Summer 2017

In 2017 we are offering FOUR track options: House, Senate, Print Media, and Broadcast Media. Read on for track descriptions and eligibility, as well as a list of past speakers.

House Track

Eligibility Requirements:

  • All first-time students participate in House Track
  • Between 13-19 years of age
  • Entering 9th-12th grade in the Fall of 2017 or have just completed your senior year of high school

In the legislative House Track, first-time students begin their SSI-MN experience by being sworn-in as members of the House of Representatives. Designed to challenge students to understand and apply biblical principles to current issues, students role-play as state lawmakers, discussing actual bills taken from the Minnesota legislature. Each student is assigned to a committee and a caucus. Each caucus is assigned one bill to support and one bill to oppose. Students learn how bills become laws, responsibilities of citizenship, and engagement in activities such as:

  • Public Speaking 
  • Critical & Strategic Thinking
  • Speech Writing 
  • Teamwork

Each caucus utilizes the SSI-MN Media to bring attention to their sponsored bill by calling a press conference. The biggest challenge here is to make sure the SSI-MN Media doesn’t misquote you!

Student legislators hear testimony from lobbyists during committee meetings in the Capitol Complex, often times chaired by real State Senators and Representatives. Students can ask tough questions of the lobbyists and gain valuable information on their bill.

The capstone of the program is when students assemble as a legislative body on Friday to debate and cast their votes on the issues considered throughout the week. Parents, other family members, and friends are invited to watch!

Senate Track

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be an SSI-MN Alumni Student
  • Not older than 19 years of age
  • Entering 9th-12th grade in the Fall of 2017 or have just completed your senior year of high school

This advanced legislative experience is similar to the House Track. However, it is more advanced and allows student legislators to amend their bills, both in committee and during the final legislative floor session. The amendment process is more challenging, and the strategy used to pass a bill can be different for each caucus.

Senators have their own final legislative session on Friday, and instead of calling their own press conferences, they serve as reporters of the SSI-MN Legislative News Service, asking questions during the House members' press conferences. And, of course, Senators like to remind the House members of their vast wealth of knowledge and experience!

Print & Broadcast Media Tracks

Eligibility Requirements: 

  • Must be an SSI-MN Alumni Student
  • Not older than 19 years of age
  • Entering 11th grade or 12th grade in the 2017 Fall semester or have just completed your senior year of high school

Additional requirements:

  • Submit the Media Application after completing initial registration (online or mail-in). This additional application will be emailed to students who select a Media Track in the registration process.
  • Must be accepted into the one of the Media Tracks 
    • The Media Application applies to both tracks
    • SSI-MN Staff determine the final track placement of students
    • Students not accepted into either Media Track will be placed in the Senate Track
    • SSI-MN Staff will notify you regarding your applicant status after receiving your registration and your Media Application

In the Print Media Track, students role-play as SSI-MN reporters, covering all the main highlights of an SSI-MN week and reporting their stories in a daily newspaper. All students eagerly await the “hot-off-the-press” paper each day and enjoy reading about SSI-MN “happenings.” The newspaper includes feature stories, news stories, quotable quotes, and much more.

In the Broadcast Media Track, students serve as camera operators, news anchors and TV reporters as they work together on a broadcast team to capture the main events of an SSI week on film! A definite highlight for everyone, broadcasts are aired 2-3 times during the week.

As with all of the tracks, we bring in experts to coach students. Students benefit by interacting with real-world reporters and communications’ specialists who are eager to invest their time and expertise.

Besides covering all the events of the week, Media students learn to conduct interviews with VIP’s, such as members of the MN House of Representatives and MN Senators. The Media Tracks are an awesome experience for young people and really make SSI-MN an incredibly dynamic learning environment for everyone.

Students who apply for participation in the Media Tracks will be asked to submit an additional application. A writing sample will be required from each applicant as well as other additional information. In order to maintain a vibrant Media Team with plenty of writing or filming projects for each team member, we admit only a few students into these tracks.

