- Policy Platforms
The Western Governors’ Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Western Governors’ Association. Focusing on youth leadership and the arts, the foundation is committed to building upon the legacy of Western Governors through charitable works in our region.
If you would like to contribute to the Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, please contact Jim Ogsbury at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit western-governors-association.square.site.
All contributions to the Western Governor's Foundation are distinct from the Western Governor's asssociation, and go solely to the Foundation's projects and philanthropies.
The Western Governors’ Foundation supports the following:
Designed to recognize and reward the effective exercise of leadership by young adults across the West and to promote its future development, the Western Governors' Leadership Institute selects leaders from every state in WGA’s footprint to attend a Leadership Development Forum with regional thought leaders and Western Governors at WGA's Annual Meeting.
The Western Governors’ Foundation is proud to manage Celebrate the West, a regional art competition that challenges high school students to create works inspired by their state. The annual visual arts challenge, which launched in 2016, is open to high school students in the states and territories served by WGA. Winning artists receive cash prizes and their work is displayed at WGA’s Annual Meeting and on the association website.
The Western Governors' Foundation released a new podcast highlighting Emily Cooper, the overall first-place winner of the 2023 Celebrate the West art competition, an annual art competition hosted by the Western Governors' Foundations, which challenges high school students to create original works inspired by their state or otherwise evocative of the West. Listen here as Emily discusses her winning art and what the West means to her.
In this episode of WGA's Out West podcast, Anna Thielen, Manager of the Western Governors' Foundation, speaks with four Delegates from the 2023 Western Governors' Leadership Institute - Garrett Kelly from Arizona, Donya Sarrafian from California, Andee Baker from Montana, and Kaelan Reedy from North Dakota - about their experiences at the 2023 Western Governors' Leadership Institute where they had had chance to discuss the nuances of leadership with former and current Governors, including Jared Polis, Governor of Colorado, Mark Gordon, Governor of Wyoming, Butch Otter, former Governor of Idaho, Matt Mead, former Governor of Wyoming, David Ice, former Governor of Hawaii, and Dennis Daugaard, former Governor of South Dakota.
Each year the Western Governors’ Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Western Governors' Association, hosts a competition that challenges high school students to create a piece of artwork that is inspired by their state. Now in its eighth year, Celebrate the West generates hundreds of amazing pieces created by budding western artists.
In today’s episode of Out West, Anna Thielen, the Western Governors’ Foundation Manager, speaks with last year’s winner, Michelle Lin, about what inspired her acrylic painting titled Unity.
Anna also speaks with Sharron Rouse, one of the art experts on the Celebrate the West judging panel, about what made Michelle’s painting stand out. She also speaks with Thomas Wiberg, the third recipient of WGF’s Award for Outstanding High School Art Educator, about the importance of art education in the West.
The Next Generation of Western Leaders highlights the inaugural class of delegates from the 2022 Western Governors’ Leadership Institute, a new programmatic offering from the Western Governors’ Foundation that is designed to promote and encourage the effective exercise of leadership in young adults throughout the West.
Listen in as Aspen Lenning from Oklahoma, Gustaf Vanderdonck from Arizona, Samantha Mooney from Colorado, Gabriella Smith from Washington, Brandon Larranaga from New Mexico, Kaleb Dschaak from North Dakota, Jonathan Karlen from Montana, and Skyler Bollar from Idaho discuss their experiences at this year's Institute and how their interactions with the Governors, Cabinet Secretaries, and sponsors who attended the event, enhanced their perspective of effective leadership and bipartisan political action.
Dennis Daugaard, Chair
Dennis Daugaard was elected South Dakota’s 32nd Governor in 2010 and served until 2019. Previously he was a lawyer, banker and development director for a nonprofit organization. He also served as a state senator and the state's 37th lieutenant governor. As WGA Chair, Governor Daugaard launched the Western Governors’ Workforce Development Initiative, which sought to create enhanced career opportunities by bridging the gap between prospective workers and employers in the West.
