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Vol. III, No. 2 – February 2011 | The Alumni Newsletter Highlighting Activities of JSA – Junior State of America
JSA’s Mid-Winter Event Might Surprise You
jeff harris For thousands of JSA members across the country, February means Congress. Specifically, JSA’s Congress conventions – overnight events where students simulate an actual Congressional session. Although not an exact replication (filibusters are not allowed and lobbyists aren’t hanging out at the dance in the evening), these conventions give students the opportunity to propose solutions to the nation’s problems and have an open debate on these issues while understanding the dynamics of the “how a bill becomes a law” process.

The three congress conventions held in Washington, D.C., are the most exciting as students from the Midwest and East Coast explore our nation’s capital and participate in a speakers program on Capitol Hill as part of an extended weekend experience. JSA alumni who graduated high school before 1999 are astounded to hear that each year nearly 2,400 JSA students and teachers from east of the Mississippi attend these conventions. Remarkable evidence of JSA’s national expansion over the last decade.

STARTING NEXT MONTH we are relaunching the JSA Alumni Association. Thanks to Paul Hrabal (Davis SS ’83) a reconstituted Alumni Association will kick off with a survey designed to gather current contact information. We’ll use the information to put together an alumni directory to help alums reach out and find their JSA friends and colleagues. By browsing through the directory, our alums will undoubtedly find people in their current network who were also in JSA. Moreover, the JSA Alumni Association will be hosting “Reconnect with JSA” social events so we can see old friends and mix and mingle with others inside the JSA family. Alumni Association members will also have the opportunity to connect with current JSA members as today’s student leaders reach out to invite alumni to give presentations at conferences and conventions.

We need your help to make the JSA Alumni Association a success: Our alumni database records are in very bad shape. For most alumni who graduated from high school before Al Gore invented the Internet, we have don’t have email addresses or current contact information. And for younger alumni who changed addresses frequently as they went to college, graduate school and then started a career, keeping current information in our database has been challenging.

Please take the time the fill out the survey when it hits your inbox. You can help out more by taking an extra step and providing the current email address of any JSA alumni with whom you are still in touch with. Many of us are still very close to the friends we met in JSA; we are relying on your Rolodex (or however you keep your contact list) to help reconnect hundreds of other alumni from the program.

Magazines Give JSA $5000 Donation
The Atlantic's Justin B. Smith and JSA's Jeff Harris IN THE WAKE of January’s shootings of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others, six fatally, much was made of the potential for a “new” civility in U.S. political discourse. Current and former members of JSA, of course, know that this “new” civility has been a hallmark of the organization for its 76 years.

So it was with a degree of pride that at least some of the Washington establishment acknowledged the group’s tenacity in bipartisanship and civil discourse late last month.

The National Journal and The Atlantic awarded JSA a $5000 check at a congressional reception they hosted on Jan. 25 at the Library of Congress. The magazines chose JSA because the group promotes democracy and bipartisanship in high schools across the nation.

Terence Samuel, the managing editor for congressional coverage at the Journal, presented Jeff Harris, JSA’s chief executive, with the check during a ceremony at a function that honored the new incoming members of the 112th Congress. Attendees, who included not only members of Congress but also many members of the media, each received a card which detailed the reasons for the donation and extolled the many virtues of JSA.

The event immediately preceded the president’s State of the Union speech.

New Staffer Courtney Byrd Gets Summer School Rolling
JSA's latest hire, Courtney Byrd SEEKING NEW and more efficient ways to bring in summer school students, the Junior Statesmen Foundation board of directors last year approved management’s plan to institute a new staff position, admissions and recruiting director. Last month Courtney Byrd was hired for the job.

Byrd, who was a congressional workshop professor at Stanford Summer School last July, has most recently been a lecturer and instructor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. She is a longtime friend and colleague of Katie Langford, who has been a JSA summer school director at the University of Texas, Georgetown and Stanford since 2003.

“I had never heard of JSA before I met Katie,” said Byrd recently. “Once I learned about it, I wondered why I didn’t know about it in high school.”

As admissions and recruitment director in the San Mateo office, it’s now Byrd’s job is to make sure that more high schoolers find out about JSA and its summer programs. In addition to developing admissions policies and procedures to make certain the program continues its tradition of highly qualified students, Byrd is embarking on a broad marketing campaign to high school teachers and administrators throughout the nation.

She will be staffing booths at the California Council for Social Studies in Sacramento early next month and then at Middle States Council for Social Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey a few weeks later.

