Grassroots Leadership Academy

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Grassroots Leadership Academy (GLA) is a training school for right-wing activists funded and run by the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF). GLA states its mission as helping activists to "build the leadership skills you need to fight for freedom and against the progressive policies and false narratives of the left."[1] The Academy offers three activist certifications as part of its program: Grassroots Activist, Community Mobilizer, and Grassroots Leadership.[2]

The first two certification programs are held throughout the country, organized and hosted by local AFP offices. The final course in Grassroots Leadership is an "intensive bootcamp" only offered in Washington, DC, Dallas, TX, and Las Vegas, NV.[2]

Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel reported that GLA had a budget of $2 million in 2014.[3]

"Meet the Grassroots Leadership Academy"
Koch Wiki

Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.

Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs' Astroturf and Electioneering Group

Americans for Prosperity is a right-wing political advocacy group founded by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, the owners of Koch Industries.[4]

AFP serves as the Kochs' "grassroots" operation, also known as astroturf. AFP spends millions on TV ads in election cycles attacking Democratic candidates. In the 2012 election cycle, it was a key component of the Kochs' $400 million political network, receiving large portions of its money from Koch-linked dark money groups like Freedom Partners, American Encore, and Donors Trust. AFP's budget, which comes from the Koch family foundations and other unknown sources, surged from $7 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2010 to $115 million in 2012. [5] According to the Center for Public Integrity, Americans for Prosperity "spent a staggering $122 million (in 2012) as it unsuccessfully attempted to defeat President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats," including $83 million on "communications, ads, and media."[6]

AFP's messages are in sync with those of other groups funded by the Kochs and the Kochs' other special interest groups that work against progressive or Democratic initiatives and protections for workers and the environment. Accordingly, AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, President Obama's Clean Power Plan and any effort to combat climate change.

Certification Programs Offered

Here are the courses listed on the GLA website for the certifications of Grassroots Activist, Community Mobilizer, and Grassroots Leadership as of March 2016[2]:

Grassroots Activist

  • Session 1: Making the Case for Economic Freedom
  • Session 2: A Brief History of Grassroots Activism & How the Left Operates
  • Session 3: Communities vs. Networks
  • Session 4: Sharing Freedom by Telling Your Story
  • Session 5: Going Viral: Social Media Workshop
  • Session 6: Effective Written Messaging

Community Mobilizer

  • Session 1: Structure of Social Change & Human Action Model
  • Session 2: Narratives & Framing – the Key to Connecting
  • Session 3: Building Communities & Coalitions
  • Session 4: The Snowflake Management Model & Motivating People
  • Session 5: Protecting Your Good Name & A Conservative View of Alinsky’s 13 Rules
  • Session 6: Direct Action – Explaining the “Why”

Grassroots Leadership According to GLA's website, "As part of this exclusive program, participants are invited to fly to Washington, DC, Dallas, TX, or Las Vegas, NV for a multi-day, intensive boot camp training on leadership, strategy, and tactics. This program will give attendees the skills and knowledge needed to become a top-level volunteer, organize an issue campaign, or want to pursue a career in grassroots activism."


  • Slade O'Brien, Vice President
  • Dave Johnson, Director of Training & Curriculum
  • Hillary DeJong, Director of Training Operations
  • Heather Browning, Network Partner Project Manager
  • Kelly Jamison, Events & Logistics Coordinator
  • Paige Kaylor Ruddy, Training Operations Manager
  • Rebecca McDonald, Training Operations Coordinator
  • Rachel Burgin, Program Manager
  • Mary Conway, Program Manager
  • Joel Foster, Program Manager
  • Daryn Iwicki, Senior Curriculum & Training Manager
  • Stephanie Maier, Senior Curriculum & Training Manager
  • Anita MonCrief, Senior Trainer & Curriculum Manager
  • Ryan Black, Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist
  • Drew Bonk, Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist
  • Daryl Ann Duigan, Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist
  • Eduardo Gil, Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist
  • Matthew Hurtt, Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist
  • Duane Lester, Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist
  • Meghan Norton, Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist
  • Carlos Reyes, Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist
  • Caleb Stokes, Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Specialist

Contact Information

Grassroots Leadership Academy
1310 N. Courthouse Rd., Ste. 700
Arlington, VA 22201

Phone: (703) 224-3200


  1. Grassroots Leadership Academy, Mission, Grassroots Leadership Academy, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Grassroots Leadership Academy, Certifications, Grassroots Leadership Academy, 2016.
  3. Kenneth P. Vogel, How the Koch network rivals the GOP, Politico, December 30, 2015.
  4. Peter Overby, "Who's Raising Money For Tea Party Movement?," NPR, February 19, 2010.
  5. Eric Lipton, Billionaire Brothers’ Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute, New York Times, February 21, 2011.
  6. Michael Beckel, "Koch-backed nonprofit spent record cash in 2012," Center for Public Integrity, November 14, 2013.
  7. Grassroots Leadership Academy, Meet the Team, Grassroots Leadership Academy, 2016.