August Newsletter – 2019 Forge Leadership Summit

Table of Contents

Overview of the Summit
Unique Training at Forge Summit
Media Training
Forge Legislature
Forge For A Day
Showcase Reception
Forge Alumni Continue to Stay Involved
Message from the Executive Director

Overview of the Summit

Overview of the Summit

After countless hours spent recruiting high caliber students, scheduling featured speakers, and organizing the event, all the hard work culminated with the most important moment of the year for us: The 2019 Forge Leadership Summit! The Forge Summit is the gateway to the rest of Forge programming, and stand out students are accepted into our year-long Mentorship Academy. This year’s edition of the annual Leadership Summit is especially significant for two important milestones: it marked the 5th anniversary of Forge, and this year we surpassed 300 students and young professionals trained!

The Forge Summit is a five-day intensive that trains young adults (ages 18-25) to think critically about limited government, Judeo-Christian ethics, religious liberty, and economic freedom. Accepted students represent talented conservative students and young professionals, ages 18-25, from across America pursuing different vocations, but each dedicated to better understanding and defending the first principles of the American Founding in a 21st-Century context. Through professional media training, mock political campaigns, participation in the Forge Legislature, and intentional networking coaching, young conservatives are equipped to become the leaders of tomorrow.

This year’s Summit saw a mix of knowledgeable and renowned speakers, dynamic real-world, hands-on exercises such as Campaign-In-A-Day and Media Training, participation in the legislative process, and it all ended with an opportunity for adults older than 25 to experience a day in the life of a Forge student! With over 80 students in attendance, this year was a record-breaking Summit with our highest attendance numbers yet!

Lila Sadler is a senior International Business major at Liberty University and attended the 2019 Forge Leadership Summit. She had this to say about her first experience with Forge:

 Lila Sadler, 2019 Forge Leadership Summit Attendee

“When I arrived at the Forge Leadership Summit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Little did I know those five days would be packed with learning, growth, and friendship. The Summit is structured to catalyze growth, pairing intellectual and experiential learning. As we practiced new skills, it was amazing to discover each other’s passions. The legislative simulation was a highlight of the week. Presenting our bills helped us understand the legislative process, while learning how to communicate ideas. 

Above all, Forge is about people: the leaders, speakers, and students. From politics to business, from the arts to the military, from the east coast to the west coast, everyone has a different story, a different path. What we all share is our desire to create positive change. Forge is a training ground where you’re free to try and free to fail. I have come away encouraged to engage my community, pursue my interests, and a list of books I want to read. The Forge Leadership Summit is more than a conference, it’s an opportunity to find your tribe and with them, to make a difference in the world.”

Do you know any talented young conservatives (ages 18-25) who would benefit from the Forge Leadership Summit? Click here to recommend them for our 2020 Summit!

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Unique Training at Forge Summit

Unique Training at Forge Summit

Media Training

Aaron Baer, President of Citizens for Community Values, conducting Professional Media Training at the 2019 Forge Leadership Summit

Every year, Forge provides professional, hands-on instruction for public speaking, effective message development and execution, and interview navigation as a part of our Media Training. This training is presented by Aaron Baer, president of Ohio’s family policy council, Citizens for Community Values. Jordan Leatherwood, Forge alumnus who returned as a student mentor, is a senior at Ohio University Chillicothe, majoring in Middle Childhood Education. He describes the Media Training as follows:

Jordan Leatherwood, Student Mentor


“The press conference simulation that Aaron Baer offers gives Forge students a real-life experience of the atmosphere of a press conference and the types of questions they may be asked. The experience makes those being interviewed think on their feet while trying to stay on message. The simulation is thought provoking, nerve wrecking, and a lot of fun.

Aaron Baer is always one of my favorite speakers during the Forge Leadership Summit. Every year, Aaron brings a much-needed perspective on the life of a journalist through media training. For me, the greatest point he makes is to always stay on message. There may be questions asked to trip you up, but it is your job to bring it back around to the message you want your audience to hear. The information Aaron brings to Forge is unique and exciting to learn, as is the case with the quality of speakers we have at the Forge Summit every year.”



“Team Newman” during the Campaign-In-A-Day exercise at the 2019 Forge Summit

Our friends at American Majority presented “Campaign-In-A-Day”, which is a unique hands on training that gives students the tactical political skills necessary for electoral victory. Matt Batzel, the National Executive Director, and Scott Ellis, the Wisconsin Campus Director, returned once more to organize the Campaign-In-A-Day event which is one of our highest-rated trainings of the entire Summit. During this hands-on exercise, students are split up into groups of 10 and are assigned a fictional campaign.

