Students For Liberty Awards Finalists. Vote Now!
Students For Liberty is pleased to announce the finalists for Student, Group, and Event of the Year. Finalists were selected based on nominations from Executive Boards, Regional Directors, and Staff. The winner will be selected based on voting from all SFL leaders. Voting must be completed by January 14, 2019 at 11:59 p.m.
And the nominees are. . .
Student of the Year
Justin Anderson is North America’s Western Regional Director for Students For Liberty.
Last year, Justin organized a memorial with 500 handmade crosses on the steps of the Utah State Capitol for the victims of school gun violence to raise money for clinics providing mental health access to youth who cannot afford it. He worked with Project Homeless Connect, where he worked to educate the homeless on ballot issues and helped them register to vote. And he’s planning a leadership forum between SFL student leaders and the Utah County Sheriff where students will have the chance to practice SWAT drills and discuss the execution of drug search warrants and the impact of the drug war with law enforcement.
Justin is the volunteer Director of Development with Marafiki Africa, a nonprofit that teaches business principles to small business owners and entrepreneurs to help create a thriving economy in small communities in East Africa. Justin is also a Shriner and sits on the fundraising committee for the Shriners Hospitals for Children. In 2018, Justin fundraised more than $50,000 to provide free medical care for children at the Salt Lake City Shriners Hospital. He filed the paperwork to start his own organization, Utah's Second Chance, that focuses on harm reduction through a needle exchange program and providing resources to help with domestic abuse, substance abuse, and employment.
Early in 2018, Justin successfully ran for Vice Chair of the Utah County Democratic Party, and most recently, Justin was appointed Chief of Staff to the Utah County Clerk.
Ayemen is Chairwoman of South Asia Students For Liberty’s Executive Board.
Over the last year, Ayemen has led the growth of the South Asia region, more than doubling the number of Coordinators. As Regional Director for Developing Regions, she started SFL in Pakistan from scratch, securing 80 program applications in the first year and over 300 this past year. In Afghanistan, Ayemen trained and coached leaders to run events, including SFL’s first event in Kabul, which was delayed by one hour due to a suicide bombing up the street.
In her first year with SFL, Ayemen hosted a Virtual Reading Group with the highest number of registrants to date and participants from 5 countries discussing Ken Schoolland’s book The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible. She participated in a protest of the World Health Organization’s Framework on Tobacco Control Conference in Delhi.
Most recently, Ayemen joined Ladies of Liberty Alliance as the International Outreach Coordinator and has already helped the organization expand to 7 countries in just three months. Ayemen is currently studying pharmacology and plans to use her background to work on healthcare and drug policy reform.
Lia Janelidze is the former Black Sea Regional Director and current South Caucasus Regional Director for European Students For Liberty, a region that includes her home country of Georgia as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Lia co-founded Georgian Students for Liberty in 2012, which won SFL’s Group of the Year in 2018, and currently is comprised of more than twenty active Coordinators.
Lia has been a fundraising champion for Georgian Students For Liberty, growing their revenue from US$3,000 in 2015 to US$30,000 this year. This included funding for the largest Regional Conference ever held in Europe with over 900 participants in Tbilisi. Her fundraising also supported the “No Nanny Store” in Tbilisi Mall to raise awareness among consumers about the harmfulness of costly paternalistic policies, especially tobacco regulations, in Georgia.
In addition to her work with European Students For Liberty, Lia manages an international co-working space called Impact Hub, where she works with entrepreneurs to help get their start-ups off the ground.
Group of the Year
Clube Farroupilha won group of the year this year in SFL’s Brazil region.
The club’s biggest success this year is the election of former club President Giuseppe Riesgo to the State Congress of Rio Grande do Sul, the state of Brazil in which the club is based, as the youngest politician in the state at 23 years old. Many club members and alumni came together to form the campaign staff that achieved this result.
One of the club’s founders, Fabricio Sanfelice, was named SFL Brasil’s Alumnus of the Year for 2018.
