2016 Emerging Leaders

GOPAC’s 2016 Class of Emerging Leaders is a list of promising legislators selected for their potential and ability to impact their state and the Republican Party at the leadership level.

“Leaders who can successfully promote conservative principles and ideas are essential to advancing limited, effective government. Our 2016 Class of Emerging Leaders exemplifies the promising state lawmakers who will lead in their legislative chamber and/or run for higher office. Their inclusion in our programs will provide them with guidance and support to be effective legislative and political leaders,” said GOPAC Chairman David Avella.

The Emerging Leaders Program is a yearlong initiative to coach and develop state legislators from across the country on how to be effective legislative leaders. This year’s class will begin their involvement at the 6th Annual Emerging Leaders Summit, which takes place from June 20th to 23th in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Summit gives participants the opportunity to learn from policy experts, veteran lawmakers, communications professionals and seasoned political strategists as well as each other.  These leaders return to their states better equipped to advance the ideas they are championing and prepare for the rigors of campaigning for higher office.  To be selected, an Emerging Leader must be nominated by a member of the organization’s Legislative Leaders Advisory Board or the legislative leader in their state.

Here is the class of 2016:

Gayle Manning

Ohio Senate Majority Whip

State Senator Gayle Manning is serving her second term in the Ohio Senate representing the 13th District, which encompasses Huron and Lorain Counties. Prior to running for the Senate in 2010, Manning spent 37 years as an elementary school teacher. She also served as a member of the North Ridgeville Planning Commission and on the North Ridgeville City Council from 2006-2007 where she was appointed Finance Chairwoman and Council President Pro Tempore.

In the Senate, Manning has the opportunity to give back by lending the state her lifetime of experience as an educator, as well as her understanding of local governments and small businesses. This knowledge base guides her decisions to support statewide policies that grow stable businesses, expand job opportunities, and encourage strong workforce training in order to strengthen Ohio's economy.

For the 131st General Assembly, Senator Manning has been named Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Transportation, Commerce and Labor. With many major interchanges in her district, including the Ohio Turnpike, this prestigious appointment brings great influence to Senator Manning's Northeast Ohio district. In the 130th General Assembly, she was instrumental in the passage of the state's $7.6 billion transportation budget, which includes the creation of 65,000 jobs through the improvement of Ohio's infrastructure and the bonding of the Ohio Turnpike. In addition to her chairmanship, Senator Manning has been selected to serve as the Vice-Chairwoman of the Senate Medicaid Committee.

Senator Manning has been dedicated to fighting the ongoing drug epidemic among youth in Northeast Ohio. Last year, her legislation launched the Narcan pilot project, which enabled emergency personnel to administer Narcan do those suffering from a drug overdose. Because of this, 18 lives have been saved in a few short months.

A political outsider, Senator Manning has dedicated her life to elementary education as a teacher in the North Olmsted City School System. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and citations for her accomplishments and contributions, including being named Educator of the Year by the North Olmsted PTA Council and the Teacher in American Enterprise Award from the Ohio Council on Economic Education. She also was recently named Legislator of the Year by the Ohio County Engineers and the Ohio Nursery and Landscaping Association.

Senator Manning received her bachelor's degree from Kent State University and her master's degree from The University of Akron. She resides in North Ridgeville where she and her late husband, former State Representative Jeff Manning, raised their two children, Allison and Nathan. She spends most of her free time doting on her young grandson, Connor, and her granddaughter, Avery.

Steve Hershey

Maryland Senate Minority Whip

Steve Hershey was elected to the Maryland State House of Delegates in 2010. In 2013, Steve was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Maryland Senate. He was then re-elected to the Maryland Senate in 2014. After only 15 months in the Senate, Senator Hershey was elected by the Republican Caucus to serve as the Minority Whip.

Senator Hershey is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, where he serves on the Health Policy Subcommittee. He is also a member of the Rules Committee, Executive Nominations Committee, Legislative Policy Committee and the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics. In 2014, Senator Hershey served on the Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Senator Hershey also serves on the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission and is a member of the Strategic Energy Investment Advisory Board and the Maryland Offshore Wind Business Development Advisory Committee. Senator Hershey served on Governor-elect Larry Hogan’s Transition Team in 2014.

