JSA Now! Newsletter
JSA Now! Newsletter Donate Now!
Volume II, Number 8 – Oct. 25, 2010

A Newsletter Highlighting Activities of JSA – Junior State of America

Upcoming Events

Oct. 30, 2010:

Golden Gate
 Regional Conference

 Stanford University

Texas Gulf Coast
 Region One-Day

 Rice University

Arizona Fall State

 Phoenix, Ariz.

Pacific Northwest
 Election One-Day

 O’Dea High School

Southern Calif. So. Empire
 Regional One-Day

 U.C. Irvine

Nov. 6, 2010:

Warren Beatty/Ina Jaffe
 JSA Benefit Luncheon

 (Los Angeles), Calif.

Neuqua Valley Mini-Con

 Neuqua Valley High School

 Naperville, Ill.

Nov. 7, 2010:

Ohio River Valley
 Historical Debate

 Maltz Jewish Museum

 Beachwood, Ohio

Nov. 13, 2010:

Ohio River Valley
 Fall State


 Fall State

 Fort Lauderdale

Southern California
 Fall State (Orange Co.)


Nov. 20, 2010:

George Shultz Award
 JSA Alumni Brunch

 Santa Clara, Calif.

Dave Viotti
Former JSA CEO
Dave Viotti

Passing the Baton

BY DAVE VIOTTI: I am very pleased that the board has selected Jeff Harris as my successor and new chief executive officer of The Junior Statesmen Foundation. Nobody embodies the ethic of service before self more than Jeff. He has been a key partner in designing innovative new programs, bringing JSA into the digital age and implementing best practices for the organization over the last few years. As Jeff has shown throughout his 20-plus years of service to JSA, he will be an agent of both stability and change as JSA further evolves to meet the needs of our community. Please join me in congratulating Jeff on becoming CEO.

I want to thank the students, staff, alumni and friends for all your support during my tenure as CEO. It’s been a privilege to serve an organization that has given so much to me throughout my life. In terms of what’s next for me, I’m not going far. I’m a JSA’er for life, so, among other things, I’m planning to return to the trustee board and will remain involved with the JSA Diplomat program we launched successfully this last summer in China.

As for my next professional role, the public service ethos JSA Summer School instilled in me in 1986 remains strong. I am going to be executive director of the Westly Foundation (an organization that funds programs to help kids on the margin in California). I’m also launching a consulting practice to support non-profits and social entrepreneurs. I’m grateful for all the mentors and lessons learned over the course of my career in both the corporate and non-profit worlds. I’m hoping to share these experiences to help people and organizations bring about innovative solutions to social problems.

JSA’s mission remains more relevant than ever, particularly as our country and our global society face significant challenges. It’s critical that we continue to develop informed and responsible leaders who can work collaboratively to solve social problems. I am excited about the work that Jeff Harris and our JSA student leaders are doing to carry our mission forward, in particular their renewed focus on active citizenship. I look forward to working with them and with all of you on this next chapter of JSA’s amazing 75-year journey to make democracy work better for all of us.

New CEO Jeff Harris
Longtime JSA’er Jeff Harris
named new chief executive officer

Jeff Harris Named JSA CEO

BY DAVID M. COLE: After more than 20 years working for JSA, Jeff Harris was named chief executive officer of the Junior Statesmen Foundation at the beginning of the month. He had been executive director of the foundation since 2008 and earlier worked his way up from resident assistant at the group’s summer schools to directing the summer school programs and helping to guide programs in Southern California.

“We are so fortunate to have someone of Jeff Harris’ quality and high caliber to lead JSA, as he is the personification of all we hope to teach students about leadership and statesmanship,” said Alex Evans, president of EMC Research Inc. of Oakland, Calif., and president of the JSA board of directors. Evans, himself a JSA alum, was speaker of the Junior State (1978-79) and attended JSA Summer School (U.C. Davis, 1977).

