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Vol. III, No. 1 – January 2011 | The Alumni Newsletter Highlighting Activities of JSA – Junior State of America
Providing an Example for Politicians and Pundits
jeff harris The tragic events in Arizona that left five people dead and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition has dominated the news and the thoughts of all of us in the JSA community — students, teachers, staff, alumni and parents alike. The members and leaders of the Arizona JSA have been particularly affected by the shooting spree not only because Giffords and her staff have been helpful allies to JSA but, coincidentally because several JSAers almost went to the event being held by the congresswoman, but participated in a JSA convention planning conference call instead.

Many people have expressed how much JSA’s brand of political discourse and leadership training can provide an example for today’s politicians and pundits of how to vigorously debate controversial issues with respect and civility.

Another message that JSA imparts is that “politics is a noble profession.” The events in Arizona should remind us all that every individual who enters the civic area deserves our respect. So many qualified people refuse to throw their hat in the ring because of the sacrifices that public officials must make in their attempt to serve the public and make a positive difference.

We can disagree on the issues and approach to solving today’s problems, but we should remember that from city halls across the country to the White House, our elected officials put their political beliefs on display for all to know and expose themselves in ways that many people don’t have the courage to do. When JSA members interact with political figures, they have the chance to see that these high profile public officials are real people too.

Oddly enough, renewed calls for more civility in politics has sparked an intense debate. Blaming the actions of one disturbed young man on the rhetoric of any one politician is not realistic or constructive. Yet politicians and pundits on the right and the left must realize that the hyperbole they rely on to excite their supporters has almost completely replaced substantive debate in today’s society.

Democracy isn’t a spectator sport, but political talk shows sound more and more like sports talk radio filled with “smack talk” and unsubstantiated ad hominem attacks. I am fortunate enough to get a refreshing break from vitriol on television and the Internet every time I get the opportunity to watch JSA students at our conventions and conferences.

All of us in the JSA community should be comforted by the fact that JSA continues to fulfill our mission by instilling in young people the value of reasoned political debate and principled public service.

‘University-Quality’ JSA Alumni Group to Launch
Alumni association leader Paul Hrabal A JSA ALUM WHO has had a 20-year career as a financial management and business development executive has volunteered to lead a new effort to establish a “university-quality” JSA alumni association.

Paul Hrabal, who was JSA chapter president of Southern California’s Temple City High School in 1982 and attended JSA Summer School at U.C. Davis in 1983, has put together a three-year plan to launch the new alumni group. “We want to reconnect alumni to JSA,” said Hrabal, who is president of U.S. One and chief investment officer of One Fund, an exchange-traded fund based in Reno, Nev. “We want to build a strong alumni community, have alums participate in our programs both as donors and volunteers and tap their networks and resources to further JSA’s strategic objectives.”

Hrabal was named to the JSA board of trustees in December. After undergraduate work at Occidental College in Los Angeles and an MBA from the University of Chicago, Hrabal worked for Dell Computer, where he was finance and business development director. After retiring from Dell, he went on to found, which shortly became a leading political site on the Internet. In 2002, he founded U.S. Data Trust Corp., which was sold in 2009 to ValutLogix of Danvers, Mass.

The JSA alumni association vision, said Hrabal, is to hold numerous regional and national alumni events each year, with a national alumni board that would include both regional and five-year class chairs. The group would create a directory of alumni that would be published both in print and online and would provide an automated system to capture alumni data and updates.

Hrabal’s plans center around a alumni survey that will be launched shortly. It will attempt to garner just basic details about alums — contact information, JSA specifics, high school, higher education, current employment — and also get them to share information about their friends from JSA days who may have fallen by the wayside.

The first steps toward building the association are to gather together a task force, said Hrabal. He already has commitments to help from Marty Barash, Junelle Cavero, Amy Demske, Vince Farhat, Jay McGuire, Karen Prosser, Matt Randazzo and June Thurber.

If you’re interested in joining the alumni association task force or just want more information, e-mail Hrabal directly at

Founding Atlantic Region Mayor Named JSA Trustee
New JSA Trustee Amy Heir Demske JSA’s DIRECTORS IN December named Amy (Heir) Demske to the board of trustees. With 20 years of state and federal health policy experience, Demske is senior lobbyist for Arent Fox LLP in Washington, D.C.

Demske provides short- and long-range strategic policy advice to hospitals, health systems, device and drug manufacturers, provider organizations, and patient groups seeking to affect legislative and regulatory health-care policy. She analyzes health-care business and marketplace trends and advises clients so they can stay ahead of federal policy-making on payment and coverage policy changes.

