Virginia YR Chair Jessi Blakely didn’t intend to run for YRNF Chairman. When state chairs approached her in late 2021, she originally said “No.” After several months of prayer and more conversations with YR leaders across the country, she had heard enough. The call for fresh leadership was clear, so she began building a team and vision to take the Young Republican National Federation to the next level. We are YRNF Ascend and we’re running because we listened to you.
YRNF has taken many good first steps in the past few years, YRNF and state federations have encouraged young republicans to run for office, captured YR voter contacts across the country, and created grassroots training and community service projects at the local level. There’s one common thread, YRs from across the country made this happen. From Vermont to California, from Alaska to Florida, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico, clubs have stepped up to emphasize YR values and work ethics in their communities. However, many states haven’t felt support from the national organization to make these goals happen. We commit to advancing these programs not as top down directives, with little to no input from state organizations, not as one size fits all solutions to problems which all states may not have, but as a grassroots resource serving our state organizations and helping them succeed. Because, when one state succeeds, we all succeed.
The YRNF Ascend campaign isn’t about titles. It isn’t about personalities. YRNF Ascend is about policies and servant leadership. At a minimum, this conversation should be driven by a desire to improve the YRNF and support state and local clubs. We believe in policy driven discussions, listening to state clubs and working with them to form cogent, transparent and reasonable policies and programs. This is our platform, these are our goals, and with your input and thoughts, together we will transform the YRNF.
Throughout this campaign, we’ll lay out a clear vision to take the YRNF to the next level and a concrete plan to make it happen. Each member of YRNF Ascend loves this organization and commits to using their positions, when elected, to implement plans that take into account each state’s needs and goals.
We’re not here for titles, we’re here to work. Our goals reflect the conversations we’ve had with YR leaders across our country on the tangible changes YRNF can make to strengthen efforts at every level. Here’s what we plan to do– stay tuned throughout the campaign for even more.
Each state federation has unique challenges, goals, and perspective on the work needed in their state. We believe that grassroots insights are our most valuable resource. Each state federation is in the best position to tell us what resources they need, what elections they’re targeting, and how YRNF can best back them up. We’ll rely on our Regional Vice-Chairs and Directors, working with State YR leadership, to set goals and priorities for YRNF grassroots activity. A Regional Vice Chair’s and Director’s job isn’t to just communicate national positions and initiatives handed down from on high. A regional vice chair and regional director are there to communicate their regions’ priorities and feedback to the National Board and to be the elected official closest to the states in their regions. We commit to listening to our Regional Directors and Vice Chairs. We commit to empowering them and trusting the feedback they provide. Vice Chairs and Directors should be part of the discussion on deployments, training, and other decisions impacting their regions. We are strongest when all levels of YRNF leadership work together and have input when shaping the future of our organization.
Almost every state federation had a concern we have determined to be universal, fundraising. By far, the most common need in every YR State Federation is a steady stream of fundraising income. YRNF currently has a broad base fundraising program, which it uses to prospect donors across the country who are interested in supporting our efforts. The best part–YRNF owns the data. Instead of giving you selective and occasional financial support, we’ll be giving you the data and tools you need to build a long-term sustainable program, developing donors that YRNF has already identified in your state. We’ll work with YR leadership in each state to create a fundraising plan, set goals, and help you develop your program. The YRNF has a successful program in place for itself, we want to share that program with you.
YRNF currently has 17 standing committees. These committees were created to be the crucible in which policies were developed and recommendations to the Board and National Committee were formulated. Can you name them? Of the ones you can name, can you tell us who is on them? Other than bylaws, can you tell us the last time they met? Probably not, because most of them rarely meet and have not produced deliverables for the National Committee. Rather than use the members who have been appointed to these committees, policy has come from the board and been issued to the National Committee. The current structure severely limits YRNF’s ability to harness the dynamic experience and ideas of our membership. We commit to re-empowering committees to create those ideas, resources, and policies.
YRNF standing committees include Engagement, Education, Women’s Mentorship, Communications, and Strategic Planning, just to name a few. These committees are supposed to bolster our national efforts and should bolster your efforts at the state level. They used to meet on the first day of each quarterly meeting. They used to issue substantive recommendations to the National Committee. We’re bringing that back. You should know who sits on each committee, what they do, and how to participate. You should be able to know when they meet and attend their meetings. Under our administration, each committee will produce resources to be used by YRs across our nation to build our membership, train our members, support Republican Victory, and put our members in a position to lead the Republican Party. We’ll be rolling out some committee chairs and their plans during the campaign. If you want to help formulate policies and serve on a committee, let us know.
One of the most powerful aspects of YRNF is the opportunity to network with and learn from other YR leaders. Our regional teams will create additional opportunities to network and learn with your regional colleagues outside of national meetings. We’ll use the Regional Councils to help plan training, in-person and virtual events, and deployments to each region, assisting leadership development efforts and ensuring YRNF is always available to help you.
YR leaders across the country regularly receive media requests to comment on local issues or elections. Media training will help you take advantage of these opportunities to highlight your efforts, your issues, and your candidates. Imagine our ability to shift the political narrative if Young Republican leaders across the nation are the first call for media outlets looking for a perspective on elections. We don’t just need a few leaders at the top talking to the media, we need you.
Rechartering state federations and leadership transitions often come with the challenge of new leaders not having records on previous administrations. YRNF can provide the solution to record keeping. By updating our state survey process for better data storage, we will ensure that new state leadership has access to records from past administrations, including membership and leadership information that can be used to start stronger than ever.
The YRNF bylaws require an audit after each fiscal year for the National Committee to review. This isn’t going above and beyond, this is the bare minimum. financial accountability with the National Committee should be an expectation of every member. YRNF not only represents all state federations, it represents every young republican across the country. We have a responsibility to remain transparent with our leadership. No audit has been presented to the National Committee in several years. We commit to ensuring an independent audit of YRNF finances is presented to the National Committee–starting from the time of the last audit– every year.
We know that when you get involved in politics, no one’s there to tell you how it all works. We’ve all had to figure it out on our own. All that knowledge and experience can be reduced to writing and provided as part of a transition packet or a “New-Club-In-A-Box.” YRNF can provide helpful guides, information, data, and training to develop leaders in your states. In coordination with our Regional Councils and the State Chairman’s Association, we’ll assemble materials to kick start a state federation, train local leaders, and give you best practices to engage with party leadership, elected officials, candidates, and aligned organizations.
Our alumni network includes party leaders, members of congress, and business leaders around the country. Most share one thing in common– their time in the YRNF comprise many of their proudest moments. Many have gone on to have extremely successful careers and can still be found telling stories of their time in YRs. Our YR history is an oral history, passed down from generation to generation. It holds the history of our organization’s founding and the wisdom (and wit) of those who came before us. YRNF history is one of bold young leaders shaping the direction of our Party and our nation for generations. Engaging our alumni allows us to understand the proud tradition we come from and to preserve the YRNF’s culture, and grow the YRNF and the Republican Party for generations to come.
Auxiliary Coalition Building
YRNF is one of three major Republican auxiliary groups, which also includes the College Republicans and the National Federation of Republican Women. We’ve seen state GOPs target these organizations to take them out of the party and out of the conversation. When they attack one of us, they attack all of us. Strengthening partnerships with CRs and NFRW, engaging them at our national meetings, co-hosting events, and working with them to ensure representation in each state GOP is a top priority for our team. Not only will we ensure that auxiliaries continue to have a strong voice in the party, we will learn from our colleagues in CRs and NFRW to build a stronger YRNF.