Harris, 44, is a Los Angeles native who first joined JSA while a student at Los Angeles’s University High School. He was a student leader in the organization and was named “Statesmen of the Year” by the group. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, Harris joined the JSA foundation, where he directed 15 sessions of the group’s Summer School at Stanford and Georgetown universities. He also served as a program director for Southern California and has been intimately involved in curriculum development since the mid-1980s.

Harris’s career highlights include creating the Junior State’s popular student-run Congressional simulation format and spearheading the foundation’s urban outreach programs.

Harris succeeds David Viotti, who had been chief executive officer of JSA since 2008. Viotti left the JSA board and the private sector to guide the organization through the economic downturn and to mentor a new leadership team. An alum of JSA Summer School, Georgetown 1986-1987, he provided the group with financial, human resources and planning skills, and expanded JSA’s programs internationally. After a transition period, Viotti will return to the JSA board; he is becoming executive director of the Westly Foundation (based in Menlo Park, Calif.) and is opening a consultancy for non-profits and social entrepreneurs.

“Dave Viotti brought steady, insightful leadership to JSA at a key point in its history,” said Mike McCurry, chairman of the JSA board of trustees. “He did a great job migrating the board and staff to a new generation of leadership and his strong corporate background brought many of JSA’s programs and processes into the 21st century.” McCurry is the former White House press secretary who ran the JSA fiduciary board for almost a decade; he attended JSA Summer School at U.C. Santa Cruz in 1970 and was JSA governor in 1971-1972.

Donate Now Help promote democracy

How Can I Help JSA?

Annually, thousands of JSA alumni and friends donate their time, talent, and treasure to support the program. Please contact Matthew Randazzo, Chief Growth & Strategy Officer, if you wish to volunteer, reconnect with the program, or make a gift to JSA. or (800) 317-9338.
Read More

New JSA Trustee Julia Curtis
Former NorCal JSA
Gov. Julia Curtis
elected a JSA trustee

Julia Curtis Elected JSA Trustee

Former JSA Northern California Governor and statesmen of the year Julia Curtis (SS Georgetown ’86) was elected to the JSA board of trustees last month by the board of directors.

The Berkeley High School graduate is the business strategy and government relations director at BP Solar in San Francisco. She has spent her career working in renewable energy and climate change policy, recently doing policy and business development for solar energy for Sharp Electronics Corp. and SunPower Corp. From 2004-2005, Curtis was communications and marketing director at Harvard’s Center for the Environment and from 2002-2003 she was a senior manager setting up the City of San Francisco’s first climate and energy policy.

After earning politics and art history undergraduate degrees at New York University and a master’s degree in international economics, energy and environmental policy from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS – in Washington, D.C., and Bologna, Italy), Curtis was a presidential management fellow at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington from 1994-1997. She then spent three years with the International Energy Agency working on international climate policy which was followed in 2000-2001 by a policy fellowship at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

In 1995, Curtis ran a holistic health spa in Singapore, where she managed a staff of 40 and became a certified yoga instructor.

NorCal Program Dir. Jaime Contreras
New JSA Program Dir.
Jaime Contreras

New NorCal Program Director Hired

A Wisconsin native who was educated in Texas has been named the new JSA program director for Northern California, the JSA Foundation said.

Jaime Contreras started with the JSA Foundation in the San Mateo office in late July and has been learning the ropes ever since.

“I am very excited about working together with staff and students to build the kind of leadership our democracy will depend on in the near future,” said Contreras.

Previously, he was community director with the youth civic engagement organization Generation Engage, and Democracy 2.0 program manager with Mobilize.org, based in San Jose.

Contreras holds a master’s degree in international relations from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, with a concentration in international conflict resolution. As a graduate student, he was an award-winning writer for his college newspaper, The Rattler. He also served as a delegate for the school at the United Nations where he co-drafted a resolution focused on reaching the millennial development goals.

