The Missouri Times is proud to bring to you this year’s 30 Under 30 class. From lobbyists to Capitol staffers and more, the 2022 honorees work tirelessly around the clock to make Missouri a better place.
Congrats to our 30 Under 30 list below.
It did not take long for Claudia Alley to determine her career path. At age 17, Claudia took initiative by requesting a coffee meeting with a lobbyist to inquire what steps were necessary towards becoming a professional advocate. Claudia put the advice she received into motion by building and maintaining long-lasting relationships. Prior to graduation from Missouri State University, at age 19, Claudia used her relationships to land a coveted opportunity to work as an intern in the Executive Office of Governor Mike Parson.
Kyle Aubuchon, Boards and Commissions Director for Governor Parson says: “Claudia’s skills, talents, and passion for serving clients brings a positive and successful energy to the halls of the state capitol. As a member of Team 57, she was a bright and driven student with a strong work ethic and moral compass – traits that cannot be taught. It was exciting to watch her grow and contribute as her internship progressed”.
Claudia did not stop with her experience in the Governor’s Office, she sought out and successfully landed a legislative internship with Government Relations firm, Hahn | O’Daniel. As an intern, Claudia used her quick on her feet personality to rapidly adapt to the complex workings of the legislature.
Shortly after she started her internship at a government relations firm, Claudia continued her trajectory as a rising star to successfully secure a job as a full time Associate at Hahn | O’Daniel. Claudia’s role within the firm quickly expanded into providing clients with top-notch advocacy, grant management, administrative and client services.
“Claudia has never stopped impressing me. It has been both exciting and rewarding to watch the same 17-year-old I met for coffee years ago grow into a dynamic and talented Associate. Claudia works tirelessly to ensure that we are providing our clients with best-in-class service. At her core, Claudia is a resourceful team player that wants to win for her clients. Her future at our firm is extremely bright. Our firm is fortunate to call her a team member.” Said Jay Hahn, owner of Hahn | O’Daniel Government Relations.
Some might remember Baylee as an intern for Pat Thomas and Senator Brian Munzlinger. Others might recall when she was an intern for the Missouri Soybean Association running the halls of the Capitol like she was a tenured lobbyist, even though she was just my intern. Recently, she was promoted to a newly created position at the Missouri Soybean Association as the Director of Outreach and Education. Oh, do I dear mention that she already has her master’s degree at the age of 24!
As a small-town woman, she brings the values that represent a large part of Missouri. Baylee has helped shape the educational center within the Center for Soy Innovation that hosts thousands of Missourians each year, including school groups, local non-profits, government agency meetings, industry partners and political events. She has a unique skill set with a deep understanding of the political process which aids her within her responsibility of understanding the needs of Missouri’s soybean producers and how we, at the Missouri Soybean Association, can effectuate change for them.
Baylee works closely with the grassroots efforts when MSA decides to engage in elections. She sets up grower meetings, deploys campaign signs across Missouri and helps educate growers about candidates. Also, if you had a delicious soy donut at the state fair, you could thank Baylee. Baylee and her team handle the coordinate events at the state fair for our organization.
I know it’s easy to hate on the newest generation entering the workforce. However, I can assure you that Baylee is one of the hardest working advocates for Missouri’s producers. I’ve watched her accomplish some great things over the past five years, and I can assure you she’s just getting started said Casey Wasser, Chief Operating Officer of the Missouri Soybean Association.
From hours spent listening to talk radio to walking around a house full of campaign signs, David Bader grew up surrounded by politics. It is no surprise he ended up working in Washington, D.C., for U.S. Senator Roy Blunt.
“Senator Blunt is a powerhouse for our state, and I’m glad to be part of such a great team that fights for Missourians every day,” said Bader.
As Blunt’s press secretary, Bader utilizes a quick wit and a strong political sense to respond to national and state reporters, write press releases, and help lead messaging for Blunt’s leadership position office, the Republican Policy Committee.
“David Bader has been a fantastic addition to the team,” said Blunt. “His previous work at the state party and within the Missouri congressional delegation have provided him with an in-depth knowledge of the Missouri political landscape and the issues that are most important to people in our state. That, in turn, has made him incredibly effective at communicating the work we are doing in Washington to press and constituents back home. I’m pleased to see he’s being recognized for the great work he has done and will continue to do as a young leader in our state.”
