Every spring gubernatorial candidates across the country descend upon hotel ballrooms with colorful posters, banners, buttons and baked goods. Their platforms convey the needs of their state and carry the promise to make it better than the previous year. Starting as early as the winter months, campaigns launch and lead up to JSA Spring State Conventions in full regalia where the action takes place in the hallways as campaign staffers vie for support from delegates. These social media savvy millennials know how to operate a campaign virtually and on the ground, and have the victories to prove it. A healthy cross-section of the American fabric, this batch will lead and serve the Junior State of America for 2012-2013. Here they are:
Texas: Griffin Rubin
Griffin Rubin was elected Governor of the Texas Junior State (2012-2013) at Spring State in Houston, Texas, on a platform of unprecedented prosperity and growth for Texas JSA. He served on the Texas Junior State Cabinet as a Debate Agent his sophomore year and as Convention Coordinator his junior year; in addition, he served two years as the Chief of Staff for the JSA chapter of Saint Mary’s Hall, the high school which he attends. He believes that his experience at the JSA Summer School at Georgetown University “changed his life” in a positive way, helping him to figure out his life goals and set him on his current path. Griffin aspires to become a medical doctor or a lawyer and then become involved in public service. His other interests include competitive speech and tennis.
Midwest: Summer Wu
She is currently a junior at the Illinois Math and Science Academy, a three-year boarding school in Aurora, IL. She joined JSA at the beginning of her high school career and was immediately captivated by the knowledge, eloquence, and passion that the students exhibited. Since then, she has devoted herself to furthering the cause of the organization by promoting civic engagement through political debate amongst high school students. This year, Summer served as the Governor’s Chief of Staff on Cabinet as well as the Activism Director on her chapter board, which provided her with experience in various aspects of running the organization. After a heated campaign season involving touring local schools, calling Chapter Presidents, and handing out buttons, Summer was elected by high school students across the Midwest to serve as their 2012-2013 JSA Governor. She looks forward to expanding the Midwest Junior State and hopes to promote an environment where everyone, whether newbie or veteran, can feel confident voicing their opinion.
Northeast: Jacob Meisel
Even though he ran unopposed, throughout his election he went around talking with constituents from around the state and hearing their ideas while sharing his. He has been in JSA ever since the beginning of his freshman year, and has served as Empire Constitution Region Vice-Mayor and NES Lieutenant Governor along the way. As a sophomore, he even served as the National Director of Publications. Outside of JSA, he is very involved in other clubs at his school, Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut such as the Debate Team and Model United Nations. In the spring, he plays golf for the school. He also has a strong passion for the weather, and even updates his own weather website for the area to keep everyone informed and prepared for whatever weather issues are in the near future.
Southern California: Julianna Joss
SoCal JSA had a two-way race between Anthony McKelroy of Santiago High School and Julianna Joss of the Orange County High School of the Arts; a race filled with incredible energy and enthusiasm from convention attendees. Julianna joined JSA the first day of her freshman year and served as the Southern Empire Region Mayor this past year. Under her leadership, the region broke attendance records for both the SER Fall and Spring One-Day Conferences. Her platform focuses on grassroots activism, involvement, and technology. Julianna is deeply interested in foreign policy, an avid newspaper reader, and cannot wait to continue the upward growth of her state.
Northern California: Arnela Colic
NorCal JSA had a very full governor’s race with six candidates in contention for the prestigious role. The election was decided after three hard fought run-offs. Arnela’s experience as a Chapter Affairs and Expansion Agent proved incredibly valuable as she strategically decided to run a campaign based on reaching out to as many delegates as possible. Arnela was the Golden Gate Region Mayor and organized an amazing Regional Conference that was triple the size from the previous year. She is a Georgetown Summer Program Alum as well. She attends Leigh High School in San Jose, where her favorite subjects are international relations and history.
Ohio River Valley: Jordan Dicken
Jordan Dicken will be serving as your Ohio River Valley Governor this coming year. The ability to meet and work with so many people, not just from the ORV but from other states as well, has been such a privilege throughout this campaign season. Working with JSA on multiple levels, from chapter president, to vice mayor, to mayor, and now to Governor, has made an immense impact on her life. Jordan says that JSA is the one thing that she knows she will be able to reflect on without any regrets because of what an amazing and life-changing experience it has given her. She is currently a junior at Greenfield-Central High School in Greenfield, IN, and besides JSA, also plays for the golf team. She would like to pursue a career in political science and business. Jordan has a black belt in Tai-kwon-do and enjoys scuba diving!
Arizona: Caleb Rhodes
For Caleb, the most exciting aspect in this election was sharing with the students of Arizona and New Mexico the tremendous success of the 2011-2012 school year. This will be his second term as Governor of the Arizona Territory, prior to his election he served as a cabinet officer and Chapter President. Outside of JSA he is active in the political community as a social media consultant for political campaigns. He is also a regular guest of a local radio station as a correspondent. This past January Caleb was selected by an Arizona State Representative to attend the 2012 Arizona State of the State Address where he met Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
Pacific Northwest: Iman Baghai
It was an exciting campaign in which the candidates for Governor originated from the top three schools in terms of representation at the convention. His JSA experience includes: PNW Director of Technology, PNW Director of Publicity, PNW Co-Director of Activism, Issaquah High School Director of Debate, National-Editor-in-Chief of The Junior Statement, and Montezuma leadership summit attendee. Besides being immersed in JSA he works on Washington’s Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen’s Legislative Youth Advisory Council, Congresman Dave Reichert’s Youth Council, Issaquah Youth Advisory Board, the Co-Editor of The Beat, the local student paper, along with sports, community service activities, and local city boards.
Mid-Atlantic: Simone Klein
She will serve the Mid-Atlantic State as Governor, after envisioning it since her freshman year. The campaign season in and of itself was a huge hurdle because she was running against her best friend and closest JSA colleague, Brian Lipson. For her, the best part of being Governor is working with both the New Jersey and South Atlantic Regions. In the past, she has only had the experience of working with the New Jersey Region as its Vice Mayor this year and a Director of Chapter Internal Affairs the year before. Although JSA is her passion, she is a huge part of the South Brunswick High School community where she serves as an editor at the school paper, President of the Renaissance Club, and a member of both Class Council and the Asian Club. Other than that, she enjoys watching Parks and Recreation and eating frozen yogurt.
Southeast: Kathryn Edmunds
With three qualified opponents, elections for the Southeast this year was intense. Her favorite part of the elections was the formal and informal candidate forum where the candidates answered serious concerns but also solved humorous riddles. Since the beginning of her high school career, she has been involved with JSA and the Southeast’s cabinet. Kathryn was convention coordinator for the 2011-2012 school year. JSA
has become her true love and she is grateful for this leadership position because it is the greatest honor a person can have in JSA. Kathryn attends Coral Springs Christian Academy and lives in Coral Springs, FL. She is the eldest of four girls and has a dog named Peanut Butter.