State Committee Meeting


6:00 PM

The word document of the meeting can be found here


Christian Fyke—Interim State Chair of Pennsylvania

Benjamin Valimont—Interim Secretary

Kyle DeMarino—Interim Regional Chair of Eastern Pennsylvania

Jack Merritt

Bill Jones

Cortney Hazen

Gabe McGuire



Brian McMurray— Interim Regional Chair of Western Pennsylvania

Christian Clark



Hector Diaz—Interim Regional Chair of Central Pennsylvania

Craig Snyder

Alex Upton

Matt Fogal

Rachael Shanok

Timothy Snyder


  1. Introduction


We began the meeting with a reminder that our monthly meetings are a chance for those tangently related to the Pennsylvania Forward Party to see what we are trying to do. We need to get better at inviting them to participate more fully. They are on that call for a reason. Always reminder that we need to show them where they can come in to help us.


This week’s leadership meeting was devoted mainly to planning our summit in May. In our discussions we decided to refer to the portions of the summit as: the meeting; the Dinner; Campaigning; & the Event.


  1. National Update


They only portion of the meeting that was not devoted to the summit was when Cortney joined us & updated the group on what is going on with the national party. Before she began, chairman Fyke gave an update on the status of Blyden Potts. He has been getting involved with the party but was uncomfortable with signing the paperwork to become part of leadership. The chairman stated that we still welcomed his involvement as long as no one in leadership was against it. Cortney asked if we felt that any of his comments & concerns might be insightful to please inform her. Furthermore, national will not have a problem with him being heavily involved with the Pennsylvania Forward Party, so long as when National sends something out that has been embargoed to leadership or any other confidential information, that we do not share it with him or anybody else that has not been onboarded.


Getting in to her update, she began with that announcement that Lindsey Drath was named as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the party. She comes from Republican politics where she had previously worked for Michael Steele & former Speaker John Boehner. A couple of years ago she left the Republican Party & joined up with Unite America & later the Forward Party.


Now that there is a CEO, National is about a week away from announcing several things. One of which is the State/National split in fundraising. We will also be getting insight into our budget. We will be able to see how much money is going into & out of the organization from Pennsylvania. They might also be ready to share out a generic affiliation agreement. Our compliance memorandum is also coming. In about a month we should be able to move on a bank account path.


As a point of reminder, an affiliation agreement is what allows us to use the Forward name. It is what allows the national party to go against any state chapter that has decided to go rogue. Secretary Valimont made the comment that one of the concerns that he has been hearing is that until we become a political body, some unaffiliated candidate might try to run claiming that they are the Forward Party without our consent. Cortney said that the only thing we could do in that situation is to withhold our endorsement, withhold our funds, & make it known to the public that they are not with the Pennsylvania Forward Party.


Gabe also asked the question of how much support should we expect from national in the future. Cortney answered by saying that National will always be here to help. As for financial help, it will be a matter of what they are legally allowed to do. Right now, they are a hybrid PAC (political action committee). They are not a National Party & they will only become one once they have applied to become one once a certain number of state chapters have achieved party status. There is no set formula for this however. While the entire party moves along in this process, different walls will go up in different states depending on state law. These walls can either be by communications or in a financial sense. Some states are very permissive while others are extremely strict. Our compliance memorandum will spell this out. One area of concern is how much compliance work the national party may provide. For instance, National just learned that in North Carolina they are only allowed to provide $6,400.00 worth of work in one year.


This conversation brought us back to the summit & who will be paying for it. At this point in the meeting, we had only planned for a May or June. While Cortney was on the line, we asked if we could co-ordinate any guests from National. She heard something that morning that some principals are going to be in Pennsylvania sometime in May.



  1. When


Cortney mentioned that a principal will be in the state in May. Bill Jones mentioned that he will be traveling at the end of May (May 25th to June 3rd).  Chairman Fyke mentioned that Friday, May 19th & Saturday May 20th would probably be the most ideal. This is before Bill’s journey to Ireland, does not conflict with Mother’s Day (Sunday May 14), or Memorial Day weekend (May 26 thru Monday May 29). Cortney mentioned further that Christine Todd Whitman will be in Pennsylvania on the 17th & 18th of May.