Byrd has her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Texas Tech and in addition to a career in teaching (elementary school as well as college), she was the winning campaign manager for a Texas judgeship, unseating a 17-year veteran, and has been active in raising money for the American Cancer Society.

And while the technology of the foundation helps bring in many summer school applications — more than 1,500 high schoolers started an application in 2010 — some of the students encounter a stumbling block when it comes to finishing the process.

“Right now,” said Byrd, “my main responsibility is to get them to complete their applications.”

In the Washington, D.C., office, the foundation recently hired Charlie Herron as student services coordinator, who is helping the year-round program in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas states and is assisting in admissions for the Princeton summer school.

Herron spent all four years while at high school in Wellesley, Mass., in JSA: he was president of his chapter for three years and was regional debate director and regional chief of staff. Herron attended Georgetown Summer School in 2005.

While attending Goucher College in suburban Baltimore, Herron was a resident assistant at JSA summer schools at both Stanford and Georgetown. He was graduated from Gocher last May.

JSA Director Vince Farhat Joins Law Firm
JSA Director Vince Farhat JSA ALUM VINCE FARHAT has been named to lead the West Coast white-collar defense practice of the Tampa-based law firm Holland & Knight LLP, the firm said earlier this month. Farhat has been on the JSA board of trustees since 2007 and its board of directors since 2009.

Farhat had spent eight years as a prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s office in the criminal and civil divisions of the California Central District, with his most recent assignment being the assistant U.S. Attorney coordinating prosecutions of heath care-fraud.

Earlier, Farhat had worked as an associate for Jones Day, and clerked for Judge Edward Rafeedie in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California before joining the attorney’s office in 2002.

“The firm has been looking for some time to establish a strong white-collar practice on the West Coast because there is a lot of need and opportunity with companies that are needing sound advice and counseling with respect to criminal and civil investigations,” Holland & Knight’s John Hogan told the National Law Journal.

The web site reported that Farhat was one of the lead prosecutors on an investigation into “patient dumping” on L.A.’s skid row which led to criminal charges and guilty pleas from parties including former executives at the City of Angels Medical Center.

The site said the center paid a $10 million consent judgment and its owners received jail terms ranging from 24 to 37 months.

A graduate of University High School in Los Angeles, Farhat served as mayor of the JSA Angeles Region in 1983-84, and attended JSA Summer School at U.C. Davis and Georgetown. In addition to the JSA board of directors, Farhat serves on the board of Foothill Family Service, is a member of the City of Pasadena Transportation Advisory Commission and teaches at Loyola Law School as an adjunct professor.

Alumni Profile: Brian E. Harpuder
Brian Harpuder • JSA leadership roles
Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies Chapter, Stanford Summer School 1990, Georgetown Summer School 1991, L.A. Symposia 1990-1991. Southern State (when it still existed) Expansion Director, Southern State Debate Director, Southern State Convention Coordinator, Southern State Junior Statesman of the Year for 1991-1992.

• Education, jobs, residences, family
UCLA, B.A. Political Science, 1996. Ohio State University, M.A., Political Science, 1999. Ohio State University, PhD, Political Science, 2003.

Since October 2000, I have been in the U.S. Navy. I serve in the Information Dominance Corps as an Intelligence Officer.

My first job was aboard USS TARAWA (LHA-1) from 2001-2003, where I served as the assistant intelligence officer on the flagship for all amphibious forces partaking in Operation Iraqi Freedom. At one point, we spent 107 straight days underway. While deployed, I also finished my doctoral dissertation in the Persian Gulf.

In 2004, I reported to Joint Intelligence Center Pacific where I served as a foreign submarine expert, drafting detailed analyses of foreign submarine threats. I was able to play a significant advisory role during several crises involving the U.S. Pacific Command.

In 2007, I reported to Defense Liaison Division in Washington, D.C., where I served as a liaison officer to the Office of Naval Intelligence.

In December 2010, I reported to the United States Naval Academy where I serve as the intelligence community representative. I am teaching several classes in political science, something I have never done, even as a grad student. I expect to transfer from here by late-2012 and return to sea duty, hopefully deploying aboard an aircraft carrier.

I have been married to Barb since 2001. We have three beautiful children, Ethan (6), Seth (4) and Ellie (eight months). My free time is consumed by being a husband and father. While people call me “sir,” all day long at the Naval Academy, the best thing to hear every day is “Hi Daddy!” when I come home from work.

