Summer 2017

MN Student Statesmanship Institute

July 30 - August 4, 2017
Registration: $499
Early Bird Registration: $449*
*When you REGISTER and pay in full by April 1st!


House Track

Eligibility Requirements:

  • All first-time students participate in House Track
  • Between 13-19 years of age
  • Entering 9th-12th grade in the Fall of 2017 or have just completed your senior year of high school

In the legislative House Track, first-time students begin their SSI-MN experience by being sworn-in as members of the House of Representatives. Designed to challenge students to understand and apply biblical principles to current issues, students role-play as state lawmakers, discussing actual bills taken from the Minnesota legislature. Each student is assigned to a committee and a caucus. Each caucus is assigned one bill to support and one bill to oppose. Students learn how bills become laws, responsibilities of citizenship, and engagement in activities such as:

  • Public Speaking 
  • Critical & Strategic Thinking
  • Speech Writing 
  • Teamwork

Each caucus utilizes the SSI-MN Media to bring attention to their sponsored bill by calling a press conference. The biggest challenge here is to make sure the SSI-MN Media doesn’t misquote you!

Student legislators hear testimony from lobbyists during committee meetings in the Capitol Complex, often times chaired by real State Senators and Representatives. Students can ask tough questions of the lobbyists and gain valuable information on their bill.

The capstone of the program is when students assemble as a legislative body on Friday to debate and cast their votes on the issues considered throughout the week. Parents, other family members, and friends are invited to watch!

Senate Track

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be an SSI-MN Alumni Student
  • Not older than 19 years of age
  • Entering 9th-12th grade in the Fall of 2017 or have just completed your senior year of high school

This advanced legislative experience is similar to the House Track. However, it is more advanced and allows student legislators to amend their bills, both in committee and during the final legislative floor session. The amendment process is more challenging, and the strategy used to pass a bill can be different for each caucus.

Senators have their own final legislative session on Friday, and instead of calling their own press conferences, they serve as reporters of the SSI-MN Legislative News Service, asking questions during the House members' press conferences. And, of course, Senators like to remind the House members of their vast wealth of knowledge and experience!

Print & Broadcast Media Tracks

Eligibility Requirements: 

  • Must be an SSI-MN Alumni Student
  • Not older than 19 years of age
  • Entering 11th grade or 12th grade in the 2017 Fall semester or have just completed your senior year of high school

Additional requirements:

  • Submit the Media Application after completing initial registration (online or mail-in). This additional application will be emailed to students who select a Media Track in the registration process.
  • Must be accepted into the one of the Media Tracks 
    • The Media Application applies to both tracks
    • SSI-MN Staff determine the final track placement of students
    • Students not accepted into either Media Track will be placed in the Senate Track
    • SSI-MN Staff will notify you regarding your applicant status after receiving your registration and your Media Application

In the Print Media Track, students role-play as SSI-MN reporters, covering all the main highlights of an SSI-MN week and reporting their stories in a daily newspaper. All students eagerly await the “hot-off-the-press” paper each day and enjoy reading about SSI-MN “happenings.” The newspaper includes feature stories, news stories, quotable quotes, and much more.

In the Broadcast Media Track, students serve as camera operators, news anchors and TV reporters as they work together on a broadcast team to capture the main events of an SSI week on film! A definite highlight for everyone, broadcasts are aired 2-3 times during the week.

As with all of the tracks, we bring in experts to coach students. Students benefit by interacting with real-world reporters and communications’ specialists who are eager to invest their time and expertise.

Besides covering all the events of the week, Media students learn to conduct interviews with VIP’s, such as members of the MN House of Representatives and MN Senators. The Media Tracks are an awesome experience for young people and really make SSI-MN an incredibly dynamic learning environment for everyone.

Students who apply for participation in the Media Tracks will be asked to submit an additional application. A writing sample will be required from each applicant as well as other additional information. In order to maintain a vibrant Media Team with plenty of writing or filming projects for each team member, we admit only a few students into these tracks.

Past Speakers

Session Speakers - SSI 2016

Take a peak at the guest speakers we welcomed to SSI last summer!

Reuben David - SSI Worldview Speaker

Reuben David was born and raised in India and is well versed in the practical realities of comparative religions today. David was a Visiting Scholar with The Wilberforce Forum, is a former professor of journalism at North Central University, and is a popular speaker and seminar leader in India and the U.S., with first-hand knowledge of religions, cults, and the competing philosophies and ideologies of our day. David holds two master's degrees from Regent University in Virginia and Bangalore University in India.

Dr. Kent Kaiser – SSI Communications Speaker

Dr. Kent Kaiser is the faculty chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Northwestern – Saint Paul.  He is also a senior policy fellow at the Minneapolis Center of the American Experiment. Before moving into academia seven years ago, Kaiser worked with the Minnesota Secretary of State and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Carleton College, Master of Arts teaching degree in history from Smith College, Master’s in Liberal Studies from University of Minnesota Duluth, and Ph.D. in the major field of mass communication and minor field of kinesiology from the University of Minnesota.

