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2015 Winter Leadership Meeting Speakers

RJC 2015 Winter Meeting Speakers:

Rep. Carlos Curbelo
Eric Draper
Carly Fiorina
Sen. Lindsey Graham
Sen. Mark Kirk
Frank Luntz
Rep. Elise Stefanik
Rep. Lee Zeldin

Rep. Carlos Curbelo

In November of 2014, Carlos Curbelo was elected to represent Florida's 26th Congressional District in the 114th Congress. At 34, Curbelo is one of the youngest Members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Carlos was born in Miami on March 1, 1980, to Carlos and Teresita Curbelo, Cuban exiles who fled Fidel Castro’s regime in the 1960s. Carlos subsequently enrolled in the University of Miami where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration while majoring in Political Science. In 2011, he earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from UM.

In 2002, just months after graduating college, Carlos founded a public and media relations firm that did work for South Florida and international companies. As a small business executive he met the challenges of meeting payroll, balancing budgets, and building teams with success.

In 2009, he was named State Director for U.S. Senator George LeMieux and was responsible for overseeing staff in seven offices throughout the state and advising the Senator on Latin-American policy and Hispanic issues. In 2010, he was appointed by Florida’s Governor to the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), a federally mandated board tasked with prioritizing local transportation and infrastructure projects. Carlos is also the co-founder of Centre Court Charities, a non-profit organization that runs basketball leagues for high school students during the summer months.

In November of 2010, Carlos was elected to serve on the Miami-Dade County School Board. Miami-Dade County Public Schools is the fourth largest school district in the country. Shortly after being elected, he was the only School Board Member in the state asked to serve on the Governor’s Education Transition Team where he was a champion for reform, school choice, and equity in funding. On the School Board, Carlos was also a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility, parental involvement, and transparency in the district’s operations.

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Eric Draper

Eric Draper served as President Bush’s chief photographer for the entire eight years of his presidency, photographing him daily in his activities at the office, abroad and in his personal life. Draper was named Special Assistant to the President, and is the first White House photographer to be named a commissioned officer to a U.S. president. Also during his tenure, Draper directed the photographic and archival conversion of the White House Photo Office from film to digital and took nearly one million photos documenting the presidency.

Prior to joining the White House, Draper was West Regional Enterprise Photographer for the Associated Press. In eight years with the AP, Draper covered an array of domestic and international news and sports. Draper has also worked as a staff photographer for The Seattle Times, the Pasadena Star-News and the Albuquerque Tribune.

Draper is currently a freelance political, corporate, and editorial photographer based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, where he lives with his wife and two dogs. His clients include HP, the Mayo Clinic, the George W. Bush Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Reuters, Getty Images and individual clients.

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Carly Fiorina

Carly started out as a secretary for a small real-estate business. She then joined AT&T in an entry-level sales position. Fifteen years later she led AT&T's spin-out of Lucent Technologies and then Lucent's North American operations. In 1999, she was recruited to Hewlett-Packard where she would become the first woman to lead a Fortune 50 business. In her six years as Chairman and CEO of HP, she would double its revenues to $90 billion; more than quadruple its growth to 9%; triple the rate of innovation to 11 patents a day; achieve market leadership in every market and product category and quadruple cash-flow. She traveled the globe and made lifelong friends from countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

Carly has always believed in giving back to the community and has been an active participant in government and politics. She has served in a large number of advisory and policy-making positions for national and state governments. She currently serves as the Chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation, which annually hosts CPAC (the largest annual gathering of conservatives) and was founded by William F. Buckley and others; as the Chairman of Good360, the world's largest product philanthropy organization; and as the Chairman of Opportunity International, a Christian-based organization that lifts millions out of poverty through micro-finance.

Taking on tough challenges has been a hallmark of Carly's life. In 2010, she didn't shy away from a challenging run for the U.S Senate when she took on one of Washington's most entrenched liberals, Barbara Boxer, from the deep blue state of California. She earned more votes than any Republican nationwide that election cycle and raised over $25 million dollars in 12 months. On the campaign trail, Carly became known for her proud adherence to conservative philosophy and her mastery of the issues.

During the hard-fought battle for votes and ideas, Carly was also battling breast cancer. At the same time, she and her husband Frank suffered the terrible tragedy of the loss of their younger daughter, Lori. Throughout these difficult times, Frank and Carly were sustained by the redemptive power of their Christian faith and the strength of their family. Carly has many blessings but the most important are her husband, their oldest daughter Tracy, and her two granddaughters. They inspire Carly to make a positive difference every day.