Bader began his political career while attending the University of Missouri in Columbia. After interning for U.S. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler in Washington, D.C., and State Senator Dave Schatz in Jefferson City, Bader served as Deputy Press Secretary for the Missouri Republican Party in the 2018 cycle.
After taking a semester off to work for MRP, Bader graduated from Mizzou in May 2019 with a double major in Journalism and Political Science.
After graduation, the St. Louis County native returned to Ballwin to work as a staff assistant for U.S. Congresswoman Ann Wagner. Bader then moved to Washington, D.C., to serve as a press assistant and later the press secretary for Blunt.
Having served in multiple positions for public servants across the state and federal level, Bader says his time with Blunt has been inspiring.
“Senator Blunt has spent his career fighting for the people of Missouri, and his quiet effectiveness should inspire all of us,” said Bader. “He is always focused on getting results for his constituents, and his incredible knowledge of policy issues, of history, and of Missouri is unmatched. It makes him a master legislator and a true statesman, and it’s an honor to be able to work for him and for Missouri every day.”
Claimed Jim Gwinner, an associate of LS2Group.
Cass Bowen has rocketed onto the scene as one of the most passionate and engaged young conservatives in the Show-Me State. We at Springfield’s KWTO could not be more excited for her as she has been chosen to be one of The Missouri Times “30 Under 30” honorees for 2022.
Cass and I like to joke that now that I have created this monster, we all have to live with the consequences! In all seriousness, I could not be more proud of Cass. As the Executive Producer of Wake Up Springfield with Tim Jones, Cass jumped excitedly into politics and public policy with both feet and has never looked back. Her determined drive, her willingness to learn, her creativity and passion have all helped make our morning show the fantastic product it is today. Cass’ devotion to conservative causes, especially the mission of young pro-lifers, given her own personal story, is admirable and to be emulated.
Cass has also gotten involved in so many other ways that have helped advance the conservative message and mission in our State. Cass was a pivotal component of the successful Eric Burlison for Congress campaign, she has helped advance the cause of the growing Young Republicans of southwest Missouri and she continues to assist anyone and everyone who needs her help.
Cass always has a smile on her face and a song in her heart. Her optimism and enthusiasm are infectious and her desire to always be better and do more good is contagious. I know only bigger and better things await Cass Bowen and only time will tell what she sets her sights on next. The future of conservatism in our State and Nation are truly alive and well and Cass proves that point stated Tim Jones.
I’ve known Jake Buxton since our days as College Republicans, knocking doors for local candidates and planning extravagant hospitality suites at Lincoln Days.
We moved to Jefferson City at the same time and, in a surprise to no one who knows him, Jake took our State Capitol by storm. Jake now serves as the legislative liaison for the Department of Conservation, and I can guarantee you’ve not met many people who are more passionate about their careers than him.
Jake not only views his role as a way to represent the department’s visions, but as a way to share Missouri’s unique and spectacular offerings with those who make its laws.
On top of his duties with the department, Jake excels as a husband to Denea, father to Lincoln and soon-to-be baby girl Buxton, and as a deacon at Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City. Jake more than deserves to be recognized as one of Missouri Times’ “30 Under 30”, not only because of his professional record, but personal character said Hannah Beers-Sutton.
Morgan Corder serves as the Policy Director for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. In his role, Morgan serves as a liaison between the office and members of the Missouri General Assembly to effectively advocate for successful policy outcomes. Outside of the legislative process, Morgan is responsible for building strategic partnerships with civic, non-profit and other advocacy organizations around our state to advance the mission of the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.
Morgan grew up in St. Charles and began his time in government through the Civic Leaders Internship Program at the University of Missouri. During his time in the CLIP Program, Morgan served in the offices of State Representative Kathie Conway, Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, and the University of Missouri System Government Relations.
