Meet the Writing Team

Chad Gasman: Senior Legislative Associate
“Chad” Alexander Gasman is a freshman majoring in Government and Justice & Peace Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In high school, Chad was involved in California YMCA’s Youth & Government program, as well as Speech in Debate. In Youth & Government, Chad served as California’s 67th Youth Lieutenant Governor, presiding over the Youth Senate, and as his local delegation’s 8th Speaker of the House, leading the successful campaign of the 69th Youth Governor. In Speech & Debate, Chad competed in numerous events, most notable of which was Parliamentary Debate, where he and his partner championed the most single tournaments in a year (six) of any team in Parliamentary Debate history, earning a spot at the Point of Information Tournament of Champions and as the nation’s 4th-ranked Parliamentary Debate team. It was through Youth & Government and Speech & Debate that Chad developed his passions for the law, for justice, and for equality - and it was because of these passions that Chad spent his high school career working on issues concerning LGBTQ equality, even working for the Human Rights Campaign. Now, Chad spends his time in the capital as an activist, but when he isn’t working for the greater good, you can find him blasting Beyoncé in his dorm room.
Danny Levy: Senior Legislative Associate
Danny Levy is a freshman studying Government and History at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In high school, Danny was involved in the California YMCA’s Youth & Government (Y&G) program and Speech and Debate. In Y&G, Danny was elected as the 67th Adversary General of the National Issues Commission, which entailed doing in-depth research on proposals and then giving prepared speeches against them and was selected as a three-time attendee of the Conference on National Affairs, an annual conference in which students discuss national problems and solutions. In Speech & Debate, Danny competed in numerous events, but mainly in Congressional Debate, in which he placed 28th in California. Danny now competes on the Parliamentary Debate Team at Georgetown and is a member of the leadership team for the College Democrats. He hopes to increase the accessibility of citizens in government by helping them understand the legislation being created and how it affects them. Aside from debate and politics, you can find Danny watching classic movies or writing stories on his typewriter.
Jared Stone: Senior Legislative Associate
Jared Stone is a freshman majoring in Political Science and Communication at The American University in Washington D.C. Jared is a recent graduate of The Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, where he was the captain of the Speech and Debate and Mock Trial teams. He led L.A.C.E.S. to 2 L.A. County finals in Mock Trial, earning the Alan I. Rothenberg award for outstanding Pretrial Attorney. In debate, Jared placed 4th in California and 14th in the nation his Senior year, on top of other final rounds at tournaments across the country. He now competes in Mock Trial at American, in addition to participating in AU Scholars, a program designed around researching of real world issues. In the past, Jared has completed jobs at Claremont Mckenna College and Fox Legal Groups. He hopes to help increase public awareness of legislation and to help increase transparency within the government.
Emily Mercer: Legislative Associate
Emily Mercer is a second year political science major at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst where she is a defense attorney for the school's Mock Trial team. While a student at El Camino Real Charter High School, Emily was an AP Scholar with Distinction, Co-Captain of the Speech and Debate team, and the top-scoring defense attorney on the Mock Trial team. She coached her Mock Trial team to victory in the Spring of 2015 and is currently an assistant coach for the Reseda High School Mock Trial team. In Forensics, Emily earned 4 qualifying bids to California's State Championship over a two-year span. She is exploring avenues wherein she can apply her skill set for the sake of advancing the country's thinking in a number of areas such as; mitigating the impact humans have on the environment and understanding the health impacts of GMOs.
Ryan Saraie: Senior Staff Columnist
Ryan Saraie is currently a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a Senior Legislative Analyst for the Millennial Institute, focusing on government action in education. When he was student at North Hollywood High School, Ryan competed in congressional debate for the Speech and Debate team. Debate gave Ryan the opportunity to understand and appreciate the American legislative process, and to this very day he maintains an appreciation for congressional affairs. Specifically, Ryan is seeking to combine his interests in government with development in education, as his time spent as a summer camp volunteer led to his concern for teaching reform. He believes that the Millennial Institute will not only inform today’s youth, but inspire them in becoming more active participants in the democracy we maintain.
Ryan Skolnick: Senior Staff Columnist
Ryan Skolnick has been a political activist since the age of 11, and currently serves as an elected Delegate from California Assembly District 38 to the state Democratic Party. A former forensics competitor, Ryan has seen success in Parliamentary and Lincoln-Douglas debate, as well as extemporaneous speaking. He also serves as a forensics coach at La Reina High School. Politically, Ryan has worked as a grassroots organizer and social media coordinator for several political campaigns and groups, including the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, where he helped direct the grassroots efforts of Millennials for Bernie Sanders. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and reading up on public policy. As a long-time advocate for millennials in politics, Ryan feels that it is important to empower the voices of the leaders of tomorrow by stressing the importance of civic participation.  
David Whyman: Staff Columnist
David lives the good life in Chicago, Illinois, attending the University of Chicago as a freshman (class of 2020). He became a founding contributor of the Student World Report and later the Chief Economics Editor of The Financier. David has enjoyed competing in congressional debate for four years, achieving success at both regional and national tournaments. He served two years as congress captain of the Walt Whitman High School Speech and Debate Team. David was also the elected outreach coordinator of his high school’s LGBT Pride Alliance. Additionally, he interned for the Transit Task Force of Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett (D). In his free time, David loves reading the literature of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and drawing portraits and the human figure. David aims to distill the whirlwind of public policy issues engulfing our nation into common sense, one article at a time. He also loves to hear your comments, concerns, and suggestions.