As a member of the House of Delegates, Steve was a member of the Economic Matters Committee, where he served on the Banking, Economic Development, Science and Technology Subcommittee. He was also a member of the Business Climate Work Group.

Prior to serving in the Maryland General Assembly, Steve was Vice President of Project and Development Services at JLL and The Staubach Company beginning in 2006. Under Governor Robert Ehrlich’s Administration, Steve served as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Assistant Secretary of the Department of Planning. Steve also held executive management positions for Trammell Crow Company, Planet Hollywood International and Prime Retail.

Senator Hershey represents Legislative District 36, Maryland’s Upper Eastern Shore. The district is comprised of Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties. Steve and his wife Wendy live in Queenstown, Maryland.

Laura Cox

Michigan Associate Speaker Pro Tempore

State Rep. Laura Cox was first elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in November 2014. Rep. Cox serves the 19th House District, which encompasses the city of Livonia. Cox serves on the House Appropriations Committee, chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and is vice chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Judiciary. Cox is a member of the appropriations subcommittees on the Department of Community Health and Higher Education.

Laura began her public service career as a U.S. Customs special agent, learning firsthand what it takes to protect Michigan’s residents. In 2004, she was elected to the Wayne County Commission and voters have since repeatedly re-elected her. Cox chaired the Ways and Means Committee, seeking relief for county taxpayers by fighting to undo wasteful spending. Cox also served as the 11th Congressional District chairperson, treasurer to the Wayne 11th Congressional District Republican Committee, and on the Michigan GOP State Committee as a member of the Policy Committee, Women for Bush Co-Chair (2008) and as a delegate at -large to the 2012 Republican National Convention.

As a legislator, She was named to Gov. Rick Snyder’s Assault Kit Tracking and Reporting Commission. Following the discovery of thousands of untested sexual assault kits in Detroit. In May, Cox was named by House Speaker Kevin Cotter to the National Committee of State Legislatures (NCSL). In the NCSL, Cox has been selected as a member of the Budgets and Revenue Committee after being recognized for her abilities in responsible public budgeting.

Laura and her husband, Mike, have four children—Lindsey, Sinéad, Conor and Rory—and two grandchildren—Grace and Savanna.

AJ Griffin

Oklahoma Senate Majority Caucus Vice-Chair

Senator AJ Griffin was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate in 2012. She represents District 20 a diverse district spanning four counties rich in oil and gas development and agriculture.

AJ serves as the vice-chair of the senate majority caucus and energy committee. She represents Oklahoma on the Board of Directors for the Energy Council and the Southern States Energy Board. She has received recognition from numerous groups for her legislative work around substance abuse issues, child abuse, gun rights, and responsible energy policy.

Before joining the legislature Senator Griffin served as an executive for not-for-profit businesses serving children and families. She currently is a consultant providing guidance and planning for small non-profits. AJ is a regular guest host on KOKC news-talk radio in central Oklahoma, and is live-streamed on the Internet.

Griffin and her husband Trey are graduates of Oklahoma State University and proud supporters of the Cowboys. Along with their daughters, Alexandra and Reagan, the Griffins make their home in Guthrie. AJ is an elder at First Christian Church and a member of the Guthrie Rotary Club.

Kimberly Yee

Arizona Senator

Arizona State Senator Kimberly Yee represents Arizona's 20th Legislative District covering Northwest Phoenix and parts of Glendale. She is the first Asian American woman elected to serve in the Arizona Legislature.

Born and raised in Arizona, Kimberly is a graduate of Pepperdine University where she earned Bachelor’s Degrees in English and Political Science. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Arizona State University. Prior to elected office, Kimberly served as a deputy cabinet secretary and policy advisor for two governors and as a communications director for a state treasurer. She also served as a research analyst for the Arizona Senate Committee on Education. At the federal level, Kimberly worked for the United States Department of Justice in the Fraud Section, Criminal Division in Washington, D.C.

Kimberly is Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Workforce Development, Vice Chairwoman of the Education Committee and serves as a member of the Committees on Health and Human Services and Finance. She served in a leadership position on the National Foundation of Women Legislators Board and as a legislative member of the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools.