After graduating from the University of Missouri, Morgan began his career with United States Senator Roy Blunt’s Office. Morgan joined the Missouri Attorney General’s Office after Attorney General Eric Schmitt was appointed to the position in 2019. Outside of his role in the Attorney General’s Office, Morgan volunteers as a Board Member for the Mizzou Alumni Association, Secretary of the Boone Electric Community Trust, and President of the Delta Chi Missouri Chapter Board of Trustees. Morgan is also a member of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce Leadership Missouri Class of 2022 and Acacia Twilight Lodge #114.
“Morgan is one of the most intelligent people I know. He has an extremely bright future” claims Bruce DeGroot.
Keegan is one of the rare breeds in politics – he is less likely to seek the spotlight and is busier getting things done. He embodies the “campground rule” and always seeks to leave things better than he finds them. He’s a dedicated and thoughtful public servant, and Missouri is lucky to have him back. I look forward to seeing what his future holds.
There is a lot of glory to be gained on campaigns you’re successful in, he left it all on the field and impressed everyone he interacted with in a campaign where he came up short. Enhancing a reputation in a losing effort is a hard thing to do, but he did it. I would say nobody else in the state of Missouri knocked on more doors this summer than EJ. His name is one that you will see in Missouri politics for years to come, and should frankly expect to see.
“What I have seen in EJ in the last 4 years at the Capitol is tremendous self-growth dedication, loyalty, to go along with new knowledge and experience. He is likable, everyone likes him. He has an extremely bright future, and I cannot wait to see what all is in store for him” Said Dan Shaul.
For Danielle Finley, 26, her favorite self-proclaimed quote, “Can’t-ers never make history, so just go get it done,” is the high standard of accountability she holds not only for herself but everyone around her.
Finley, a political operative, recently worked for Americans for Prosperity as the Grassroots Engagement Director to ensure a senate primary victory for Eric Schmitt. Danielle is equally known in the arena for her role as the tenacious infrastructure advocate for the Realtors Association as their political fundraiser in St. Louis. But behind the scenes, Danielle has her hands in influencing GOTV strategy for competitive legislative races while also directly engaging with voters on the ground.
Finley got her start in a “bigly” way in 2018 while finishing her Master’s degree in Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations at Webster University interning at the White House for President Trump in the Office of Presidential Correspondence. After graduating in 2019, she served in a transitory capacity alongside then Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party, Jean Evans, and also worked on several competitive legislative races in the St. Louis area.
For Danielle making sure others are taken care of and their interests are taken to heart is the driving force for her passion projects. For her, each new role isn’t seen as a job, but as an exciting challenge to make a real impact in Missouri’s political landscape for years to come according to Frank Catanzaro.
Miss Henderson took a new position at Missouri Soybean Association two weeks ago, needless to say, she will be missed. Liz worked for me for three years as an associate with Brent Hemphill & Associates and was an integral part of all facets of my company. Her ability to communicate whether in the State Capitol with legislators and staff or with our diverse clients was outstanding. She was a wonderful employee but more important… a better person. I always greatly valued her work ethic and willingness to provide good incite and counsel. Missouri Soybean Association has added a great addition to their team and I am proud to have worked with her during the last three years. I am wishing her the very best in her next career path.
“Liz brings an unfounded rolodex of relationships, policy knowledge, and drive to her employers. Liz has been on teams that have successfully passed major reforms. She cuts through the rhetoric that is easy to fall prey to and keep grounded to what’s right on tough issues.” stated Casey Wasser”
Cameron has been major asset to Axiom Strategies and Clout Public since he started working for the firm in October of 2019. He has a tireless work ethic and is detail-oriented in the best way. Cameron is involved with more than 100 campaigns in Missouri each cycle, including managing the accounts for more than 70 state representative candidates that signed with Axiom this year. His hard work shows in the amount of success he has had; Axiom’s record in this year’s Missouri primaries was 49 wins and 13 losses; Cameron Higbe played a major role in most of those races.
I am truly thankful for the work that Cameron does on a day-to-day basis, and he more than deserves to be honored on The Missouri Time’s 30 under 30 list said, Aaron Baker.
Danyelle is the liaison for the Missouri Department of Agriculture. She provides timely updates and communication between the department and members of the general assembly. Her background from a rural area, degree from the University of Missouri, ArioBusiness Policy and work with a major commodity group add to the valuable information that she shares.