As JSA chapter president at Watchung Hills Regional High School in N.J. Demske was founding mayor and conference chair for the then-Atlantic Region; she attended JSA Summer School at American University in 1984 and Stanford in 1985.

Demske speaks across the country to organizations about the implications and intersection of legislative and regulatory changes to the Medicaid and Medicare programs, health-care system and delivery change, health-care reform implementation, the HITECH Act (electronic health records), Medicare Part B and D drug issues and Medicare coverage and payment for new and emerging technologies.

Before joining Arent Fox, Demske managed the health care practices for the Carmen Group, and ran the Washington office for Broydrick & Associates, a Wisconsin-based lobbying firm.

Demske started her professional career in Florida, serving as leadership aide to the House majority leader and later joined the executive branch as legislative director for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. In this capacity, she represented Gov. Lawton Chiles and his health-care agenda before the state legislature. During her tenure, Demske led a statewide campaign in support of the governor’s comprehensive health care reform legislation, which prompted a number of innovative coverage initiatives in the state.

In addition to her policy and legislative work, Demske has managed state and federal campaigns in several states. She just completed a term as chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Social Services in Maryland and has also served as a court-appointed special advocate for foster children, and has received awards for her pro bono work on behalf of children.

Alumni Profile: Tracy Fitzsimmons
JSA Alum Tracy FitzsimmonsJSA leadership roles
I was part of the Bellevue High School. chapter and was the Pacific Northwest governor from 1985-1985. I attended the 1983 Summer School at American University in Washington, D.C.

Education, jobs, residences, family
I attended Princeton and graduated in 1989 with a degree in politics. Afterwards, I traveled to Chile for graduate studies with a scholarship from Rotary International. The year I went was the transition from dictatorship to democracy. I completed graduate studies at Stanford with a masters in Latin American Studies in 1991 and a PhD in Political Science in 1994. I became a professor at the University of Redlands in Southern California, and am now president of Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. I married Dr. Chuck Call, a professor at American University, and he does a lot of work with the United Nations (he’s an expert on peace building). I have a 6-year-old girl and 4-year-old twin boys.

I like to hike, play tennis and travel. I also like to do a lot of community outreach with many different organizations. I’ve also been doing research in democratization and women’s issues (Chile, El Salvador and Haiti, mostly). I’ve traveled a lot to and from Haiti for the past 15 years.

Last book read
“Stones into Schools,” by Fred Mortenson. It’s about the construction of schools for girls, largely in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It focuses on the crossing of cultural bridges in order to create good learning environments, particularly for girls.

Last accomplishment
Shenandoah University has committed to rebuilding a school in Haiti for 5,000 students.

What you learned in JSA that you still use today
JSA helped get me accepted to college and succeed. Leadership played such a big part of JSA, and JSA really opened US politics to my eyes.

Favorite JSA memory
My favorite memories are all from Fall and Spring states — going to Northern California, Southern California and Pacific Northwest conventions, working with other governors, some of my very best friends. The leadership we showed, and learning how to promote great debate and dialogue among our peers on political issues. Even now (25 years later) I still think that the way JSA encourages enthusiastic debate among young people on important political issues is something the rest of society can learn. We can disagree politically and still be great friends. Our country still has a ways to go in achieving that level of civility that I saw in JSA 25 years ago.

Karen’s Corner
Karen Prosser Greetings and Happy New Year dear readers: As you may know, in my day job, I am the program director for JSA Arizona. After the shocking events in Tucson, it has been a wrenching time for all Americans, but especially for JSA Arizona students. Many of my Tucson-area students have met with U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her staff and they have been devastated by the shootings. However, our Nogales JSAZ chapter president, Alexis Marie Kramer, called me to share her feelings after having attended the memorial service in the University of Arizona Sports Arena the night before. “Mrs. Prosser, I am certain that my chapter can be a very positive force in our community. I know that our activities will prove that you can be positive and kind and politically effective.” You go, Nogales. Lead the way.

More Arizona: Andrei Cherny, a former Southern California JSA leader from the San Fernando Valley, ran and lost in November for Arizona state treasurer. Last week he announced, “After a great deal of soul-searching and encouragement from elected leaders, grassroots activists, and friends throughout the state, I have decided to run for the position of chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.”

