It Takes a Team.
The Goldwater Institute team is dedicated to holding government accountable and accomplishing remarkable results.
Darcy OlsenDarcy Olsen
President and CEOPresident and CEO
Darcy Olsen is President of the Goldwater Institute, a research and legal center that Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will heralded as “simply in the liberty business and there’s no institution in the country that performs that business better.”
Olsen’s leadership has been critical to the Institute’s success, including the development and enactment of nearly 200 reforms and the protection of multiple constitutional rights in state and federal courts.
When Olsen took the helm of the Goldwater Institute in 2001, it was struggling to stay afloat. She revamped the Institute’s organizational structure to parallel a private-sector company focused on results. Shortly after, her colleagues presented her with a life-sized replica of Darth Vader, symbolizing her willingness to terminate non-performers and face down critics.
Olsen’s vision has made the Goldwater Institute a national leader in the movement to restore the America as a compound republic, where states exercise their constitutional authority to check and limit federal power.
Under Olsen’s direction, the Goldwater Institute developed the Save Our Secret Ballot initiative, a successful nationwide effort to protect businesses from labor union card-check. Despite strong-arm tactics from the federal government, the Institute beat back a legal challenge brought by the National Labor Relations Board against Save Our Secret Ballot. “These aren’t merely symbolic victories,” hailed the Wall Street Journal. “States can protect their economies from the NLRB with initiatives like [Save Our Secret Ballot].”
The Goldwater Institute also designed the nation’s first education savings accounts. Parents use the accounts to pay for a range of education expenses, including private school tuition, educational therapies, and even college. The New York Times highlighted the accounts as a national model for states as they reform public education. When the education unions sued over the program, the Goldwater Institute stepped in and won, paving the way for children nationwide to benefit.
The Goldwater Institute is currently spearheading the Right to Try initiative, a state-level measure that will give terminally ill patients access to potentially life-saving medicines. Under the current system, terminally ill patients have to wait to gain access to new treatments, which can take over a decade to make it to market. This lifesaving measure is moving through several states with more lined up for 2015.
An authority on education reform, economic policy, and government reform, Olsen is a regular guest on national media programs. Her opinions have been widely published in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Review.
Olsen has received numerous awards and recognitions including the national Roe Award for achievement in public policy. One of her most unexpected awards was when Hockey Magazine named her the “64th most powerful person in hockey” for her leading role in blocking a multi-million-dollar subsidy to an NHL team.
A graduate of Georgetown University and New York University, Olsen unofficially started her public policy career at 11 years old, when she went door-to-door gathering signatures on a homemade petition to stop animal abuse. Born in Vermont, raised in Utah, Olsen resides in Arizona. She is a foster mother and an adoptive mother of two, and counting.
Clint BolickClint Bolick
Vice President for LitigationVice President for Litigation
Clint Bolick serves as the Goldwater Institute’s Vice President for Litigation.
In a recent profile, the New York Times said that Bolick is “known for his aggressive litigation to defend individual liberties.” He has argued and won cases in the United States Supreme Court, the Arizona Supreme Court, and state and federal courts from coast to coast. He has won landmark precedents defending school choice, freedom of enterprise, and private property rights and challenging corporate subsidies and racial classifications.
Before joining the Goldwater Institute in 2007, Bolick was co-founder of the Institute for Justice and later served as president of the Alliance for School Choice.
Bolick helped author the Health Care Freedom Act and the Save Our Secret Ballot amendment, which were added to the Arizona Constitution in 2010 and adopted in several other states. He also has assisted policy activists in several states to establish litigation centers based on the Goldwater Institute model.
In 2003, American Lawyer recognized Bolick as one of three lawyers of the year for his successful defense of school choice programs, culminating in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris in the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2009, Legal Times named Bolick one of the “90 Greatest D.C. Lawyers in the Past 30 Years.” Bolick received one of the freedom movement’s most prestigious awards, the Bradley Prize, in 2006 for advancing the values of democratic capitalism.