When asked about Danyelle, Alex Zumsteg, Chief of Staff for Majority Floor Leader Sen. Caleb Rowden stated, “Danyelle not only has ambition and grace but a great work ethic. I had the privilege of working with Danyelle on Sen. Caleb Rowden’s re-elect and as an intern in the office the following session. Danyelle was always eager to help and engage. She was willing to do whatever we asked of her and teaching us a more about agriculture in the process. This is only her beginning and I’m excited to see how far she will go.”
I am honored to nominate Danyelle. My first memory of Danyelle was when she was a shadow one spring day in the MO Senate for Sen. Lincoln Hough. There was a discussion in the senate office including the senator, Robin and I and as he does he ended his story by saying “Don’t you think?” He really didn’t want an answer to the question, but Danyelle offered one- and the look on the senator’s face was hilarious. I knew then she would go places and accomplish great things.
I think Danyelle will have a bright future in whatever she chooses. I hope that for the industry of Agriculture and the citizens of Missouri she will continue in public policy said Pat Thomas.
“Andrew was one of the most talented operatives in the field in the primary this summer. He was able to obtain real NFL-level experience on one of the most highly contested campaigns in recent Missouri history. Not only did he come away with a win, but he also came away with impressing everyone he interacted with. The future is very bright for Andrew Leppert” said Scott Faughn.
Sharon Jones expressed that Connor Luebbert has been in and around the Capitol scene for years, but recently joined the ranks of full-time lobbyists. His ability to build relationships combined with a quick grasp of issues makes him a natural for the job. Plus, years of interning around the building and serving customers at The Grand Cafe give him a head start on knowing the political landscape.
His first full-time lobbying role is with Jones Advocacy Group where he is focused on clients with large memberships who need help navigating the legislative process. “Connor has become an instant success with our clients. He understands how to take the complicated world of the Capitol and break it down for folks who have never interacted with the legislature before.” Sharon Geuea Jones, Owner, Jones Advocacy Group.
Connor represents a variety of clients including the MO State Conference of the NAACP. “Connor can help bridge the gap between our government and the people it is supposed to serve. Not all our conversations are comfortable, but he makes sure the necessary ones happen.” Rod Chapel, President, MO State Conference of the NAACP.
When asked why he decided to make lobbying a full-time career, Connor’s answer was simple. “Lobbying is the best way I can use my skills and talents to help ordinary people influence the political process. That’s why I enjoy working for our client list.”
“When I hear the name Kendall Martinez-Wright, some of the words that flow through my head is; bold, passionate, resilient, charming, energetic, and humble.” That is what Kendall’s mother, Patrice Wright describes her daughter Kendall in terms of her career and overall experience. In retrospect, I, myself can undoubtedly connect to those very same sentiments of how to not only describe Kendall as an individual and as a rising figure in the world of politics and as a Missourian. During the conversation with Kendall’s mother, she acknowledged the humble yet challenging beginnings within Kendall’s journey in life. Born to Patrice Wright and the late Wilfredo Martinez at a hospital in the historically Black, Chatham neighborhood in South-Side Chicago. After Kendall’s birth and soon the birth of her sister a year and a half later, Kendall’s family made the journey to the Show-Me State to start a new life in the small, agricultural community of Palmyra where Kendall would spend majority of her childhood learning about the community at-large as well as, inspire the fire within herself in action, servitude, and empathy.
Shortly after graduating from Palmyra High School and upon arriving at the historic Lincoln University, Kendall’s love for politics and policy kicked into high gear, especially after the Michael Brown tragedy in 2014. Kendall and a multitude of her collegiate classmates joined forces with their local chapter of the NAACP and joined forces in the nationwide call to action of justice. From then on, Miss Martinez-Wright would trekk uptown to the Missouri State Capitol building and attend key meetings as well as meet with electeds in showcasing the concerns of individuals within the African-American community, the LGBTQ+ community, and other minorities just to name a few.
