Board of Advisors
Van Taylor, 7th generation Texan, dedicated family man, successful businessman and decorated Marine Officer took the oath of office as State Representative for District 66 on April 20th, 2010 in Plano.
Born in Dallas, Representative Taylor earned his Eagle Scout at age 13, receiving it from George W. Bush. He graduated from Harvard College in 1995, where he started a republican club. After graduating from intelligence, infantry, sniper, and airborne schools, he led a Marine reconnaissance platoon. After four years of active duty, he joined the Marine Corps Reserves to continue serving his country while earning an MBA at Harvard Business School.
As a Marine Officer and paratrooper, Captain Taylor volunteered for duty as a platoon commander with the Marine Corps’ C Company, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, and deployed to Iraq where he fought with 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company. Van led the first platoon into Iraq for his brigade prior to the main invasion and led a mission that rescued 31 wounded Marines during the pitched Battle of An Nasiriyah. For his service in Iraq, the Marine Corps awarded Captain Taylor the Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, and the Navy Commendation Medal with “V” for valor.
A successful businessman, Representative Taylor works at Churchill Capital Company, a firm focused on real estate finance. He also serves on a community bank board and manages several small businesses. Through his years of business experience, Van knows first-hand that excessive taxation, abusive litigation, and burdensome regulation threaten small businesses, our primary source of Texas jobs.
Representative Taylor serves on the Calendars, Higher Education, and Culture, Tourism, & Recreation Committees. He is a member of Independent Conservative Republicans of Texas and the Texas Conservative Coalition.
Van and his wife, Anne, married after his return from Iraq and are the proud parents of Laura, 5, Helen, 4, and baby Susie born October of 2009. Van and his family reside in Plano near the land which his great-grandfather farmed during the Great Depression.
David C. Beckwith has near five decades experience in journalism, government and political consulting, much of it at the national level.
After three years as a police and city hall reporter for the Minneapolis Star and Houston Chronicle, David joined Time Magazine in 1971. Over the next 18 years, he won numerous awards while serving as national legal correspondent during Watergate, foreign correspondent based in Cairo, editor of the magazine’s Law section, national economics correspondent during the early Reagan years, and White House correspondent. In 1979, he was founding editor of the first successful U.S. legal periodical, Legal Times.
In 1988, David became press secretary and assistant to Vice President Dan Quayle, in the George H.W. Bush administration. In 1993, he was communications and policy director in Kay Bailey Hutchison’s first U.S. Senate race, and took on similar responsibilities in John Cornyn’s initial U.S. Senate campaign in 2002. From 1995 to 2001, he represented EDS and the National Cable Television Association in Washington. David also served on the Congressional staffs of both Texas U.S. Senators, and assisted Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst as his communications director.
He earned an A.B. in history from Carleton College, Minnesota, an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University, New York, and a J.D.from the University of Texas Law School. David and his wife of 32 years, Susan Blackwell of Queensland, Australia, now live in Austin, Tx. They have two grown daughters.
Alice Stewart is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and national political consultant and commentator who has appeared on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. She works as a political consultant for numerous conservative groups and was an advisor during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Stewart is currently communications advisor for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee to the Republican Party of Arkansas.
She served as National Press Secretary on Governor Mike Huckabee’s 2008 Presidential Campaign and worked as Press Secretary for then-Governor Mike Huckabee. She also worked as Communications Director for the Rick Scott for Governor campaign and Campaign Manager for the Gilbert Baker for U.S. Senate campaign.
Prior to entering the world of politics, Stewart worked as a television news anchor and reporter in Little Rock, Arkansas and Savannah, Georgia. She began her journalism career as an associate producer and field producer in Atlanta, Georgia.
Stewart is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and Graduate of the University of Georgia School of Journalism.
Mr. Mermel was born at the U.S. Naval Hospital at Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan in 1962. His father was a commissioned officer and physician in the US Navy, and his mother, a nurse at the time, was stationed on deployment with his father. Within a few years, his parents returned to the States and raised him and his sister in Virginia.
In college, Mr. Mermel was an intern at the Veterans Affairs Committee of the US Senate. He was also a White House intern for then Vice President George HW Bush.