Bolick has authored several books, most recently with Governor Jeb Bush, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution. Other titles include Death Grip: Loosening the Law’s Stranglehold Over Economic Liberty (2011) and David’s Hammer: The Case for an Activist Judiciary (2007). In addition to his work at the Goldwater Institute, Bolick serves as a research fellow with the Hoover Institution.
Victor RichesVictor Riches
Vice President, External AffairsVice President, External AffairsVictor Riches is the Goldwater Institute’s Vice President of External Affairs. Prior to joining Goldwater, he worked for 17 years at the Arizona Legislature. During his tenure at the Legislature, Victor was an analyst and policy advisor on several committees, including Appropriations, Judiciary, Government Reform, Education and Commerce. He is the only person to have served as Chief of Staff of both the State Senate and House of Representatives. While at the Legislature, Victor spearheaded the passage of pension reform, school choice measures and the largest tax cuts in in Arizona history. He is a graduate of Arizona State University.
Roger ZetahRoger Zetah
Chief Financial OfficerChief Financial Officer
Roger Zetah, CPA, MBA, operates with strong financial controls and metrics to enhance and monitor the organization’s operations. Roger brings 15 years experience to the Institute with a background as V.P. of Finance for a publicly traded company. He also spent six years with KPMG in the audit and consulting practice. Roger received his undergraduate degree in Accounting from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, graduating summa cum laude. He received his MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2003. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Scottsdale Community College for seven years. Roger has been a CPA since 1988 and is a member of the Arizona Society of CPAs. He served in the United States Air Force with a top secret clearance.
Dan AlexanderDan Alexander
Chief Operating OfficerChief Operating Officer
Dan is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the Goldwater Institute. Prior to joining Goldwater as the COO, he spent several years in the public sector as an active duty Army officer, a public sector consultant, and an Assistant Professor of Military Science. Most recently, he held several corporate finance roles in treasury, pensions and investments, strategic finance, and financial planning and analysis. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science (American Politics) from the United States Military Academy at West Point and his Master’s in Business Administration degree from The University of Texas at Austin.
Lucy CaldwellLucy Caldwell
Senior Political AdvisorSenior Political Advisor
Lucy Caldwell is Senior Political Advisor at the Goldwater Institute, a policy research and litigation institution that George Will calls the "fertile frontal lobe of the conservative movement's brain."
In her capacity as Senior Political Advisor, Caldwell crafts and implements strategic plans for advancing Goldwater Institute policy priorities throughout targeted states, develops and maintains relationships with the Institute's key allies in Washington and state capitals, and identifies opportunities to highlight the Institute's unique brand of conservatism within the mainstream political conversation.
Caldwell is frequently quoted in national publications and is a regular guest on national television and radio programs. She has appeared on programs on Fox News, Fox Business, and CNN, as well as NPR's Diane Rehm Show, providing commentary and analysis on issues of the day as well as on Goldwater Institute initiatives.
Previously, Caldwell served as the Institute's Communications Director, during which time she was responsible for overseeing the Institute's media outreach efforts. In just eighteen months, Caldwell oversaw a seven-fold increase in national television coverage for the Institute, a five-fold increase in national radio coverage, and a significant spike in national print coverage in periodicals and the top ten circulated American newspapers.
Caldwell has worked on a variety of grassroots issue campaigns, including efforts to pass a federal balanced budget amendment. In the 2010 election cycle, Caldwell coordinated Save Our Secret Ballot efforts in Arizona, while augmenting initiative efforts in other states. She has also worked as a journalist.
A graduate of Harvard College, Caldwell resides in Phoenix.