He moved to California after completing an internship with the San Francisco Urban Service Project and has worked in the Bay Area for more than four years. He has orchestrated local and national conferences, workshops, and film screenings to build awareness, foster involvement and create leadership within a diverse network of young people.

Contreras currently serves on the board of directors for the San Jose Public Media Access Corp. (CreaTV), as a commissioner for the City of San Jose’s Housing and Community Development Advisory Commission, and on the community advisory panel for KQED public broadcasting.

In his free time, Contreras is an active judoka with the San Jose Buddhist Judo Club and fancies himself a backpack world traveler.

JSA Parent Annette Bening
JSA Parent Annette Bening
to attend fundraiser
Former U.S. Sec. of State George Shultz
Former U.S. Secretary of State
George Shultz will be
honored by JSA

Annette Bening to Attend JSA Fundraiser

Award-winning actress Annette Bening will attend the Warren Beatty-Ina Jaffe JSA benefit luncheon on Nov. 6 in Los Angeles. More than $50,000 has been raised so far for JSA, leaving few tickets and sponsorship slots available.

Bening is the mother of JSA student leader Ben Beatty and wife of fellow actor Warren Beatty, who will join National Public Radio’s Ina Jaffe to discuss the outcome of the November elections. Jaffe is a national desk correspondent based for NPR in Los Angeles. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR newsmagazines including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”

The event is being held at the Brentwood home of JSA alum Rachel Kaganoff Stern in Los Angeles. Stern was recently elected to the JSA board of directors and is the chair of the fundraising committee.

Also in November, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz is scheduled to receive the JSA 75th Anniversary Distinguished Public Service Award. The award presentation will be preceded by the annual alumni and trustee brunch at the Santa Clara Marriott, to be held in conjunction with JSA’s Northern California Fall State, Nov. 20.

Shultz, a longtime educator, economist and businessman, served as President Reagan’s foreign affairs emissary from 1982-1989, and before that held various cabinet-level positions in the Nixon Administration, including U.S. Treasury Secretary, U.S. Secretary of Labor and Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities remain available.

Additionally, JSA is planning to wind down its 75th Anniversary year with an alumni and trustee brunch held in conjunction with the JSA Winter Congress in Washington, D.C., Feb. 27, 2011. Staff, volunteers and students are angling for “a big speaker” for the event.

For more information about these events and to register, please contact Matthew Randazzo at or (202) 591-3732.

JSA Alum Micah Ali
JSA Alum Micah Ali

Alumni Profile: Micah Ali

• JSA leadership roles
President of California’s Lynwood High School chapter in 1996 and attended Stanford Summer School in 1994.

• Education, jobs, residences, family
Currently a member of board of Southern California’s Compton Unified School District and an aerospace project manager. Also, president of the Compton Meals on Wheels Program, a member of the board of directors of Wilmington Medical Clinic and on the executive board of the L.A. County Schools Trustees Association. Graduated from Cal State University, Dominguez Hills.

• Hobbies
Traveling, reading, politics, campaign strategizing, family-time and watching Sunday morning news shows.

• Last book read
Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, by John Heilemann, Mark Halperin.

• Last accomplishment
Writing a resolution to support the Employee Free Choice Act, which was unanimously approved by the CUSD Board of Trustees and advocating for English language development for both English-only and Spanish-speaking students.

• Why I do what I do
It is the inherent passion to advocate for positive change and transparency in a system that often overlooks its intrinsic objective, which is to educate tomorrow’s cream of the crop. The new harvest of leaders must spawn individuals with a tactile vision and a way to solve problems. Public service should be viewed as serving the people and not self-service.

• Favorite JSA memory
Most memorable experiences were the summer schools and symposiums, which truly helped to sharpen my interest in public service and public policy.

• What I learned in JSA that I still use today
Politics is not a spectator sport!

Karen Prosser
Updates about JSA
alumni from Karen Prosser
Are you an alum?

