michigan Senate after serving in communications roles for two House Speakers and as communications director for John James’ campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2020. She has also worked for top national political communications firms, America Rising and FP1 Strategies. During the 2016 election, Abby worked as a beat reporter covering news at the Michigan state capitol and has weighed in on the political issues of the day on multiple TV and radio programs.

Abby is a native of Dearborn and a graduate of Albion College (Go Brits!). She currently resides in Lansing and is an active member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Jackson. A fun fact about Abby is that she has biked from Lansing to the Mackinac Bridge (a nearly 500 mile trip!) multiple times. Her goal is to bike 2,021 miles in 2021.

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