Matt Batzel, the National Executive Director at American Majority

Best learned through application, students apply their newly developed skill sets through a mock election cycle. They work together to produce communication and marketing plans, discover their constituency’s niche, develop and present speeches, and struggle through their the candidate’s weaker points. They collaborate in their campaign group for a total of 5 hours, including a working dinner, and then prepare to present their candidate’s speeches in a campaign “shark tank” before guest judges who come in just for this event. After the candidate and his/her press secretary speak, the judges ask focused and pertinent questions. The groups are scored, and after this 6.5 hour intensive, prizes and bragging rights are announced!

Scott Ellis, Wisconsin Campus Director at American Majority

“In 2016, American Majority ran our first Campaign-In-A-Day event at the Forge Leadership Summit with 70 attendees. Since then over 1,500 students have participated in these intensive campaign simulations. Students learn specific skills through our trainers, and then must apply those skills as they collaborate with their campaign teammates. Students are taken out of their comfort zone with on the spot questioning as well as challenging campaign tasks such as creating radio ads and public speaking. Forge students were encouraged by the event to be leaders, and several students, who have gone through both Campaign-In-A-Day and the Forge Leadership Summit, have gone on to not only run for office, but to win their elections.”

– Scott Ellis


Campaign-In-A-Day participants presenting to celebrity judges in a “Shark Tank” style panel

Forge Legislature

Forge Legislature

The Forge legislative simulation is one of the most high energy and exciting aspects of the Forge Leadership Summit. After the privilege of touring the Ohio Statehouse and learning about the place where laws are made, they get to try their own hand, presenting their own mock bills and duking it out amongst their peers to see who can get their bills passed into “law.” During committee sessions and House Floor sessions, our students pour their hearts into bills they have created and get a firsthand experience of what the world of politics looks like.


Forge Leadership Summit attendees participate in the Forge Legislature committee process

Before arriving at the Summit, students work with their assigned committee chair (a Forge alumni) to prepare a piece of legislation they will submit, present, and debate with their fellow committee members once we get to Columbus. If their bill passes out of Committee it will be debated on the Statehouse floor during our Forge legislative simulation. We spend two full days at the Ohio Statehouse in committee rooms and on the House Floor learning to sharpen their debate skills, effective argumentation, and the art of persuading others.

In addition to staff and student mentors, each year we are fortunate to have real Ohio lawmakers volunteer time to join us and coach our students in how to effectively present themselves and participate in the committee process. This year, State Senator Kristina Roegner, Representative Riordan McClain, Representative Nino Vitale, Representative Niraj Antani, Representative Tracy Richardson, and Representative Scott Wiggam joined us to help coach and guide students through the committee process.

State Representative Scott Wiggam, Ohio District 1



“The Forge Leadership program is an unmatched experience for talented young professionals who want to develop into the conservative leaders of tomorrow.”

– State Representative Scott Wiggam




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Forge For A Day

Forge For A Day: A Chance for Forge Champions to Join the Students They Bless

Forge co-founders Adam Josefczyk and Justin Powell introduce Forge-For-A-Day to participants on the Ohio Statehouse floor

Supporters, friends of Forge, and members of the community often share the sentiment: “I love the vision of Forge, but I wish I could receive the training the students receive, too!” To accomplish this,  Forge-For-A-Day was launched at the 2018 Summit to enable adults over 25 to experience a “taste of Forge” on the Friday of the Summit, our most exciting day. This year, twenty-one adults spent a full day at the Capitol with Adam Josefczyk and Justin Powell, Forge co-founders, to experience a number of the essentials of the Forge Leadership Summit. Attendees hear from some of our most popular speakers and have the opportunity to participate in the Forge Legislature in the Ohio Statehouse with the students.

One of our Forge champions took advantage of this opportunity to learn and be reminded of the same timeless principles the students are being steeped in. She and her husband traveled with the students to Washington, D.C. and specifically came to Forge-For- A-Day this year to meet up with the students she met this summer while traveling to Israel with the 2018-19 Forge Academy class.

Charles DeMasie (left) greeting Forge-For-A-Day guests in the Ohio Statehouse rotunda

This year was also enhanced by adding a host and facilitator for the day – Charles DeMasie. Charles is a Forge champion who attended the Forge-For-A-Day last year and has an excellent vision for it going forward. He served this year to really lead the experience for the champions who participated for the first time. Thank you, Charles, for taking ownership of this ministry and helping others catch the vision!

