The Leadership Institute

The Leadership Institute (LI)


The Leadership Institute (LI) was founded in 1979 by Morton C. Blackwell who serves as its current president. The Institute specializes in training potential conservative political leaders in campaigns, fundraising, grassroots organization, youth politics, and communications.

According to their website, “The Institute teaches conservatives of all ages how to succeed in politics, government, and the media.”

The website also states “LI increases the number and effectiveness of conservative activists and leaders in the public policy process. The Institute doesn’t analyze policy; it teaches conservative Americans how to influence policy through direct participation, activism, and leadership.”

According to Right Wing Watch, Morton Blackwell has also served as Executive Director of the secretive Council for National Policy, a foundation composed of leaders of right wing public policy organizations, major donors, and noted conservative leaders.

The Leadership Institute actively supports the entire conservative movement. [1]

Stance on Climate Change

Although the LI does not supply an official statement on climate change, their Campus Reform project offers the following point of view on their blog:

“For the leftist activists, COP 15 and the protest was about changing the system (aka ending capitalism). Climate change is merely an excuse to collapse capitalism and switch to socialists economic systems.” [2]


Media Matters breaks down The Leadership Institute's funding as follows: [3]

Information from the 1995 “Foundation Directory” (PDF) archived by Greenpeace shows that the Leadership Institute Received $65,000 from the Carthage Foundation in 1992. [4]

The LI has in turn funded the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR). [5]

Key People


As of May, 2012, the following were listed in the Leadership Institute's Staff Directory: [6]

  • Morton Blackwell — President.
  • Cathy Graham — Executive Assistant to the President.
  • David Fenner — Vice President of Programs.
  • Robert Arnakis — Senior Director of Domestic and International Programs.
  • Charles Ryan Adams — Grassroots Activist Schools Coordinator.
  • William Doss — Grassroots Coordinator.
  • Harmony Shields — Grassroots Coordinator.
  • Tyler Foote — Director of Political Training.
  • Heather Homan — Political Training Coordinator.
  • Carol Wehe — New Media Coordinator.
  • Rachel Phillips — Director of Communications Training.
  • Miguel Moreno — Director International & Government Training.
  • Emily Miller — Director of Employment Placement Services.
  • Eliza Thurston — Intern Coordinator.
  • Abigail Alger — Director of Digital Communications.
  • Lauren Hart — External Affairs Officer.
  • Courtney Trollinger — Director of Events.
  • Patricia Simpson — Director of Online Programs.
  • Timothy Dionisopoulos — New Media Manager.
  • Josiah Ryan — Director of Communications for the Campus Leadership Program.
  • Bryan Bernys — Vice President for the Campus Leadership Program.
  • Michael Armstrong — Regional Field Coordinator.
  • Oliver Darcy — Regional Field Coordinator.
  • Marjorie Jeffrey — Regional Field Coordinator.
  • Anthony Listi — Regional Field Coordinator.
  • Michael McGonigal — Regional Field Coordinator.
  • Justin Pulliam — Regional Field Coordinator.
  • Jennifer Stovall — Regional Field Coordinator.
  • Daryl Ann Dunigan — Youth Leadership School Coordinator.
  • Matt Kneece — Director of Youth Leadership School.
  • Adam Weinberg — Regional Field Coordinator.
  • Steven Sutton — Vice President of Development.
  • Karla Bruno — Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations.
  • John Davis — Director of Donor Communications.
  • Brian Eaton — Senior Regional Development Officer.
  • Tarah Goulding — Donor Relations Officer.
  • Marci LeBlanc — Director of Planned Giving.
  • Kristen Mann — Director of Donor Relations.
  • John Poreba — Director of Regional Development.
  • Elizabeth Ryan — Donor Relations Officer.
  • Danielle Savoy — Regional Development Officer.
  • David Talbot — Regional Development Officer.
  • Christopher Vari — Development Assistant.
  • Joseph MetzgerVP of Finance.
  • David Hempel — Controller.
  • Mark Centofante — Vice President for Technology and Operations.
  • Aaron Reese — Director of LI Studios.
  • Stephen Condon — Web and Database Programmer.
  • Peter Ildefonso — Technology Support Technician.
  • Jeffrey Jendel — Director of Systems and Network Operations.
  • Phil Natalini — Director of Internet and Database Operations.
  • Daniel Klenck — Director of Building Management.
  • Joanne Bogan — Receptionist.

According to SourceWatch, past students at the LI have included:


May 21 - 23, 2012

The Leadership Institute is listed as a “Gold Sponsor” of the Heartland Institute's Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7). [7]

May 16 - 18, 2010

The LI was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's Fourth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4). [8]

December, 2009

The LI's Campus Reform Project promoted the formation of groups to “highlight the absurdity of climate change claims” with the specific purpose of getting media attention and starting a movement on campus to “share information about Climategate and climate change with other students.” [9]

June 7, 2002

LI President Morton Blackwell was a signatory to a letter to President Bush urging him to withdraw the Climate Action Report 2002 and to “direct that it be re-written on the basis of sound science and without relying on discredited products of the previous administration.”

Signatories also urged Bush “to dismiss or re-assign all administration employees who are not pursuing your agenda, just as you have done in several similar instances.” [10]

Related Organizations


  1. About the Leadership Institute,” The Leadership Institute. Accessed May, 2012.

  2. Justin Pulliam. “Hopenhagen Socialism Part 1: 'Change the System',”, December 22, 2009.

  3. “Leadership Institute,” Media Matters. Accessed May, 2012.

  4. The Foundation Directory, 1995 Edition, P. 1349 (PDF). Archived by Greenpeace.

  5. Lisa Graves. “Right-Wing Operatives Take Up ALEC's Voter Suppression Agenda,” PR Watch, April 19, 2012.

  6. LI Staff Directory,” The Leadership Institute. Accessed May 20, 2012.

  7. Cosponsors,” 7th International Conference on  Climate Change. Accessed May 20, 2012.

  8. Co-Sponsors,” The 2010 International Conference on Climate Change, January 16, 2010. Archived January 24, 2010.

  9. Can't Go to Copenhagen? You Can Still Party for a Good Cause,” Campusreform, December 8, 2009.

  10. Joint Letter To President Bush On The EPA's Climate Action Report,” Competitive Enterprise Institute, June 7, 2002.

  11. The Leadership Institute,” SourceWatch.

  12. Leadership Institute,” Wikipedia.