She has been recognized as a "Rising Star" by the Republican National Committee, Legislator of the Year by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and one of Arizona's 48 Most Intriguing Women in a book published by the Arizona Centennial Legacy Project.

Kimberly and her husband are blessed with two young children and they own a small business in the West Valley. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, and volunteers in her church and community.

Michael Williams

Georgia Senator

Michael Williams was elected to the Georgia State Senate in 2014. He represents District 27 which comprises the vast majority of Forsyth County. He is the Deputy Majority Whip, Vice-Chairman of the Ethics Committee and serves on the Finance, Public Safety, Higher Education and State and Local Government Committees.

Michael graduated from the University of Montevallo in Birmingham, Alabama with a degree in accounting. He earned is CPA licenses while working for Arthur Anderson in Houston, Texas. He has since been a serial entrepreneur and currently owns the franchise rights for the state of Georgia for a restaurant concept.

Michael is active in his community and a member of the Lanier-Forsyth Rotary Club, the Lake Lanier Association and the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the NRA, Georgia Carry, and the Forsyth County Tea Party.

Stephen West

Kentucky Senator

Steve West is the State Senator from Bourbon County, Kentucky which is part of the 27th Senate District. This district includes eight counties and is the largest senate district in Kentucky. He is Chair of the Budget Review Sub-Committee on Education and the Senate Horse Farming Sub-Committee. Senator West also serves as a member of The Appropriations and Revenue Committee, The Education Committee, The Program Review and Investigations Committee, and is Vice-Chair of the Agriculture Committee.

Senator West is a self-employed cattle farmer and real estate attorney who resides in northern Bourbon County with his wife Cindy and three children.

Fred Akshar

New York Senator

Before being elected in November of 2015, Senator Fred Akshar served the community for 15 years in law enforcement, helping private citizens and enforcing the laws.

A graduate of the FBI Academy and Broome Community College, Fred rose rapidly through the Sheriff’s Office ranks, gaining experience and increased responsibility, from conducting dangerous undercover work to supervising every major criminal investigation as Captain of the Law Enforcement Division, to Undersheriff—second-in-command—where he was responsible for 250 deputies, detectives and other personnel and managing a $33.9 million budget.

Fred has also been a strong advocate for crime victims and for protecting young people from the scourge of dangerous drugs like heroin. He served as a volunteer member of the Crime Victims Assistance Center Board and the Broome Opioid Abuse Council, where he used his firsthand experience in combating drug trafficking and intervening on behalf of victims of drug addiction to advocate for better education, prevention and treatment for heroin’s victims. Fred now takes his experience to his new role as a member of the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Abuse.

Hitting the ground running in his new profession as State Senator, Fred’s priorities continue to focus on battling drug addiction and making communities safer, strengthening the Southern Tier economy, fighting for fair treatment in economic and education aid from Albany, and helping small businesses and manufacturers succeed and create jobs.

Fred serves as Chair of the Elections Committee in the Senate. He also serves on the Banks, Cities, Codes, Consumer Protection, Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections and Labor Committees and as a member of the Senate Rural Resources Commission.

Fred continues to utilize his career experience, passion and energy, as well as the lessons and values of hard work, dedication and perseverance he learned growing up in the small, rural community of Afton to help improve the quality of life and create better opportunities for everyone in the Southern Tier.

John Stevens

Tennessee Senator

John Stevens was elected to the State Senate in 2012 and represents Obion, Weakley, Henry, Gibson, Carroll and Benton Counties in Northwest Tennessee. Sen. Stevens is the first Republican to ever represent Obion and Weakley counties in the State Senate. While in Nashville, Mr. Stevens serves on the Judiciary and Finance Ways and Means Committees. He is past chairman of the Corrections Sub-Committee of State and Local Government Committee.

Mr. Stevens is a practicing attorney with Rabalais Law, which is a multi-state Estate Planning law firm. He is a 1992 graduate of Gallatin High School. Sen. Stevens graduated from UT-Martin in 1996 with a BS in Political Science. He received his law degree from the University of Memphis in 2002. He worked for the Honorable Judge Don A. Ash upon graduating from law school and before going out into private practice.