The last few years, Kendall showcased that she is not only a community advocate but she is also a strategist as well. During the last couple of years Kendall has collaborated with various non-profit organizations and worked on defeating discriminatory legislation geared towards the LGBTQ+ community. She has provided collaborative efforts to provide an advocate’s perspective in public health as well as beginning conversations regarding accessibility for rural communities. If Kendall was not in the state capitol, she would be in various meetings with a wide range of organizations. From 2017-2019, Kendall was in leadership position with Empower Missouri as the Lincoln University chapter president and liaison, the 5th Ward Committeeperson with the Cole County Democratic Committee as well as student liaison for the Jefferson City Democratic Club.
In February of 2021, Kendall became the Vice-Chair of the newly formed LGBTQ+ Caucus within the Missouri Democrat Party and effectively was the first out transgender individual to co-lead a community caucus within the state party. Along with that, Kendall ran a campaign to run for her state house district, and would make history in both here in Missouri and nationwide as the first out Afro-Puerto Rican Transgender woman to run for state office, and would do so until she ended the campaign due to mental health. After her campaign, Kendall continued to support various organizations like the ACLU-MO, PROMO, and Empower Missouri, on efforts of social justice work in the halls of the capitol as well as within the community. In late August of 2022, Miss Martinez-Wright became staff at Treatment Action Group (TAG) as the organization’s Government Relations and Policy Associate; and furthermore within the position, Kendall would collaborate with key stakeholders ranging from other national and international organizations, federal agencies, and federal elected officials in efforts of raising awareness of HIV, Hepatitis C, and Tuberculosis said Kate Lawder.
Mary Catharine McElhone
Mary Catherine has been actively involved in Republican Politics for nearly a decade. She has always done politics her way and has been a strong utility player on campaigns across the country. From State Senate campaigns, the Governor’s PAC “Uniting Missouri” and now the Georgia GOP, Mary Catherine continues to bring the Republican message directly to the voters.
Her network goes far beyond Missouri, and she has a unique ability to be known in Republican circles around the nation. Mary Catherine currently serves as the Deputy Strategic Initiatives Director for the Georgia Republican Party. Arguably, Georgia is ground zero for Republican politics in the 2022 cycle. Mary Catherine is using her skills to build grassroot networks to help Republicans win some of the toughest contested races in the nation.
Mary Catherine continues to be a leader in various political ways. Weather it’s on a campaign or leading republican organizations, she finds herself near the top. Mary Catherine still considers Missouri to be her home, and she will continue to be someone to watch for years to come.
“Brooke brings great energy to the issues she works on. Her positive spirit and outlook makes her a great teammate and she has great instincts to tackle complex issues. She possesses a maturity beyond her years and is a difference maker for our clients” said Andy Blunt.
Evan Rodriguez graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law and began his career at the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. As an Assistant Attorney General, Evan worked to make sure criminal prosecutions were upheld in state and federal court. He specialized in responding to criminal offender’s habeas corpus petitions and litigated against post-conviction collateral attacks. This specialization in constitutional law, often litigated a the trial court level, taught him both appellate and trial skills and immersed him in the legal profession. He then transitioned to employment with the Missouri General Assembly in House Research where he further expanded his research and writing skills and learned the legislative process as well as the technical side of statutory drafting. Evan’s skills and experience across this broad spectrum of the law outpaced his peers and brought him to the attention of the Governor’s legal team.
In 2021, Evan accepted a position as Deputy General Counsel to Governor Mike Parson and became one of three attorneys working in the Governor’s Office. In that capacity, Evan reviews clemency applications and has been the driving force behind the significant reduction in clemency applications pending at the Governor’s Office. Additionally, Evan has helped review legislative proposals from state agencies and the Governor’s Office. He has also lent his skills and experience to the bill review process often providing key legal analysis as to bills that have been Truly Agreed Upon and Finally Passed by the General Assembly and are under consideration by the Governor. Evan also assists with the judicial appointment process by observing judicial commission interviews, conducting interviews of judicial applicants, and making recommendations to the Governor for appointments to the bench. Additionally, he assists a portfolio of state agencies with legal and operational issues and keeps the Governor apprised of the challenges the agencies face in carrying out their statutory responsibilities.
