The Illinois Conservatives are proud to announce an in-depth, three-day feature: ‘30 under 30,’ in which we will highlight 30 exciting conservatives under the age of 30. Illinois Conservatives’ Members nominated the young conservatives on this list, while President of the Illinois Conservatives Zach Oltmanns and Speaker of the Illinois Conservatives Joe Kaiser wrote the biographies on each member. The biographies were also created with the help of a questionnaire that every young conservative on the list answered. This ’30 under 30’ list will come out in three segments of 10 names. Thank you for taking time to read each biography. 

Melissa Denker- is a 19-year-old student living in the 14th Congressional District. Originally from Belgrade, Serbia, Melissa now lives in Harvard, IL where she was recently elected Precinct Committeeman Chairwoman of Dunham Township. She has been involved in several campaigns locally and nationally. Her future goals include getting more young people to care about voting and to educate them on the issues. She is also hoping to become a senator and show Washington what it means to follow the constitution.

Meghan Gray- is a 22-year-old senior at Columbia College in Chicago majoring in journalism and public relations. A native ofBeach Park in the 10th Congressional District, she just recentlyended her internship with the Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C. She is also a member of the Lake County Young Republicans and will be joining the Dold for Congress staff within weeks. In the future she hopes to work in the nonprofit sector and to start her own planning or consulting firm.

Demetri Broches- is a 25-year-old Legal Assistant from Sycamore in the 14th Congressional District, though in the past he has volunteered on campaigns in Virginia and Pennsylvania. Demetri was also a coordinator for Adam Andrejewski’s Gubernatorial Campaign and a coordinator for Don Manzullo for Congress. He currently serves as a Tea Party activist and a DeKalb County Republican Precinct Committeeman. His future goal is to recruit more members to the Tea Party and to reform the Illinois GOP into a legitimate, more conservative political party.

John Sweeney- is a 28-year-old Winnebago County Board Member, currently residing in Rockford in the 16th CongressionalDistrict with his wife and young son. At age 25, he was elected Republican Caucus Chairman on the Winnebago County Board, which has 20 of 28 board seats controlled by the GOP. He is unsure of what his future will hold for him inpolitics.

Collin Corbett-is a 26-year-old small business owner from Palatine, now in the 6th Congressional District. Collin is currently a precinct captain and the President of the Palatine Township Republican Organization. He was also the founder of the Lake County Young Republicans and has worked on several conservative campaigns throughout thestate. His future goal is to turn Illinois red, which has him committed to staying in Illinois until that mission is complete.

Shannon Coughlin-is a 27-year-old writer and producer for McDonalds Corporation from Darien, IL in the 13th Congressional District. Her current role in politics is being a freelance communications specialist. She also is a recruiter, volunteer, and supporter of the DuPageCounty Young Republicans. In the future Shannon hopes to execute new communication strategies for the Republican Party in Illinois. While she does not have a current desire to run for office, she wants to help craft the message for people that do. She hopes to continue to recruit knowledgeable and humble people to step up for the Republican Party that she hopes will instill the image of what a true conservative looks like.

Joshua Colson- is a 16-year-old student at Johnston City High School from Johnston City in the 12th Congressional District. He is the current Chairmen of the Southern Illinois Teenage Republicans. He is unsure if he will ever run for office but is determined to help the most conservative candidates get elected to office.

Rob Abraham-is a 29-year-old private technology consultant living in Lake of the Hills in the 16th Congressional District with his wife of two years. Rob was recently elected Precinct Committeeman of Algonquin Township 57. Rob is also a Navy veteran who joined the military on 9/11/01. He hopes to one day be a congressman in which he would serve on a defense committee and would like today’s politicians to never lose sight of their job, serve the people that elected them.

Patrick Kelly-is a 19-year-old student at Elmhurst College where he majors in Political Science and History with a minor in Urban Studies. His hometown is Palos Park in the 3rd Congressional District. In 2008, he volunteered for the McCain/Palin campaign while during the 2010 cycle he served as a co-campaign manager on a state representativecampaign. This year he hopes to help phone bank for the Republican presidential nominee in Indiana. His interests include foreign affairs, specifically Africa and the Middle Eas,t as well as journalism. In the near future he hopes to run for local office and, in the long term, a state seat.

Kyle McCollum-is a 25-year-old, first year law student at Southern Illinois University School of Law. Kyle currently lives in Frankfort in the 12th Congressional District. Recently, he served on a team that hosted an event for former Presidential candidate Rick Santorum in Herrin, IL and this upcoming summer he will serve as a Legislative Intern for Congressman Tim Johnson (R-13). After he returns from his internship he hopes to become very active in campaigns leading up to the November election. In the future he hopes to be involved in government affairs for a business or a non-profit company, while long term he would like to run for elected office.
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The Illinois Conservatives are proud to announce an in-depth, three-day feature: ‘30 under 30,’ in which we will highlight 30 exciting conservatives under the age of 30. Illinois Conservatives’ Members nominated the young conservatives on this list, while President of the Illinois Conservatives Zach Oltmanns and Speaker of the Illinois Conservatives Joe Kaiser wrote the biographies on each member. The biographies were also created with the help of a questionnaire that every young conservative on the list answered. This ’30 under 30’ list will come out in three segments of 10 names. Thank you for taking time to read each biography. 