“This year at the Forge Summit, I had the opportunity to spend a few days getting to know several Forge students and taking part in the Forge-For-A-Day experience. Forge invited parents of students and champions of Forge to take part in this day so they could see how their support translates to the amazing program that Forge has developed for young conservatives. Personally, getting to speak to the students and seeing them in action gives me tremendous hope for our nation’s future. It is also amazing and encouraging to see so many young conservatives become trained to interact with society with a Christian worldview.

During Forge-For-A-Day, supporters were treated to several amazing speakers that addressed hot-button issues facing our country today. They also actively participated in the mock legislative session where the students debated bills they had created. In the evening, supporters were invited to the Forge Reception where they listened to more incredible speakers and watched the students, who have completed their Forge Academy Mentorship during the last year, graduate. If you haven’t yet had a chance to take part in Forge-For-A-Day, I would highly recommend it. You will not regret spending the day with some of the brightest young people our country has to offer.”

Charles DeMasie, Forge Champion

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Showcase Reception

Showcase Reception

After spending two full days in legislative sessions at the Ohio Statehouse, we then head over on Friday evening to the Forge Showcase Reception, where our current and past students get to meet and thank our supporters and champions that help make Forge possible. At this event, friends of Forge get an opportunity to meet our students and alumni, and are encouraged by a Forge Showcase Presentation highlighting their stories, while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and dessert. It is a well-deserved opportunity to relax and celebrate another successful Summit.

Forge co-founder Justin Powell recognizing the 2018-2019 Forge Academy graduates at the Showcase Reception

The Forge Academy Class of 2018-19 were recognized for their accomplishments, their tenacity, their growth both personally and professionally, and for their burgeoning contributions to the conservative movement. Justin Powell, co-founder and Chairman of the Board for Forge, spent a great deal of time this past year investing in the Academy students. He had the pleasure of presenting our graduating students and even shared some heartfelt words and reflections about each of these graduates and some inspiring thoughts about what they’d taught him this past year:

“Over the last year I’ve seen my hometown has been hit by five tornados and a mass shooting. There is a surplus of destruction, confusion, and despair; people’s lives turned upside down with the rest of us wondering what’s the next shoe to drop. I think the whole country in some ways is feeling this. Things seem a little out of whack. It’s in times like these people look to security in their communities; they look to leaders who care, and who instead of panicking stand resolute. My community has a good number of these leaders and for that I’m thankful.

Some of the 2018-2019 Forge Academy at the Showcase Reception

I’m also hopeful. Over the last year I’ve had the privilege of watching these young adults (18-25) confidently step forward to be trained, and to be the next leaders of their communities, representing dozens of states. I’ve stood on the Ohio State House floor as they debated grand ideas and practical policies on how to make their communities better. I’ve stood in front of the Washington monument with them as we discussed the founding of a country built on the idea that while we as young leaders build and grow and lead, all of the honor and glory goes to the Lord. I’ve also walked in Israel with these young adults on the Israel/Syria border as we’ve grappled with the geopolitical issues and the cost and sacrifice of freedom.

I’ve cried with them, I’ve helped plan their futures with them, I’ve rejoiced with them, and I’ve watched as young adults were forged into strong future leaders of their communities. When storms come (whether natural or man-made) the 2018-19 class of Forge Academy will help lead their communities to handle whatever is thrown at them. The future is bright and it’s in good hands.”

Paul Isaacs, president of Save the Storks, presenting at the 2019 Forge Showcase Reception

Following Justin’s reflections and testimonials by two Forge graduates of this past year, we heard an inspiring message from Paul Isaacs. Paul, President of Save the Storks and a new Forge Board Member, shared his belief that success in life ultimately boils down to (or should be defined by) obedience to God and simple faithfulness. He shared his own life journey, from being given less than a 5% chance to live as a young boy with a blood disorder to he and his wife’s arduous journey to adopt a baby girl with special needs from China. Paul reminded us about maintaining an eternal perspective and joy along the way, no matter the pain, pressure, or suffering we might encounter; no matter the setbacks or accomplishments professionally; and no matter the results of a legislative fight or an election. God doesn’t call us to worry about outcomes; He simply calls us to trust Him and take the next step of faith.

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Forge Alumni Continue to Stay Involved

Forge Alumni Continue to Stay Involved

From Left to Right: Matthew Brokke, Sarah Mast, and Luke Schroeder are Forge Alumni who volunteered as Student Mentors at the 2019 Forge Leadership Summit

Every year we have returning alumni join us as student mentors to lead students, facilitate the Forge legislative process as committee chairs, host and introduce speakers, help shuttle students and speakers from the airport, and more. You name it, they will step up and graciously do it! Justin, Adam, Jennie, and Jeremiah could not run the Summit without the energy, servant leadership, and the variety of talents our returning alumni bring as Student Mentors.