Confirmed Speakers

Session Speakers

Don Bierle - Worldview

Dr. Bierle, president of FaithSearch International, holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in the life sciences and an M.A. in New Testament Studies. As a research scientist he was a team member on scientific expeditions to both the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions. As an educator and academic dean, Dr. Bierle has been active for thirty years teaching biology, Bible, and worldview subjects in the college classroom. He has conducted training around the world, in places such as the Marshall Islands in the south Pacific, Amsterdam, the Philippines, and throughout India. He has published several articles in scientific journals, is the author of Surprised by Faith (see below) and other books and DVDs on practical apologetics. He specializes in evidential evangelism.

Kent Kaiser – Communications

Dr. Kent Kaiser is the faculty chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Northwestern – Saint Paul.  He is also a senior policy fellow at the Minneapolis Center of the American Experiment. Before moving into academia seven years ago, Kaiser worked with the Minnesota Secretary of State and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Carleton College, Master of Arts teaching degree in history from Smith College, Master’s in Liberal Studies from University of Minnesota Duluth, and Ph.D. in the major field of mass communication and minor field of kinesiology from the University of Minnesota.

Dave Racer – Christian Citizenship

Born and raised in St. Paul, Dave majored in Music Education at Macalester College and the University of Minnesota. While serving in the U.S. Air Force, Dave studied at the University of Southern Mississippi, and changed his major to Educational Psychology. He served as an Air Force classroom instructor, founded two ServiceMaster franchises, and has since remained self-employed. He published “Dave Racer’s Minnesota Report,”, and has written eight health care books since. In the 90s Dave ran for Minnesota House and State Senate as a GOP candidate, served as the National Manager for Ambassador Alan Keyes’ 1996 Presidential Campaign, and later helped Keyes found the Declaration Foundation. On the board of the Minnesota Physician-Patient Alliance, Dave helps insurance professionals and medical providers implement changes mandated by the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Dave and his wife of 46 years, Rosanne, live in St. Paul.


Daniel Hage – Presuppositional Apologetics

Daniel was raised in a Christian home-educating family in the Northwest suburbs of Minneapolis. At the age of 5 during a Vacation Bible School in northern Minnesota after hearing the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, he accepted God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. After graduating from high school, Daniel pursued a career in aviation, earning his first pilot certificate at age 18. Now at age 27, Daniel works for a US based airline that flies mainly in the western United States, Canada and Mexico. Being able to have one on one conversations about the Gospel and issues of moral or political importance is one things he really enjoys about his job.


Lonnie Titus - Evangelism

Lonnie earned an Associate of Arts in Business Management at North Dakota State University. He also received a Bible Diploma from Trinity Bible College and a Christian Counseling Degree from Gary Collins Christian Counselors International. Having a heart for community and political leaders, Lonnie spent 18 years as the State Capitol Chaplain and another 18 years as a Police Chaplain. He strives to build relationships with those "furthest out and least likely interested in spiritual things," particularly, the “Atheist, Adversarial and Agnostic.” In 43 years of being a pastor, Lonnie has mentored 8 Chaplains to State Capitol Ministry in four states and led lobbyists, legislators, and governors to Christ. Lonnie has been married 45 years. He and his wife, Bonnie, have three children and seven grandchildren.


Jason Holt – Youth Culture

Rev. Jason Holt is the National Director of Youth Ministries for the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC). Jason has over 25 years of service in youth and family ministry settings. He is a member of the Association of Youth Ministry Educators (AYME) as well as the National Network of Youth Ministries (NNYM). Pastor Holt and his wife, Jennifer, have five children.


Dr. Doug Trouten – Print Media Track Instructor

Dr. Doug Trouten spent two decades as a working journalist before becoming a professor at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. He edited the Minnesota Christian Chronicle, an award-winning newspaper, and directed the EP News Service. He is the former executive director of the Evangelical Press Association, whose members produce some 300 Christian magazines and newspapers with a combined circulation of more than 20 million. He has published thousands of articles in magazines and newspapers. Doug is married and has three children.

