- Policy Platforms
The Western Governors’ Leadership Institute was created to promote and encourage the effective exercise of leadership by young adults across the West. Each year delegates are selected to attend a leadership development form with regional thought leaders at the Annual Meeting of the Western Governors’ Association.
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.
Meet this year's class of delegates below.
Learn more by listening to an episode of WGA's Out West podcast in which the 2023 class of delegates discuss their experiences from this year's Western Governors’ Leadership Institute.
Shanone Tejada is a junior at the University of Alaska Anchorage where he is majoring in political science and minoring in legal studies and history. He has participated in community service, student leadership, and debate teams throughout his academic career. In the future, Shanone hopes to serve his community as a prosecutor.
Catherine Chambers is a graduate of New Mexico State University where she majored in communications. She currently works at Alaska Support Industry - an oil, gas, and mining trade association – in marketing and communications. In her free time, she volunteers in her community.
Henry Campbell is an alumnus of Arizona State University where he earned his master’s in public policy and a bachelor’s in political science. He currently works at Salt River Project as its Public Affairs Analyst. His team supports local communities in Arizona by aligning community needs with available federal resources. Outside of work, Henry enjoys painting, reading, and writing.
Garrett Kelly is a recent graduate of Arizona State University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in film studies. Garrett edits videos for local businesses, working with a variety of clients, including non-profit organizations, accounting firms, and a local band. During the past year, he has worked as a librarian paraprofessional at an elementary school in south Phoenix, helping students develop literacy and study skills. He hopes to work with local governments to secure a more just and sustainable future for his state.
Clarissa Shane is a Californian-Mexican-American who recently completed her studies of humanities, the arts, and social thought at Bard College in Berlin, Germany. She has rich leadership experience, having organized multiple conferences focusing on culture and youth leadership and serving on her school’s Diversity and Equity committee. She speaks five different languages, including English, Spanish, German, French and ASL.
Donya Sarrafian is a senior at Stanford University majoring in public policy with a concentration in healthcare. She is particularly interested in healthcare access and affordability. She is involved in several organizations including Cardinal Free Clinics, Stanford Women in Business, and the Associated Students of Stanford University. In her free time she enjoys painting, photography, and piano.
Angela Guardado is a recent graduate of Metropolitan State University of Denver. During her time on campus, she was part of the Honor Society and a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. In her free time, she volunteers to feed the homeless in her community.
Blake Lincoln is a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder where he is majoring in political science and minoring in history. He is currently a CU Boulder College of Arts and Sciences Ambassador and co-chair of the Training and Outreach Committee.
Cameron Deptula was born and raised in Mililani on the island of Oahu. In 2022 he earned his bachelor’s in history from the University of California with a focus on foreign direct investment and economic and political development in Hawai'i. He currently works as a special assistant in the office of Hawai’i Governor Josh Green.
Daelas Zieber is a senior studying agricultural economics at the University of Idaho. She was a guest speaker at the Nampa Career Technical Education Pathway conference in 2021, has participated in open discussions at the Idaho State Board of Education, and has interned at the Idaho Farm Bureau Foundation. Daelas plans to continue to serve her community by becoming an agricultural analyst or lobbyist.
Jack Hendrickson is currently working towards his bachelor’s in criminal justice at Washburn University. He has been inspired to pursue a career in law enforcement, specifically with the Kansas Highway Patrol. He has interned for Senator Dr. Roger Marshall as well as for Kansas Senate Vice President Rick Wilborn. He has also worked for former Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.
Andee Baker is currently a senior at Montana State University, pursuing a degree in agricultural communications and psychology with a minor in agricultural business. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school in a Master of Public Health program. She is passionate about improving access to mental health care in rural communities. In her free time, she volunteers in her local community.
Sheridan Johnson works at the Montana Chamber of Commerce as a Government Relations Specialist. After graduating from Montana State University, she spent a year working in Washington D.C. for the American Farm Bureau Federation as a Public Policy Assistant. She spends her free time reading, hiking, and partaking in what she affectionately calls “grandma hobbies” (including sewing, knitting and embroidery).
Madison Yablonski is a Policy Associate at the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana where she assists with environmental policy strategy and government affairs. She earned her bachelor’s in public relations and international affairs in 2021 from the University of Oregon. In her free time, she enjoys skiing, horseback riding, and rock climbing.
Issac Hernandez-Alcaraz is a recent graduate from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science. Having served as Student Body President, he was also Senior Advisor of the Economics Club at his university. He is currently a researcher at Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute where he focuses on health, economic development, elections, and governance. He has completed over 100 hours of community service with various Las Vegas food banks, soup kitchens, churches, and non-profit organizations.
Austin Brown is the Coordinator of Government and Community Engagement at the University of Nevada in Reno where he is also enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program. Throughout his time in school, he developed a deep passion for public service and advocacy and hopes to continue to serve his community throughout his career. Austin loves coffee and is a self-proclaimed “plant dad” to over 16 plants.