Nick DraniasNick Dranias
Director of Policy Development & Constitutional GovernmentDirector of Policy Development & Constitutional GovernmentNick Dranias holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is Director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.Dranias led the Goldwater Institute’s successful challenge to Arizona’s system of government campaign financing to the U.S. Supreme Court. Even before the case was accepted for review, Dranias was able to persuade the Court to intervene in lower court proceedings and block campaign subsidies from being paid to government-funded candidates during the 2010 election cycle. In addition to practicing constitutional law as a member of the Goldwater Institute’s litigation team, Dranias serves as a constitutional scholar. He has authored numerous scholarly articles dealing with a wide spectrum of issues in constitutional and regulatory policy, including the protection of free speech, the principle of state sovereignty, the reformation of excessive regulation, and the guarantee of individual liberty. His articles have been published by leading law reviews, bar journals and think tanks across the country. Dranias’ latest work is Save the Taxpayers Tens of Billions of Dollars: End Government-Sector Collective Bargaining.Prior to joining the Goldwater Institute, Dranias was an attorney with the Institute for Justice for three years and an attorney in private practice in Chicago for eight years. In law school, Dranias served on the Loyola University Chicago Law Review, competed on Loyola’s National Labor Law Moot Court Team, and received various academic awards. He graduated cum laude from Boston University with a B.A. in Economics and Philosophy.
Michael KelleyMichael Kelley
Communications DirectorCommunications Director
As Communications Director for the Goldwater Institute, Kelley develops strategies to garner positive media attention for the Institute’s policy and litigation activities. He also leads and manages the organizations marketing and social media strategies and execution.
Prior to joining Goldwater, Kelley spent several years at Ketchum, a global brand communications agency in Los Angeles, CA., developing high-profile public relations and entertainment marketing campaigns for some of the world’s leading brands. Post Ketchum, he founded a successful consulting practice, and collaborated with clients in a variety of industries which include: entertainment, media, CPG, technology, health & wellness, energy and process improvement. Kelley has dedicated time and interest to social entrepreneurship. Most recently, as co-founder & publisher of Rebel Magazine, a national, award-winning lifestyle publication. Rebel received national Folio Awards in both 2011 and 2012 for “editorial excellence” in consumer magazine publishing. Kelley is a graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He currently resides in Scottsdale, AZ.
Craig HandzlikCraig Handzlik
State Policy CoordinatorState Policy Coordinator
As State Policy Coordinator for the Goldwater Institute, Handzlik will aid in the development and promotion of the Institute’s national policy objectives. Prior to joining the Goldwater team, he worked for the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under then-Secretary Michael Leavitt. While serving as an Operations Contractor for HHS, Handzlik managed initiative-based campaigns for the Medicare Part D, Medicare Open Enrollment and U.S. Port Safety programs nationwide. Following HHS, he managed communications and operations for three presidential candidates. And recently served as Campaign Manager for a top-tier congressional candidate in Arizona. Handzlik is originally from Southern California. He graduated from Colorado State University with a BA in English Literature and Composition.
Kurt AltmanKurt Altman
Senior AttorneySenior Attorney
Kurt Altman is a Senior Attorney for the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. Before joining the Institute, Kurt operated a private litigation and appellate practice, focusing on criminal law in both state and federal courts. Previously, Kurt spent a number of years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, leading investigations and conducting trial in Federal District Court. As a member of the Department of Justice, Kurt earned the Director’s Award, the highest honor bestowed upon Department of Justice lawyers, for his efforts in the first capital prosecution in Federal District Court for the District of Arizona. Additionally, he has twice received the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director’s Award for his tireless efforts on behalf of FBI-conducted investigations. Since 1994, Kurt has served as lead counsel in hundreds of jury trials throughout Arizona. Because of his unique background, Kurt has been a featured lecturer and teacher at numerous seminars and centers where he has been able to share his experiences with attorneys from around the country. He is a graduate of Wake Forest University School of Law, in Winston-Salem, NC.
Christina SandefurChristina Sandefur
Senior AttorneySenior Attorney
Christina Sandefur is a senior attorney at the Goldwater Institute, where she litigates cases advancing economic liberty, private property, free speech, and taxpayer rights. She is the lead attorney in the Institute's challenges to Obamacare and in Arizona's recent Medicaid tax.