Lakshmi Ramesh: Staff Columnist
Lakshmi Ramesh is a second year Applied Math major at UC Berkeley, where she plans on concentrating in nuclear physics just to say she did. At Berkeley, she is involved with the mock trial team, as well at the competitive bollywood dance team, UCB Azaad. While in high school, Lakshmi participated extensively in congressional debate, which taught her not only the necessity for diversity in such educational environments, but also the role of the younger generation on politics in general. Lakshmi has no set path for her future and does not know what she wants to be when she grows up (although Ramesh 2036 is still a possibility). What she does know, however, is that she wants to spend her life dedicated to the betterment of society by taking good selfies and helping empower disenfranchised groups in our society.
  

Trent Kannegieter: Staff Columnist
Trent Kannegieter is a junior at Bayside Academy in Daphne, Alabama. He is the founder and captain of his school's Speech and Debate team. As an in-event novice, he was awarded a national championship as National Champion Presiding Officer in Congressional Debate at the 2016 Tournament of Champions. He also won the 2016 Alabama state championship in Lincoln Douglas Debate. Aside from debate, Trent is a five-time individual state tennis champion, plays on his school's state championship chess team, and captains its quiz bowl team. He is the co-founder of Bayside Philosophy Club and he used this group to found the Bayside Last Lecture Initiative, based on the namesake program at Carnegie Mellon. In his free time, he enjoys playing the melodica, tutoring at his local Rotary Youth club, writing poetry, and being a general history geek. He believes the Millennial Institute has the ability to de-stigmatize public policy and allow youth to make the informed decisions necessary to keep the United States at the vanguard of our world.  
Matthew Linsky: Summer Fellow
Matthew Linsky is an incoming junior at Columbia University, where he plans to study political science with an emphasis on International Relations and a secondary concentration on Political Theory. Previous to his transfer from Santa Monica College, Matthew maintained an active presence in both student and local government. In addition to his role as founder and president of the school’s Democrats Club he also served as the student representative to the Associated Student’s Judicial Board as well as the Grade Appeals Committee whilst simultaneously juggling his work in the community, which included campaign work on behalf of candidates for Los Angeles City Council, the Los Angeles County School Board, and the 2016 Presidential Election. In his free time, Matthew enjoys watching football, HBO original content (it’s not tv), and steaks.
Vassie Rubtsova: Summer Fellow
Vassilisa Rubtsova is a freshman at UC Berkeley interested in pursuing major in Environmental Policy and Economics. Vassilisa has previously interned for Congressman Tony Cardenas assisting in constituent services as well organizing community events such as the Gun Violence Prevention Forum and Domestic Violence Prevention Forum. She is passionate about social and environmental justice. In high school, she participated in Speech and Debate for four years and founded her school’s Girl Up club. In her free time she teaches and practices martial arts and holds a black belt in Arjukenpo and a black sash in kickboxing.
Sarah Lee: Summer Fellow
Sarah Lee is a rising senior at Arcadia High School in California and has a deep passion for the humanities, spoken-word poetry, The Office, and NPR. She has served on her high school ASB all four years and is now Senior Class President. After joining Speech & Debate as a novice during her junior year, Sarah competed in Original Prose & Poetry (OPP) and was a semifinalist at the 2017 State Championship. She will now be serving as OPP Captain for her team. When she isn’t competing or writing, Sarah volunteers in her community, having been elected Vice President of Rotary’s Interact Club and Secretary of Arcadia Senior Men & Women. Sarah is also a proud member of We The People Constitution Team, working with 29 other teammates in interpreting and applying constitutional law. At the Millennial Institute, she hopes that her writing will make a difference and promote civic engagement amongst her peers.
Jun-Yong Kim: Summer Fellow
Jun-Yong Kim is a rising senior at Seven Lakes High School with a love for government and public policy. He has competed with fervor since freshman year in Speech and Debate and currently serves as the president of his team. He is a four-time state finalist and two-time national finalist, most recently placing third in the nation in Congressional Debate. He has helped coach local middle school debate teams and hosted a week-long camp for Asian American students in the Houston area. When he isn’t researching a myriad of topics for an upcoming tournament, Jun works at a local tutoring firm and provides free tutoring for low income students seeking help. He also holds a seat on his school’s Principal’s Council to enact changes in school policies. In his free time, he loves to partake in cultural activities, play soccer and video games, and drink copious amounts of tea.
Ryan Keane: Summer Fellow
Ryan Keane is an incoming junior at El Camino Real Charter High School. He has had a vested interest in world issues and politics from a very young age. As a sophomore, Ryan served as a secretary for the El Camino Speech and Debate team. During his tenure he was seventh in the state of California and twelfth in the nation in Congressional Debate. For nearly his entire life, he has trained in martial arts, and two years ago, he acquired his first degree black belt in MMA, while becoming a part time instructor. In his past time, he enjoys baseball, football, and watching C-SPAN.