In 2014, Governor Bill Haslam appointed Sen. Stevens to the Governor’s Task Force on Sentencing and Recidivism. In 2010, Mr. Stevens was selected by Governor Bill Haslam to participate in the Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy which targets community leaders throughout the Delta Region. Sen. Stevens is a 2014 graduate from the Henry Toll Fellows program, which is a leadership training academy made up of select-members of the three branches of government from around the nation.

Sen. Stevens was honored as a Champion of Commerce by the Tennessee Chambers of Commerce in 2014 and Legislator of the Year in 2013 by the Tennessee Association of Assessing Officers. Sen. Stevens is 42 years old and lives in Huntingdon, Tennessee, with his wife, Elicia, and his two daughters, Lexie (age 10) and Mary Kendall (age 7). Mr. Stevens and his family are members of the First Baptist Church Huntingdon where John teaches Sunday school and coaches his daughters’ Upward basketball teams, He enjoys running, is an avid sports fan, is a lifetime learner, and occasionally spoiling a good walk by trying to golf.

Ann Millner

Utah Senator

Dr. F. Ann Millner serves as the State Senator for District 18. She is Chair of the Education Standing Committee and serves on the Economic Development & Workforce Services Committee as well as the Higher Education and the Business, Economic Development & Workforce Services Appropriations Committees.

She is a Regents Professor of Health Administration and Former President at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Under Dr. Millner’s leadership as president from 2002 to 2012, Weber State became a multi-campus institution, experienced nearly a 40 percent increase in enrollment, initiated a major facilities revitalization effort, expanded its network of community partnerships, launched WSU-Davis, emerged as a regional center for economic development and earned national recognition for its undergraduate research initiative and community-based learning.

Dr. Millner currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Intermountain Healthcare, the Board of Directors for Merit Medical and the Advisory Board for Zion’s Bank.

Siobhan Dunnavant

Virginia Senator

Siobhan Dunnavant is a native Virginian and the daughter of a career Naval officer. She is a well-respected OB-GYN who has been recognized as one of the region's "Top Docs" by Richmond Magazine. Siobhan (a popular Irish name pronounced Shah-VON) is currently serving in her first term in the Virginia Senate and, as a newcomer to public office, she brings a fresh perspective to some of the most important challenges facing Virginia.

Siobhan has delivered over 2000 babies in the last 16 years of private practice and served the practice as chief operating officer. She has been involved in patient safety, medical leadership and patient care innovation including as OB-GYN department chair, a Trustee on the hospital board, Medical Society of Virginia Board, the Virginia center for Health Care Innovation and the Virginia Board of Medicine.

In 2007 Siobhan worked to start a second innovative, small business - OB Hospitalists, a healthcare company that provides physician staffing for in hospital OB-GYN services. A free market solution that improves patient care quality and safety, reduces malpractice risk, improves doctor and nurse job satisfaction and helps increase market share for hospitals.

Dr. Siobhan Dunnavant MD is a free-market, limited-government conservative with first hand experience in the challenges and economics of healthcare. Her experience as a practicing physician and as a small business owner has provided a deep appreciation for the challenges created by an ever growing government. She believes decisions at the state level could benefit from analytical clinical discernment, private sector innovation and business common sense.

Committees:
Education and Health
Finance
Local Government

Devin LeMahieu

Wisconsin Senator

Born Sheboygan, August 8, 1972; single. Graduate Sheboygan Co. Christian H.S. 1991; B.A. business administration and political science, Dordt College (Sioux Center, Iowa) 1995. Publisher/owner, Lakeshore Weekly. Member: Oostburg Kiwanis Club (fmr. pres.); Oostburg Chamber of Commerce; Sheboygan Co. Chamber of Commerce; Oostburg Civic Pride Com.; Bethel OPC (deacon); NRA (life mbr.). Sheboygan Co. Bd. Supervisor 2006-present, Human Resources Com. 2006-present (chm., 2010-14), Finance Com. 2012-present, Exec. Com. 2010-12.

Elected to Senate 2014.