Sandefur is regularly cited as an expert in national media, and she is a frequent guest on national television and radio programs, including Fox Business’s Stossel, Dick Morris, and The Armstrong & Getty Show. Her cases have been featured in National Review, The Washington Post, Human Events, The American Spectator, and The Weekly Standard, among others, and her own commentary has appeared in The Daily Caller, Regulation Magazine, and many other publications. Sandefur has provided expert legal testimony to various legislative committees and is a frequent speaker at conferences. She graduated summa cum laude from Michigan State University College of Law, where she served as Notes Editor on the Michigan State Law Review, and graduated magna cum laude from Hillsdale College.
Jon RichesJon Riches
Staff AttorneyStaff AttorneyJon Riches is an attorney at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. He litigates in areas of taxpayer rights, public union and pension reform, government transparency, and school choice, among others. Prior to joining the Goldwater Institute, Jon served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. While on active duty, Jon represented hundreds of clients, litigated dozens of Court-Martial cases, and advised commanders on a vast array of legal issues. Jon also served as supervisor attorney, managing an office that provided full spectrum legal support to one of the largest naval installations on the west coast. He previously clerked for Sen. Jon Kyl on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, worked for the Rules Committee in the Arizona State Senate, and clerked in the Office of Counsel to the President at the White House. Jon received his B.A. from Boston College, where he graduate magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his J.D. from the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law. He is a native of Phoenix, Arizona.
Jared BlanchardJared Blanchard
Staff AttorneyStaff Attorney
Jared Blanchard is a staff attorney at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. Before he joined the Goldwater Institute, Jared worked in private practice in Florida. Jared earned his J.D. from the Florida State University College of Law, where he served as President of the FSU Federalist Society. Jared spent his two law school summers working first as a summer clerk for the Institute for Justice and then as a judicial intern for Judge Stephen Dillard of the Court of Appeals of Georgia. Before entering law school, Jared served as the Maffucci Fellow at the Institute for Justice. He received his B.A. from the University of Florida, where he majored in political science and minored in English.
Courtney Van CottCourtney Van Cott
Law ClerkLaw Clerk
Courtney Van Cott is a law clerk at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. Courtney graduated from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University as a member of the Order of Barristers national honor society. Courtney worked in the legal department of a software company for her two law school summers.
Before law school, Courtney graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in biological sciences. She worked for one year at the Translational Genomics Research Institute as a research associate.
Byron SchlomachByron Schlomach
Director, Center for Economic ProsperityDirector, Center for Economic Prosperity
Dr. Byron Schlomach is an economist and works as the Director of the Center for Economic Prosperity at the Goldwater Institute. He has 15 years of experience working in and around state government. He has researched and written on tax and spending policy in two states in addition to studying transportation, health care, and education policy. Byron’s writings have appeared in National Review Online, Business Week online and numerous Texas and Arizona newspapers. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University.
Jonathan ButcherJonathan Butcher
Education DirectorEducation Director
Jonathan Butcher serves as Education Director for the Goldwater Institute. He has researched education policy and school choice programs around the U.S. His work has appeared in journals such as Education Next and the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, and he has appeared on local and national TV outlets, including interviews on Fox News. He has also been a guest on many radio programs, and his commentary has appeared nationally in places such as RealClearPolicy.com, National Journal, and Townhall.com, along with newspapers around the country.
Jonathan is a member of the Arizona Department of Education’s Steering Committee for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, the nation’s first education savings account program. He is also a Senior Fellow with The Beacon Center of Tennessee, a nonpartisan research organization.
Prior to joining Goldwater, Jonathan was the Director of Accountability for the South Carolina Public Charter School District, South Carolina’s only statewide charter school authorizer. Jonathan previously studied education policy at the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and worked with the School Choice Demonstration Project, the research team that evaluated voucher programs in Washington, D.C. and Milwaukee, Wisc.