“Evan’s skill with legal research and statutory analysis are surpassed only by his drive for excellence and demeanor. He is critical to the success of this team and there is no assignment that he cannot master efficiently and effectively” said Andrew Bailey, General Counsel to the Governor. Evan was also the first member of the Governor’s Staff to graduate from the Missouri Leadership Academy. At this point in his career, Evan has practiced law in state and federal court, he has worked for the legislative branch of state government, he has assisted with appointments to the judiciary and is one of three legal advisers to the apex of the executive branch of state government. There is almost no corner of state government that he has not influenced in at least some way. At only 28 years old, his ceiling appears limitless said Andrew Bailey.
Chris Schoeman joined the SCC family in July 2021 and quickly earned the nickname Skooner because of his haste, determination, energy and passionate curiosity. Chris hit the ground running and now helps lead SCC’s giving, legislative monitoring services and public policy work in highly regulated industries. He hopes to branch out in 2023 and also work on judicial branch issues.
Born and raised in South Africa, Chris’ American journey began in January 2014 with a rugby scholarship at Lindenwood University. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in International Business and Finance in 2018, Chris began working for St. Louis based finance firm Stifel as a loan officer. Skooner’s hobbies include golf, rugby, traveling and cooking. He lives in Clayton, Missouri with his fiance Sami.
“Chris Schoeman is strong and confident, yet humble and relentlessly optimistic. He understands the importance of listening and responding with strategy driven solutions whether we are helping a client or working with legislators. Chris’ thirst for knowledge has him on a path to understanding a diverse portfolio of government affairs and public policy issues.” said Strategic Capitol Consulting Partner Tom Robbins.
“Gunnar has a strong work ethic and curiosity to learn. He is willing to put in the time to gain the knowledge and insight that will help our clients navigate the legislative process. His humility and respect for others will serve him well in whatever he does. He has a great future ahead of him and we are proud to have him on the team” claimed Jay Reichard.
“Jack Seigel is the Outreach Manager for the Missouri Nurses Association. Since joining the organization earlier this year, Jack has generated much success for the organization. With an extensive background in campaign management and fundraising for multiple candidates, Jack effectively uses these skills in supporting and advising the nurses’ Political Action Committee. With his connections to many elected officials in Jefferson City, Jack is also adept in successfully building relationships with state legislators and promoting policies that benefit nurses throughout the state of Missouri.
His background in campaign management extends itself to helping multiple candidates throughout the St. Louis region. After graduating with his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at Emory University, Jack returned to St. Louis to develop a career in local and state politics working for numerous candidates. He served as a Community Organizer for Working America; Field Organizer for Tishaura Jones for Mayor; Finance Director for Cort VanOstran for Congress; and recently, as the Organizing Director for Dr. Sam Page for County Executive.
Throughout his professional life and experience in public service, Jack has shown an extensive commitment towards building community and helping those in need. Jack graduated from Washington University with a Master’s in Social Work. As a volunteer and organizer, he successfully created a winter donation drive, rallying the St. Louis Jewish Community to contribute clothes, blankets, canned foods, and necessary items for those without adequate shelter. Since starting this initiative in 2017, Jack’s donation drive has continued to help hundreds of St. Louis residents every winter since. This commitment stems from his fundamental belief in justice and the pursuit to build a better future for all St. Louis residents. It is this commitment to justice and success in public service that makes Jack Seigel a great nominee for the 30 under 30 list in the Missouri Times” said Zach Goldford
Sophie Shore has become a name to know in Republican grassroots politics. In 2020, she lead an impressive campaign that propelled Sen. Mike Moon to victory in a Republican primary where he was out-raised, outspent, and given little chance by the Jeff City echo chamber. She then joined Sen Moon’s office and immediately made an impact on policy and developed several great relationships, earning the respect of her peers.
Sophie’s influence in Republican politics and the senate didn’t stop there. After departing Moon’s office for another opportunity, she then decided to manage political newcomer and incumbent challenger, Jill Carter’s senate campaign. Vastly outspent once again, and facing a new challenge with the power of an incumbent, Sophie again shocked the Missouri political world with a huge upset win.
