7th Annual Policy Circle Leadership Summit

Join us November 15-17th for the 7th Annual Leadership Summit in Tampa, Florida, for two days of interactive programs with national experts, policymakers, and local change-makers. Secure your spot at the Summit before tickets sell out!

Meet the CLER Summer Cohort

By The Policy Circle Team

The Civic Leadership Engagement Roadmap (CLER) is a proprietary, experiential leadership program that takes women from having general civic knowledge to becoming civic leaders.

We work with emerging women leaders to grow their impact through civic engagement. This innovative, action-oriented curriculum was designed to educate, prepare and build the next generation of public leaders. The curriculum facilitates an understanding of the American founding and the principles that live on today and features one-on-one coaching, mastermind peer groups, networking opportunities and specific activities designed to build local connections with policy leaders and decision-makers.

Meet some of the women who are in our Summer CLER cohort:

ZeNai Brooks

ZeNai Brooks is a CPA and dynamic business and community millennial leader with over 13 years of accounting and business experience. ZeNai’s passion and strengths are married within her current role as the Controller, Corporate Responsibility and Foundation for Cummins, a manufacturer of diesel and natural gas engines committed to a culture of caring and volunteerism, while collaborating with external partners to craft public policies and community programs. The Foundation also provides grants around the world to nonprofit partners to support communities in which employees live and work. Previously, ZeNai spent time as an auditor within Big 4, Top 10 and local accounting firms, focusing on the not-for-profit industry.

ZeNai is also a dedicated community leader, serving as Regional President and National Director for the National Association of Black Accountants, where she successfully relaunched NABA’s CPA Bound Program in 2020, a community geared towards supporting working professionals and students as they obtain their CPA license. 

Janet Burt

As the Director of Programs and Operations, Janet oversees research, development, delivery and success of content and programs offered by The Policy Circle.  She is responsible for continued membership retention, engagement, and delivering a superior member experience.  Janet also oversees the operations of the organization, including team accountability, finances, outcomes, and compliance. Janet has over thirty years of leadership and operational experience in growing the success of private and non profit companies with organizations like Fidelity Investments, the American Heart Association and Catholic Charities, in addition to her senior role as Chief Operating Officer of Westlake Financial Group, Inc.  Janet graduated from the University of Illinois with a liberal arts degree.   She lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her two of her four children, and enjoys travel, decorating, being a grandmother, and investing.

Jillian Kinder

Jillian Kinder is a recent graduate of West Virginia University with a bachelor’s of science in Industrial and Management Systems Engineering. She was born and raised in West Virginia but now calls Washington D.C. home. As a student, she was passionate about empowering fellow engineers to get involved in politics and volunteering in STEM outreach events. She has experience in both the policy and political spheres and believes that local politics are the most important level. She previously worked as a district caseworker for a U.S. Representative and interned at multiple federal and state-level transportation organizations. She is currently a traffic engineer at a transportation consulting firm in Northern Virginia. In her spare time, Jillian likes to go outside and take photos, explore new restaurants and bars with friends, and airplane spot at Reagan National.

Jordan Orris

Jordan Orris holds a M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications and is especially interested in combining her passions of brand strategy and politics. She now works in direct response fundraising for some of the nation’s most revered candidates, non-profits, and political institutions. In her spare time, Jordan enjoys cycling on Peloton, reading, or Bird scootering around the DC monuments.

McKenzie Holmes

McKenzie Holmes is a native Texan with a passion for integrity in government, European affairs, linguistics, and the creative arts. She graduated summa cum laude from Galveston College with her Associate’s in Political Science before traveling to Germany to study with the University of the Nations, graduating from her training school in March 2020. Since then, she completed the Congressional Fellowship with Running Start and interned in the Communications Department of Independent Women’s Forum before accepting a full-time position with IWF as a Communications Assistant this year. She is also an Academy Fellow with the Heritage Foundation. In her free time, McKenzie enjoys music, learning German, songwriting, swing dance, experimental baking, and is an aspiring author. She hopes to continue her education in public administration or foreign policy, and learn ballroom.

Melinda Oaks

Melinda has worked in the consumer products industry at top brands including Hallmark and LEGO Company as well as the entertainment industry under Madison Square Garden. Currently, she is the executive director at a private family foundation where she’s worked since the start of 2015. During that time, she’s fine-tuned her abilities in business planning, endowment management and people development. Leading up to today, Melinda’s more than 20 years of cross-functional career experience in sales, public relations, marketing, licensing, and general management have paved a path for continuous career and personal growth as well as a desire for civic engagement. 

Within her community, Melinda serves on multiple local, regional and national boards and committees. She is also an adoring wife and mother to two elementary-aged children as well as a terrible but willing and joyful pee wee baseball coach. Her wants in life include a never-ending supply of fun facts for every conversation, non-fruity IPA’s and a she shed. Otherwise, her heart and buckets are full.  