Jonathan studied education and family policy at The Heritage Foundation, a research institute in Washington, D.C. In 2012, Jonathan won the Silver Medal in debate at the Buckley School of Public Speaking. He holds a B.A. in English from Furman University and an M.A. in economics from the University of Arkansas.
Blake WilsonBlake Wilson
Digital Production SpecialistDigital Production Specialist
Wilson serves as the Digital Production Specialist, acting as the point person for the Institute’s presence on the web and social media platforms. As a member of the communications team, Wilson also assists in the production of traditional outreach tools, including publications, videos and photos, with an aim to broaden the Institute’s audience and reach. He also lends his technical expertise to a variety of other needs throughout the Institute.
As an undergraduate, Wilson helped Forbes develop a new web market show to extend their influence on a daily basis. Wilson graduated magna cum laude from Arizona State with a B.A. in broadcast journalism, a B.S. in political science and a minor in business.
Travis JunionTravis Junion
Major Gifts OfficerMajor Gifts Officer
Travis Junion is the Major Gifts Officer for the Goldwater Institute. In this capacity, Junion facilitates greater member engagement and expansion of the Institute’s donor base.
Junion is a veteran of numerous candidate and issue campaigns at the national, state and local level. As a professional political operative, his career has focused on grassroots and get out the vote projects, election integrity operations, candidate development and public affairs consulting. In 2012, Junion served as the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action Campaign Field Representative in Arizona. Previously Junion mobilized grassroots activists for a 2010 U.S. Senate campaign, launched an exploratory campaign for Arizona governor, and advised congressional and legislative campaigns. Junion also worked on the 2008 presidential election, directing election day operations in New Mexico.
A longtime political activist and Arizona native, Junion is an honors graduate of Arizona State University.
Le TemplarLe Templar
Director of Foundation RelationsDirector of Foundation Relations
Le Templar is the Director of Foundation Relations for the Goldwater Institute. He manages grant writing and foundation support for the independent government watchdog.
Mr. Templar has nearly 20 years of experience in writing about government and public policy, in editing and storytelling, and in appearances on broadcast media. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, Mr. Templar earned bachelor degrees with honors in political science and journalism. From 1992 until late 2005, he worked as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers in western Nebraska, northern Texas and the East Valley suburbs of the Phoenix metro area. He covered stories about every level of government from city councils to presidential elections. He has interviewed farmers driving tractors in sugar beet fields, professional football players practicing under the Texas sun, police officers working the midnight shift, and at least one governor aboard a military aircraft.
While covering the Arizona state capitol in 2004, Mr. Templar investigated the state agency that regulates nursing home administrators. He uncovered massive budget problems, dysfunctional management and huge delays in investigations that left vulnerable adults at risk. Mr. Templar’s reporting prompted the state senator who had sponsored legislation to continue the state agency for another 10 years to request, and receive, the governor’s veto so the Legislature could adopt a different law with better oversight.
In 2006, he was promoted to the six-person editorial board of the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz. In that position, he wrote daily about policy debates and reforming government to better protect liberty and economic freedom. He also served as the newspaper’s opinion page editor for a year before joining the Goldwater Institute in early 2010.
Mr. Templar has received writing and reporting awards from the Nebraska Press Club, the Nebraska pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Oklahoma Associated Press Managing Editors association, the Arizona Press Club and Arizona APME.
A resident of Phoenix, Mr. Templar has an extensive history of volunteer service. He organized publicity for the Red Ribbon drug abuse prevention week in Scotts Bluff County, Neb., and launched an Explorer troop for journalism in Wichita Falls, Texas. He has served as past president and in other leadership positions with the Arizona Press Club, the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona and Valley of the Sun SPJ pro chapter. He’s also a member of the advisory board for the Maricopa County community colleges’ occupational certificate for journalism.
Mr. Templar previously served as the Goldwater Institute's communications director from January 2010 to June 2011.