In her best-selling memoir, Tough Choices, Carly credits her parents with providing an unshakable foundation for her life. Her mother taught her: "What you are is God's gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God." Her father, a strict constructionist jurist who would eventually sit on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, taught her conservative philosophy and the importance of fighting with integrity and courage for one's beliefs. Her lifetime of experience has taught Carly that the highest calling of leadership is to unlock the potential in others.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham

In the United States Senate, South Carolina's Lindsey Graham has earned a reputation as a conservative, a problem-solver, and a leader who gets things done.

Graham is widely viewed as one of the strongest proponents of a robust national defense and a great friend to our men and women serving in uniform. A frequent visitor to Afghanistan for on-the-ground assessments, Graham has consistently pushed for outcomes in the War on Terror which defend our own long-term national security interests.

Closer to home, Graham has been a leader in cutting spending, reforming entitlements, and getting government out of the way so businesses can create jobs. He has repeatedly voted against Obamacare, opposed Dodd-Frank, and fought President Obama's wasteful stimulus bill. For his work, a prominent national conservative organization honored him as a Taxpayer Hero who puts "the interests of the taxpayer ahead of politics by consistently voting to cut wasteful spending, reduce the tax burden, and make government more accountable to taxpayers."

Graham was elected to the Senate in 2002 and re-elected in 2008, garnering over one million votes and becoming the top vote-getter in South Carolina's history. He was elected to a third term in 2014.

He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 as the first Republican from the Third Congressional District of South Carolina since 1877.

Prior to his service in the House, Graham compiled a distinguished record in the United States Air Force as he logged six-and-a-half years of service on active duty as an Air Force lawyer. From 1984-1988, he was assigned overseas and served at Rhein-Main AirForce Base in Germany.

Upon leaving active duty Air Force in 1989, Graham joined the South Carolina Air National Guard where he served until 1995. During the first Gulf War in the early 90's, Graham was called to active duty and served state-side at McEntire Air National Guard Base as Staff Judge Advocate where he prepared members for deployment to the Gulf region.

Graham continues to serve his country in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. He is a colonel and is assigned as a Senior Instructor at the Air Force JAG School.

A native South Carolinian, Graham grew up in Central, graduated from D.W. Daniel High School near Clemson, and earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of South Carolina. He lives in Seneca and is a member of Corinth Baptist Church.

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Sen. Mark Kirk

Born in Champaign, Illinois, Senator Kirk graduated from Winnetka’s New Trier High School and attended Blackburn College and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México before earning a B.A. (cum laude) in history from Cornell University. Senator Kirk also earned a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a law degree from Georgetown University, and served as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve from 1989 until 2013, when he retired with the rank of commander.

Senator Kirk worked as a staff member for Congressman John Porter before moving to work at the World Bank and later the State Department. He practiced law at Baker & McKenzie before serving as a counsel to the House International Relations Committee. In 2000, Mark was elected to the House of Representatives where he served five terms before his election to the U.S. Senate.

In January 2012, Senator Kirk suffered an ischemic stroke and underwent surgeries at Northwestern Memorial Hospital to relieve swelling in his brain. After nearly a year of intensive recovery and rehabilitation, Senator Kirk triumphantly returned to work by climbing the 45 steps of the U.S. Capitol on January 3, 2013. Friends and colleagues from both sides of the aisle cheered as Senator Kirk walked up the Capitol steps. Senator Kirk reflected that his return to the Senate was one of the greatest moments of his life.

A strong supporter of Israel, Senator Kirk is at the forefront of introducing legislation to place sanctions on Iran and to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Senator Kirk currently serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate Banking Committee, the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, and the Senate Aging Committee. Senator Kirk is the Ranking Republican on the Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

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Frank Luntz

Frank Luntz is one of the most honored communication professionals in America today. Called “the Nostradamus of pollsters,” by Sir David Frost, Time magazine named him one of “50 of America’s most promising leaders aged 40 and under,” and he is the “hottest pollster” in America according to the Boston Globe. Frank was named one of the four “Top Research Minds” by Business Week and was a winner of the coveted Washington Post “Crystal Ball” award for being the most accurate pundit. His focus groups have become so influential that presidential candidate Barack Obama had this to say following the PBS presidential debate: “When Frank Luntz invites you to talk to his focus group, you talk to his focus group.”