Clube Farroupilha also hosted David Friedman and many other international speakers this year for the 4th annual Interdisciplinary Farroupilha Symposium, where over 700 people attended what became the largest liberal event in the interior of Brazil. Clube Farroupilha created the Center of Leadership Development to cultivate an entrepreneurial mentality in their leaders, and they regularly engage in philanthropic activities including donating over 170 pounds of food for Christmas this past year.
Students for Liberty España
Students For Liberty España is a network of thirty Coordinators and five hundred members across Spain. In 2018, they hosted a regional conference with over 300 attendees. SFL España raised over $4,000 from local sponsors, and throughout 2018, the group organized over thirty local events including conferences, lectures, protests, and debates about the principles of liberty, gay rights, blockchain, the minimum wage, and the situation in Venezuela.
SFL España organized the Tax Freedom Day campaign, where they distributed flyers explaining how taxpayers’ money is spent from the budget. The group also participated in a Pride demonstration. Students For Liberty España has also prepared their members for success in their careers, and former leaders in this group have gone on to roles such as Deputy Director for the Institute Juan de Mariana, one of the primary classical liberal organizations in Spain.
Students For Liberty Mexico
Students For Liberty Mexico formed in late 2014. Since then group members has traveled throughout the country to organize events and reach leaders, even in remote villages and areas threatened by drug cartels. They have encountered stiff opposition from conservative groups and leaders to cease their activities, including censorship by a Mexican state governor, who shut down their largest planned event last year, a conference titled Sex, Drugs, & Liberty, because of its title.
Despite these many hurdles, Students For Liberty Mexico organized 55 events, six regional conferences, 12 leadership fora, and impacted over 4,500 leaders in 2018. In the last year, SFL Mexico has sent members to attend seminars and trainings all over the world.
In February 2019, SFL Mexico will debut the newest addition to the LibertyCon brand - LibertyCon Latin America - in Mexico City.
Event of the Year
Ankara Regional Conference
Ankara Regional Conference this past year was Students For Liberty’s most internationally diverse student conference to date. It hosted students from over 32 countries to discuss topics such as The Libertarian Theory of the State, Liberalism & Democracy, The Islamic Case for Liberty, How to Inspire Social Change, and the Anti-Business Mentality. Despite the increasingly authoritarian political climate in Turkey, the Ankara Regional Conference had 192 participants engaged in discussion of how to advance the ideas of liberty throughout the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia.
‘Thinking Better Together’ Colloquia Series
South Asia Students For Liberty reimagined the Socratic forums of Ancient Greece to create the Thinking Better Together Colloquia Series. Attendees read reading selections on topics including Uberization of the World, Are Vices Crimes?, and The Economics of Politics prior to round-table Socratic discussions at the event in an open forum.
South Asia Students For Liberty organized over 30 Colloquia with more than 450 attendees. This series was designed to identify students who are interested in the ideas of liberty, deepen their knowledge, and prepare them to join Students For Liberty’s Coordinator program, and it was a primary factor leading to more than doubling the size of the South Asia Coordinator Program this past year.
West African Regional Conference
The 2018 West Africa Regional Conference in Ibadan, Nigeria hosted over 385 participants from across West Africa. The conference addressed many topics including migration, drug policy, and trade, but the most controversial topic addressed was LGBT rights.
More than 90% of Nigerians believe that society should not accept same-sex relationships. Punishment for same-sex sexual activity or marriage is 14 years imprisonment, and in some cases death by stoning. Belonging to an LGBT organization, association or club carry a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment, and this law prohibits homosexuals from even meeting in groups of two or more.
Last year, the Executive Director of The Initiative for Equal Rights, a Nigeria-based non-profit organization working to protect and promote the human rights of sexual minorities, found the courage to publicly identify as a gay man for the first time. This past year, the head of Equality Hub, an organization working to advance the rights and well-being of female sexual minorities in Nigeria, spoke on the need to create a society where people are judged on the content of their character rather than sexual orientation. She later posted on social media that the private messages she received from participants in support of this issue were overwhelming. One messaged her to say, “It’s because of people like you...that people like us have not committed suicide. I’m a married gay man, trust me, it’s hell.”