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Brad Johnson – Broadcast Media Track Instructor

Brad Johnson has over 30 years of experience in electronic media production. As an audio engineer he has done work for clients such as Paisley Park, Paula Abdul, the Steve Miller Band, Dan and Sandy Adler, Heart of the City and Gaylen Paul. Brad has also produced, engineered, and edited various television and radio spots for clients including McDonald's, Best Buy and Polaris. He designed and maintained his own studio for Brad Johnson Productions, Inc. Brad is an award-winning filmmaker who has produced several documentaries on varied topics such as American Indians and more recently the Serengeti in Africa. “A New Path for the Serengeti” was nominated for Best Documentary and Brad was nominated for Best Cinematographer at The African Film Festival. Brad has worked for thirteen years as UNW's Broadcast Studio Technician. In addition to maintaining the Remnant/WVOE-FM and UNW7 TV studios, Brad teaches students about broadcasting technology and prepares them for the world of audio and video production.

Evening Speakers


Rick Heeren

Rick Heeren is a leader in marketplace ministry and transformation. He is one of this generation's pioneers in the concept of bringing prayer and intercession into businesses. With 25 years of experience as a business executive, he is a popular speaker and teacher. He coaches leaders in marketplace transformation across the country and internationally. Heeren is the author of Marketplace Miracles, The Elk River Story and Thank God It's Monday. Rick and his wife, Rachel, live in Bloomington, Minnesota. They have 4 children and 4 grandchildren.

Representative Tim Miller

Tim Miller is a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. He was elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2016. He currently serves as the Vice Chair of Agriculture Finance Committee. Tim has publicly announced that he will be running for U.S. Congress in 2018 for Minnesota Congressional District 7. Tim is a graduate of the University of Iowa, a US Army Reserve Veteran, and an independent businessman. Tim and his wife Cherie live in Prinsburg, MN. They have a blended family of seven children and four grandchildren. They have dedicated their lives to public service. Their volunteer work includes Heartland Girls Ranch in Benson, Bethany Christian Services Adoption Agency, and multiple faith based crisis pregnancy centers. Representative Miller's legislative accomplishments include protection of Minnesota's farms, healthcare reforms, anti-human trafficking policy, and protection of girls in public bathrooms. Tim has been awarded multiple recognitions in his brief time in the legislature including the Family Champion Award from the Minnesota Family Council in 2015. Tim has been outspoken at the State Capitol about his faith. He is a member of a weekly prayer group and is a Chair of the Minnesota Congressional Prayer Caucus.


Dick Strassburg

Dick Strassburg is co-founder and partner of the TEGRA Group, a Minneapolis based real estate and project advisory firm. Recognized locally and nationally for his innovative and principled leadership, Dick has provided insightful guidance on a long list of high-profile projects throughout the country ranging from Target Field and Walker Art Center in Mpls to Polo Ralph Lauren’s corporate headquarters in New York City. He is currently leading the Target Center Renovation and the development of new Soccer Stadium for MN United in St. Paul. Prior to starting TEGRA 21 years ago, he worked in Colorado Springs, Los Angeles and N Dick Strassburg is co-founder and partner of the TEGRA Group, a Minneapolis based real estate and project advisory firm. Recognized locally and nationally for his innovative and principled leadership, Dick has provided insightful guidance on a long list of high-profile projects throughout the country ranging from Target Field and Walker Art Center in Mpls to Polo Ralph Lauren’s corporate headquarters in New York City. He is currently leading the Target Center Renovation and the development of new Soccer Stadium for MN United in St. Paul. Prior to starting TEGRA 21 years ago, he worked in Colorado Springs, Los Angeles and New York City. Dick was raised on a farm in South Dakota and received an Architecture degree from North Dakota State University. He and his wife along with his two teenage daughters live in Minnetonka.