Aside from her impressive record in campaign politics and her command for policy and procedure on the official side, she is just a great person. She is wise beyond her years, has a great moral compass, and has a positive attitude. I am so excited to nominate Sophie for this honor because I don’t think there’s a young politico in Missouri that has done more to impact the state through action and service than Sophie Shores, State Senator Bill Eigel declared.
If you know anyone in Missouri Republican politics, chances are you know road warrior Hunter Thomas. A journeyman political operative who comes from a family of political players, Hunter has served as the jack of all trades for numerous campaigns over the past decade. He most recently worked on Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick’s successful primary campaign for State Auditor, becoming the face of the campaign to activists in every corner of the state. Hunter Thomas is a name to know and a career to watch in Missouri politics stated Scott Fitzpatrick.
Jeremy LaFaver had this to say about Mr. Travers…
At the age of 26, Mr. Travers has amassed a resume full of impressive experience placing him among the top of the ranks of folks people should know in Jefferson City. Tyler was born and raised in Poplar Bluff, MO before he graduated from Mizzou in 2018 where he earned a BA in History. He’ll receive his Masters of Public Affairs this December, also from Mizzou. For the last 5 years, Travers has been the quiet and steady hand behind many of the successes of Senator Greg Razer.
Serving as Razer’s legislative director, campaign manager, and now soon-to-be Chief of Staff, Tyler has seen the inner workings of how things get done in the House, in the Senate, and on the campaign trail. Having been mentored by Razer as well as former state representative and current Chief of Staff (leaving to be presiding Boone County Commissioner) Kip Kendrick, Travers has an impressive foundation for what will clearly be a very impressive future career. “Tyler is a forward-thinking progressive from Butler County – he will be a strong voice leading the resurgence of Missouri Democrats, and if we’re lucky, the state as a whole. I’m really fortunate to have him on my leadership team.”
I’m writing to nominate Mr. Ben Travlos, Missouri Farm Bureau’s new Director of State and Local Legislative Affairs for the Missouri Times’ 30 Under 30 list. I’ve known Ben since 2016 when he successfully interviewed for a policy internship while I was part of the team at the Missouri Soybean Association. During that interview, Ben admitted to me that he didn’t have much policy experience, but that he was willing to learn. I took a chance on Ben and did not regret it. Ben worked hard alongside me as we successfully fought to pass Missouri’s Right to Farm constitutional amendment. What has struck me since I first met Ben is his tremendous heart for service, which he has carried with him in a variety of positions since.
As you will see from his resume, Ben has accumulated a wealth of experience in the agriculture policy world. In addition to his first internship with me, he was an intern at the Missouri Corn Growers Association and Missouri Farm Bureau. From there, Ben served as an Emergency Management Officer under Director Chris Chinn at the Missouri Department of Agriculture. He soon found himself as the Associate Director of Public Policy for the Missouri Corn Growers Association, where he worked to advance state and federal legislative priorities. Ben’s talents and skill set has always been highly sought after, and I am pleased that he and I now have the opportunity to work together once again at Missouri Farm Bureau. Ben joined our team in May and immediately went to work in helping Farm Bureau-endorsed candidates win primary elections, finalizing “Friend of Farm Bureau” awards for state representatives and developing policy priorities for next legislative session.
You would be hard-pressed to find an individual that has built more trust and respect in their industry in such a short period of time than Ben Travlos. With his tremendous work ethic, character and personality, Ben will be a rising star for years to come, said Dan Engemann.
Eric Bohl stated that…
Anyone who has met Spencer Tuma knows she is a force to be reckoned with. As Missouri Farm Bureau’s Director of National Legislative Programs, Spencer has been the organization’s primary federal lobbyist for more than five years. She quickly developed a reputation as one of the smartest, sharpest ag policy minds in Missouri. When her deep competitive streak engages, Spencer is hard to beat, as she will do anything to outwork and outwit her opponents.
Blake Hurst, former President of Missouri Farm Bureau, summed her up perfectly. When informed that Spencer had earned this honor, he said, “my God, she’s still under 30? Spencer is brilliant, charming, and never quits working. Proud she works for farmers like me.”