Dr. Luntz has written, supervised, and conducted more than 2,000 surveys, focus groups, ad tests, and dial sessions in over two dozen countries on four continents over the past decade. Frank has become the go-to consultant when Fortune 100 companies and their CEOs need communication and language guidance, from General Motors to Federal Express, Disney to American Express, from AT&T to Microsoft, from Lowe’s to Pfizer, from Kroger supermarkets to McDonalds to the entire soft drink, hotel, and motion picture industries, as well as for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable. In some capacity he has helped almost 30 Fortune 100 companies navigate the economic climate and connect more closely with consumers.

The “Instant Response” focus group technique pioneered by Frank has been profiled on 60 Minutes, Good Morning America (on Election Day 2008) and on the award-winning PBS show Frontline. He has been a guest on virtually every talk show in America, including Meet the Press, Nightline, The Today Show, Charlie Rose, The Jim Lehrer News Hour, The O’Reilly Factor, Tavis Smiley, Montel Williams, and Hardball. He also served as a consultant to the award-winning NBC hit show The West Wing.

Frank is the author of The New York Times best-seller Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say it’s What People Hear. Now out in paperback, the book explores the art and science of language creation, and was awarded the 2008 Audie Award for the best business information/educational audiobook of the year. His latest book, What Americans Really Want … Really, addresses the private hopes, dreams and fears of the American people, and was nominated for the 2010 Audie Award for the year's best non-fiction audiobook. He has written about language for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, The Times of London, and The Washington Post.

Frank graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an honors Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science, and was awarded a Thouron Fellowship. He received his Doctorate in Politics at the age of 25 from Oxford University. He spoke for 24 straight hours as part of the Oxford Union Society’s Guinness World Book of Records debate. In the spring of 1993, Frank was named a Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, the second youngest individual ever to receive this honor.

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Rep. Elise Stefanik

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik proudly represents New York's 21st District in the House of Representatives, where she is a Member of both the Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. She was elected by her freshman peers in the 114th Congress to serve as the Freshman Representative to the Policy Committee. Elise is proudly the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in United States history.

Prior to winning her election to Congress overwhelmingly by over 20 points, Elise worked at her family's small business called Premium Plywood Products that was founded in Upstate New York over twenty years ago. Growing up in her family's small business, Elise learned, lived and understands the values of hard work, perseverance, difficulties, and risk that go along with building, operating and growing small businesses that provide jobs in today's challenging economy.

From 2006 - 2009, Elise served in the West Wing of the White House as part of President George W. Bush's Domestic Policy Council Staff and in the Chief of Staff's office where she assisted in overseeing the policy development process on all economic and domestic policy issues.

As the first member of her immediate family to graduate from college, Elise graduated with Honors from Harvard University where she was only one of three women honored with the Women's Leadership Award. She served on the Student Advisory Committee of Harvard's Institute of Politics, the largest political undergraduate organization.

Elise was born and raised in Upstate New York. She graduated cum laude from Albany Academy for Girls, the oldest continuous all girls' school in the country. She lives in Willsboro, NY, where her family has had a home since she was three years old.

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Rep. Lee Zeldin

Congressman Lee Zeldin grew up in Suffolk County, earned his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany and then his law degree from Albany Law School, becoming NY's youngest attorney at the time at the age of 23.

After law school, he spent four years on Active Duty with the U.S. Army, serving in different capacities. Lee deployed to Iraq in the summer of 2006 with an infantry battalion of fellow paratroopers in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 2007, Lee returned to Suffolk County, where he transitioned to the Army Reserves and serves with the rank of Major. He then established a successful law practice in 2008. Elected to the New York State Senate two years later, in 2010, he’s been working hard every day to keep the promises he made to the hard-working families he represents.

Lee successfully fought to repeal the MTA Payroll Tax for 80 percent of employers. This was a job killing tax that was hurting small businesses. Lee successfully repealed the Saltwater fishing License Fee and created the PFC Joseph Dwyer Program, a statewide program in New York to help our returning veterans cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). He sponsored legislation to enact the nation’s strongest property tax cap and also helped reduce middle income tax rates to the lowest level in 60 years. Lee also wrote the law that protects our fallen veterans and their families from protests at military burials.

In 2014, Lee was elected to represent the 1st Congressional District of New York, becoming the only Republican Jewish member of Congress. He serves on three U.S. House Committees: Transportation & Infrastructure, Foreign Affairs, and Veterans’ Affairs. Appointment to three House Committees is a rare opportunity for a freshman Congressman. He also serves as co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, which has over 100 members.

Lee resides in his hometown of Shirley with his wife, Diana, and their twin daughters, Mikayla and Arianna.

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