Kassy Dillon: Happy 5th Birthday and Farewell, Lone Conservative

by

Sunday, May 16, 2021


Five years ago I packed up my car and moved to Washington D.C. for the summer. Just two weeks earlier, I captured a viral video of a leftist disruptor at an event hosted by the UMass Amherst College Republicans. Following the event, I was immediately elevated on social media and interrogated by my school, Mount Holyoke College, over my involvement with the Leadership Institute’s Campus Reform. 

With about 5,000 followers or so on my newly active Twitter account, I arrived in Washington D.C. and started the first day of my internship with a town car picking me up for my very first interview on Fox Business. A rising college junior at the time, I was new to the world of politics and desperate to get involved and fight back against the liberal monopoly on higher education. At my little women’s college located one town over from my hometown of Chicopee, Massachusetts, I was secluded and had not yet explored the world. Little did I know what was in store for me.

I look back at the very first Fox interview and cringe at my youth and inexperience, but admire the passion that was invigorated by my experience as a student on a hostile liberal campus where I was, in fact, the lone conservative. And despite many efforts to create a strong conservative club on my campus, I knew it would never happen. So, I began to think of ways that I could link up with other conservatives and pursue my newfound passion for media.

In May of 2016, I took the DC Metro home after work where I began to think through my future in the conservative movement. This led me to draft the framework for Lone Conservative, on a tiny notebook, in chicken scratch while trying to tolerate the stopping and going of the metro. Here it is:

The Lone Conservative, a college conservative blog. The mission: to expose and share stories about the liberal monopoly on higher education. About: an online blog that shares stories from conservative students who attend liberal colleges. We all have different backgrounds and beliefs but we’re united behind conservatism. That was the goal. And it was accomplished, along with so much more. 

Since 2016, we have published over 457 students from 48 states and 16 countries. We have had contributors go on to intern at the White House, work on campaigns, start their own organizations, and work for many publications such as The Hill, The National Review, The Washington Examiner, the Foundation for Economic Education, Fox News, The Daily Caller, and many others. 

Never did I expect this to happen. After I created that simplistic sketch, I teamed up with two friends and created a website, and then sought out contributors on social media. We were then a tight-knit group of 5-15 passionate conservatives commenting on the 2016 election and the situation on college campuses. Today, we are the largest student conservative commentary organization in the country with over 93 active contributors who not only write but focus on professional development and building a productive community. We have book clubs, bible studies, professional development meetings, and groups that focus on the stock market, philosophy, and even chess. We often host guest speakers for career coaching, internship networking, and even have a mentorship program. Our contributors connect through Lone Conservative and then meet up in person and become life-long friends. Some of them enter into relationships and some have even gotten married. We have teamed up with other conservative campus publications and created a magazine that we passed out at CPAC 2019. We even organized a trip to Israel in January of 2020 with students who had never been to the Holy Land. 

There are countless people to give credit for Lone Conservative’s growth, people who gave everything they had to balance school, jobs, and internships, all while writing and helping with management. These are just a few: 

My Vice President, Patrick Hauf: thank you for your loyalty and uplifting energy that can make anyone smile.

My Editor-in-Chief, Elizabeth Desimone: Thank you for the long nights and several years you put in to make sure articles were up and edited to a professional degree. Your kindness has inspired me and so many others.

Andrew Amarone: thank you for being the glue that holds this organization together through being involved with every aspect and ensuring that everything is running smoothly and that the community is strong.

Rob S: Thank you for helping Lone Conservative through all of its ups and downs and always making everyone laugh.

Patricia Patnode: Thank you for being my best friend and the Queen of Networking. You have made Lone Conservative known and partners with countless other organizations and people.

Joe Chalfant: Thank you for attending nearly every possible gathering LoCo contributors ever have and having the ambition to constantly push me to expand my vision for Lone Conservative at every step.

Danielle Edwards: Thank you for always being the one who is willing to speak your mind and set an example for the other Ladies of LoCo. It’s been such an honor to watch how you have grown into such a strong and capable woman.

Jeff Tomblin: Thank you for being the creative guy that you are and always willing to put in the work needed to help our look. Your talent has kept Lone Conservative neat, clean, and professional. 

