Departing The James Madison Institute

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Members of JMI’s staff & board at the first annual JMI Policy Summit in 2015, at the Boardwalk Resort, Walt Disney World.

After nine years leading the development department at The James Madison Institute, I am moving on. I recently accepted a position with National Review Institute, an organization I have long admired and respected. The good news is they are allowing me to continue to work remotely from Orlando. While I will be working with their supporters in many parts of the country, my roots remain firmly here in the Sunshine State, a place I really never plan to move from again. While I am departing JMI, my loyalty to its mission will remain strong as it continues the legacy and vision of our great founder, Dr. J. Stanley Marshall. After all, as a Floridian who believes in limited government and free-market principles, the success of JMI remains important to me and to this great state.

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I got around this state so much to represent JMI, including at the Fort Walton Beach Tea Party in September 2009. One other notable speaker that day: businessman Rick Scott.

I have greatly enjoyed my time at JMI and am grateful for the opportunity that President Bob McClure and the board gave me when I first started as development director in January 2008 (and later promoted to Vice President of Advancement). During my time, we grew the organization from a staff of 8 with a budget of $800,000 to a staff of 17 with a budget of nearly $2 million. We completed a successful $1.6 million capital campaign to purchase and move the Institute’s headquarters to The Columns, a beautiful and most historic building in downtown Tallahassee. We began a civics education program for young people and grew it into the Preston A. Wells Center for American Ideals. We started the JMI Leaders Fellowship and have had 300 young professionals from six regions go through the program in its first three years. We created nine regional boards of advisors with over 170 advisors currently serving statewide. We now have JMI campus reps spreading our message on 10 college campuses around the state. We also continue to expand our staff around the state – with my colleagues Dan Peterson in Orlando and Don Orrico in Naples.

JMI founder Dr. Stanley Marshall with Rebecca Dunn, one of the longest board members and supporters of JMI, at JMI's 25th Anniversary Dinner in 2013.

JMI founder Dr. Stanley Marshall with Rebecca Dunn, one of the longest board members and supporters of JMI, at JMI’s 25th Anniversary Dinner in 2013.

As a historian by education, I was grateful to be able to put together the “25 Years, 25 Moments” report in conjunction with our 25th Anniversary Dinner and was glad that Dr. Marshall was able to see that while he was still with us. It reminds us all of the impact this organization has made during its first quarter century and of the faith that many supporters had in us when we were just an idea.

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JMI afforded me the opportunity to meet so many people, including those who became some of my best friends today.

The greatest accomplishment I feel I have made at JMI is creating and growing the JMI network of campus reps, Leaders Fellows, and Boards of Advisors, as well as attracting many new sources of support. I leave the development department in great hands with my colleagues Jill Mattox, Don Orrico, and Chris Ricardo as fully capable full-time staff members who are able to execute on gifts from foundations, major donors, and our more general membership. I have seen hundreds of interns go through the Institute over the past nine years, with a few dozen who worked directly under me. Most are now off in many parts of this state and country (and even a few internationally) doing incredible things in the nonprofit, government, and private sectors. My greatest source of pride is seeing people who worked with me and under me develop their skills and flourish both here and beyond.

Many fun times with my JMI colleagues; and many opportunities to hear from amazing guest speakers, such as Charles C.W. Cooke of National Review.

Many fun times with my JMI colleagues; and many opportunities to hear from amazing guest speakers, such as Charles C.W. Cooke of National Review.

While I am leaving an organization I have dedicated nearly a decade of my life to, I am going to an organization to which I am very familiar with and have long admired. JMI has partnered with National Review Institute over the years – bringing in great speakers like Charles C.W. Cooke and Jonah Goldberg. I even reviewed books by both of these gentlemen in the JMI Journal over the years – including Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg (in the Winter Journal 2009) and The Conservatarian Manifesto by Charles C.W. Cooke. And since my time at my previous role with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, I have been a huge fan of National Review magazine, and its great founder, William F. Buckley, Jr. I have often cited him as “the” central figure in the conservative movement and as one of the most important people in America in the 20th century. I was privileged to hear him speak live in person during two events I attended in 2004. The opportunity to go work for the organization he founded and dedicated his life to is a something of a dream come true. I look forward to working to help NRI spread its mission, support its talent, and strongly promote conservative intellectual ideas at a very pivotal time for our country. When “fake news” is on the rise, we can feel confident in the intellectual and positive conservative voice that National Review continues to offer for anyone no matter your position on the political spectrum.

They grow up so fast: I've appreciate the hard work of so many JMI interns and have enjoyed seeing them go on to great things. It's the proudest accomplishment I could possibly have from my time at JMI, even if a few of them are a bit crazy.

They grow up so fast: I’ve appreciated the hard work of so many JMI interns and have enjoyed seeing them go on to great things. It’s the proudest accomplishment I could possibly have from my time at JMI, even if a few of them are a bit crazy.

While we have helped build a movement for liberty here in Florida during my time at JMI, the most rewarding thing for me are the friendships that have been built all around this great state — and even beyond. Those personal friendships transcend any time in any job or any career. My personal support for JMI will continue and the friendships I have made will last even longer. Thank you to everyone who has helped me and who has helped JMI. And thanks most especially to my many former and current colleagues at JMI and for those across the state and country who have partnered with us on so many things. I am proud of what we have accomplished together. Nine years! It went by too fast.

 

3 Responses to “Departing The James Madison Institute”

  1. Gerry Gonzalez says:

    Congratulations on your new endeavor! It is wonderful to see how much you have grown and how far JMI has come with your leadership. The National Review is a great organization and they are lucky to have you. It seems to be a good fit for both you and them.

  2. Bradley Hobbs says:

    Congrats and from my own recent experience I can say that change is good. We all need it, it opens up so many new paths, and resistance to it is so, so futile. Celebrate the success you had at JMI! And knock’em dead at National Review Institute.

  3. John Marshall says:

    Thank you, Francisco, for the impact you have made on JMI. You have been instrumental in its evolution and growth. Dad would be thrilled with where the Institute is today!

    John

  4. […] 27, He’ll further NRI’s mission with supporters across the country. He says he wrote a blog post last week that revisits his 9 years at […]

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