Dave Eaton – SSI Intelligent Design Speaker

Dave Eaton was Founder and CEO of Rainier Technology, spent 10 years at IBM in several technical and sales management roles, and held positions in engineering at John Deere and Caterpillar.  He received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University, MBA in Finance from the University of Minnesota, and was trained in worldview studies in Chuck Colson’s Centurion Program. Dave was one of 13 people selected to write the final version of the new science standards for the state of Minnesota K-12 public schools. He has been teaching at Bible Study Fellowship for the last 10 years and currently serves on several boards and provides advice to technology start-up companies.

Dave Racer – SSI Christian Citizenship Speaker

Born and raised in St. Paul, Dave majored in Music Education at Macalester College and the University of Minnesota. While serving in the U.S. Air Force, Dave studied at the University of Southern Mississippi, and changed his major to Educational Psychology. He served as an Air Force classroom instructor, founded two ServiceMaster franchises, and has since remained self-employed. He published “Dave Racer’s Minnesota Report,”, and has written eight health care books since. In the 90s Dave ran for Minnesota House and State Senate as a GOP candidate, served as the National Manager for Ambassador Alan Keyes’ 1996 Presidential Campaign, and later helped Keyes found the Declaration Foundation. On the board of the Minnesota Physician-Patient Alliance, Dave helps insurance professionals and medical providers implement changes mandated by the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Dave and his wife of 46 years, Rosanne, live in St. Paul.

Dan Beckering – SSI Christian Ambassador Speaker

Dan Beckering has been working at Southwest Christian High School in Chaska, Minnesota for the past 16 years at a teacher, basketball coach, Dean of Students, and Head of School.  He graduated from Dordt College with a BA in History and Secondary Education and received a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from St. Mary’s University. He is passionate about seeing young people grow in their knowledge of and love for Christ and is committed to helping the next generation of Christian leaders engage the secular world for Christ’s glory.  Mr. Beckering and his wife Laura live in Chaska with their four children.

Bill Walsh – SSI Media Panel Speaker

As the Director of Public Affairs for the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus, Bill Walsh helps Senate Leader David Hann and the twenty-seven other Republican Senators with strategic message development and delivery. Prior to joining the Senate, Walsh worked for twenty years in a variety of political and communications positions with the Minnesota House, the Republican Party of Minnesota, and as Director of Communications for two different state agencies in the Pawlenty Administration. Walsh has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Dakota and lives in White Bear Lake with his three teenage children.

Brad Johnson_Cropped.jpg

Mr. Brad Johnson – SSI Media Track Instructor

Brad Johnson has over 30 years of experience in electronic media production. As an audio engineer he has done work for clients such as Paisley Park, Paula Abdul, the Steve Miller Band, Dan and Sandy Adler, Heart of the City and Gaylen Paul. Brad has also produced, engineered, and edited various television and radio spots for clients including McDonald's, Best Buy and Polaris. He designed and maintained his own studio for Brad Johnson Productions, Inc. Brad is an award-winning filmmaker who has produced several documentaries on varied topics such as American Indians and more recently the Serengeti in Africa. “A New Path for the Serengeti” was nominated for Best Documentary and Brad was nominated for Best Cinematographer at The African Film Festival. Brad has worked for twelve years as UNW's Broadcast Studio Technician. In addition to maintaining the Remnant/WVOE-FM and UNW7 TV studios, Brad teaches students about broadcasting technology and prepares them for the world of audio and video production.

Evening Speakers - SSI 2016

Richard Coleman – SSI Evening Speaker

Richard Coleman received his degree in Organizational Studies at Bethel University and has completed other areas of study in Nonprofit Management and Administration. Now serving as the Executive Director at Hope United Community Development Corporation (formerly Sanctuary Community Development Corporation), he and the organization aim to be a catalyst for hope by connecting people, organizations, and resources—ultimately transforming the Twin Cities community for the better. Richard also serves as a pastor at St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church. His ministry, regardless of the position, is fueled with servant-leadership in pursuit of cultural, denominational, and racial reconciliation. Richard also served on the board of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches for 25 years and was the Program Consultant for Servant Leaders’ Support, Inc. He consistently emphasizes and facilitates ministry through multicultural and interdenominational worship, dialogue, and gatherings.

Representative Eric Lucero – SSI Evening Speaker

Eric Lucero was born on a German US Army base, and raised in Minnesota.  Eric's works within the cyber security field and has his own consulting firm. Eric has taught computer security, computer forensics, and other technology courses.  He has a B.S. in Law Enforcement and a B.A.S. in Computer Forensics, both from Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, and an MBA in Strategic Management and Information Technology from the University of Minnesota.  As a licensed real estate agent and licensed general contractor, he and his wife Erum have formed several real estate investment and property management companies. Since his teenage years, the Lord has been challenging Eric to seek after and discover TRUTH; accordingly Eric has professionally taught on Biblical truths for over a decade. In 2014 Eric was elected as a Minnesota State House Representative for Albertville, Hanover, Otsego, Saint Michael, and the Wright County portion of Dayton.

