Jonathan Jakubowski

Forge Board Chairman

Jonathan Jakubowski is the Author of an award-winning book that has gained national attention. Jonathan and Bellwether Blues – A Conservative Awakening of the Millennial Soul have been featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show, Newsmax, the Washington Times, Newsweek, The New York Times, BBC World News, The Federalist and dozens of other leading media outlets. He is also President of SmartSolve, an award-winning startup business focused on sustainable packaging. Jonathan played football and received his undergraduate degree from Bowling Green State University and Masters Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University. Jonathan is the Founder of Champions in Action, Chairman of the Forge Leadership Network Board of Directors, and Executive Chairman of the Wood County Republican Party. Jonathan, his wife Missy, and their four children reside in Northwest Ohio.

Twitter: @jonjakubowski

Peter Burns

Alumni Board Member

Peter Burns in the founder of Burns Group Consulting and manages a range of projects including working as Executive Director of the International Religious Freedom Summit. He formerly served as Special Assistant to the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the Department of State. Before that, he worked as Government Relations and Policy Director at In Defense of Christians, and also worked as the Policy Analyst for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. He has been an advocate building movements from the time he founded the College Republican chapter while attending Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2014, and was campus director for the Bruce Rauner Campaign for Governor, to his work today amplifying the efforts of foreign policy focused NGOs. Peter has studied politics and foreign policy through selective fellowships with The Philos Leadership Institute, the Tikvah Fund and the Public Interest Fellowship. He has written for Washington Examiner, Providence Magazine, The Federalist, The American Conservative, and The Hill.

Ruth Edmonds

Ruth Edmonds is the Church Relations Director at Center for Christian Virtue (CCV), where she heads the organization’s ministry to pastors and church congregations through the Church Ambassador Network (CAN).

Ruth is a leadership professional with over 20 years of experience in Community Relations marked by a network of government, nonprofit, and faith-based stakeholder relationships; and specializing in building partnership collaborations, facilitating dynamic group conversations, and public speaking presentations.

Ruth has served as a key aide to elected public officials on the federal, state, and county levels. She is recognized as an articulate communicator, connector, thought leader, inspiring writer, and most significantly, a prayer warrior. In 2019, she was licensed and ordained as a minister in the Christian church by her pastor Dr. David C. Forbes, Jr. of Columbus Christian Center.

Ruth is a graduate of Denison University and lives in central Ohio with her husband and bonus son. She has two adult daughters who are successful in their own right.

Elliot Gaiser

T. Elliot Gaiser is an associate in the Issues & Appeals group in the Columbus, Ohio office of Jones Day.

Previously, Elliot practiced law as an associate at Boyden Gray & Associates PLLC in Washington, D.C., and in the litigation and appeals groups in the D.C. office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. He also served as a law clerk to Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. at the Supreme Court of the United States, the Honorable Judge Neomi Rao on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and the Honorable Judge Edith H. Jones on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Before receiving his J.D. at the University of Chicago, Elliot worked as a graduate fellow covering anti-poverty and immigration issues at The Heritage Foundation. He has written for Christianity Today, The Federalist, and Newsweek.

Elliot also holds a B.A. from Hillsdale College, where he studied Political Economy and Classical Rhetoric in the Dow Journalism Program. Elliot enjoys playing the cello, swimming in the Great Lakes, rooting for the Buckeyes, and re-reading the poetry of T.S. Eliot.

Michael Hamilton

Michael Hamilton is a Heartland research fellow and managing editor of Health Care News. Michael writes and edits at the intersection of liberty, language, and learning. His efforts to reform public policy date to summers he spent working for The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions while a student at Hillsdale College. Upon graduating, Michael taught International Baccalaureate English at an innovative charter school near Boston, Massachusetts, followed by Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics in Dayton, Ohio.

In 2013, Michael co-founded the website Ohio Conservative Review and the freelance writing and editing company Good Comma Editing, LLC. He has written for The Federalist, PJ Media, WORLD, The Philos Project, Canon & Culture,, the Washington Free Beacon, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation blog Dissident, and other sites and publications. Michael serves as vice chairman of the board of Forge Leadership Network to help identify, train, and connect America’s future statesmen.

John Hart

John Hart serves as the General Counsel for Cedarville University. John just recently returned to his alma mater to become its first ever full-time in-house lawyer, having served as University Counsel/ Director of Legal Affairs at the University of Dayton for over 25 years. His areas of special emphasis include employment/labor law, academic and student development policy issues, athletics, real property, contracts, and the like. He has made numerous presentations to various professional, educational, and community groups, and was invited to and participated in the Blackstone Colloquium on Higher Education Law at the Oxford University’s Round Table on Education Policy.