Brandon BlumBrandon Blum
Major Gifts OfficerMajor Gifts Officer
Brandon Blum is the Major Gifts Officer for the Goldwater Institute. In this capacity, Brandon facilitates greater member engagement and expansion of the Institute’s supporter base.
Prior to joining the Institute, Brandon worked in Chicago’s financial and commodities markets and has since worked with a number of national free market organizations in the areas of policy research, communications, and donor development. Brandon previously served as a Ronald Reagan Fellow at the Institute.
A Chicago native raised in Phoenix, Brandon is a summa cum laude graduate of St. Peter’s University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Economics.
Jason LloydJason Lloyd
Member Services AssistantMember Services Assistant
As the Member Services Assistant, Jason is responsible for assisting the development team with meeting the day-to-day development needs of the Goldwater Institute. He works closely with the Director of Major Gifts to maintain donor relations, manage regular interaction with vendors and supports, and manage start-to-finish details for development events, including the Institute’s annual dinner celebration.
Jason’s prior experience includes event planning and management, as well as working for political campaigns in Arizona, Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. He graduated from Patrick Henry College with a bachelor’s degree in American Politics & Policy and currently resides in Phoenix with his wife.
Ric BlazquezRic Blazquez
Development ResearcherDevelopment Researcher
Blazquez serves as the Development Researcher for the Goldwater Institute. In this capacity, he is responsible for supporting the efforts of the development team to expand the Institute’s donor base and increase member engagement nationwide. Prior to joining the Institute, Blazquez worked in various capacities on local and statewide Arizona political campaigns and PACs. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Master of Public Administration from Arizona State University. Blazquez previously served as a Reagan Fellow at the Institute.
Cheryl McCartyCheryl McCarty
Office ManagerOffice ManagerCheryl joined the Goldwater Institute in March 2009. Some of her duties include smooth operation of office services, bookkeeping, and Human Relations support. Prior to joining Goldwater, Cheryl served as Scholarship Administration Officer for the Daniels Fund in Denver, Colo., where she managed the database for the scholarship program.
Kris SchlottKris Schlott
Kris Schlott is a paralegal with the Goldwater Institute's Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation tasked with assisting the attorneys with all aspects of litigation and case management. Kris came to the institute with 23 years of experience in commercial and environmental litigation, commercial bankruptcy and most recently insurance defense. She received her A.A. degree in paralegal studies from Phoenix College.
Ashley FitzwilliamsAshley Fitzwilliams
Ashley Fitzwilliams is a paralegal with the Goldwater Institute's Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, tasked with assisting the attorneys with all aspects of litigation and case management. Ashley has years of experience supporting cases in family law, trusts and estates litigation, in addition to commercial litigation and criminal investigations. She received her bachelor’s degree in Government and History from the University of Redlands and her paralegal studies certificate from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Annica BenningAnnica Benning
Litigation InvestigatorLitigation Investigator
As a litigation investigator for the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, Benning conducts research and develops issues that may be targets of litigation, identifies potential Institute clients, and publishes Institute articles and op-eds.
Prior to joining Goldwater, Benning wrote as a journalist for The College Fix and worked as the Communications Coordinator for the Arizona Republican Party. She is co-founder of Walnut Canyon Press, a non-profit dedicated to early childhood literacy, and author of Arizona: Nations and Art, a children’s book dedicated to the preservation of Native American art and culture. Benning has been honored with the Hon Kachina Volunteer Service Award, Congressional Gold Medal, Global Youth Service Award, and Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for her efforts in improving education. She graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Political Science. She was a member of Barrett, The Honors College.
Andrea WoodmanseeAndrea Woodmansee
Senior EditorSenior Editor
Andrea Woodmansee is senior editor for the Goldwater Institute and was previously the Goldwater Institute director of communications, responsible for the Goldwater Institute’s media and community relations. Before joining the Goldwater Institute, Woodmansee worked as marketing communications program manager for a Phoenix technology firm, managing document production and website development. She is a former Goldwater Institute intern and has taught university-level courses in policy and economics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young University, where she was a Trustees' Scholar.