Jason Plummer- is a 29 year old Republican nominee for congress in the 12th Congressional District and a former nominee for lt. governor in the 2010 election. Hailing from O’Fallon,  Jason is also the Vice President of Corporate Development for R.P. Lumber Company.  His future goal is to advance the conservative cause and help fellow Republicans return Illinois to prosperity and opportunity.

Christiaan Burner- is a 19-year-old sophomore, majoring in finance at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in the 13th Congressional District, where he isvice-president of the College Republicans. He is also currently a board member of the Jr. Tea Party in his hometown of Lemont. He maintains a Conservativepolitical blog, titled BurnerPolitics, which is constantly updated with thelatest election news and analysis and viewed by thousands of people each month nation-wide. This summer, he will have an internship at TechAmerica in downtown Chicago. TechAmerica is a trade association that represents the interests of over 1,000 of the leading technology corporations to local, state, and the federal government. His future goal is to run for Congress so that he can help bring common-sense Conservatism back to Washington.

Matthew C. Starr- is a 24-year-old Admissions Advisor at DeVry University in Naperville. Matt’s hometown in Plainfield, IL in the 13th congressional district but will be shifted to the 11th district once the next election takes place.Starr was elected in 2009 as Tax Collector for the Plainfield Township. He also serves as Secretary for the Plainfield Township Republican Organization. His future goals are to become a Plainfield Township Trustee and in the future be a U.S. Senator.

Charlie Vidal- is a 22-year-old senior studying Public Policy at the University of Chicago. Charlie is originally from Scarsdale, NY but currently lives in Hyde Park in the 1st Congressional district. He is currently the Illinois State Chair for the Young Americans for Liberty as well as the Executive Director of University of Chicago Students for a FreeSociety. A future goal for Charlie is to lead the fight in moving Illinois State employees from a defined-benefit pension system to a defined-contribution pension system.  Charlie is also a Campaign Strategist for Nick Schwaderer a Montana State House candidate and a contributor to Red Alert Politics blog.

Corey Walters-is a 19-year-old student at Saint Louis University where he studies Emergency Management. When not at school, Corey lives in the 15th Congressional district, hailing from Troy, IL. Corey first got involved in politics during Adam Andrzejewski’s gubernatorial campaign. Since then he has completed over 500 hours working for Dwight Kay in his successful bid to oust Democrat Jay Hoffman in the 112th State Representative race. Even more recently, Corey was the communications director for Herman Cain in Illinois, later joining the Santorum campaign and elected as a Santorum delegate in the Republican Nation Convention out of the 15th district. Corey’s future goals include, in the short term, being elected to a school board or city council and later on to be the Emergency Management Director at the state or national level.

Mike Vitt- is a 14-year-old freshman at Lemont High School, currently living in the 3rd Congressional District. He is the President and Founder of the Jr. Lemont Tea Party, which allows him to speak at various Tea Party events. Mike also spends time trying to educate his fellow students in the conservative cause. After high school he is hoping to go into mechanical engineering and r run for a position in a College Republican group once he is enrolled into college. As he gets older, he hopes to one day run for congress or senate. His goal is to restore America to its former glory.

Peter Kondelis- is an 18-year-old senior at New Trier High School and a resident of Northfield, part of the old 10th Congressional District but will now be part of the solidly blue new 9th Congressional District. He is currently working as an intern for Robert Dold’s reelection campaign, but has also previously spent two summers as a CapitolHill intern for an out of state congressional member, served in the role of US Senate Page and spent a week shadowing employees at the RNC. He also frequently posts political analysis on  In the fall, he will be attending Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania. In the future Peter hopes to intern for Congressman Pat Meehan, go to law school and one day run for congress in Pennsylvania or Illinois.

Tom Demmer- is a 25-year-old elected Lee County Board Member who recently won the Republican nomination for the 90th State Representative District. Tom lives in the old 14th Congressional District and will be shifted to the new 16th Congressional District during this upcoming election. He currently works at KSB Hospital in Dixon where he is the Director of Strategic Planning. His past roles include being an Area Director for Bill Brady’s Gubernatorial Campaign, as well as being Campaign Manager for State Senator Tim Bivins. His future goals are to be elected as the Representative from the 90th District and to promote active participation among people in democracy and government in all levels.

John Poshepny- is a 22-year-old senior at Eastern Illinois University, studying finance. John is originally from Downers Grove and the 13th Congressional District, though he will be shifted to the 11th Congressional District during the next election. John has done grassroots work on several campaigns. Currently his goal is to educate his friends on the issues, using both the internet and face to face interaction. His future goals include running for public office, possibly U.S Senate, which he believes his finance degree will help him with.

Whitney Zahnd- is a 29-year-old healthcare researcher from the 18th Congressional District. Whitney is the Illinois Coordinator for American Grizzlies United/Organize4Palin, a grassroots group that supports candidates that espouse the same principles as former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. Whitney is also the Administrative Coordinator for the CentralIllinois 9/12 Project and writes for and a few other pro Palin websites. Whitney hopes to continue her current role in the future of supporting conservative candidates who wish to clean up government, as well as to continue her writing.

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