Since Associate Vice President and Dean of Educational Programs Matthew Spalding came to the Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Statesmanship five years ago, Hillsdale’s campus in Washington, D.C. has almost doubled in size. In order to keep up, Kirby staff members are taking on new roles and welcoming more members to the team.
To stay on track with expansions and larger projects down the pike — including the addition of a graduate school program to the Kirby Center — the staff is adapting and growing to ensure the day-to-day tasks at Kirby are in line with the expansions. In addition to the newly-hired Executive Director of Outreach Chris Malagisi, Ashlea Frazier is now the director of operations and Matthew Mehan is the director of academic programs and Worsham Teaching Fellow.
After graduating from Liberty University in 2010 with her bachelor’s degree in political science, Spalding hired her as his personal assistant at the Heritage Foundation. While there, Frazier also served as the program manager for American Studies. She joined the Hillsdale staff in Washington, D.C., with Spalding about five years ago. When she came to the Kirby Center, her title changed to special assistant, and she was tasked with organizing the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program as well as working on budgets for the Kirby Centers’ programs and events.
In 2017, Frazier was one of four people to win the William F. Buckley Jr. Award.
Since coming to Kirby, Frazier has hired a few new Kirby staff members. During the hiring process, she said she looks for people whose strengths are compatible with hers and others on staff.
“My dad told me to hire people who are smarter and whose strengths are my weaknesses,” Frazier said. “These people fill various components of the team.”
As director of operations, Frazier oversees day-to-day projects with a new focus: thinking strategically about the systems currently in place and thinking of how to grow Hillsdale’s campus in Washington, D.C. She also manages the Kirby Center staff.
“My role is to see the train is continuously moving and on the right track,” Frazier said. “We want to also be looking at the future, and we are continuously moving forward.”
Before starting at the Kirby Center in February, Malagisi was the editor-in-chief of the Conservative Book Club. He spent time working at the American Conservative Union, where he was the Conservative Political Action Committee Director and the Director of Media and External Relations. He also worked for the Leadership Institute and, along with Frazier, is one of the winners of the William F. Buckley Award in 2017.
Malagisi has spent most of his professional career in external relations and outreach in the United States; however, during his time with the International Republican Initiative, Malagisi worked on long-term development initiatives for the Middle East and Northern Africa Initiative. In the early 2000s, Malagisi helped facilitate Afghanistan’s first democratic election since the Taliban took over in the late 1990s. Malagisi helped educate Afghani citizens how to organize politically in a functioning democratic system.
“I’m very blessed and have had a lot of great experiences. Being able to work and do stuff that I love means I’ve never really had a day of work in my life,” Malagisi said.
Though his career has been mostly fast-paced — he has also worked on five presidential campaigns and traveled to more than 40 different countries — Malagisi said his focus has shifted since he and his wife had their first child.
“Right now, I’m just enjoying life as a father,” Malagisi said. “I really want to spend time with my son and see the world through his eyes. Life is slowing down a bit.”
Matthew Mehan has taught at Hillsdale’s Kirby Center for five years and began his new role as director of academic programs and Worsham Teaching Fellow in January. He teaches Continental Literature for students on WHIP.
After graduating as valedictorian of his class at the University of Dallas, where he studied alongside other Hillsdale professors like John Grant, Thomas West, and Ronald Pestritto, Mehan began teaching at The Heights School, an all-boys preparatory school in Maryland.
After returning to school to earn his master’s degree in English and Ph.D. in literature, Mehan came back to D.C. and began teaching the Arts of Liberty Seminars, lectures on the liberal arts. Spalding heard of these and hired Mehan as an adjunct professor.
“We know that education has powerful political and social implications,” Mehan said. “Working at Hillsdale is a match made in heaven.”
Mehan is currently working on curriculum for the Kirby Centers’ Graduate School.
With both new and experienced staff members, the Kirby Center is undoubtedly moving forward, and at an unprecedented pace.
“When you’re working with an organization that your values align with, you just feel like you’re doing something, like you’re moving the ball down the line,” Malagisi said.