Marci Malzahn

Marci Malzahn is the president and founder of Malzahn Strategic, a community bank consultancy focused on strategic planning, enterprise risk management, and talent management. Marci has 23 years of banking experience, the last ten as the EVP/CFO/COO of a community bank she helped start where she oversaw all the bank operations areas. In her last year as EVP/COO/CRO, Marci created and focused on the bank’s enterprise risk management program. She was also the corporate secretary of both the holding company and the bank. Before starting the bank in 2005, Marci took a detour from banking for five years and worked for a $34 million revenue non-profit organization where she led IT, HR and Finance. Marci is the recipient of a number of professional awards, is a published author of three books, and an international bilingual public speaker, speaking frequently at banking conferences and associations as well as leadership and women’s conferences. Marci holds a B.A. in business management from Bethel University and is a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wisconsin.

Coordinators & Staff

Matthew Steele – Emcee

Matt currently works at the Minnesota Senate as the Senior Aide to the Senate Majority Leader. In his role, Matt helps the Majority Leader advance his legislative priorities in and outside of the capitol. Prior to working in government he worked in data analysis in the private sector and with nonprofits to combat human trafficking. Matt holds a bachelors and masters degree from the University of Minnesota in political science and public policy respectfully. In his free time, Matt leads worship at his church, travels to Brazil, and spends time up on Minnesota's beautiful north shore.

Lauren Stuyvenberg – Broadcast Media Track Coordinator

Lauren Stuyvenberg is a recent graduate of the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, where she majored in communication studies and minored in public relations and Bible. When she isn't at SSI, Lauren spends most of her time searching for another job in the Minneapolis area after spending the last year in Colorado. She enjoys reading, going on long walks, yoga, and looking for a cat to complete her little family.



Mandy Heffron – Print Coordinator & Editor

Mandy Heffron is dedicated to her faith, values, and serving others. She graduated from Thomas Edison State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications at the age of 19. Her faith motivates her to be involved in many things and is the foundation for all she does. She has done a variety of volunteer work in her community. Mandy currently works as the Children's Ministry Assistant at her local church in Little Falls, MN. She is involved in politics on many different levels, including within the political party on the BPOU and Congressional level and campaigning for local candidates. Mandy has taught classes in church and with the local homeschool group. She loves rural Minnesota and desires to live there and to promote her hometown area. In her free time, Mandy enjoys reading, writing, crafting, spending time with her family (including her 17 nieces and nephews), and blogging at

John Tuma – Legislative Tracks Coordinator

John Tuma is a former MN state legislator and litigation attorney. Elected as a Republican in 1994, John was known for his independent thinking and ability to work across party lines. He carried the marquee legislation for several state agencies and organizations representing a wide variety of interests. John earned his JD from the University of Minnesota and BA, in political science, from the Mankato State University. In January 2015, John was appointed by the Governor to serve as a Minnesota Public Utilities Commissioner. John and his wife Wendy have two adult children.


Amanda Hage – SSI Administrative Assistant

Before becoming the administrative assistant, Amanda enjoyed three years volunteering for SSI, first as an Aide-de-Camp and then as the Print Media Coordinator.A published author of historical fiction, her interests vary widely, from music to medicine. When Amanda is not at the office or working on her latest novel, she can usually be found enjoying the out-of-doors with her five siblings.

Josiah Young – SSI Program Administrator

Josiah Young is the Program Administrator for MN Student Statesmanship Institute. Prior to coming to Minnesota Family Council, Josiah worked for Ascenden Consulting. He received his B.A. in literature and philosophy from Bethlehem College in Minneapolis. Having completed an A.S. Paralegal degree shortly out of high school, Josiah has a strong interest in law, with a special concern for religious liberty. He looks forward to beginning his studies at the University of Minnesota Law School in Fall 2017. When not studying or working, Josiah is quick to get outside to rollerblade around Lake Nokomis, play Ultimate Frisbee with friends, or go boating with his family.

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Tom Prichard – SSI Program Director

Tom Prichard is the Director of Citizenship & Policy at Minnesota Family Council where he has worked since 1990.  He has a BA from Augustana College (SD), JD from University of Iowa College of Law, and Master of Public Policy from University of Michigan.  He worked as a legislative assistant in Washington, DC for US Senator Roger Jepsen from Iowa from 1981 to 1982.  He has worked two sessions for the Republican Senate Caucus research staff 1989 and 1990.  While at MFC, he has been involved in lobbying, research, education, legal and media work.