Sofia Takhtadjian is a recent graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she majored in criminal justice and a minored in theater art. During her time on campus, she was the president of her mock trial team and won many awards. She currently works at Brookings Mountain West & The Lincy Institute as a student researcher.
Xavier Pedro Vallejo
Xavi Vallejo is a second generation Mexican-American and is working toward his MBA in international management from the University of New Mexico. He has worked with New Mexico First, AmeriCorps, and the New Mexico Department of Health. He is currently on an independent sabbatical, planning to visit ten countries and study conversational Spanish and international diplomacy. He aspires to pursue a public service career in the executive branches of our national and state governments.
Kaelan Reedy is a recent graduate of the University of North Dakota where he received his degree in political science and public affairs. During his time at the university, he joined a myriad of clubs to diversify his interests and surround himself with experienced leaders. He has received multiple service awards
, and currently serves as the Executive Director of Evolve Grand Forks, a nonprofit focused on fundraising and grant-writing.
Tobias Zikmund is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis on painting. Growing up in rural North Dakota, he saw local art initiatives as a way to enrich his community. Toby has had his work featured in over ten exhibitions and has been invited to discuss his work at multiple conferences.
Molly Hane is the Chief Operating Officer and Secretary of the Board of Directors at Fenworks, Inc. in Grand Forks, North Dakota. She holds a B.S. in education from the University of North Dakota in Elementary Education. In her free time, she enjoys skiing, snowboarding, golf, volleyball, and book club.
Jayke Flaggert is a senior at the University of Oklahoma where he is studying economics and pre-law. Following graduation, he will attend the MBA program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Outside of his busy academic schedule, Jayke works as Political Director for Governor Kevin Stitt.
Shelby Ruland is a graduate of South Dakota State University where she double majored in agricultural education and political science. While in school, she was a collegiate representative for the South Dakota Farm Bureau State Board of Directors. She also has a history in philanthropy and was heavily involved with Future Farmers of America. She is currently a Constituent Services Representative for U.S. Senator Mike Rounds.
Brock Brown is a student at the University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law. In 2022 he earned his bachelor’s in political science from the University of South Dakota. He has a history in leadership, having been appointed by Governor Kristi Noem to represent 34,000 students on the South Dakota Board of Regents. In his free time, Brock volunteers in his community and enjoys golfing with friends.
Max Gruber is a graduate of the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business in Salt Lake City. He previously earned his Honors Bachelor of Science in marketing at the university. He currently works as a Legislative and Federal Affairs Fellow at the Utah Governor’s Office. He frequently volunteers with trail maintenance crews along the Wasatch Front, where he helps keep trails clean and healthy. In his free time, he enjoys camping, hiking, rock climbing, skiing and trail running, having completed two trail running marathons.
Gulsima Young is a graduate of the University of Washington where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies and a Bachelor of Science in informatics. She currently works as a project development specialist for the Campus Sustainability Fund at the University of Washington. In that role, she serves as the manager and primary point of contact for over fifty CSF-funded projects. She currently serves as a Board Advisor for Palouse Pathways and has served on the City of Pullman’s Parks and Recreation Commission.
Grant Dillivan is a junior at the University of Wyoming, dual majoring in criminal justice and psychology. Driven by his passion for keeping communities safe, he hopes to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Behavioral Analysis Unit as a special agent. In his free time, Grant enjoys backpacking and exploring the outdoors.
Daniel Deming is a senior at the University of Wyoming where he is working toward his bachelor’s in political science and international studies. Having had the opportunity to observe and interact with state and local leaders, he believes great leadership is defined by good character, personability, and a respect for people’s history. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and baking.
Triston Black is a student at Arizona State University, earning his Master of Arts in indigenous education. He also holds his Certificate of Navajo Cultural Arts and his Bachelor of Arts in Diné Studies from Diné College. Triston most recently worked as a Deputy Tribal Director at Mission for Arizona, an initiative serving tribal communities across the state. He currently volunteers with the Center for Native American Youth in Washington D.C., a resource for tribal youth.
Joel Charles is a student at Utah State University, working toward his bachelor’s in animal science, dairy and veterinary medicine. He is currently the Vice President of the Dairy Club and is also a member of the Vet Science and Entrepreneur Clubs. He is currently working as a veterinary technician in Richmond, Utah. He also works with Soul Dog, a team providing vaccinations and surgeries to reduce the feral animal populations on the reservation.
CONFEDERATED TRIBES OF WARM SPRINGS (WASCO)
Josie Thomas is a recent graduate of Oregon State University, Cascades, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She is in her first year teaching kindergarten and feels that, through her work in the classroom, she can make a difference in her community.
The Western Governors’ Association represents the Governors of the 22 westernmost states and territories. The Association is an instrument for bipartisan policy development, information exchange and collective action on issues of critical importance to the Western United States. The Western Governors’ Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Association. Guided by a bipartisan board of directors, the Foundation pursues charitable causes to promote the well-being of Western residents.