Member of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Council on and Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board

Current Committees:
• Committee on Administrative Rules
• Committee on Agriculture, Small Business, and Tourism
• Committee on Elections and Local Government (Chair)
• Committee on Government Operations and Consumer Protection (Vice-Chair)
• Committee on Health and Human Services
• Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules
• Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemptions (Co-Chair)
• Law Revision Committee

Darin Mitchell

Arizona Representative

Republican Representative Darin Mitchell, was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2012 to represent Arizona’s hard-working tax payers and to fight for fiscal responsibility in the state budget.

Representative Mitchell is the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Vice-Chairman of Agriculture and Water and Lands. Additionally, Representative Mitchell is a member of the Federalism and States’ Rights Committee. Mitchell also serves on the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, Joint Legislative Income Tax Credit Review Committee, and the Transfer of Federal Lands Study Committee.

Mitchell, who resides in Goodyear, has been a realtor for 25 years and operates a successful small business with his wife, Sondra. He is a proud graduate of Arizona State University having received his Bachelor of Science degree.

Paul Lundeen

Colorado Representative

Lundeen has built success in journalism, public policy, and business.
Paul wrapped up his broadcasting career as a Washington correspondent, with credentials to the White House, for the Harriscope Broadcast Group, a chain of radio and television stations across the western United States.

Lundeen currently serves in the Colorado State House as the Representatives from the 19th House District. Prior to his election to the House, he served four years on the State Board of Education, the most recent two years as Chairman.

In business, Lundeen has built, over the past two­plus decades, businesses in Colorado and California providing including among other services, real estate development (Alpine Freedom, Oleander Industrial Commerce Center, Thermal Airport Commerce Center) and investment management as founder of a Registered Investment Advisory, Arkenstone Financial.

Paul and his wife of 31 years, Connie, have two married adult children. Paul is a graduate of New York University where he studied journalism, economics and history.

Chris Sprowls

Florida Representative

Representative Chris Sprowls was elected to represent Florida’s 65th Legislative District in 2014, which includes Palm Harbor, East Lake, Dunedin, Ozona, Crystal Beach and Tarpon Springs.

Representative Sprowls graduated with his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida and received his Juris Doctorate from Stetson University College of Law.

Currently, Representative Sprowls serves as the Pasco County Coordinator for the State Attorney’s Office for the 6th Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Pinellas and Pasco counties. Prior to his current position Representative Sprowls served as a Special Prosecutor in the Gang Unit where he tried dozens of violent felony cases. This unit was tasked with disrupting and dismantling gangs through proactively targeting gang member for aggressive prosecution.

A leader in Pinellas County, Representative Sprowls is a member of the Rotary Club of East Lake Sunrise, a volunteer at the North Pinellas YMCA and a graduate of the 2014 Leadership Pinellas Class.

Representative Sprowls has made serving veterans a priority before his time in the Florida House. As National Chairman of the American Bar Association Law Student Division, created “Duty Bound”, a program that increased the number of pro-bono legal clinics serving veterans nationwide. He started the first “Veterans Treatment Court” in Pinellas County and serves as Director of the Veterans Treatment Court for Pinellas and Pasco Counties.

Representative Sprowls lives in North Pinellas with his wife Shannon and their baby boy Prescott.

Cory Wilson

Mississippi Representative

Cory Wilson was elected to a four-year term in the Mississippi House of Representatives on November 3, 2015. Cory represents District 73, covering portions of Madison County, and is a lifelong conservative Republican.

A native of Moss Point, Mississippi, Cory was raised by a public schoolteacher and an Ingalls Shipyard engineer. Cory graduated from Moss Point High School in 1988 and went on to graduate summa cum laude in Economics from the Ole Miss School of Business in 1992. He received a law degree from the Yale Law School in 1995.

After clerking for a federal appeals court judge, Cory practiced law with two firms in Jackson from 1996 to 2008. In 2005, Cory was selected as one of twelve White House Fellows, serving from 2005 to 2006 as a special assistant to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. As part of the White House Fellowship, Cory traveled on policy-related trips across the United States, Europe, North Africa, and Latin America.

Cory served from 2008 to 2011 as Chief of Staff for Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. Cory managed day to day operations of the agency, including elections issues. In October 2008, Cory staffed five Secretaries of State from around the country on a trip to bases in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Germany to study military voting procedures.