In 1984, after graduating from college, Mr. Mermel moved to New York City where he was employed by The Bank Of New York as a commercial lender, and then later by Morgan Stanley where he was head of its Corporate Real Estate Advisory Group.
In 1994 he started a company to advise businesses on office/industrial relocations. In this capacity he has advised companies in relocating over 200,000 jobs into and within New York State over his 25 year career.
His clients have included: Smith Barney; General Electric; The 1st and 2nd largest French banks, Banque Nationale de Paris, and Societe Generale; Uniroyal Chemical Company; WOR Radio; Marvel Comics; Accenture; Morgan Stanley; Germany’s then 2nd largest bank, Dresdner Bank; Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette; Primerica; The Bank of New York; Kleinwort Benson; Cornell University; Shearson/Lehman; Israel’s largest bank, Bank Hapoalim; Stern Stewart; AT&T; The Government of Puerto Rico; Springs Industries; Colony Capital; Dolce and Gabbana; Lexington Partners; Wachovia Bank; and many others.
He and his Firm also acted as the exclusive real estate advisor in 2001 and 2002 to Governor George Pataki and Chairman Charles Gargano in the resettlement and redevelopment of Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11. In 1997, he started another company to purchase office buildings in New York State. He has owned Manhattan Office buildings including: 48 Wall Street, 660 Madison Avenue aka The Barneys Building, and 104 West 40th Street. Mr. Mermel serves as a Trustee of Christ Church United Methodist in Manhattan. He also serves as a Trustee of the New York Annual Methodist Conference, the highest board responsible for all Methodist Churches in New York State and Connecticut. He is a member of the Board of Visitors of the History Department at Columbia University. He is a past Governor of the Real Estate Board of New York, the youngest Governor ever named.
In 2008, Mr. Mermel was the New York State Chair for Mike Huckabee for President. In that role he coordinated over 3000 volunteers across NY State. After the primary, he became NY State Grassroots Chair for John McCain. In 2009, he served on the New York GOP’s reform committee known as the Eristoff Commission. He is currently building STAND UP RED ,which will be the New York State conservative alternative to the Democratic fundraising online vehicle known as ACT BLUE.
He was educated at St. Albans, The National Episcopal Cathedral School for Boys. He received a BA from The University Of Vermont. He received an MA from Columbia University in American History. He attends Yale Divinity School where he is pursuing a Master of Arts in Religion. Mr. Mermel is married and has two children, one teenager and one toddler.
Steve Danziger, Senior Manager of Performance Excellence for BAE Systems in Manassas, responsible for improving the overall quality and efficiency for the site’s ($100M /yr in business) products and technology and the former Director of Operations for Micron Technology in Manassas.
Steve has a BS in Physics from Queens College, City University of New York and a MS in Physics from Pennsylvania State University. Steve is a Trustee of the Prince William Hospital Board), the Fairfax County Water Authority Board of Directors, Didlake Executive Board, and the Prince William Chamber of Commerce Public Policy. He was elected Prince William Soil and Water Conservation Board Director in 2001 (with 20,000 votes) and is Chairman currently. He has been a local campaign manager and Republican party Unit Chairman. He was a former member of Prince William Service Authority Board, the Prince William Park Authority, member of United Way of American’s Public Policy Board, President of United Way of Virginia, Chairman of Prince William United Way Executive Board.
Steve holds over thirty patents and co-authored publications on technical and management topics. He enjoys swimming, tennis, reading and travel.
Luke Baker joined the Harris Media team in January 2009. Prior to joining Harris Media, Luke served as liaison to Governor Mike Huckabee’s ‘Team 100’ Presidential Fundraising Team. He also staffed and coordinated nationwide fundraising efforts for Governor Huckabee. In 2009, Luke managed day-to-day website and email operations for Bob McDonnell’s gubernatorial campaign, and ran the online operations for TexasInsider.org, managing web content, a 50,000+ email list, and social media strategies. In 2010, Luke oversaw online strategy and served as account executive for national 501c3 and 501c4 groups, and gubernatorial campaigns in New York, Nevada, and Vermont.
Luke is now doing missionary work in Peru where he continues to remain in close contact with Harris Media.