Karen’s Corner

BY KAREN PROSSER: Oughts check in: Congratulations to Jose Ramon Garcia, who won a seat in the student government at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Jose founded the South Ridge High School JSA Chapter in Phoenix and attended the ’09 Symposium on Arizona Leadership and Politics. Jose is one of four senators representing the College of Liberal Arts and was the second-highest vote getter.

Now an expert in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), Lindsay Nicholas (SS Georgetown ’02, JSA Northern California Governor ’02-’03, Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High School) is an attorney working at the Leonard Carder, LLP law firm in San Francisco, which represents labor unions and employees. Lindsay got her B.A. from UCLA and her J.D. from Hastings, College of the Law. She took the bar in July. During her term as JSA governor, Lindsay helped create and launch a scholarship program in West Contra Costa County to fund minority student participation in the JSA California Institnute (nee Symposium) and the JSA Summer School. Working with West Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia and then Richmond City Councilman Alex Evans (now president of the JSA Foundation), this project has involved dozens of outstanding high school students from the cities of Richmond, Pinole, El Cerrito, Hercules and San Pablo.

Update from former ’01-’02 Northeast JSA Governor David Benzaquen: “I accepted a new position as the political and legislative-action coordinator at NARAL Pro-Choice N.Y.”

Eighties email: This is the 30th anniversary of the 1980 Junior Statesmen Summer School at U.C. Davis and one of its graduates, Marty Gitlin, wrote us recently: “Last summer, we moved to Connecticut and my eldest daughter, Shira, started her freshman year at Staples High School [in Westport]. Last fall, Shira came home and told me that she had joined the coolest club on campus called Junior State. I let her describe the club and when I realized that it was the same JSA, I told her I knew all about it because I was a member (and one of the founders) of my chapter at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, Calif. Needless to say, it was a rare moment where my teenage daughter actually thought her dad was cool.” Marty went on to say that he has been married to Kathy for 16 years and they have two other daughters. He got his B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and graduate degrees from Harvard Law School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Marty practiced law from 1991-2008 and has now moved over to the business side in a global trading company. His specialty is carbon credits ... think “cap and trade” and Al Gore. He is a managing director at Noble Americas Corp.

Two JSA alums from the 1980s collaborated recently. Jay Maguire (SS Georgetown ’87 and a frequent Foundation summer employee – counselor, assistant director and speakers program director at sessions of the Texas and Georgetown summer schools — from Pasadena, Texas) worked with Texas State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Harris County, the State Bar of Texas, the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin, to put on the First Annual International Conference on Human Trafficking: “Moving Beyond Talk,” Oct. 6-7, at the Texas State Capitol. JSA alum Martina “Tina” Vandenberg (originally from Gilroy, Calif.) participated in the conference as a special guest speaker. Tina (SS Georgetown ’85, Georgetown counselor in ’89-’90) got her B.A from Pomona College and her master’s degree from Oxford University while she was a Rhodes Scholar. Tina was also a Truman Scholar. She graduated from Columbia University Law School. Martina is a partner at the Jenner & Block Law Firm in Washington, D.C. Over the years, Tina has become an expert on human trafficking and human rights. She worked for five years with Human Rights Watch conducting extensive research in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Russian Federation, Uzbekistan and Kosovo. While in Russia, she co-founded one of Russia’s first rape crisis centers.

Watching democracy: Got an email recently from Kai Lukoff, (JSA Northern California Lt. Governor ’03-’04, and resident advisor at the JSA Stanford Summer School 2005, Petaluma, Calif.). “Coming from a small town, JSA opened my eyes to the wider world. I graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in 2008. I now live and work in Shanghai, China, at BloggerInsight, a start-up that researches China’s consumer Internet. Unfortunately, the Chinese government’s self-proclaimed ‘democracy’ is still a spectator sport (contact is a dangerous game). But there is hope that the system may slowly liberalize at its own pace.”

– This month's newsletter by: David M. Cole, Jeff Harris, Karen Prosser and Dave Viotti.