In 2011, Cory returned to private practice. From 2014-2015, Cory also served as Senior Advisor and Counsel to Mississippi Treasurer Lynn Fitch, while maintaining his law practice on a part-time basis.

Cory has served as chair of the Mississippi Council on Economic Education, is active in the Madison County Business League, and has served on the board of directors of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce and the Madison County Republican Executive Committee. Cory is a 2001 graduate of the Leadership Mississippi Program, during which he met his wife Stephanie.

The Wilsons live in Madison County and have one son, who attends Madison Public Schools. They are members of Highlands Presbyterian Church in Ridgeland. Cory was part of short-term mission teams in 2008 and in 2010 in England, and he has led a small group men’s Bible study and taught Sunday School. From 2011 until 2014, Cory wrote a weekly column on politics and government that appeared in the Madison County Journal.

Chris Edwards

Nevada Assemblyman

Chris Edwards was born in historic Sleepy Hollow, NY. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BA in Government and later earned a Masters in Public Administration from The George Washington University. Chris retired from the Navy Reserve last year as a Commander after more than 25 years of service (active and reserve).

Chris was first elected to the Nevada State Assembly in Nov 2014 representing District 19. He serves on the Ways and Means, Education and Natural Resources committees and is the Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee for Public Safety.

Keith Ammon

New Hampshire Representative

Keith Ammon represents Hillsborough County District 40, located in the south-central part of the state, west of the Merrimack River. He currently serves on the Municipal and County Government Committee.

In addition to his State House duties, Keith Ammon is also the Political Director of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, a non-profit group that advocates for accountable and limited state government.

Keith is the owner of Ammon Technology Services, LLC, located in The Ammon Center building in Manchester, NH. He has been working in the pharmaceutical industry for the past 16 years, focusing on data analytics. Keith is a champion for small business owners with an affinity toward emerging technologies.

Keith is married to Susan, his wife of eleven years. They are both happy owners of a rescue dog named, Wilfork.

Jim Smith

New Mexico Representative

Rep. Jim Smith was first elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2010. His House District 22 includes Eastern Bernalillo, Eastern Sandoval, and Southern Santa Fe counties.

Rep. Smith received as B.S. degree in Wildlife Management from Northwestern State University in Louisiana and a B.A. degree in Secondary Science Education from the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico. Although he began his career in the oil & gas industry, he spent 18 years as a high school science teacher.

Having been involved in his local communities through memberships on the Chamber of Commerce, school parent-teacher organizations, and serving on several non-profit boards, Jim ran for election while still a science teacher. His plan was to focus on education and open government issues. After starting his service in the legislature, he developed an intense interest in election concerns. He now serves as the Chair of the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs committee and as the Chair of the Interim Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee. He has passed numerous pieces of legislation, including banning texting while driving, campaign finance reform, and bringing insurance coverage for autistic children.

Jim’s wife, Lori, manages Entranosa Water & Wastewater, a rural co-operative. She also supports numerous Republican candidates for office. Their five children have chosen careers in education and military service. One is a high school teacher, one is an elementary teacher, and the military branches include the Army, Navy and Marines.

Nicole Malliotakis

New York Assemblywoman

Nicole Malliotakis was elected to the New York State Assembly on November 2, 2010, defeating a two-term incumbent. She is the daughter of immigrants, her father from Greece and her mother a Cuban exile of the Castro dictatorship. Nicole is currently the only female Republican and Hispanic Republican elected official in New York City, and represents a district spanning the boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island. She was the first Hispanic-American elected from Richmond County. She was re-elected to her third term in November 2014 with an overwhelming 73%.

Prior to being elected, Nicole served as liaisons for the late State Senator John Marchi and Governor George Pataki. Subsequent to Governor Pataki’s departure from office, she worked as a public affairs manager for Con Edison focusing on the state’s energy, economic, and environmental policies.

During her first term in the Assembly, Nicole was named one of 2012’s “40 Under 40 Latino Rising Stars” by the Hispanic Coalition of New York, as well as a member of Greek America’s “Forty Under 40” Class of 2012 for which she was recognized at their annual National Innovation Convention. In 2013, Nicole was named one of the American Conservative Union’s “Top 10 Under 40” and addressed the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), for which MSNBC identified her as a “young conservative to watch.” In 2014, she was selected by the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation to participate in a visit to Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties between the two nations.