Rachel Horton

Rachel Horton is a functional health and wellness coach based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She previously worked as a researcher for American Philanthropic, and has participated in AEI’s Summer Honors Program and America’s Future Writing Fellows program. Rachel is a member of the Milwaukee Policy Circle and enjoys sailing in her free time. She graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Economics.

Sheila Weinberg

Sheila A. Weinberg, CPA, is the founder and CEO of Truth in Accounting, whose mission is to compel governments to produce financial reports that are understandable, reliable, transparent and correct. Since 2002 Ms. Weinberg has led Truth in Accounting’s research initiatives, which include “The Truth about Balanced Budgets: a Fifty State Study,” the “Financial State of the States,” and the “Financial State of the Union.” Because of her expertise in governmental budgeting and accounting, Ms. Weinberg has testified before the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB), the Government Accounting Standards Board, and numerous state legislative hearings on matters of proper government accounting. 

Sydney Arends

Sydney Arends is a Midwest girl, born and raised. She attended North Dakota State University, studying Strategic Communications and Chemistry. During her time at NDSU, she fell in love with leadership and, in turn, politics and government. Sydney was involved in numerous student organizations, which taught her the importance of patience, humility, and servant leadership. She firmly believes she would never have had the courage to get involved in the public sphere if it weren’t for her access to opportunity in college and throughout her childhood in the Midwest.

Sydney is passionate about using her voice and talents to instigate positive change in the public sphere, and her favorite work is in digital and media communications. Previously, Sydney has worked as a Regional Coordinator for a national grassroots non-profit and an assistant in the North Dakota House of Representatives. Currently, she works as a Marketing Specialist for an association in Bismarck, North Dakota, creating digital content and doing event promotion. In her free time, Sydney likes to explore the outdoors, play board games with friends, try out new restaurants, and discover new hobbies.

Wendy Faust

Wendy Faust serves in executive leadership for the fundraising and advancement team at Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana. Originally from California, Wendy is a 1997 graduate of Sonoma State University with a degree in communication studies. She spent several years in nonprofit and corporate communications before discovering her passion for education where she spent 13 years working with private, K-12 schools in southern California in administration, fundraising, leadership development, and marketing. Prior to starting at Marian in 2018, she led her sorority’s international headquarters staff based in Indianapolis. Wendy’s family includes her husband Wes, an educator and coach, and together they have two daughters, Whitney (9) and Wynter (7). The Fausts enjoy being outdoors—especially if it involves the beach, a pool, or a lake—and are surviving life with three dogs, including two puppies born in early 2021. Wendy loves to travel, is a big fan of Orangetheory Fitness, and has a goal to visit all 50 states by the time she’s 50. As a volunteer, Wendy is involved in event planning and fundraising for several organizations working to cure cancer. She serves on the board of CASE Indiana, is a mentor through the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and is a member of the Downtown Indianapolis Policy Circle. She earned designation as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) in September 2020.

Bukekile Dube

Born in Harare, Zimbabwe, Bukekile Dube moved to Dallas 21 years ago as a teenager. After a 10-year career in finance both in the banking and oil and gas industries and working on four continents, she enrolled at Columbia University, where she earned a Master of International Affairs degree focusing on economic and political development. This was a decision made in an attempt to reconcile her own success in the corporate world with what appeared to be limited opportunities in the roles of women and people of color in her community. She is the founder of the DFW Pan African Network, a member of RESULTS International, and sits on the boards of Impact City Dallas and Miles of Freedom. Along with her mother and sister, Buke is the co-owner of a company, New Horizon Homes a senior assisted living in Dallas. When she’s not working or volunteering, Buke enjoys traveling and collecting contemporary African art as well as reading fiction by women of color.

Amy Jo Clark

As a communications professional with over 20 years of experience, Amy Jo Clark’s background is diverse and spans several genres – including political, government, technical, medical, and broadcasting. She co-created and manages a successful media company, COTR LLC, since 2009, co-hosted a daily radio show, runs a podcast, and was an Adjunct Professor of Communications in Indianapolis for seven years. 

Amy Jo holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Georgia State University and a Master of Science in Communications from Southern Polytechnic State University.  When she’s not pursuing her passions of politics and communications, she is spending time with her husband and three children or tending to critters on her family ranch in Texas.

Silvia Miyares

Silvia Miyares, is a Cuban American from Rockford Illinois. She from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in Public Relations and worked for a PR firm before switching her career into account management and sales. Currently, she’s a top salesperson for a New York City manufacturer that offers luxury home electric products. Since this past election, her interest in politics and civics has increased drastically, leading her to The Policy Circle. She’s currently a member of the Vernon Hills Policy Circle.

Learn more about CLER or apply for our next cohort

The Policy Circle is a 501(c)(3), nonpartisan organization that provides pathways for women to become courageous, knowledgeable and active citizens who identify and take ownership of local solutions to the issues facing their communities.  Please consider supporting our mission and developing your own leadership skills by becoming a financial supporter

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