Atlas Network's training program, the Atlas Leadership Academy, is proud of its network of 67 graduates working to advance freedom with our partner organizations throughout the world. To highlight their work, we’ve chosen to cast the spotlight on one alum each month, in hopes that their stories and experiences will inspire upcoming leaders in the freedom movement.
This year’s eighth annual International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C., is expected to be bigger and better than ever before, bringing in more than 1,000 attendees from across the globe. The conference features notable speakers including Dr. Ron Paul, Judge Andrew Napolitano, and former President of Mexico Vicente Fox; presentations by Tom G. Palmer and Daniel Anthony of Atlas Network; an Atlas Network sound money panel with free-market economists Lawrence White and George Selgin; and many other notable speakers and participants.
Clark Ruper is vice president of Students for Liberty International, which supports pro-liberty students and student groups across the world. Founded in 2008 with a 100-person conference in New York City, the SFL network now includes more than 1,300 student groups with operations on every continent. Ruper, as the first full staff member of SFL, strengthened his leadership and strategic planning skills by participating in Think Tank Leadership Training (2009) and Think Tank MBA (2010), in addition to other ALA programs. Continue reading to learn more about Ruper’s story and his tips to be successful in the freedom movement.
Tell us a little bit about your organization and career history. What inspired you to work for a free-market group, and what success have you had so far?
Students for Liberty is a network of pro-liberty students from all over the world. Our primary activities are education, networking, and especially leadership training. We identify top student leaders of liberty and give them the training, tools, and support to be agents of change in their schools, communities, and beyond.
I was the first employee when the organization was getting started in 2009. What was at that point a handful of students in the United States has grown into an international organization with over 1,300 student groups running student conferences on every inhabited continent. I am now the vice president and chief operating officer, responsible for building organizational strategy, fundraising, managing the staff, and expansions into new areas.
How did you learn about the Atlas Leadership Academy, and what inspired you to participate?
I learned about the Atlas Leadership Academy due to SFL's close relationship with Atlas Network. Atlas Network has been a major supporter of SFL from the very beginning and we would not be where we are without that support. I wanted to participate in Think Tank MBA back in 2010 because I was new to non-profit management but wanted to learn everything I could.
What were the biggest takeaways that you received from the training?
The biggest takeaways [were learning to] think long-term and be strategic. I tend to get caught up in the details, of which there are many and are very important, but in order to grow and prosper you need to build a strategic plan to do so. That requires pulling your head up out of the weeds and looking ahead.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to work in the liberty movement?
Advice to someone new in the liberty movement? Phew, that would be a lot. The biggest things are to get a job, put your head down and do hard work. Work so hard and so much that everyone around you feels bad for not doing so themselves. And spend your spare time building your network. Personal connections are everything in terms of organization relationships, fundraising, and your own future (and fun!).