Governor David Ige, Vice Chair
David Ige was elected Hawaii’s 8th governor in 2014 and reelected in 2018. He began his political career in 1985 after being appointed to fill a vacant seat in the Hawai‘i House of Representatives. In 1994, then-Representative Ige was elected to the Hawai‘i Senate and served until 2014. As WGA Chair, Governor Ige launched the Western Governors' Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative to focus on the impacts that nuisance species and pathogens have on western ecosystems, forests, rangelands, watersheds, and infrastructure, as well as how biosecurity can address risks posed by invasive species.
Brian Sandoval, Director
Brian Sandoval was elected Nevada's 29th Governor in 2010 and served until 2019. Previously he served as Nevada’s Attorney General and Chairman of the Gaming Commission of Nevada. He is now President of Global Gaming Development for MGM Resorts International and a Distinguished Fellow in Law and Leadership at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. As WGA Chair, Governor Sandoval launched the Western Governors' Drought Forum, which provided a mechanism for states to share best practices and policy options to prepare for and mitigate drought in the West.
Matt Mead, Director
Matt Mead was elected Wyoming’s 32nd Governor in 2010 and served until 2019. The native of Jackson previously earned a J.D. degree from the University of Wyoming College of Law, practiced private law and served as a county prosecutor. He was appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming in 2001. As WGA Chair, Governor Mead launched the Western Governors’ Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative to promote the role of states in species conservation and improve the efficacy of the Endangered Species Act.
Steve Bullock, Director
Steve Bullock was elected Montana’s 24th governor in 2012 and served until 2021. The Montana native served as Attorney General of Montana prior to his time as Governor. As WGA Chair, Governor Bullock launched the Western Governors’ National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative, which produced administrative and legislative recommendations to reform federal wildfire budget practices, advance landscape-scale restoration projects, and strengthen markets for forest products and rangeland goods and services.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, Director
Michelle Lujan Grisham assumed office as the 32nd Governor of the state of New Mexico in 2019. The 12th generation New Mexican grew up in Santa Fe and is the first Democratic Hispanic woman to be elected Governor in U.S. history. Prior to her election as Governor, she served three terms in Congress, as a cabinet secretary for three different New Mexico Governors, and as a Bernalillo County Commissioner.
Governor Josh Green, Director
Dr. Josh Green was elected as the 9th Governor of Hawai’i in 2022. He was inspired to run for office after practicing medicine in the underserved area of Kā’ū on the Big Island of Hawai’i. He initially served in the Hawaiʻi State House of Representatives from 2004 to 2008. From 2008 to 2018, he served in the Hawaiʻi State Senate, including as Majority Floor Leader, Chair of the Health and Human Services committees, and Vice Chair of the Energy and Environment, and Human Services and Housing committees.
Scott Pulsipher, Director
Scott Pulsipher currently serves as President of Western Governors University (WGU), leading all academic and organizational affairs. Prior to assuming the presidency of WGU, Pulsipher earned his MBA from Harvard Business School and worked for several high-profile businesses including Amazon and Sterling Commerce. He serves on a number of higher education and technology boards including as Education Co-Chair for the Committee for Economic Development and a member of the Executive Committee on the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity.
James Ogsbury, President
Jim Ogsbury, born and raised in Arizona, has extensive experience with the issues that are important to the region. Prior to joining WGA in 2012, Jim served as legislative director for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. A graduate of Harvard College and Arizona State University College of Law, Jim also has served as the clerk and staff director for the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.
Anna Thielen, Foundation Manager
Anna Thielen graduated in 2019 with a degree in political science from Saint Mary's College of California. In 2021 she joined WGA as a Policy Associate before transitioning into her current role with the Foundation. The Colorado native's portfolio includes project development for Celebrate the West and the Western Governors' Leadership Institute, and Foundation expansion.