“I always knew I wanted to work in politics. This desire to engage in the public square is why I attended Hillsdale College. My college education was incredible, and that formative experience stretched me in many ways. But after college, I prayed for a person or organization that could mentor me and challenge me to grow. In Forge Leadership Network, I found an amazing answer to those prayers.
I heard about Forge through a friend from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and applied for the first Forge Leadership Summit after pestering Adam Josefczyk with a litany of questions about the Summit, the long-term vision of Forge, and their heart for mentoring the next generation of conservative leaders. It was a perfect fit and served as a launching pad for me as I left college and embarked on my career.
At the Forge Leadership Summit, I grew socially through the speed networking, intellectually through the high-level lectures, and spiritually by being around many students who shared my convictions and faith in Christ across many denominations. My communication skills were honed through the top-notch media training that ADF provided. Forge provided me with the practical knowledge I desired and connected me with conservative leaders in ways I could not have possibly imagined.
After the Summit, I was connected with a mentor who has been a catalyst for continued growth and a role model for me to emulate. It has been everything I desired in a mentor, providing advice, encouragement, personal development, and so much more. That relationship alone would make my involvement with Forge worthwhile, but it’s just one of the many examples of how Forge has transformed my life.
The Forge Fellowship has allowed me to be connected with others my age who share my passions and convictions. My fellow Forge Fellows (forgive the pun) represent the best and brightest young leaders in the conservative movement across the country, and many of them have become some of my closest friends (so much so that they were in my wedding party!).
Forge’s partnership with Passages enabled me to take a life-changing trip to the Holy Land and explore Israel from a political and a religious perspective. As a result of that trip, I applied for and was accepted to the Philos Leadership Institute and spent a month in the region doing further study of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I was working in talk radio at the time, and was therefore able to convey my takeaways to a larger audience and have a more nuanced perspective on a difficult issue. These experiences have affected my professional and personal life in profound ways, and all of them came because of the Forge Leadership Network and the amazing connections Justin and Adam have to leaders all over the world.
In my current work doing outreach for U.S. Senator Ben Sasse from my home state of Nebraska, I continue to connect and work with people I met because of my Forge experience. Those connections have enabled me to feel more at home in Washington, D.C. because Forge alums are everywhere! Forge is quickly becoming a go-to recommendation for offices when they have job openings, a testament to the great people it sends to D.C.
Thank you to everyone who has made this prayer-answering organization possible. Your support of Forge has already changed my life and will make an impact in my future for years to come. Forge is an organization worth supporting and I sincerely appreciate that support.
Ian M. Swanson
Forge Summit Class of 2015
Outreach Coordinator for U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE)