State Policy Network

SPN Fellows

Named SPN Fellowships

Lee Family Fellow

In 2021, Richard Lee made a special investment toward a unique fellowship focused on communicating federalism (empowering states, rather than the federal government, to make decisions) to the public. Richard created the Lee Family Fellowship, sponsoring the work of SPN’s senior messaging strategist Erin Norman. Read more >>

Erin Norman, Senior Messaging Strategist

Erin Norman, Lee Family Fellow and Senior Messaging Strategist
Erin leads collaborative, strategic messaging development to persuade more people to choose free-market based reforms. Prior to joining SPN, Erin was a Senior Solutions Consultant with Heart+Mind Strategies, building strategic communications plans and targeted audiences from survey and secondary research.  She also has experience in campaign polling at the local, state and federal level and in voter and consumer micro-targeting using predictive analytics.

Velinda Jonson Family Education Fellow

The Velinda Jonson Family Education Fellow at State Policy Network is named after a long-time friend of SPN who passed away in 2021. Velinda Jonson cared deeply for people, her community, and our country. She loved her family, and as a military spouse, she cared for them through six relocations and was instrumental in helping her son adjust to and thrive within changing K-12 educational environments in five different locales. Read more >>

Kerry McDonald, Education Policy Fellow

Kerry McDonald, Velinda Jonson Family Education Fellow
Kerry works to spotlight and support education entrepreneurs who are building innovative K-12 learning models and expanding education options for families. In addition to her role as the Velinda Jonson Family Education Fellow at SPN, she is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education and host of the weekly LiberatED Podcast. Kerry is the author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom (Chicago Review Press, 2019). She is also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and a regular Forbes contributor.

John William Pope Foundation Future of Freedom Fellow

Ray Nothstine, Future of Freedom Fellow
Ray Nothstine is a Future of Freedom Fellow and senior editor and writer for State Policy Network, where he primarily helps to shepherd the American Habits publication. He previously worked as opinion editor at Carolina Journal and as a Second Amendment research fellow at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina. His writings have appeared in popular national and state media outlets, including numerous state policy groups in the Southeast and Midwest. He has extensive media and lecture experience on public policy and cultural topics, including addressing seminary and law school faculty on religious liberty.

SPN Visiting Fellows

State Policy Network works with a cadre of fellows and advisors who support our efforts in helping the Network achieve lasting change in the states. 

Josh Archambault, Visiting Healthcare Policy Fellow
In his role, Josh serves SPN member organizations working to advance healthcare policy solutions in the states by overseeing SPN’s Healthcare Policy Working Group. His work experience has ranged from work as a Senior Legislative Aide to a governor, Legislative Director for a state senator, to years working for think tanks operating in complex and highly political waters in thirty-five states, and in Washington, DC.
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Katherine Bathgate, Senior Advisor for Education Strategy
Katherine advises state think tanks across the country on their education policy and advocacy work. She is also the CEO and Founder of SchoolForward, a communications and advocacy firm focused on education reform. SchoolForward has fought in capitols and courthouses for education freedom. Their work includes victories such as helping pass Kentucky’s first charter school bill, Missouri’s tax credit education savings account, contributing to the defeat of more than 40 anti-charter school bills in Texas, and helping thousands of teachers across the country make informed decisions about union membership. 
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Amy O. Cooke, Visiting Energy Policy Fellow
Amy is SPN’s visiting Energy Policy Fellow and oversees the Energy Policy Working Group. For two decades Amy has been a champion of free markets and limited, constitutional government. She is proud to be one of the original state-level, free-market energy policy advocates.
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Debi Ghate, Visiting Executive Fellow
Debi Ghate is SPN’s Executive Fellow as well as President of Steadfast. She is also currently Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at The Center for the Rights of Abused Children and Executive Fellow with the Institute of Citizens & Scholars, and Initiative Director for the George Mason University’s “Voices for Liberty: Free Speech, Civil Rights & Social Progress” program.
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Christie Herrera, Visiting Government Affairs Leadership Fellow
Christie Herrera is president and CEO of Philanthropy Roundtable which she joined in 2019. She most recently oversaw the organization’s philanthropic programs, policy and government affairs and marketing and communications teams, working with them to build and sustain a vibrant American philanthropic movement that strengthens our free society. She was also a member of the Roundtable’s executive team and appointed as interim president and CEO in June 2023.
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Joe Lehman, Visiting Senior Fellow for Leadership Development
Joe is president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which led Michigan’s transition to a right-to-work state and delivered the strongest legal rebuke to any governor’s Covid lockdown policies. He helped build the Mackinac Center from a sub-$1 million enterprise in 1995 to more than $13 million in 2022. SPN has recognized Joe with its Roe Award for “leadership, innovation, and accomplishments in public policy.” He has trained more than 600 think tank executives in leadership, strategy, communications, and fundraising.
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Naomi Lopez, Visiting Healthcare Policy Fellow
Naomi brings over 30 years of experience and is a nationally recognized healthcare policy expert. Her expertise includes developing innovative policy ideas, crafting legislation and associated legislative strategies, and coordinating stakeholder groups, particularly patient organizations, to influence legislative changes at both federal and state levels.
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Michael Lucci, Visiting Economic Policy Fellow
Michael is a visiting economic policy fellow for the State Policy Network. Michael’s policy expertise helps educate state-based think tanks, issue advocacy organizations, and policymakers on economic and tax reforms that will benefit American families, small businesses, and communities and improve state governments long-term financial health. He previously served as the deputy chief for policy to Illinois governor Bruce Rauner and vice president of State Projects for the Tax Foundation.
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Justin Owen, Visiting Senior Fellow for Leadership Development
In his role, Justin coaches Network leaders in their efforts to make their states a bastion of freedom and free enterprise. Justin is the president & CEO of the Beacon Center of Tennessee and its 501(c)(4) advocacy partner, Beacon Impact. Justin recently led the successful effort to enshrine right-to-work in the Tennessee Constitution. Under his leadership, Beacon has also brought about Tennessee’s first-ever private school choice program, secured numerous free market healthcare reforms, and repealed Tennessee’s Hall Income Tax and death tax, saving taxpayers nearly $4 billion to date.
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