2013 NLC Fellows: Kentucky


James Bartlett, Intern, McCarthy Strategic Solutions, LLC

Mike is a recent graduate of the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and minors in Music Theory and Economics. During his undergraduate work, Mike had the privilege of studying abroad in London, England, where he not only studied diplomacy and international relations, but the various institutions of the European Union. Working with students from all over the globe, he created positions papers and participated in simulations of United Nations summits concerning topics such as the Georgia-South Ossetia crisis of 2008 or Iran’s possible nuclear ambitions. By working so closely with such a diverse group of people he was able to gain a more informed perspective on the issues facing today’s global community. Mike is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Diplomacy and International Commerce at the Patterson School of Diplomacy in Lexington, Kentucky. He has focused his studies on the workings of international organizations and good governance practices in order to be an agent for effective institutions in any future career. He hopes to develop skills in the areas of development, trade and investment, and public diplomacy. Most recently, he has been inspired by Carne Ross’s book “Independent Diplomat” to explore diplomatic advocacy for unrecognized people groups or disadvantaged states. His ultimate career ambition is to serve abroad as a Foreign Service Officer representing the people of the United States abroad. His first political experience was as an intern for Beshear for Governor, and he has remained active with campaigns ever since. Other positions included a policy internship in Kentucky’s Governor’s Office, focusing on tax reform and education initiatives, and work in constituent services in Representative Ben Chandler’s Office. Currently, Mike is interning with McCarthy Strategic Solutions, LLC focusing on the legislative session in Frankfort, and is thrilled to have to opportunity to view the legislative process from a firsthand perspective. An active member of the community, Mike served as the UK College Democrats’ Communications Director, and founded UK’s “Cats for Conway” student group, that facilitated President Bill Clinton’s most recent visit to UK. Mike also spent four years in the Wildcat Marching Band, where he played trombone, and dedicated much of his time to the UK Orchestra and Band programs. 

Nathan Dickerson, Executive Director, ProgressLex

I have a BA in Public Policy Studies and a minor in Computer Science from the University of Kentucky. During my college career, I was honored to be both a Gaines Fellow and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. I was also on the student advisory board for Campus Progress, and my field report on Kentucky’s Creation Museum was published in both the webzines of Campus Progress and The Nation. Since college, I have worked in Kentucky Democratic politics, state government, and with nonprofits. I’ve worked on a gubernatorial race, a US Senate race, and a few state legislative races, including the 2008 campaigns of Senator Kathy Stein and Representative Kelly Flood. Since that time, I have worked with the Lexington Office of Employment and Training and with The Council of State Governments as a research analyst. I am currently working with ProgressLex, an organization that is focused on unlocking the potential of Lexington, Kentucky through transformative change. I came of age in politics during the 2004 presidential election, and the following year I was fortunate to see President Clinton speak at the first Campus Progress National Conference. It was a transformative moment for me, and one quote from his speech still sticks with me today: How can you have shared values in a world as diverse as ours? You can’t if you believe you have the absolute truth… Then all possibility of shared values vanishes because somebody who doesn’t agree with you on something is by definition outside the family of humanity. It is a thought that continues to connect dots for me in both work and life experiences, and the challenge it highlights has framed my passion for progressive change.

Morgan Floyd

I am a senior at Georgetown College and am currently perusing a Political Science and Psychology double major. During my college career I have become involved with many different types of organizations on campus that have helped shape me. I have held positions such as president of Young Democrats, vice president of United Nations Georgetown, two council positions within my sorority, International Orientation Leader, and an Admissions Tour Guide. My entire life I have had a passion for people in both my Kentucky community and around the world. Before college, I had competed in archery tournaments for almost 9 years and was the 2007 National Archery Campion. As a result, my mom (a breast cancer survivor) and I are the faces for the “Aiming for a Cure” Archery Campaign that has raised over $200,000 so far for breast cancer research. This year I am able to continue sharing my love for archery by helping coach a middle school team in Scott County. This past summer I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer for a month in Udaipur, India at a school for the blind. I taught a small English class, spend time with the students after school, and was even able to learn a little bit of Hindi myself. The experience changed my life and launched my desire to someday work for a nonprofit either at home or abroad. I hope to eventually go on to get my Doctorate in Counseling Psychology, with a special emphasis on the issue of Human Trafficking.

Liz Fossett, Research Assistant, AMR Management Services

Liz is a 2008 graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she focused on Australia and New Zealand Studies, and was President of the school’s College Democrats chapter. While in DC, Liz worked at Hilltop Public Solutions, a strategic public affairs and political consulting firm. She is an alumni of the Front Line Leaders Academy, as well as several campaigns in Kentucky, including 2008′s Bruce Lunsford for U.S. Senate and 2006′s Ken Lucas for U.S. House of Representatives. Liz is a native of Covington, and currently resides in Lexington, where she is a research assistant for a national nonprofit and is an MBA student at the University of Kentucky.