Moving up: Janice Rutherford was sworn in as San Bernardino County supervisor in Southern California on Dec. 6. Supervisor Rutherford, a Republican, was surrounded on her special day by JSA friends who are also JSA alumni, including JSA CEO Jeff Harris, JSA Trustee Marty Barash (a former Southern California JSA governor), and former JSA Southern California Gov. Robert Little, as well as Ira Liss. Rutherford, who had served on the Fontana, Calif., city council since 2000, is a longtime trustee.

A big thank you: To Jack Eugene Teeters (JSA Montezuma Summer School ’48 and JSA Trustee) for helping us arrange a major grant from the Hurlbut-Johnson Trust which underwrites our development department. For the last five years, Jack has also helped the Montezuma Foundation secure grants to fund a program for JSA teacher-advisors at the former campus of the Montezuma School where JSA was founded. The Montezuma Foundation — an alumni association for the Montezuma School — funds 50 students to the Spirit of Prof Summit Conference every summer held at the former school site. Thanks, Jack. As you may know, Jack is one of the four or five most significant figures in JSA history.

Update on more recent alumni: So here is a report on the recent activities of JSA governors from 2006-2007. As you will read, they are a pretty extraordinary group of young leaders.

• Kyle Simmons (Southeast governor 2006-07 and 2007-08): “Well, it’s almost like I never left JSA since my final convention in spring of ’08. After I served a second term as governor, I entered Howard University, where I am in my junior year studying political science. I started interning in the JSA office my freshman year, and was a resident assistant at the Yale session of the JSA Summer School in 2009. I was the first member of our new JSA Fellows program during my sophomore year, working with Florida and Midwest JSA and serving as assistant program director for the Northeast. In summer 2010, I was the Georgetown speakers program director, and assistant director of the JSA Northeast Institute on National Security held at Princeton University. This school year, I have been serving as the JSA senior fellow. On a more academic note, this past semester, I had the privilege of having Dr. John Davis, a longtime summer school faculty member, as one of my teachers. He was certainly likeable when I worked with him at summer school, but now I understand why the students admire him so much as a teacher. In the next few weeks, I’ll be putting together the Speakers Program for JSA’s three 2011 Winter Congresses held in Washington and I hope to spend another great summer deeply involved in our summer schools.”

• Jordan Levine (Northeast governor): “I just returned from a month in Vietnam, Spain and Morocco. I’m graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in May and start work at an investment bank in New York City this summer. I served as the president of the Penn Democrats during my sophomore/junior years ... other than that, would be excited to get back in touch with some of my friends from the JSA years and hear what’s going on.”

• Ravi Mulani (Midwest governor): “I’m in the middle of my junior year, studying Applied Math and Economics at Harvard, currently in India visiting family. I’ve become very interested in economic development, and I worked in India after my freshman summer and China this past summer. I’m hoping to eventually go into business or policy related to development, which I’m pretty excited about. In terms of school, I enjoy my classes; I coordinate an after-school program for five- seven-year-olds in the lower-income Mission Hill neighborhood in Boston and write a column on economic policy for the Harvard Crimson. I really like Harvard and have made a lot of friends there — I often see or meet people who also did JSA! I also enjoy hanging out with my brother, (Nikil, also a former Midwest governor) who is now a freshman at Harvard. I fondly remember my JSA experiences, and many of the people I met are still close friends of mine.”

• Sasha Parsley (Pacific Northwest governor): “I am currently living in Haifa, Israel, and studying Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Haifa. I am majoring in Armed Conflict and Reconciliation at Fairhaven College at Western Washington University with a minor in Arabic and Islamic Studies. I will be ending my semester here this week and starting on an independent study and research project to explore the role of narrative in conflict zones. I am interviewing people from across Israeli and Palestinian territories about their personal and family history and their political opinions. The interviews will be compiled and presented along with a photography exhibit in order to help present this region to people in the United States in a more personal and humane way. I return to the states in March.”

• Robert Byrne (Southern California governor): “I’m currently taking a semester off from Georgetown to work at the Mae Tao Clinic on the Thai-Burma border. The clinic serves about 150,000 refugees, migrant workers and other displaced people from Burma. The clinic originally grew out of the 1988 pro-democracy demonstrations and uses education as a tool for teaching about democracy. I first learned about the Burmese conflict at a particularly inspirational JSA thought-talk during my sophomore year of high school. The conversation ultimately led me to study the sociology of social change and movements. With the recent release of Aung San Suu Kyi and reinvigorated international attention to Burma, now is a particularly exciting time to be on the ground studying how the movement is coordinating its efforts as well as the sociopolitical identities of the displaced Burmese.”