Recovery from Hurricane Sandy has become a hallmark of her tenure as an elected official, as her district, which encompasses the eastern shore of Staten Island, was among the hardest hit by the October 2012 storm. In addition, Nicole has successfully fought to restore and expand transit service in both Brooklyn and Staten Island, improve programs for senior citizens, and reform education in our state. She has worked to improve New York's economic climate and reduce the tax burden on small businesses and residents. She is also a passionate advocate for animal rights and the strengthening of animal cruelty laws.

Jon Hardister

North Carolina Representative

Jon Hardister was born and raised in Greensboro, NC as the only child of Wayne and Carolyn Hardister. He attended Grimsley High School and Greensboro College, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science.

In 2012, Jon was elected to serve as a member of the NC House of Representatives. He was reelection to a second term in 2014. He has served in numerous committees, including Agriculture, Appropriations, ABC, Banking, Education, Elections, Finance, Judiciary, Redistricting, and Transportation.

Numerous bills that Jon sponsored in the state legislature were passed into law. Both the NC Chamber of Commerce and the NC Free Enterprise Foundation have provided Jon with a high rating for the work that he has done as a legislator. He has received several awards and recognitions as a result of his work, including:

“Freshman Trailblazer Award” from the NC Alliance of Public Charter Schools
“Certificate of Appreciation” from the NC Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform
“Defender of Liberty” by the American Conservative Union

Jon received a 93 percent conservative voting record from the American Conservative Union for his tenure thus far in the state legislature.

Jon also enjoys being active in his community. He currently serves on several boards, including the Southeast Guilford Community Foundation; the UNCG Board of Visitors for the School of Health and Human Sciences; and the Boy Scouts of America - Old North State Council. He is also an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Greensboro.

Aside from his job as a legislator, Jon works in marketing and real estate investing. In his spare time he enjoys exercising, playing guitar, reading and spending time with his family.

Robert McColley

Ohio Representative

State Representative Rob McColley is currently serving his first term in the Ohio House of Representatives. He represents the 81st House District, which includes all of Henry, Putnam, and Williams Counties and part of Fulton County.

Representative McColley was born and raised in Napoleon, Ohio. He attended The Ohio State University where he graduated with a degree in finance in 2007. Rob then went on to obtain a juris doctor from the University of Toledo College of Law in 2010. Rob spent several years practicing law before he took a position as Economic Development Director for Henry County. He also volunteered much of his time for local non-profits and volunteer boards.

Representative McColley’s legal background and time spent working with businesses as an economic development professional provided him the foundation upon which he decided to run for the statehouse. He now uses that background as a member of the Government Accountability and Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways & Means Committees. He also serves Vice-Chair of the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee, the official campaign organization of the Ohio House Republican Caucus.

Rob and his wife Denise currently reside in Napoleon, Ohio with their daughter Anna.

Neal Collins

South Carolina Representative

Neal Collins, a native of Easley, South Carolina, graduated from Furman University with a B.A. in Political Science and French. He received his J.D. from University of South Carolina School of Law. Neal is an attorney at The Hendricks Firm in Easley, SC licensed to practice in both North Carolina and South Carolina. He is a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, first elected in 2014. Neal was elected freshman caucus chairman. He serves on Education & Public Works committee as well as the Joint Committee on Children. Neal is the only freshman GOP whip in a GOP-majority House of Representatives. Neal served as Marco Rubio for President co-chairman in SC. Locally, Neal serves as a board member for the YMCA of Pickens County and Boy Scouts of America, Pickens Council. Neal is also an NCAA wrestling official, South Carolina High School League wrestling director, and a B-licensed skydiver.

Four Price

Texas Representative

State Representative Four Price is honored to serve the people of Texas' House District 87, which consists of Carson, Hutchinson, Moore, Potter, and Sherman counties. Price was re-elected to a third term in the Texas House of Representatives with 84 percent of the general election vote.

As a fourth generation Texan, born and raised in the Panhandle, Representative Price brings to the Texas Capitol a strong sense of conservative values and a deep love of the Lone Star State. As a young man, he learned the importance of one's word and the value of a dollar by working on area farms and ranches. These character traits of integrity, hard-work, and results-oriented leadership define Price's advocacy for his constituents at the Texas Capitol.