Justice Heltzel , Researcher, Fayette County PVA

My name is Justice Heltzel and I am a native Kentuckian, born and raised in Frankfort Kentucky. I received my undergrad degree from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor's of Arts in Political Science. I have worked extensively on political campaigns in Kentucky, including spending the 2012 election cycle as the Deputy VAN Administrator, Voter File Manager, and VoteBuilder trainer for the Kentucky Democratic Party. My focus is on using political data and targeting to drive successful political operations in the Commonwealth.

William Osborne, Departmental Assistant University of Kentucky

I was born and raised in Elizabethtown, KY, and graduated from Elizabethtown High School in 2007. In 2011, I earned my Bachelors of Science in Community Communications & Leadership Development and Political Science from the University of Kentucky. Currently, I am a second year Master’s student in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky. My areas of focus are agricultural finance, cash & future commodity markets, and agricultural management. I have enjoyed working as a research assistant and teaching assistant on behalf of the department. While an undergraduate I was involved with several organizations including FarmHouse Fraternity. I held several offices in the fraternity, including president and scholarship chair. I was also an active member of College Republicans and a co-founder of a student advocacy and education organization extension of FACES of Coal. I served a term as Vice President of Alpha Zeta Honorary Agricultural Fraternity. I have been able to gain several work experiences through a number of employers. I worked as a GIS/ Mapping and Engineering intern for the City of Elizabethtown and Nolin Rural Electrical Cooperation Corporation. I have also had internships with Archers Daniel Midland and Farm Credit Services as a commodity merchandiser and financial services officer respectively. Once out of school, I hope to find employment in the agricultural industry so that I might use my knowledge, experience, and passion to create positive progress. Eventually, I would like to start my own business and takeover the family farm and transform it into a beef cattle operation. I plan to stay involved in my community whether through various organizations or elected office.

Heather Pollock

Heather Pollock is presently pursuing a Master’s of Urban Planning at University of Louisville. Her degree specializations are land use and environmental planning and housing and community development. Heather has undergraduate degrees in Sociology from Murray State University and Biology from University of Louisville. Previously, she worked as a research assistant for the Center of Environmental Policy and Management where she had the opportunity to aide in policy development, research, and events like Festival of Faiths. Prior to that, she had the incredible opportunity to work for Louisville Metro as an intern in the Department of Housing. As an intern she participated in an outreach program for homeowners facing foreclosure. The Foreclosure Conciliation Program is a partnership between a number of stakeholders; like Louisville Metro, Making Connections, the Kentucky Housing Corporation and Legal Aid to name just a few. The FCP is an initiative to bring home owners the opportunity to participate in a conciliation conference with their lenders, and hopefully prevent the loss of their homes. Heather also gained invaluable insights on policy implementation while assisting with the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing program which was funded by the 2009 stimulus plan. While at Murray State she had the opportunity to be the president of Alpha Sigma Sigma, an animal service sorority. This experience nourished her lifelong passion for volunteering. Whether it’s voter registration, nonprofit fundraising or events like The World Equestrian Games; Heather loves the involvement and the like-minded people she gets to meet. In addition to volunteering Heather enjoys camping, hiking, traveling, and reading just about everything she can get her hands on.

Shawn Reilly, Financial Advisor, Waddell & Reed

Shawn Reilly was born in Louisville and is a graduate of Trinity High School and the University of Louisville. To help pay for college, he worked summers framing houses and working on construction sites. Those summers gave him an appreciation for hard work and taught him the value of labor. During college Shawn met Stephanie Pieper and following a four-year courtship, they were married in the summer of 2011. Their wedding was held at St. Agnes Catholic Church, the same church where Stephanie’s parents were married. Shawn and Stephanie have made their home in the Upper Highlands, where Shawn is a member of the neighborhood association’s board. Stephanie is a graduate of Assumption High School and Bellarmine University, where she now works as the Assistant Alumni Director. In 2008 Shawn began work as a Financial Advisor with Waddell & Reed in Louisville. There he has learned first-hand about the economic pressures facing our middle class families. In his job, he hears everyday how people struggle financially to make ends meet, while still wanting to be able to send their children to college, and save for retirement. Shawn works to develop comprehensive, personal financial plans so working families can find real solutions that turn their dreams into reality. Shawn has a history of grassroots political activity. At the height of the Iraq war in 2006, he began working for congressional candidates who opposed the war. Later, he worked on political campaigns for candidates running for governor and judicial posts. He has worked with issue campaigns such as the Iraq Summer Campaign, where he was the Field Director and sought to hold Sen. Mitch McConnell accountable for his support of that war. Shawn has worked on staff with Working America, a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, that addresses the priorities mattering most to working people--not just wealthy special interests. Currently Shawn if working with a new campaign called Progress Kentucky whose focus in on holding Mitch McConnell accountable for failing Kentucky. Shawn is a member of St. Agnes Catholic Church, CLOUT, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Metro Democratic Club, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Shawn also serves on an Advisory Board for Boys and Girls Haven, whose mission is to shelter, heal, and teach young people to become productive and healthy members of our community.