John has also been involved extensively with NACUA (National Association of College and University Attorneys), serving on their Board of Directors in addition to various committee responsibilities. Currently, he serves on the Legal Services Review Panel of NAICU (National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities). John is engaged with community organizations like the Greater Dayton Volunteer Lawyers Project, serves as an advisor to the Christian Legal Society chapter at the law school, is active in church ministries, and loves his family. He received his B.A. from Cedarville College in 1981 and his J.D. from the University of Dayton School of Law in 1985.

Heather Pfitzenmaier

Heather Pfitzenmaier serves as Senior Talent Program Advisor at the State Policy Network. In addition, she is the Director of Strategic Engagement at the Network of enlightened Women, previously serving as Vice President. Before that, Pfitzenmaier was Executive Vice President, and earlier Vice President and Director of Chapter Programs, at America’s Future Foundation. Prior to her time at AFF, Pfitzenmaier served as Director of the Young Leaders Program, and earlier as Intern Coordinator, at the Heritage Foundation. She is the recipient of Forbes magazine “30 Under 30” in law and policy, the Young Conservatives Coalition Buckley Award, and “30 Under 30″ recognition by Red Alert Politics. In addition, Pfitzenmaier serves on the Advisory Board of the Forge Leadership Network, leads AFF’s Detroit chapter, and is a member of the American Enterprise Institute’s Leadership Network. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science from the University of Michigan and currently resides in the great state of Michigan.

Justin Powell

Justin Powell is the founder and CEO of Huntington Outdoor, Blue Ash Media, and Aurora Marketing Group, serving a variety of clients with their marketing and advertising needs in Ohio, Indiana, and Florida. Prior to starting his business, Justin was the Director of Social Media for the Family Research Council. In 2012, he co-founded Ohio Conservative Review, a platform for conservative beliefs to be expressed, debated, and promoted in Ohio. He has also served on numerous political and issue campaigns on the local and state levels.

Justin earned a degree in Business Management from Liberty University. He grew up in Arcanum, Ohio where he still resides and is an active member of his community, serving on the board of Ohio Christian University and leading Crossing, a young adult ministry program at his church. Justin co-founded Forge Leadership Network and now serves on its board of advisors.

Twitter: @JustinGPowell

Joan Quintana

Joan Quintana is an entrepreneur, writer, facilitator, consultant, and executive coach. For more than thirty years, she has served her own clients and worked in academia and state government. After nearly fifteen years in the public sector, Joan began to put her time and talents to work as an entrepreneur supporting other startups and non-profit organizations.

Currently, Joan serves as director of communications and client strategy at AdventGX, a community and economic development company she co-founded with her husband in 2004.  With every project, Joan works to understand the needs of the customer and define sound yet innovative strategies for enhancing individual and organizational impact throughout the US and around the world.

Among the projects that Joan has directed and supported are Innovation Underground, a privately owned business and technology incubator; Science, Engineering, Art, and Design (SEAD) Gallery; Thinking Beyond podcast; and numerous strategy development engagements with customers working across a broad range of industries.

In addition, Joan serves on the board of a variety of non-profit organizations including You Are Women’s Conference and Forge Leadership Network. Joan is married to her business partner, Jose Quintana. They enjoy sharing life with five adult children, two sons in law, and four grandchildren.

PJ Wenzel

PJ Wenzel, a Founding Partner at RING, is an entrepreneur and political consultant. He has worked on political and issue campaigns since 1994 in over 45 U.S. states and internationally on three continents.

PJ has built and sold a multi-million-dollar business, has a Masters in Political Management from George Washington University, and is working (slowly) on his masters in theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

He is a life-long learner (Webster’s def. n. dor_küs) and loves books, plays too much golf, and used to enjoyed basketball until he got too old. He loves to teach, to preach and to speak, attempts to paint and swim, travels a ton, is a Star Wars and LOTR junkie, and like the rest of you, enjoys eating good food. Of course he loves the obligatory “long walks on the beach.”

He’s worked at the White House, and in Congress (though that’s not much to brag about these days), and on four presidential campaigns at all levels. He grew up caddying, valet parking cars, delivering papers, helping at job sites with carpentry, plumbing, and electrical, and even managed some darn good janitorial work as a kid. He has advised, and been promptly ignored, by dozens of members of congress and Canadian parliament, and admires Winston Churchill as the greatest statesman of the 20th century. He lives in Dublin with his wife, Katie and their four rambunctious kids.

Joseph Backholm is Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council. He combines extensive legal, political, and policy experience with a love for the way biblical truth cultivates human flourishing.