• Meredith Morrison (Texas Governor): “Let’s see ... the brief version of my life — I’ve just finished my year in the Studies in Grand Strategy program (Natasha [Sarin] and I overlapped for a semester, but her White House internship caused her to have to complete the class with the year below us). I am preparing to graduate with a double major in Modern Middle East Studies and Political Science, with an Interdisciplinary Concentration in Order, Conflict, and Violence. My focus is on global Islamist radicalization and recruitment, and terrorism. Based on my extensive travel in the past few years ­— over nine months between Jordan, Egypt, Syria, the West Bank, and Israel — I’m in the process of writing a senior thesis about Islamist recruitment strategies and the failures of Western-backed reforms in the Arab world. I’ll be returning to Syria in March leading a ‘Reach Out’ trip of a dozen Yale students to do community service in a Palestinian refugee camp. (My sophomore and junior years, I led a similar trip to Jordan.) As for next year, I’m still unsure of what my specific plan will be, but I’m hoping for a job related to Middle East policy-making in New York or Washington, D.C. I expect I shouldn’t be far from my fellow JSA council of governor members, with whom I’ve kept in touch pretty well over the past few years. I have very fond memories of JSA and I’m so excited that my little brother (Callum Morrison — keep an eye out, he’ll be one of the Texans at Winter Congress in D.C.) is already so invested in the program, and he’s only a sophomore.”

• Natasha Sarin (Northern California governor): “Yale is amazing. I’m graduating in the spring and I applied for a few consulting jobs in the fall and got offers from The Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey. I signed with the McKinsey D.C. office, but I’m also still looking at jobs in the administration and might defer McKinsey for a few years if I get an opportunity I fall in love with. Meredith Morrison and I took a course here at Yale called ‘Grand Strategy’ where we had the chance to put our JSA skills to use and work with some truly amazing professors who are interested in cultivating the next group of American leaders. Last semester we got the chance to see U.S. Gen. [Stanley] McChrystal and have dinner and drinks with him, while he told us all about his experiences in the armed forces. The course is year long and thus far this spring one of the highlights has been the fact that Peggy Noonan joined the faculty — she’s fantastic and even in one class I’ve learned a lot from her. The White House was literally the most amazing five months of my life. I am dying to go back. I was working in the National Economic Council for Larry Summers — but directly for one of his deputy directors, Diana Farrell. I expected to be getting coffee and making copies, but I actually spent my time at the NEC looking into deep policy questions relating to the joblessness problem brought about by this most recent recession. Suffice it to say I learned a lot about government data sources and research — and met some pretty amazing people that shaped how I’ve thought of this last year at Yale as well as whatever I’ll do after I graduate. Just being at the White House every day was an experience in and of itself — I loved running into the vice president and his detail in the hall in front of my office and waiting in the West Wing lobby and observing the action. It might not have been exactly like those episodes of the ‘West Wing’ that I’m still obsessed with, but it was pretty close. On another note, now that we’re about to graduate from college (SO weird since I so vividly remember graduating from high school), I started thinking a bit about JSA and all of the great times I had in that San Mateo office. The White House was the best experience of my life, and I’m well aware of the fact that I very much have JSA to thank for it. Everyone at JSA showed me how important and exciting public service and political engagement can be, and there’s no question in my mind that my four years as a student in the organization have shaped the rest of my academic and professional career. I am indebted to JSA and Prof. Rogers.”

Do you have updates for ‘Karen’s Corner’? Send them to .


In This Issue
  Example for Politicians, Pundits
  JSA Alumni Group to Launch
  Founding Mayor Named Trustee
  Profile: Tracy Fitzsimmons
  Karen’s Corner
Events calendar
Feb. 5-6, 2011
 Northern California
  Winter Congress

Feb. 11-12, 2011
 Northeast Winter Congress
 Washington, D.C.

 Pacific Northwest Congress
 Portland, Ore.

Feb. 18-20, 2011
 Ohio River Valley
  Winter Congress
 Washington, D.C.

Feb. 19-20, 2011
 Southern California
  Winter Congress
 Long Beach

How Can I Help JSA
Donate now! Annually, thousands of JSA alumni and friends donate their time, talent and treasure to support the program. Please contact Chief Executive Jeff Harris, if you wish to volunteer, reconnect with the program, or make a gift to JSA. or (800) 334-5353.