Daniel Buck: Thank you for being one of the first people to join Lone Conservative and the rock that stuck through all of the ups and downs. It’s amazing to see how far you have come and how influential you already are and will be.

Taylor Hunt: Thank you for your sarcasm and willingness to tell it like it is while also being one of the kindest and friendliest people I know. Lone Conservative is lucky to have you.

Graham Chatoor: Thank you for befriending everyone who joins Lone Conservative and always checking in on everyone who needs their spirits brightened. You have made many people smile at Lone Conservative and we are all grateful for you.

Lexi L: Thank you for always putting others above yourself and working hard to give everyone the ability to have the opportunities that you have worked so hard to have. Your ambition and kindness are inspiring. 

Rose Laoutaris: Thank you so much for your uplifting energy and leadership. You have truly helped so many people feel welcome and part of the LoCo family.

Sebastian Thorman: Thank you so much for your ambition and willingness to understand American politics while in Germany. Your hard work has not only given us a beautiful website but has helped take LoCo to the next level.

Tanner Mann: Thank you so much for your hard work and the time you have put into this organization. Your attention to detail and leadership have helped so many people thrive already.

There are so many other people to thank and you know who you are. If I did not include you, just know that I am grateful for every ounce of effort you put into Lone Conservative and am indebted to you.

Today is Lone Conservative’s five-year anniversary, and also my last day as its President. I thank God, my friends, my contributors, and my supporters for making Lone Conservative what it is today and helping me through all of the ups and downs. I am overwhelmed by the number of lives this organization has impacted and humbled by the people who believed in my dream and spent months, and even years to help it grow. 

One of those people is someone who I have had my eyes on for years as a potential successor and who proved himself during our extensive search for a new president. I’ll let him announce himself tomorrow on his first day, but I have full confidence that Lone Conservative is in great hands under his leadership. The future of Lone Conservative is promising, and this individual’s vision for Lone Conservative will continue our mission and build a more permanent future in the conservative movement. I am sad to leave, but happy to know that Lone Conservative will continue its mission to develop leaders for the conservative movement.

I am grateful for all of the opportunities that Lone Conservative afforded me. Since its founding, this organization has taken me abroad to speak in Israel, the Netherlands, and Brazil. I have given several speeches at colleges, appeared on television and radio numerous times, met some of the most important leaders in our country today, and honestly can even give this organization credit for the job opportunities I have had so far in my career. 

When I think back to how far we have come, I can’t help but get choked up. As a girl from a broken home in Western Massachusetts who had to work hard and fight for everything I have in life, it is truly humbling to take note of how many people not only helped and mentored me but believed in me. Thank you.

For me, Lone Conservative has always been an organization by college students and for college students. Given my graduation from my master’s program just two days ago, I am no longer a college student. I have been planning the move for a while as my career has begun growing in a slightly different direction. I will always have a passion for combatting the lack of intellectual diversity issue on college campuses, but now I must step into the policy arena with my new position at Stand for America. I look forward to remaining involved with the organization in an advisory role as the new president takes the reins. 

While this is my last day as President, I will forever be the founder of Lone Conservative and help this organization grow and thrive. I thank you all for supporting us and affording me the chance to create an organization that made me, and many others, lone conservatives no longer.

Memory Lane: 

Kassy Dillon is a political commentator, media strategist, and the founder and former president of Lone Conservative. While attending a small women’s college in Western Massachusetts, she founded Lone Conservative, an online publication created to give a voice to conservative college students. She frequently makes media appearances and writes on topics involving the Middle East, free speech, and cultural issues on college campuses. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, the Daily Wire, the Washington Examiner, and Campus Reform.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Kassy Dillon

aamarone587@g.rwu.edu

Kassy Dillon is a political commentator, media strategist, and the founder and former president of Lone Conservative. While attending a small women’s college in Western Massachusetts, she founded Lone Conservative, an online publication created to give a voice to conservative college students. She frequently makes media appearances and writes on topics involving the Middle East, free speech, and cultural issues on college campuses. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, the Daily Wire, the Washington Examiner, and Campus Reform.

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