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

Brian McMurray— Interim Regional Chair of Western Pennsylvania

Gabriel McGuire

Christian Clark

Benjamin Valimont

Jack Merritt

Matt Fogal

Bill Jones

Rachael Shanok

Cortney Hazen

Timothy Snyder

Cortney Hazen



Kyle DeMarino—Interim Regional Chair of Eastern Pennsylvania

Hector Diaz—Interim Regional Chair of Central Pennsylvania

Craig Snyder

Alex Upton


  1. Introductions


The leadership team has been expanding. Therefore, Chairman Fyke began the meeting began the meeting by having those in attendance introduce themselves.


  1. Onboarding


Everyone on the leadership team should have been invited to receiving onboarding training. If you haven’t, you need to e-mail Cortney to get the information to sign-up for a training session. Her e-mail is [email protected]. This training will teach you the basics of Nation Builder & Knowledge Base. In response to a questioned posed by Rachel, there will, indeed, be additional training sessions from the ones currently listed. An issue that Secretary Valimont encountered was that he has a Yahoo e-mail & that might be effecting what he receives. It is recommended that leaders use a G-Mail account. If you do not have one, you should create one. You can also set it up so that it will forward all e-mails into your primary e-mail account.


To this point, Cortney stated that there will soon be monthly meetings for ‘new’ state leads. You could attend these meetings for up to a year, if you still consider yourself a new leader. There are also going to be bi-weekly meeting for states in signature collecting & a once a month call for states [like Pennsylvania] that are candidate driven. There are also going to be meeting every two weeks where state leads can chat with other state leads that will be less formal that the weekly meetings on Mondays.


  1. Fundraising


Cortney noticed that Tim Snyder had joined the call & turned the conversation towards financial issues. We need to have a conversation to determine who will be paying for compliance. Along with that we need to determine how our fundraising will be handled. Will everything we raise in the state stay with us? If National pays for our compliance & other big ticket items, they will expect to receive some of the money from our fundraising efforts. If National raises money in the state, does it stay with them? Would there be a split—if so, how much does each party get. We are probably going to want a compliance firm to do our filings, so somebody will have to pay them. If National pays, they will want a cut of our fundraising efforts. For now, we need to start having these conversations internally. There will be a document that more formally lays out our options.


On either our next leadership meeting or the one after, Lindsey, National’s managing director of engagement should be joining us on the call. She was former US Speaker Boehner’s fundraiser. She was also the head fundraiser under Michael Steele at the RNC. She has since left the Republican party & was working with Unite America before starting to work for the Forward Party. She comes with a ton of experience and a lot of great strategy & will work with us however possible.


Right now, National is thinking that the only big ticket items they might need to spend money on is a convention or involving spending in the several municipal races. This is separate from tables & banners at farmer’s markets & fairs. The big ticket items that they would need to know well in advance of would be things that cost in the tens of thousands of dollars or more. National would like us to have a discussion to determine any major items that National would have to pay for.


Chairman Fyke made a call for the regional chairs to start having meetings on a regular schedule. He would also like the teams to start doing this as well—even if that meeting is just for five minutes. We need these to be able to respond to things & also be aware of our deficiencies. For those fairs & farmer’s markets, who is the point person going to be to submit those forms & organize those efforts? Each of us is capable to submit those forms, but it might make sense to have a master of that. These meetings needs to set goals for the teams & regions.


  1. Summit


Cortney mentioned & we have previously discussed having a convention this year, but realistically the calendar is getting away from us to have it this year. Furthermore, in our bylaw workshops, going forward, our conventions are going to be held biannually. As such, it makes much more sense to have them on the major election years. This way we can have it in the backyard of a major candidate we are supporting in a key race. However, if we are not doing a convention this year, there should still be something similar that we can put our efforts into.


Chairman Fyke began to think of having a type of summit this year. This could be a training/day of action/strategy meeting for leadership. The suggestion for timing this, would be sometime between May 5th & June 11th.  Mid-June to Labor Day is considered a political dead zone. This is vacation season & most people are just checked out of politics during this time. Therefore, May to Mid-June is likely to be the time to achieve the best results. This is a little bit of short notice but we should target a day to hold this summit.


Secretary Valimont posed the logical question by asking which county we are thinking about having it in. Chairman Fyke answered that it will most likely be determined based on how many people we think we can get to attend. If it is only a few dozen, there are many locales that we could pick from.


Jack suggested that we hold the summit in a county where we have a candidate we are supporting like in Franklin County for Matt Fogal. He also mentioned that we could probably increase the turnout if we had another draw, say an appearance by Andrew Yang or Christine Todd Whitman. As such, we might want a space that could flex up.


There is going to be different facets of this event. During the early part of the day it might be more of a working session for our leadership where we might have someone from national come in to guide those sessions. But also having a more social aspect later on in the day where we could invite more people to attend is also something we could do. That invitation to the public is key to informing the public about what the Forward Party is all about.