Originally from Vernon County in Southwest Missouri, Spencer earned both undergraduate and Masters in Public Policy degrees from Mizzou. She cut her teeth as the Political Director for Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s 2016 reelection before joining her official staff in the Columbia office. She has served in her current role with MOFB since 2017. In her spare time, she operates a professional floral design company, A Floral Affair. She and her husband Andrew live in Osage County.
James Turner III
James Turner III has already made a home in Missouri politics. At a young age, James displayed a passion for learning about government and how he could make a change in his community through the legislative process. At 17, James became President of the student lobbyist organization for the University of Missouri – St. Louis. His work to increase campus membership and on public policy with leaders from the UM System’s three other campuses lead to being 1 of 8 students in the system selected to be a part of the Student lobbying program in 2020. At age 18 he led meetings on legislation with Representatives and Senators, and researched and lobbied for legislation on criminal justice reform, tax reform, mental health funding for college students, STEM, student journalism, and voting rights.
During his tenure at the Capitol, he developed lasting relationships with legislators and showed a handle on the legislative process and public policy that far exceeded his youth. After a brief hiatus from working at the Capitol, James returned as a State House reporter for the Missouri Times during his last semester of college. Despite having no formal journalistic experience he excelled in his role covering the House Committee and Elections and Elected Officials and House session. Throughout his tenure, he had dozens of articles published on Missouri politics, education, economics, and more.
Turner was soon offered a position as Legislative Assistant in the Missouri House, where he once again showcased his strong work ethic and passion for public policy. In May 2022 he graduated college at the age of 20 and currently works in St. Louis as Representative Rasheen Aldridge. He serves as the district staffer for the 78th district where he gets to canvass the district and research policies that would best help the citizens of Missouri. In addition, he has done campaign work for the Missouri House Democratic Campaign Committee.
Only 21 years old James has made an impact as a lobbyist, journalist, and staffer. The sky is the limit for him. Many people agree James Turner III will be a staple in Missouri politics for years to come claimed Michelle Brent.
For someone not native to Missouri, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who loves the state and its politics more than Will Wheeler. Wheeler moved to Southwest Missouri his senior year of high school and fell in love with the state. “On any given day you could be floating the Niangua River, enjoying Springfield’s downtown scene, or catching a St. Louis Cardinals game,” Wheeler said. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather call home.”
Wheeler, 29, has served in a multitude of roles since getting involved in Missouri politics, working for some of the most admired officials Missouri has known. He began as an intern for former Speaker of the House Catherine Hanaway during her gubernatorial bid in 2016 before overseeing field operations for the Missouri Republican Party in 2018. After the 2018 election he worked for Senator Roy Blunt out of Springfield, assisting with constituent issues and meeting with stakeholders in South Central Missouri. “Will Wheeler was a tremendous asset on my staff and I’m glad he is continuing a career in public service. I know he’ll do great work in our state in the years ahead,” said Senator Blunt.
Currently, Wheeler serves as chief of staff to Sen. Karla Eslinger who saw not just his love politics but also the region she represents. “While he’s only been in the capitol for a session, his ability to adapt and navigate Jefferson City has been critical to my office,” Eslinger said. “If the ability he’s demonstrated during his first year in Jefferson City is any symbol, he has a bright future ahead of him.”
Wheeler now calls Jefferson City home and continues to be optimistic about Missouri’s future. “I lived in five different states before finally landing in Missouri,” said Wheeler. “By far Missouri has the most dedicated public servants and elected officials, and I’m proud I get to go work with them every day.”
Said State Senator Karla Eslinger.
Despite being a single mother for the entirety of her adult life, Alyssa completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees with honors, while simultaneously beginning and excelling in her professional career. She has maintained a high-responsibility career, while staying involved in her son’s 4H group, Parents as Teachers Organization, and various sports teams over the past 10 years.
I have worked with Alyssa in various capacities, first as a budget analyst in Senate Appropriations, and most recently, as the budget director for the Missouri Department of Agriculture; she is always helpful, reliable, and knowledgeable. It is clear that Alyssa has a passion for state budget and the agriculture industry said, Ashley Bax.
Brady Hays is a 2023 graduate of the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in History. He is currently attending the University of Missouri School of Law and is on pace to graduate with his JD in 2026. He has been working for the Missouri Times since early March 0f 2022.