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2017 “30 Under 30” Finalists – *Readers’ Choice Voting Open*

Jolie Ballantyne

Age

23

Location

Reston, Virginia

Occupation

Conference director, Young America’s Foundation

Twitter

@jolieballantyne

Jolie Ballantyne is the conference director for Young America’s Foundation.  She also serves on the Board of Governors for Young Americans for Freedom. While Jolie started her activism career as a communist, she converted to conservatism in college after attending a Young America’s Foundation Conference. Jolie is a graduate of Central Washington University, the Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law, and is a member of the Virginia State Bar.

While attending law school, Jolie stayed active in the conservative movement. As the chair of the Penn State YAF chapter, Jolie fought against the university’s restrictive speech policy and worked to bring several conservative speakers to campus though Young America’s Foundation’s campus lecture series. Now, Jolie works to give college and high school students the same life-changing experiences she enjoyed at Young America’s Foundation conferences.

What was the biggest factor in your success?

President Reagan said, “There is a flickering spark in us all which, if struck at just the right age…can light the rest of our lives.” I am so blessed that Young America’s Foundation was that spark for me. I was a communist. I had no interest in conservative values and certainly no intention of being where I am now. I attended a conference with the Foundation for a fun trip, but it changed the course of my life.

What advice would you give to other millennials?

If you want something done, don’t wait for someone else to do it. Do it yourself! Millennials get a bad reputation for their sense of entitlement. Change that. You can’t expect others to do all the hard work. You have to go out there and do it yourself. In college, I was tired of hearing liberal professors and speakers espouse their viewpoints unchallenged. Instead of just complaining about it, I worked with YAF to bring in conservative speakers. You might be the only one with the courage to challenge your liberal professors at first, but you need to do it. And it might be hard, but in the end it is worth it.

Does the GOP have a future and why?

I have the privilege to work with young people everyday. When I see our YAF students fired up after conferences, I know the conservative movement has a future. Our Freedom Conference in Nashville sold out four separate times in less than two months. The demand was so high, we had to keep expanding capacity. Young people are ready to get involved in the movement. I see the passion we have for our conservative values; values that are timeless and will outlast any election cycle.

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