• Hobbies
No real time for them at this stage of life between work and family, but SCUBA diving (by far and away my favorite hobby, golf, racquetball, reading (Naval history, U.S. history, government, current events, marine biology), computers, travel.

• Last book read
“In the Shadow of the Oval Office,” by I.M. Destler and Ivo H. Daalder about our national security advisers. Now I am consumed with re-reading political science books I read more than 15 years ago.

• Last accomplishment
Professionally, being awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for my work at Defense Liaison Division. I went to work everyday knowing that I was going to make a small but important difference to the national security of the United States and was going to help our forward-deployed forces safely execute their tasking.

• Why I do what I do
I have always wanted to serve this great country. My father was a refugee from Nazi Germany and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy all of the freedoms we have in this country. While that may sound corny or cliche to some, it is genuinely how I feel. I enjoy putting on my uniform every day knowing that I am part of a long history of persons privileged to serve the Navy and their country. I also find my work professionally interesting as a subject matter that has always interested me and being exposed to many of the classified details behind the stories you read in the papers. Bottom line, I enjoy serving the fleet.

• Favorite JSA memory
Just about all of my time in JSA. To this day, two of my very best friends are from JSA. I enjoyed the opportunity JSA provided me to make friends with similar interests and the opportunity to think about a variety of public policy issues. While I always enjoyed chapter conferences and conventions, how could I not fondly remember the summer school experiences and with it, the opportunity to spend a few weeks away from my parents in the summer, hanging out with friends, playing practical jokes, and oh by the way, learning something.

• What I learned in JSA that I still use today
To be tolerant of divergent opinions, being able to respectfully and courteously disagree with others, the importance of considering both sides of an issue, and how to speak in front of large audiences. Really, there is much more that I learned from my time in JSA, that cannot adequately be listed here. I also learned that we need more people who are engaged in our nation’s public policy, who are capable of understanding and respecting different opinions, and most importantly, can truly engage in civil, civic discourse.

Karen’s Corner
Karen Prosser

In memoriam: John M. Hartenstein, 1958-2011. A highly regarded San Francisco public finance lawyer and chair of the school finance and general obligation bonds group at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, died Jan. 30, at his home in Berkeley, Calif. He was 52.

John was a graduate of Berkeley High School (where he was an active member of The California Junior State, now known as JSA) and was a true son of Berkeley, only feeling truly at home in its environs. He attended the 1974 Junior Statesmen Summer School at Sacramento State University where he made many lifelong friends including Lawrence Poree, a medical doctor in Aptos, Calif., and Karen Clopton, president of the San Francisco League of Women Voters and a state administrative law judge.

Clopton emailed, “Words cannot express how sad I feel. Those who knew us when we were young know what we were to each other for many years. I love him still.” Upon hearing the sad news, another JSA summer school classmate, John Trasvina — who is an assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — wrote, “How unfortunate. I read the moving tribute to him in The Recorder. He certainly has made a lasting impact on many.”

Poree – a summer school classmate of John’s – said that John was “young and eager to make a difference in the world around him.” Poree wrote, “Armed with the training and guidance of the Junior State, he set out to do just that, when he met with then-Gov. Reagan to discuss his support of bills aimed at increasing the flexibility of high school curriculum.

“As Junior Statesmen speaker of the house, John was passionate about upholding the rules of debate while fostering a balance between diverse points of view.“

Poree summed up his thoughts by writing, “His premature passing last month is not only a tremendous loss to his family and friends, but also to the community of leaders who strive to support and advance the principles of democracy. I will especially miss the passion, laughter and thoughtfulness, John brought to all our conversations.“

A well-known authority on voter-approved debt, California election law and California school and community college districts, John developed a significant bond and disclosure counsel practice that stretched across California, focusing on school district, community college district, and charter school needs and general obligation bonds, “bridge” financings and refundings, parcel tax measures, tax and revenue anticipation notes, and Mello-Roos bonds. “He was an excellent and thoughtful attorney who cared deeply about his clients. As importantly, he was a true gentleman and a dear friend,” said Roger Davis, chair of the Public Finance Department at Orrick.

Many of John’s colleagues remember him sprinting through the halls at work and going down flights of stairs two steps at a time. He had a complete Oxford English Dictionary in his office and was always prepared to debate what constituted a word and when it entered the English language. He claimed never to have shaved since he was old enough to grow a beard. He was known for being a linguist, economist and pastry chef, as well as an outstanding lawyer.

John received his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. He also received a masters degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Before attending law school, John trained in Vienna, Austria, as a pastry chef, and later worked at Narsai’s Restaurant in Berkeley. John is survived by his daughter Meena and many family and friends.