Charissee Ridgeway, Regulatory Support Staff Assistant, United States Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining

Charissee Ridgeway is currently a senior studying Political Science at the University of Kentucky. She has always believed that she is destined to help and serve people. In doing so, she has developed a passion for public policy, service and politics. Through internship experiences and education, she has acquired an immense amount of knowledge of both state and federal politics. She first began her work as an Intern to the Honorable Carl Rollins of Kentucky’s 56th district. This past summer she had the opportunity to intern in the office of United States Congressman Ben Chandler. Her duties included creating a data base for staff members, giving tours and an array of other duties concerning constituent services. During summer and winter breaks she works as a Regulatory Support Staff Assistant in the United States Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. There, she assists staff in the Regulatory Support Department in producing an administrative record for judicial review. Her short term goal following graduation is to attend Graduate School in Washington, D.C. While there she plans to attend George Washington University and receive a Masters degree in Political Management or Legislative Affairs. Following graduate school, Charissee will continue her education and pursue a law degree. With this degree, she hopes to begin working toward becoming a Congressional Staffer or Legislative Correspondent for a governmental entity. Her ultimate goal is to simply use her knowledge and influence to promote her beliefs and change on a national and grassroots level. Throughout her college career, she has found the time to serve her campus and Lexington community. As the Social Action Chair in the Mu Epsilon Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., she creates programs geared toward promoting social activism on and off campus. As a result of her work and others, over 150 people were registered to vote in this past election. She has also been heavily involved in serving the community. As a mentor at the Lexington Traditional Magnet School, she assisted and motivated children who were struggling behaviorally and academically. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She also enjoys travelling abroad. In the summer of 2011, she spent her summer studying abroad in Berlin, Germany.

Stephenie Steitzer, Communications Director, Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen

Stephenie is communications director for Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen. Prior to joining the auditor's office in January 2012, Stephenie Steitzer was the senior writer and digital marketing coordinator at Keeneland. She transitioned to public relations and marketing after a 13-year career as a newspaper reporter. She has worked at The Courier-Journal statehouse bureau in Frankfort, The Kentucky Post and The Daily Review (Towanda, Pa.) and interned at The Wall Street Journal Washington bureau, Cincinnati Enquirer and Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.). Stephenie is originally from Towanda, Pa., and graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Science in journalism.

Austin Vowels, Attorney, Vowels Law Office

Austin Vowels earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Louisville where he majored in Political Science and minored in Economics. His Juris Doctor is from Saint Louis University School of Law where he was an Articles Editor for the Saint Louis University Public Law Review. Austin has experience working at a legal clinic, as a law clerk for law firm, and as a judicial extern for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. He lives and runs a law office in Henderson, Kentucky. He is also a member of the Kentucky Bar Association, the Vice President of the Henderson Bar Association, and the Professional Development Chair of the Henderson Rotaract Club.

Michael Wilson, Intern, City/County Planning Commission of Warren County

I was born in a small town in central Kentucky and grew up in a modest family that was able to instill in me honesty, compassion, and the ability to always be grateful. The views of a level playing field to ensure competitiveness to bring out the best in all of us are common sense to me and I believe there is a way to be socially progressive in a manner that fiscal responsibility doesn’t have to be compromised. After high school I worked as a bartender for several years as well as a mortgage consultant. These decisions enabled me to get back in school and set to graduate from the accounting program at Western Kentucky University. I plan to take the CPA exam and help make state government a more efficient entity. Along with public sector work I plan on having a career in the private sector at some point as well. With the skills I hope to take from the New Leaders Council, I believe these goals to be achievable. I am currently the Chairman of a local Young Democrats organization, along with being 2nd congressional representative for the state chapter. I also participate in two counties Democratic Executive Committees. Volunteering has always been a passion of mine. I feel fortunate and always happy to do my part to help others, so when I can give back, I enjoy doing so for local Christian charity’s.