Veronica Faye, a Forge alumnus and 2017 and 2019 Student Mentor

Veronica Faye, a Forge alumnus and 2017 and 2019 Student Mentor, reflects on returning to Forge once again to help:

“I first attended the Forge Leadership Network Summit as a student in the summer of 2016. As the most influential program for launching my career, Forge gave me the tools and connections to stay grounded in my convictions. Throughout the week, I learned from the speakers and was challenged to know the reasons behind my beliefs as a conservative. Additionally, the week was a wonderful opportunity to hone professional skills for career development. And, while I didn’t know it at the time, I did all of this alongside some of my closest friends and colleagues.

“In more recent years, I was allowed the opportunity to continue my involvement with Forge as a Student Mentor at the 2017 and 2019 Summits. This volunteer position allowed me to watch students grow and have the same life-changing opportunity I experienced a few years earlier.

“In this role, I, along with the other student mentors, was able to help Forge staff facilitate events for the week. There were also numerous ways to exercise leadership during the week by being a resource for the students as they navigate the week. As a student mentor, I also had the privilege to sit under the instruction of the speakers once again and was challenged to continue growing personally and professionally. Returning to the Summit, I was encouraged by the conversations I had with the leaders, speakers, and students and was able to connect with the next generation of the Forge Network. When an organization has changed your life, you cannot help but want to give back.”

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Executive Director Paragraph

Message from the Executive Director

Adam Josefczyk, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Forge Leadership Network, engages with students at the 2019 Forge Leadership Summit

Dear Friends,

I hope you enjoyed this new feature in the Forge communication stream – our quarterly, in-depth newsletter highlighting one of our three major events and our alumni progress. This first one focused on the event that represents the start of a young person’s adventure with Forge – the Forge Leadership Summit.

I would like to sincerely thank all the staff, volunteers, and student mentors who gave up work, family, vacation, and even sleep time 🙂 to make this an incredible week. This year’s Summit was our largest yet and was a logistical feat to say the least. I want to personally recognize and thank Jennie, Jeremiah, Sophia, Justin, Emily, Charles, Jessica, Michelle, Dan, Anna, Veronica, Sarah, Haley, Jordan, Matt, Frankie, Luke, and the Powell Family. Their dedication, desire to raise up the next generation, and the way they model servant leadership to our students is humbling and inspiring! Forge is comprised of students who become alumni, alumni who become mentors and supporters, supporters who volunteer, on and on. Forge is all about these growing relationships and we want everyone to participate where they feel led!

I was struck with how poetic and providential it was for Paul Isaacs‘s keynote at the Showcase Reception to follow a testimonial from Forge alumna and State Representative Jena Powell. You see, Justin Powell and I met and sparked the friendship that would lead to the creation of Forge because of volunteering as 22 year olds on Paul’s short, losing campaign in early 2012. Paul was in full-time ministry at the time and ran for office in order to try to advance a groundbreaking piece of pro-life legislation. 7.5 years later, Paul was now back in Ohio speaking right after a Forge graduate who, just several months ago, had been able to cast a vote on that same legislation that would finally be successfully signed by a governor after passing both chambers. A Forge graduate, serving in office, was able to cast a key vote on a monumental piece of legislation that had inspired the mentor of the two-Forge founders to get involved years before. How amazing is that?!

This ties directly in to Paul’s message at the Showcase Reception. We often times don’t know how God will use our specific actions, but we know to obey and leave the rest to Him. How could we have known back in 2012 that a campaign that would not even get within 30 points of winning would inspire two young guys to get involved and stay involved in politics and culture, then start an organization to formally raise up more young conservatives and Christians who cared about the same things, and then would inspire a young participant to later take what she learned to run a winning campaign and serve in public office to advocate for what was true and good like protecting the right of life?

On our 5th anniversary of the Forge Summit, please join me in celebrating all the relationships and collaborative efforts that God has weaved and will continue to orchestrate in the future in the lives and careers of our Forge graduates. I’m fully convinced that in 20 years, we will have thousands of these “God stories” involving Forge alumni, supporters, all throughout our world. Some of these will by that point involve the titles of ambassadors, senators, CEOs, professors, judges, and more. The friendship and shared purpose will have been ignited at Forge, just like at this year’s Summit. It’s just a matter of time!

Grateful For You,

Adam Josefczyk
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Forge Leadership Network

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Adam is passionate about investing his future in the future of students who will become the next innovators in the marketplace, champions of free enterprise, inspiring educators, shapers of culture, and statesmen and stateswomen in government.

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