Chair McMurray also suggested inviting our allies to the summit to network. Chairman Fyke stressed that during the working session we will be finishing our work on the bylaws, deciding what roles our officers will have going forward, how they are elected, & what the executive & state committees will be tasked with. We should also discuss what we might want to put in our platform.


Jack further pointed out that if we were to hold this in say Pittsburgh, several members of the leadership team would need a day to get there. Would this be a multi-day event? In response to this Chairman Fyke suggested that our next meeting to fully plan out this event. But in his head, he was thinking a Friday night, Saturday, Sunday morning schedule. We are going to need time to do work. Secretary Valimont also seconded it being on the weekend by stating, in general, most people have freer schedules on weekends and won’t be as constrained by their day jobs. He further stated, location of the summit will be key. If we were to hold it in central Pennsylvania, as opposed to Pittsburgh or Philly, none of us would have to be in a car for over five hours. Matt Fogal stated that they would be happy to host in Franklin County. Matt Fogal then gave some locations within the county to consider. Chambersburg is the county seat of Franklin County. He also suggested Mercersburg. Secretary Valimont also wanted to make a comment for future events, we need to be aware that almost, if not all of the current leadership is from southern counties. Should we get leadership from the northern counties, locations along the southern border might be as much of a hardship for them as coming from Philly to Pittsburgh or vice versa.


Before turning to team reports, it was decided that we would devote the next leadership on the 2/21/2023 to discussing this meeting. With the state meeting the day before, the team reports can be handled there. Furthermore, it would give the chance for anyone in attendance of the state meeting to also participate in this discussion as well.


  1. Special Election Meet-up


Chair McMurray brought up the meet-up we had in Allegheny County in preparation for the special election that is being held today, February 7th (all of the Democrats won). At the meetup, we discussed the various candidates & how they related to the issues we care about.


  1. Candidate Training


The first candidate training session will be taking place on Wednesday, March 8th 2023 at 7:00 PM. We are encouraging anyone considering running for office this year, next year, or beyond to attend. We really want good participation. A good Q&A will be instrumental in making these work. This will help them understand the process & think through the process. It will be recorded. We are looking to have these the second Wednesday of the month, for four (4) months until June. This is not exclusive to the Forward Party.


  1. Team Reports


Finance & Fundraising


The big thing is determining how much money we are going to need this year. Who is going to pay for this summit. For fundraising, the concept of raising as much money as possible does not make a lot of sense. What we need to do is first figure out how much we are going to spend & then go to Tim & say we need this much, fundraising needs to figure out how to get this much money. As far as other teams, if there is something that you want to do that will cost money, you need to make a list of items to give to finance so that they can make the budget.


They are not asking people to give estimated costs of those things, but they need to know what you are thinking about doing. We’ll back into if they are reasonable or not.


Bill Jones has volunteered to be the Treasurer & he is receiving training from the individual who Ethan had suggested. He does not have the time to commit to being our treasurer himself but he is training Bill to take it over when we are ready.


We really need people across the Commonwealth to help build this group out. We can’t have all of our fundraisers all clumped up in the two major cities.




The communications team did not have much to report on. They are trying to maintain the current interactions with their posts.




During the listening tour that Speaker Rozzi held which some of the leadership team attended, we were able to have some conversations with March on Harrisburg & the like. Chairman Fyke also mentioned that Braver Angels is holding their national convention in Gettysburg this year. It would be great if some of us could build some relationships there. Chairman Fyke believes it is to take place the weekend after the Fourth of July.

Spotlight PA ( was also mentioned. Secretary Valimont described them as a collaboration of several different newspapers across the state. Chairman Fyke suggested that their might be an opportunity to get some fair exposure from them at some point in the future.


Matt Fogal also suggested that some of us attend the Principles First Summit ( This is scheduled for March 3rd thru 5th in Washington DC. He described it as a group of what would be called Never Trumpers. He said that he is going to go down there to check it out & he was wondering if any of us had heard about it also.


 Furthermore, Independent Pennsylvanians ( have their statewide meeting on Monday night.




We already talked about the meetup last week.


For the next statewide meeting we are going to go for the February 20th date. Secretary Valimont did request that in future months could we try to stager the statewide meetings to weeks that do not have a leadership team meeting. Chairman Fyke stated that it would probably be the statewide meeting that we would change in March as our leadership meetings have been having a good cadence. Secretary Valimont agreed, it is just that when they are both on the same week that I start to fell buried especially if my week starts filling up with my due to complications with my day job or other meetings with the Forward Party. I do put a bit of effort into making these minutes (I am over 2,000 words on these minutes alone) and I don’t want the quality to go down if I am buried by too much work by having two of these to do in one week.



Benjamin Valimont


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