Denise Walker.jpg

Denise Walker – SSI Evening Speaker

Denise Walker and her husband Rev. Brian Walker are the Minnesota leaders for the National Black Prolife Coalition - the largest Black pro-life organization in the United States. Their aim is to educate the nation on the genocidal effect abortion is having on the African American community. They also formed Everlasting Light Ministries, which focuses on healing abortion and miscarriage loss. Denise graduated from Rutgers University and the University of Minnesota Law School. She was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom as a co-plaintiff in Walker vs. Jessup lawsuit to force Minnesota to stop paying for illegal abortions; a delegate to the 1996 Republican National convention; and has keynoted at the West Coast March for Life, MCCL’s March for Life at the state capitol, and other local prolife events.  The Walkers have four deceased children, homeschooled their three living (now) adult children, and are expecting their first grandchild.

Fred Somers – SSI Evening Speaker

Fred Somers has been painting full-time since 1975 at his farm-home-studio near Northfield, MN. His oil and pastel paintings, known for their peaceful sensitivity, reflect themes from the land.  Whether in intimate views of grass, rocks and water with reflections of light and sky, or in spacious vistas of the countryside he seeks to share the hidden places of nature.  He now brings his love of life to sensitive commissioned portraits. Fred's pastel paintings of the Big Woods State Park near Northfield were chosen for the 1996 Minnesota State Park Permit design.  He also continues to inspire others through his painting workshops in the U.S. and abroad.  Since his designation as American Swedish Artist of the Year in 1984 he has continued to exhibit and teach in Scandinavia.

Coordinators & Staff - SSI 2016

Matthew Steele – SSI Emcee

Matt currently works at PeopleNet as an account administrator analyzing data from the transportation industry helping private companies meet state and federal reporting regulations. Prior to working in the private sector, he worked with nonprofits to combat human trafficking and homelessness amongst youth. Matt holds a bachelors and masters degree from the University of Minnesota in political science and public policy respectfully. In his free time, Matt leads worship at his church, travels to Brazil, and spends time up on Minnesota's beautiful north shore.

Lauren Griggs – SSI Broadcast Media Track Coordinator

Lauren Griggs is a recent graduate of the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, where she majored in communication studies and minored in public relations and Bible. When she isn't at SSI, Lauren spends most of her time planning her August 13 wedding and searching for jobs in Fort Collins, Colorado. She enjoys reading, trying new workout trends and the never-ending search for more Pokemon.



Amanda Hage – SSI Print Coordinator & Editor

Amanda Hage is the fourth of eight children and a homeschool graduate. While Amanda disliked her study of language arts and reading as a child, she is now a published author of historical fiction. Looking back at how her Savior changed her heart and refined her talent, she marvels at her Lord’s mysterious ways. Besides conjuring up stories, Amanda has many other interests, including medicine, photography, music, family time, cooking, sewing, and pencil sketches.

Wills Photo Website.jpg

Representative Anna Wills – SSI House Track Instructor

Anna Wills is a lifelong Minnesotan who worked as a legislative staffer in the Minnesota Senate, is an ex-officio member of the ServeMinnesota Board, and is the first homeschool graduate to be elected into the MN legislature. She attended the University of Northwestern St. Paul, and as a youth and adult, served in various political leadership positions including a coordinator position, campaign office manager, and as Burnsville City Chair for a 2008 Presidential Campaign. Anna was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2012 and continues to represent District 57B in her second term. Anna and her husband, Rob, live in Apple Valley and are members of Bethlehem Baptist Church.

John Tuma – SSI Legislative Tracks Coordinator

John Tuma is a former MN state legislator and litigation attorney. Elected as a Republican in 1994, John was known for his independent thinking and ability to work across party lines. He carried the marquee legislation for several state agencies and organizations representing a wide variety of interests. John earned his JD from the University of Minnesota and BA, in political science, from the Mankato State University. In January 2015, John was appointed by the Governor to serve as a Minnesota Public Utilities Commissioner. John serves on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators (MÂCHÉ), and he and his wife Wendy have two adult children.

Stephani Liesmaki – SSI Program Administrator

Stephani Liesmaki is the Program Administrator for MN Student Statesmanship Institute and Director of Communications for Minnesota Family Council. She formerly taught young ladies’ Christian discipleship courses at Truth Academy, worked on staff with Summit Ministries, and helped facilitate MÂCHÉ’s Legislative Training program. She lives in Minneapolis, studies at Bethlehem College, and enjoys long strolls with her family in the country.

Tom Prichard.jpg

Tom Prichard – SSI Program Director

Tom Prichard is the Director of Cultural Initiatives at Minnesota Family Council where he has worked since 1990.  He has a BA from Augustana College (SD), JD from University of Iowa College of Law, and Master of Public Policy from University of Michigan.  He worked as a legislative assistant in Washington, DC for US Senator Roger Jepsen from Iowa from 1981 to 1982.  He has worked two sessions for the Republican Senate Caucus research staff 1989 and 1990.  While at MFC, he has been involved in lobbying, research, education, legal and media work.