5 Key Takeaways from Free the Facts Ambassador Spring Weekend 2024

Leadership Programs

Ambassador writing program

The Summary

In February, I had an incredible opportunity to fly out to Phoenix, Arizona for my second Ambassador training weekend with Free the Facts, a nonpartisan nonprofit helping young Americans learn and lead.

In February, I had an incredible opportunity to fly out to Phoenix, Arizona for my second Ambassador training weekend with Free the Facts, a nonpartisan nonprofit helping young Americans learn and lead.

Taking place at the Arizona Biltmore, a hotel rich with political and Arizonian history, it was a fantastic experience in which I got to reconnect with Ambassador friends from across the country. With activities like professional development workshops to Ambassador focus groups, the trip allowed me to develop into a better public servant and leader. Here are some of the key takeaways from the weekend. 

Connecting with young leaders around the nation

The Free the Facts Ambassador Program has over 170 students from 61 colleges and universities representing 26 states and the District of Columbia – so it’s a great way to connect with a network of future leaders. I kicked off the weekend with a late-night Target run with some friends from the University of Georgia and the University of Southern California, which led to a night of relaxing with fellow Ambassadors as we shared our travel stories and updates on how the semester had been faring for us all so far. It was the perfect way to start off a weekend that was sure to be jam-packed with information and fun. 

Giving feedback, receiving personal development 

After a delicious breakfast and a review of the requirements for Ambassadors, the returning Ambassadors got to participate in my favorite activity of the weekend: focus groups. These focus groups were about the future possibility of an alumni network within Free the Facts, and gauged current Ambassadors’ interests about how an alumni program would be structured. Ideas like dividing the country up into Ambassador regions were mentioned, a mentorship program which would pair an Ambassador to an alumnus, alongside creating a database with alumni’s contacts so that Ambassadors can reach out about their professional careers.  I loved getting to contribute to the future of Free the Facts, especially as I begin to consider my future within the workforce and how I want to give back to an organization that has given me so much. 

Free the Facts President and CEO Lindsay Hayes then gave all of the Ambassadors a rundown  on how to secure a summer internship in Washington D.C. – giving us helpful tips and tricks when it came to refining cover letters and resumes, alongside how to cultivate a good relationship for letters of recommendation. This presentation was an extremely useful aspect of the weekend, especially as I look to secure internships within Washington, D.C. this summer. 

Fun and games 

Ambassadors also competed in an afternoon activity of lawn games, where pictionary, “Minute to Win It” games, and a building a spaghetti tower brought out our competitive sides. While my team came in dead last (and our leader got a wonderful rubber chicken for it) – the games were a great way to get energized before our policy discussions and programming.

Bipartisan policy conversations

I had the opportunity to attend a moderated discussion with Becky Tallent and Jennifer Storipan, two amazing women who have been a part of public service for over 20 years. Getting to listen to all of the amazing experiences that Tallent and Storpian had while being public servants on the McCain campaign and serving in Puerto Rico respectively, inspired me to become a better leader and provided me with great advice as I explore a career in leadership and public service. After the discussion a couple of us Ambassadors ran off to get Dutch Bros before we retired for the night, and it was an amazing little adventure as I got to watch my Ambassador friends try a West Coast staple for the first time. 

Celebrating hard work and looking to the future 

Our last day in Arizona was a celebration of all the hard work the Ambassadors had done over the weekend, and ended with a massive success for me personally. As we wrapped up the weekend, discussing campus events and having various breakout sessions, Free the Facts programming staff, Madison and Vicki, had a little surprise: a Kahoot outlining all of the Ambassador responsibilities. After a tough battle, I ended up winning, and got to celebrate with the prize of bragging rights – a valid prize for knowing all of the requirements I should have known anyways. We wrapped up with some bittersweet goodbyes as everyone ran off to catch their flights, and I spent the day with some old family friends before running off to the airport myself.

Overall, this weekend with Free the Facts was one that really solidified my love for an organization that I have been involved with for over a year. I entered into the organization as a freshman merely looking to get involved with public policy and politics, and now have been able to become an emerging public servant. From gaining experience hosting an event on the University of California, Berkeley campus and writing for the Ambassador Writing Program to getting to collaborate with amazing future public servants from across the country, the opportunities that Free the Facts has been able to provide for me have been the best part of my collegiate experience. 

As I enter my junior year next fall, spending this summer and fall in Washington D.C., I know there will always be one organization that will always be there to support me and help me develop into a better leader and public servant: Free the Facts.

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