Activists wanted: In order to develop a pool of activists to draw upon to inspire and educate the current generation of JSA student leaders, we are looking to identify JSA alumni who are political and civic activists. To develop such a pool, we are looking to identify JSA alumni who are political and civic activists. These kids need role models who started in JSA and have gone on to impact their schools, communities, states and country.

You can share your experiences with the next generation of civic leaders at a JSA convention or summer program. You can share your experiences with the next generation of civic leaders at a JSA convention or summer program.

The eight alumni who met with students at the recent convention in Southern California include:

• Vince Farhat, a partner with the law firm Holland & Knight in Los Angeles (see above), who is also a director of the Junior Statesmen Foundation.

• Jon Fleischman, the founder and publisher of, who is also a trustee of the Junior Statesmen Foundation.

• Ted Green, a project director at the ballot measure and issue advocacy firm Woodward & McDowell, Los Angeles, is the immediate past president of the Junior Statesmen Foundation.

• James Lee, who owns his own Los Angeles-based communications consultancy, The Lee Strategy Group, has been a member of the foundation board of trustees since 1998.

• Larry Levine, one of California’s premier political consultants, joined JSA while at Burbank High School, where he graduated in 1957. He has been guiding successful Democratic campaigns for federal, state, local and judicial offices and ballot propositions since 1970. Levine has managed 120 campaigns, with a winning record of 88 percent; he has also directed 19 state and local ballot proposition campaigns. In 2001, Levine co-founded One Los Angeles to help contest the movement of the San Fernando Valley to secede from the city of Los Angeles. Levine publishes the slate mail programs “Voter Information Guide” for Democratic voters and “Golden State Senior Election Guide” for senior voters.Before becoming a political campaign consultant, Levine worked for 14 years as a news reporter and editor for the Copley News Service in their L.A. and Sacramento bureaus; he is also is the father of Lloyd Levine, a former California state assemblyman.

• Debra Jasgur Mendelsohn, a longtime deputy in the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, has her own political consulting firm, DMPR Consulting of Claremont, Calif. She attended Granada Hills High School in the San Fernando Valley and was an active participant in JSA throughout high school. Mendelsohn served in the regional cabinet and attended the 1982 and 1983 Los Angeles symposia as well as the U.C. Davis session of the Junior Statesmen Summer School. Mendelsohn attended the University of Southern California where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. While at U.S.C., she worked during the summer for the Junior Statesmen Foundation as a teaching assistant at the Los Angeles Symposium and the Georgetown Summer School. As a consultant, she has more than two decades of experience working with public, private sector and nonprofit organizations on a variety of public affairs projects. An outstanding community activist, Mendelsohn founded and directs Claremont Heroes — an ongoing, multi-faceted, award-winning grassroots advocacy program to recognize and support local military service personnel through an annual city-wide Veteran’s Day banner recognition program.

• Mike Spence, the chief of staff to Calif. Assemblyman Curt Hagman, is a longtime member of the JSA board of trustees.

• Melina Watts, a freelance writer as well as the coordinator of the Malibu Creek Watershed, attended Marlborough High School in Los Angeles where she was active in JSA. In 1981 Watts attended the Junior Statesmen Summer School at U.C. Davis and attended the Los Angeles Symposium in 1982. She ran, unsuccessfully, for JSA governor in 1982 when California was one JSA state. As the watershed coordinator, she works with stakeholders — including municipalities, agencies, non-profits, property-owners, media, scientists, engineers, business leaders, students and other citizens — to address concerns such as water quality, habitat restoration, climate change reduction and water conservation. Watts is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in history.

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


In This Issue
  Mid-Winter Event Surprise
  Magazines’ $5000 JSA Donation
  Staffer Gets Summer Rolling
  JSA Director Joins Law Firm
  Profile: Brian Harpuder
  Karen’s Corner
Events calendar
Feb. 25-27, 2011
 Mid-Atlantic Congress
 Arlington, Va.

March 5, 2011
 Chicago Regional
  JSA Convention
 Lincoln Park High School

March 12, 2011
 Minnesota Mini-Convention

April 2-3, 2011
 Northeast Spring State
 Stamford, Conn.

April 8-10, 2011
 Northern California
  Spring State
 Santa Clara

April 9-10, 2011
 Pacific Northwest Spring State
 Redmond, Wash.

April 15-17, 2011
 Southern California
  Spring State
 Los Angeles

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.