Chairman Fyke asked Cortney how would we ask for one or more of the larger names to attend. She responded that we will have to come up with an agenda first. She can’t just say that we would like Andrew Yang to come over on July 12th. We have to give them a reason to be attending. There has to be a plan. She has to be able to tell them what we are thinking, who is the audience, how many will be attending, & a rough agenda. Once we get that worked out, Cortney can get that out the Principals ASAP.


Cortney stressed that everything we do should be in the vein of four lenses: (1) Party Building, (2) Donor Relations/Fundraising, (3) Candidate Recruitment, & (4) Grassroots.


Cortney further asked if the Summit will be a working session, a strategy session, or a cheerleading event. Chairman Fyke answered that there will be multiple parts. The meeting will be for party building & defining our next steps. Identifying some candidates that we can work together will also be party of the weekend. We want to have the planning/strategy session but we also want to do something public facing. Part of the reason we are looking to hold it where we are is because it will be in Matt Fogal’s backyard. We want to include some campaigning for him as well during the summit.


Cortney is meeting Friday will Joel & Will to map out their schedule for the next few months. If we could give her the perimeters of the event (who, what, when, where, why), this could fit perfectly into that meeting.


  1. Itinerary


Cortney stated that a full day of actual work should be enough for that aspect. Everyone arrives the night before, a full day of work session the next day with a drink afterwards has been enough for other states. Its amazing how much work can get done when everyone is in the same room.


Gabe mentioned that this aligns well with our two-day plan. Where the first day is dedicated to the party building/strategy session with the second day dedicated to the more social/campaigning aspects of the summit. He further mentioned that we had not decided on whether it would be a Saturday/Sunday or a Friday/Saturday summit. We do need to allocate enough time to complete all we need to do at the work meeting portion so we should probably start at around 10:00 AM on the day of the meeting. Jack seconded the notion that we need an 8-hour day where we are locked in a room working out the future of the Pennsylvania Forward Party. We need to come out with a plan we can start talking to the press about.


Secretary Valimont noted that days that CTW will be in Pennsylvania would be on Wednesday the 17th, & Thursday the 18th. That would make the possible days of the summit from the 19th thru the 21st.


Bill Jones asked if we knew if this would be a good weekend for Matt Fogal & what we would be doing for him while we are out there. Gabe mention that he does plan to help him with his campaign. Chairman Fyke mentioned that Mr. Fogal is looking for the best ways to work with us & vice versa. Both the Party & the District Attorney are looking at the best strategies to get him re-elected. Chairman Fyke stated that he would reach out to Mr. Fogal by the end of the week & state that we will be available to him on Saturday May 20th to make use of us for a few hours. If we have a work session on the Friday, do we want to encourage people to arrive on the Thursday or start a little later, say 10:00 AM, to allow for some people the option to arrive in the morning.


  1. Location


Now that we have decided on a date for the summit, we also need a location. Furthermore, we need to figure out which locations work best for our needs & is within our budget. Secretary Valimont, noted that we do not need to hold the meeting in the same place we book our hotel rooms. The list of locations that Blyden gave us include several spots that are not even hotels. The location at the top of the list is a library that has several rooms that can hold a conference.


Jack Merritt suggested that volunteer fire companies would also be a good location to hold the working session. Virtually every fire company in his part of the state have big rooms that can be rented out for these types of events & falls right in with the grassroots lens that we should be looking for.


Gabe mentioned that a brewery would be a good spot to do a social gathering. Secretary Valimont stressed that a location like that should only be for the social aspect. He stated that it would be a bad idea to have a working meeting in a brewery.


Chairman Fyke stated that he liked the Firehouse idea. He also had the idea to ask Matt Fogal for some suggestions but quickly shot himself down by realizing that might cross some lines.