For the 84th Legislative Session, Representative Price was re-appointed to serve as a member of the House Committee on Appropriations. A significant portion of the Appropriation Committee’s work in developing the state budget is performed in various subcommittees, including the Article II Subcommittee. This Subcommittee, which Price has the privilege and responsibility of leading as Chairman, addresses the healthcare portion of the state budget. Price also serves on the House Committee on Human Services and the House Committee on Calendars. Recently, Chairman Price was appointed to Chair the Select Committee on Mental Health and as Co-Chair of the Transition Legislative Oversight Committee which is charged with overseeing the consolidation of the Health & Human Services agencies in Texas.

Representative Price is an active member of the following caucuses in the Texas House of Representatives: Community College Caucus, Republican Caucus, Rural Caucus, Sportsman's Caucus, Tourism Caucus, and Veterans Caucus.

Representative Price, a graduate from Amarillo ISD's Tascosa High School, has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin and a law degree with high honors from St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio. He and his wife Karen reside in Amarillo. They have four children with the youngest still enrolled in public school.

His legislative work on behalf of constituents and for the good of the entire state has resulted in several honors over the past three sessions including:

• The Patient Protection Award from the Texas Medical Association for his work on behalf of Texas patients;
• Texas Rural Hospital TORCH-bearer award for his efforts in support of rural healthcare;
• Legislator of the Year Award from the Texas Civil Justice League;
• Bell Helicopter’s Legislative Leadership Award;
• Texas District and County Attorneys Association Law & Order Award;
• Texas Health Care Association’s “Champion of Long Term Care” Award;
• Texas Legislative Champion Award from 8 TX Oil & Gas Groups;
and
• Named a “Champion of Free Enterprise” by the Texas Association of Business.

When asked what most people don’t know about him, Rep. Price responds that he married a former Texas Tech Homecoming Queen and has completed two marathons….

Jill Upson

West Virginia Delegate

Jill Upson was elected in November 2014 to the West Virginia House of Delegates. In her freshman term as a legislator, Upson served on two major House committees and 4 minor committees. She was also named Chairman of the Women’s Caucus, Chairman of the Minority Caucus, and Chairman of the Joint Select committee on Minority Issues. In 2015, Upson was one of 12 House members appointed to the prestigious Joint Select Committee on the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse.

Taking the lead on tough issues such as education reform, ethics reform, and criminal justice reform, Delegate Upson has been the lead sponsor and co-sponsor of successful reform legislation that tackle these important topics. She is the driving force behind the bipartisan Ban-the-Box Act, introduced during the 2016 legislative session.

Jill Upson holds the distinction of making state history as the First black Republican woman elected to the WV House of Delegates. In 2012, she was identified by Black Entertainment Television (BET), as one of their “Top 12 Republicans To Watch”. Newsmax Magazine included her on its 2015 list of “100 Most Influential African-American Republicans”. She has also received the West Virginia “Woman of Influence” Award for legislative service in August of 2015 and was honored by the RNC as one of its 2015 class of “Rising Stars”.

In addition to serving as state Delegate, she is also an elected member of the Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee where she represents the Kabletown District. She is a member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary and the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary where she serves as Chairman of the legislative committee. Upson also serves on the board of the Republican State Leadership Comittee’s Future Majority Project.

Delegate Upson attended Shepherd University where she majored in Business Administration. She is married to retired Navy Commander, Kelvin Upson and has one adult son.

Mary Czaja

Wisconsin Representative

State Representative Mary Czaja (R-Irma) was first elected to the 35th District Wisconsin State Assembly in 2012. She is currently serving her second term in office.

Mary has four children and is a lifelong resident of northern Wisconsin. She holds a finance degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and is the owner of C.I.S. Insurance Agency in Tomahawk.

This session Mary serves on the Joint Committee on Finance, where she brings the perspective of northern Wisconsin to the state budget process. She also serves as a member of the Assembly Environment & Forestry Committee and the Wisconsin Women’s Council. Mary is a member of the National Rifle Association and the Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin.