Meet the 2018 Candidates for Governor
My JSA career has been an amazing ride. I was voted in as my chapter secretary at Kofa High School at the end of my sophomore year. As secretary, I've helped organize chapter events and my chapter itself while forming bonds with each and every one of my fellow chapter members. On the state level, I am the Co-Fundraising Director which has allowed me to learn about JSA through a unique lens as my department works very closely with all of cabinet, local communities, and donors. I have also attended JSA Arizona Summer Institute, 2017 Montezuma Leadership Summit, and JSA Summer School at Georgetown University. JSA for me is a family and a medium through which I am empowered to do more and be more, and I would like to continue to progress JSA's mission throughout Arizona and the nation in order to ensure that others have the same opportunities to be civically engaged as I have had.
Outside of JSA, I am an avid reader, chess enthusiast, and "The Office" fanatic. Also, I happen to love coffee.
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My name is Jenny Wang, and I am running to be the Northeast JSA Governor! My JSA story began when I made the split-second decision to sign up for Winter Congress after hearing great feedback from my friends about their experiences at Fall State. Having never attended a meeting or an event, the experience of Washington D.C. was too difficult to pass up. Even though none of my friends were able to come, I was lucky enough to grow closer with the sophomores and juniors who had previous experience in the club. Recognizing their welcoming demeanor, I knew that I wanted to get more involved.
While holding the position of NES Director of Activism last year, the notion of campaigning for an elected position ran through my mind. However, my desire to run for Governor solidified this past summer. I received the opportunity to attend the Montezuma Leadership Summit and was fortunate enough to interact with the most passionate JSAers I have ever met. Later, my amazing experiences at the Princeton Summer Institute and at Cabinet Retreat further reinforced my ambition to run for the position. Serving as the Northeast State Convention Coordinator this year and learning from our current Governor has provided me with a valuable understanding of the time, energy, and patience it takes to run the state. This is an undertaking that I am wholeheartedly committed to, and I hope you consider me, Jenny Wang, for Northeast JSA Governor!
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Even before I was dragged to my first meeting on my second day of high school, I was a JSAer. I still remember eagerly taking Fight Apathy stickers as a seventh grader from my brother (the co-founder of JSA at my high school). I passed them out to my friends who, to my disappointment wrote things such as “bacon” and “llamas,” compared to my “equal protection under the law” and “bipartisanship.” From being a provocateur with my more politically extreme relatives to being sent to the principles office in fifth grade for getting heated in an argument with a teacher about the national debt, I have always loved being a spark that sets off a blaze of passionate discourse about the issues that affect us, and as the current MAS Executive Director of Debate, I have been proud of my ability to do just that. But now our nation and our generation are at a critical juncture. Just discussion is not enough. I am running for MAS Governor because I believe that our voices together can manifest in real national change. I believe JSA can be a community of those who seek to rally their generation to take up their civic responsibility. And I believe that democracy is not a spectator sport.
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Facebook: Christian Martin for MAS Governor Instagram: @martinforgov
Website: Christian Martin for MAS Governor
My name is Dev Patel and I’m currently a Junior at the Middlesex County Academy. This past February I had the honor of declaring my candidacy for Governor of the Mid-Atlantic State. With that, I want to take a moment to reflect on my journey through JSA. Beginning high school, I was a shy individual who avoided speaking in public at all costs, sitting at the back, often seen dwindling my fingers as time passed. Eventually, I noticed the value of being able to voice my opinions. From everyone I talked to, I was told that it was an essential skill in life and so when I approached by two upperclassmen about giving JSA a shot, I weighed all of this and reluctantly agreed. The first conference that I attended was Spring State and I still remember the feeling I had when I gave my first speech: a feeling of nervousness, yet empowerment from being able to share my thoughts and have them appreciated by amazing JSA delegates.
Soon after, I reflected on the experience and realized that I wanted to become more involved within the organization to help empower individuals who were just like me a few months prior. I began by first attaining my position as the Chapter Director of Fundraising. Next, I took the initiative to apply for Cabinet, and I was appointed to serve as an Expansion Agent for the MAS. This year I took a step further and I am now honored to be serving as the MAS Director of Expansion. Along with my journey, there’s been one thing that always stood out: meeting so many people and getting to know them on a personal level. Impacting and inspiring these new students positively has defined my JSA career. In fact, my primary motivation for running to be the next MAS Governor is my desire to leave a lasting positive impact on all of JSA. As a JSA delegate, the most rewarding feeling I can possibly get is when I see an anxious JSA delegate approach the front of a room and express his or her thoughts and ideas. Let’s work together to make sure every student in the MAS is empowered! #Enhance #Empower #Expand #TogetherWeCan
Connect with Dev
Facebook: Dev Patel for MAS Governor Instagram: @dev4gov
Max Zhang is a junior from suburban Chicago and attends Naperville North High School. Max originally joined JSA in freshman year from hearing about it at a parent panel and ended up falling in love with the organization after joining Midwest Cabinet that same year through the Midyear process. In sophomore year, Max worked as a Chapter Internal Affairs Agent for the Midwest and as the SuperCabinet Deputy Director of Fundraising for MidSoHio Winter Congress. Now, as a junior, Max is proudly serving as Midwest Chief of Staff, his chapter's Chapter President, and SuperCabinet Chief of Staff for Winter Congress. Outside of JSA, Max works as a Community Pop Editor for Genius.com, does design work for his school literary magazine, and participates in a feminist discussion group.
In essence, Max is running for Governor because he considers it the most significant way he can pay back and further an organization that has given him so much. To him, JSA's capacity to draw meaningful dialogue between the ideological binaries makes it fundamentally important in this starkly divisive political climate. Max hopes that service in a gubernatorial context will ultimately help preserve JSA's unique ability to educate, connect, and empower students of all sorts of beliefs, values, and backgrounds.
Connect with Max
Facebook: Max for Gov
Hayley is a junior at Alternative Family Education and an active member in JSA. According to her friends, Hayley can’t shut up about two things: her dog and JSA. Hayley got her start in JSA in her freshman year and has since been completely hooked. She was the GGR Vice-Mayor her sophomore year and is the current GGR Mayor. She is also an intern at the JSA Burlingame office. Hayley has been wanting to run for governor since she was fourteen at her first Fall State. When she’s not doing JSA she is either watching “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” listening to the “‘NPR Politics Podcast,” or trying to learn the choreography to Taylor Swift songs. Hayley is really passionate about JSA and can’t wait to see you all at Spring State.
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Hi! I'm Natasha Salmi, and I'm running to be NorCal JSA Governor. I was born and raised in San Francisco, California, and I'm now a junior at Lick-Wilmerding High School. I'm passionate about politics, exploring the great outdoors, and meeting people. I started my school's JSA chapter sophomore year. I've grown our chapter from 9 members at Fall State in 2016 to 40 tax paid members at Spring State. In addition to chapter president, I am currently NorCal's Director of Debate.
NorCal leadership, and in turn its delegates, don't represent the larger state as well as we could. I realized that we should prioritize diversity, innovation, and inclusivity. As Governor I will help build a NorCal that embraces students from all over the state and from a variety of backgrounds.
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I joined JSA at the start if my Freshman year at the suggestion of my sister, and it’s been a major part of my life ever since. I left my first Fall State the way many others do- inspired, driven, and completely in love with JSA. I worked as a logistics agent at Winter Congress that year, and since then I’ve constantly looked for ways to get more involved and help this organization thrive. I’ve worked as a Fair Elections Committee Agent, a Chapter Fundraising Director, Chapter Vice-President, and Director of Expansion. At the end of last year, I was elected one of two Senators for the East Bay Region, which I now help represent in our state’s legislature.
I’ve learned and gained so much from JSA, from knowledge about complex foreign policy issues to greater insights into profound questions about future of our country, I owe a lot to this organization. I’ve also seen the amazing effect it has on my peers. I’ve seen people who didn’t care about politics become avid consumers of political news and shy students who never raised their hands in class become passionate and effective public speakers. In NorCal we have an amazing group of delegates, young people who are not just students but debaters, activists, and future leaders of our country and the world. I believe I have the ideas, skills, and experience to serve our state as the next NorCal Governor.
Connect with Oliver
Facebook: Oliver Soglin for NorCal Governor
Ohio River Valley
Hi! My name is Gene Kim and I’m honored to be running for ORV governor. I joined JSA my sophomore year as a founding officer of the Worthington Kilbourne JSA, and after attending my first Fall State, I fell in love with the mission of JSA and became an activism specialist. I’m currently serving as the ORV’s activism director and I had the privilege of serving as the co-director of activism for this past MidSoHio Winter Congress. JSA has been a series of enlightening moments and blessed opportunities for me. I’ve contributed my efforts to JSA for two years so far and I saw running as another great opportunity to further serve this organization, its mission, and its people.
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My name is Tess Woosley and I am a Junior at Dublin Coffman High School. I first became involved in JSA at the beginning of my freshman year, when I stopped at the JSA booth at my school’s club fair. After attending several JSA conventions, I fell in love with the mission of the organization and I joined the cabinet. Last year, I ran for North Central District Mayor because I wanted to serve in a position where I could improve the state at both a chapter and state level, which I am still continuing to achieve.
Running for Governor of the Ohio River Valley has been a dream of mine since my Freshman year. If I am elected, I promise to uphold the values and mission statement of the Junior State of America. In addition, I promise to bring my own values of accessibility, efficiency, honesty, and collaboration to the position.
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Hello! My name is Mia Barkenaes, and I'm ecstatic to be running for Governor of the Pacific Northwest Junior State!
I first got involved with JSA as a freshman, nervously scouting the club fair and last-minute deciding to sign up for JSA. Little did I know, this organization would become my greatest passion, inspiring me to voice my opinions and become active in my community. JSA has introduced me to my best friends, shaped my work ethic, and given me the confidence to pursue the goals I am achieving today. In my time in JSA, I have served as a Chapter Internal Affairs Agent, PNW's Director of Chapter Internal Affairs, and two-term Chapter President of the International School of Beaverton's JSA chapter. This year I had the pleasure of serving as a Winter Congress Democratic Whip, and finally declaring my candidacy to be the next PNW Governor. I decided to run for Governor because I believe I have both the ideas, drive, and qualifications necessary to best serve the delegates of the PNW! JSA has changed my life, and I want to provide that opportunity to all high school students.
Outside of JSA, I co-lead International School of Beaverton's political activism club, participate in World Oregon's official youth program, and serve as ISB's junior class president. In my free time, you can find me playing badminton, trying to kidnap my neighbor's cat, or getting bubble tea with friends! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions, or want to have a call sometime, I love getting to know other delegates!
Connect with Mia
Facebook: Mia Barkenaes for PNW JSA Governor Instagram: @miaforpnwgov
I got my start in JSA in the fall of my freshman year. Ever since then, from every chapter meeting to thought talk, to debate, to JSA convention coffee-break conversation; the Junior State of America has helped me find my voice and passion in this world. JSA cultivates an incredible, nationwide community of civically engaged students all working together to fight political apathy while simultaneously developing the statesmen and women of tomorrow.
I'm running for Governor of the Pacific Northwest JSA because JSA has taught me how to be a leader and use my voice to promote civic engagement. I have learned thanks to scores of past and present JSAers who took the time and thought to reach out and include me in our mission as an organization. I want to continue that legacy of leadership but even beyond that, I believe profoundly in the mission of JSA. I believe that now and always, fostering civil civic discourse and fighting political apathy in our communities is of the utmost importance. I am fortunate to be a part of an organization so dedicated to this mission and am running for Governor bear this mantle.
Connect with Sam
Facebook: @kehoe4gov Instagram: @kehoe4gov
Hi guys, I'm Jonathan Hernandez so a little bit about me. I'm Christian, I'm republican, I'm 17 and I'm Salvadorian. My dream school is Harvard and I plan to double major in business and political science my end goal is to one day run for president a bit of a stretch but I think I can do it(note if I lose this election I will drop out of high school and become homeless just kidding but really) anyways I go to Smidt Tech High School and I'm currently a junior. The reason why I joined JSA was to prepare my self for my future as a politician but as I joined I realized we're really just an expensive debate club. This is why I'm running for governor see I want JSA to really be a civic engagement club but I cant do that if I'm just a member. As your governor, I promise to flip JSA all the way around my plan is to see us all more involved in our communities. Ironically I'm not a very serious person but I want JSA to be a much more serious club. I know I don't have the JSA cabinet experience that my competition has but I do have experience in really all areas from running my own nonofficial non-profit to being the fundraising coordinator for clubs at my school I can play the title game but I don't think titles matter it's about what we plan to accomplish and if we have an actual plan and that is something I have. As for why I love JSA I love the amount of untapped potential we all have. This all being said if you do think the title game is important then check out my Title Game page.
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I have one goal and that's to impact SoCal through JSA
Wendy Figueroa is a Junior at Alliance Dr. Olga Mohan High School which is located right in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. This year, she has the honor of running to serve as the next Southern California Junior State Governor! Wendy joined JSA during her freshman year. She was drawn to her chapter's first meeting after being captivated by a poster with the image of Uncle Sam that read,"We want YOU for JSA." After that meeting, she was completely enamored with the positive, intense, respectful, and professional environment that JSA offers.
Towards the end of her freshman year, she was voted in as chapter historian. Since then, she has been ecstatic to attend various one-day conferences, conventions, summer programs, and the Montezuma Leadership Summit. This year, Wendy is serving on state cabinet as a Deputy Director of Expansion. Wendy is very grateful for all that JSA has given her, and she feels it is now her turn to give back. She has made it her mission to ensure that the people’s concerns don’t go unaddressed, and their voices are heard. Her campaign is about all the people in JSA. This is why she decided to run for Governor, to ensure that all of the people in the Southern California Junior State have a say on how their state runs.
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Hi Everyone! My name is Katelin Zhou, and I am humbled and honored to be running to be your next SoCal JSA Governor. I initially joined JSA as a freshman, and as a sophomore, I took up the responsibility of reviving my nearly-extinct chapter. That same year, I also applied for cabinet and was selected to serve as a Deputy Director of Debate, where I was able to learn more about the functions and inner workings of the Junior State on a deeper level. This past year, I have been honored to serve as your Channel Islands Region Mayor in SoCal JSA, where I have been able to oversee a variety of regional-related affairs, from welcoming new chapters into JSA to planning various one-day events. But experience aside, the one thing that has always stood out to me most, the one thing that has never failed to inspire me, is the people in this organization.
Whether you’re a first-time convention attendee, a new chapter president, cabinet member, chapter officer, or a JSA veteran, I am a firm believer that this organization has a place for everyone, regardless of status or title, and I want to do everything in my willpower to best serve you, the people. This is why I am running to be your next Governor because above all else, there’s nothing I want to do more than serve the people in the organization that we all love most. Through my tenure in JSA, I have been able to witness amazing moments come to life: watching new chapters attend their first convention and fall in love with this organization, seeing the first ever Spanish-language debate take place last year, and witnessing passionate high school students advocate for their beliefs. These moments have taught me that regardless of who we are or where we come from, the Junior State is truly something special to all of us, which is why my entire platform is built around the concept of making SoCal JSA the best it can be --- to make the place we all love most the best that it can be. I want everyone to know that they have a voice in JSA and that together, we can all lead SoCal JSA to its peak! If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to message me or visit my website at www.katelinforgov.com for more information about my platform.
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I have been a delegate in JSA for two years now. Over the summer, I attended the Montezuma Leadership Summit with other JSA students from around the country. At Montezuma, I learned chapter strengthening techniques, fundraisers at the state and chapter level, bonding with fellow JSA-ers from all across the country and political spectrum, and so much more. In addition, this experience granted me the opportunity to learn about the rich history of the Junior State and hear from current JSA governors about their plans for their state, as well as their campaigns and platforms. I was one of three graduates of the Montezuma School from the Southeast last summer. In addition, I had the privilege of serving as a chapter agent this year from the Land O’ Lakes High School chapter. It was my duty to assist the President, Vice President, and all our chapter directors in their roles, as well as formulating new ideas to implement within my chapter at officer meetings.
Over the summer, I also had the opportunity to serve as a JSA-Gell Ambassador, one of only a select few from our state. As a Gell ambassador, it was my job to learn and inform others about the daily happenings in politics on a day to day basis, particularly in the field of education. This was a rewarding experience for me because I got to voice my own opinion in a new way, work directly with a CEO about civic engagement, and have an open-mind to others political views. At the end of the internship, I was named an esteemed intern by various Gell staff and was awarded the opportunity to speak about my ambassadorship to the entire Fall State Delegation.
Lastly, I served as this year’s Chief of Staff for the Southeast State. This was an incredible opportunity for me to work with the Governor and Lieutenant Governor in their responsibilities, as well as overseeing the other directors of cabinet and making sure that everything in our state is running smoothly come convention time. This was a very worthwhile experience for me, especially getting direct insight into how to run the day-to-day operations of our state alongside the other executive cabinet members.
- Higher involvement and contact between Southeast Cabinet with Chapter Presidents (inviting presidents to Cab Retreat, biweekly calls between governor, LTG, and Presidents)
- Encourage chapter strengthening activities (ex: debate watch parties, community service pitches, etc.)
- Expand to areas that aren’t as prevalent in JSA (states other than Florida) to increase geographic representation within our state (Jacksonville, Tallahassee, East Coast of Fl. as well)
- Encourage an increased number of chapter conventions
- Easily accessible, statewide financial aid packet distributed to all chapter presidents in order to help individuals raise money for conventions
- Increase JSA partnerships with local and larger businesses
- Help younger (middle school) students understand the goals of JSA and Congress in general through mentoring, increasing middle school chapters in the Southeast
- Biweekly check-ins with chapter presidents
- Individual fundraising tactics, such as GoFundMe, in addition to the classy pages established by the cabinet
- Activism Fair included at Fall State
- Online best speaker voting through the JSApp
Dominic joined JSA his freshman year, the amazing atmosphere at Fall and Spring State encouraged him to join cabinet the next year as Assistant Convention Coordinator in addition to Vice President of his own College Park chapter. This year, he is both the President of College Park and the Convention Coordinator in Texas Cabinet. In both positions his appreciation for all that JSA does and can do has grown, which is why he is running for Texas Governor. If elected to govern Texas JSA, he hopes to enhance the way that JSA tackles fundraising and activism with more involved projects that can make a big impact around Texas. Also, he would like to bring new and exciting ideas for debates that will bring some more originality to State and National conventions. In his free time, Dominic likes to act in school plays and to run. He recently completed his first half-marathon.
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