Jack Merritt noted that Gettysburg is a whopping 35 minutes to downtown Chambersburg. Given the immense significance & political history of the town, we really should consider incorporating that into the summit.


Gabe McGuire noted that he some connections with Gettysburg College. He stated that they do offer conference services & provided a link: ( Their website states that they have over 60 classrooms that could be reserved with intuitive multimedia. All of their classrooms either have projectors or large screen televisions.


Chairmen Fyke even went to say that we could hold the summit in Gettysburg & include a day trip down to Chambersburg on the Saturday to help Matt. Gettysburg is in Adams County—not Franklin, but the county line would be even closer.


Bill Jones also expressed support for Gettysburg by saying it was where democracy was defended, what better site to hold the first summit of the Pennsylvania Forward Party.


Starting on March 7th, we will start having weekly leadership meetings where we will stagger regular leadership meetings with planning meetings for the summit.


  1. Preliminary Plan


Gabe had to leave the meeting at 7:00 PM but wanted nail down the preliminary plan for the weekend before he left.


First, on Friday we will start at 10:00 AM and work till about 6:00 PM. We will allow ourselves a break here & there, but we need to put in a full day of work. From now on we will call this: The Meeting.


From there, we will find a good social place to move to. This would be only for the people who participated all day during the meeting. We may need to make a reservation to let the location know a large group is coming, but other than that it won’t need much scheduling. From now on we will call this: The Dinner.


On Saturday, we will drive the 35 minutes to Chambersburg or other locations in Franklin County to either do tabling, knocking on doors, or whatever else would be good for Matt’s campaign. From now on we will call this: The Campaign.


After the campaign, we will set up a public facing social event. We should also allow for some part of the day for our leadership team to explore Gettysburg themselves (if they plan to leave that night). We should only try to make this event last only two hours, but if it spills over to around three, it wouldn’t be a big deal. It was suggested that we could try to do something at the location where President Lincoln gave the Gettysburg address. Gabe mentioned that it is still a functioning hotel & would have a meeting place for that type of event. He also noted that they have a good eatery right across the street. From now on we will call this: The Event.


Secretary Valimont noted that by having the summit in Gettysburg, people would be drawn to the summit just for the excuse to visit Gettysburg. Having an event on a Saturday evening would allow people the time to visit the historic site & give them the chance to engage with the party. All the more so, if we could also get one of the principals to attend this meeting. This event would be a great opportunity for a photo op for them as well.


Jack Merritt stressed that we need to be on the top of our game for the event. There should not be any questions that we do not know the answer to. Chairmen Fyke even suggested that we should script out every 15 minutes of that two-hour block. We should have name tags & taking down everyone’s information so that we can contact them later. This will also be a great way to train all of the leadership team on how to hold an event. We will also need to engage with a graphics team.


  1. Going Forward


Chairman Fyke suggested that we start holding bi-weekly planning sessions for the summit on the weeks we do not have our regular leadership meetings.


As soon as we get the agendas from Cortney, somebody will need to start planning the meeting.


Secretary Valimont also wanted to mention that during Andrew Yang’s Forward podcast, they stated that they are planning an event they want state leads to attend in June (22-25). Going to both our summit & their event might take some financial planning & he wanted everyone on the leadership team to be aware of that event. They have not stated what city it will be in at this time. The team did speculate on which city—we think it will be in Chicago (but we could be wrong).


Secretary Valimont suggested that if we don’t start the weekly meetings next week, we should at least have an e-mail. For those of us getting hotel rooms, we are going to need to book them sooner rather than later (it is a vacation destination in May). Secretary Valimont had pulled up an Orbitz search of hotels in Gettysburg. As of February 22nd, most of the rooms were in the ballpark $150 to $200 a night. It was noted that the summit is not taking place during the days of the battle (July 1-3), but we don’t want to wait to decide on hotels.


Chairman Fyke will prompt Gabe to get a response from the college to see if that location will work for the meeting. We will look at the Fire Departments as a backup if the college will not work out.



Benjamin Valimont


I am an advocate for democracy & making our government work for us.