Conferences & Seminars

2021 YAF and FEE Escaping Communism Seminar

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Event Overview

Escaping Communism Seminar
Stories and Lessons from Survivors
Santa Barbara, California • December 3-4, 2021

“Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a chosen few,
but the universal right of all God’s children.”
– President Ronald Reagan

This seminar will be streamed live. Please visit YAF's channel.

This two-day program will give high school students insights into the destructive history of communist governments and the contrasting harmony of free enterprise.

Today, young people are taught that socialism and communism are humanistic, compassionate forms of societal organization, and that free markets are oppressive and cause mass suffering and poverty. However, the lived experience of communist government survivors demonstrates otherwise.

Throughout this program, students will hear from some of the brightest minds and survivors from communist countries, be inspired by their stories and insights, and meet like-minded peers from across the country.

• Learn from top leaders about how to champion your principles at your school & beyond!
• Meet and network with like-minded students and participate in discussion with fellow students
• Receive valuable resource materials
• Improve your critical thinking and debate skills
• Become a young leader and advocate for free markets and individual liberty!

This educational program will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, December 3rd and will conclude on Saturday, December 4th at 4:00 p.m.

THE TUITION FEE: The conference fee of $30 includes one night in a hotel, conference materials, transportation during the program, and meals from Friday dinner through Saturday lunch.

TRAVEL ASSISTANCE: Travel assistance may be available on a case-by-case basis for those with demonstrable financial need. Please email a brief essay (no more than a page) to that includes:

  • Language regarding your financial need
  • What you hope to gain by attending the conference
  • Your travel plans
  • The expected amount of your travel plans and the amount you are requesting. (For example, expected travel costs from ORD to SBA $500. I am requesting $200 in assistance.)
  • The subject line should read, “Escaping Communism Seminar – Travel Assistance Request”

Please register for this program before submitting your travel assistance essay, and we will not consider your request until we receive this completed essay. Please note that travel assistance is not guaranteed and is allocated on a case-by-case basis. Incomplete essays will not be considered.

TUITION ASSISTANCE: Tuition assistance may be available on a case-by-case basis for those with demonstrable financial need. If you have financial need, please email a brief essay (no more than a page) to Conference Director Madison Habersetzer at with some language regarding your financial need. We cannot consider your request until we receive this essay.

THE DETAILS: Click here for all the details.


George Harbison

Lecturer: The Victims of Socialism

George P. Harbison is a retired Chief Financial Officer. In his role as a financial executive, Mr. Harbison attained a deep understanding of federal and state tax matters. He utilized this knowledge to analyze, dissect, and refute popularly held but fallacious tax assertions. In 2013, Mr. Harbison wrote a piece for in which completely…

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Phillip W. Magness

Senior Research Faculty and Interim Research and Education Director at the American Institute for Economic Research

Phillip W. Magness is Senior Research Faculty and Interim Research and Education Director at the American Institute for Economic Research. He holds a PhD and MPP from George Mason University’s School of Public Policy, and a BA from the University of St. Thomas (Houston). Prior to joining AIER, Dr. Magness spent over a decade teaching…

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Michael J. Clark

Associate Professor of Economics, Wallace and Marion Reemelin Chair in Free Market Economics at Hillsdale College

Michael Clark received his Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University in 2011. He is currently an assistant professor at Hillsdale College where his hard work and high teaching evaluations garnered him the Wallace and Marion Reemelin chair in free market economics. Previously, he taught as a visiting professor for the MBA program at the University…

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Saren Ath

Retired children's social worker, proud mother and grandmother

Saren Ath endured the atrocities of the communist Khmer Rouge Regime from 1975-1979 losing her father and her two younger sisters to the infamous Killing Fields. From 1979-1981, she lived in a refugee camp in Thailand until she came to the United States in September of 1981. As a 17 year old immigrant, Saren came…

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Marina Davidovich

Freedom Activist, Elite Rhythmic Gymnastics Coach

Marina and her husband, Felix, young daughter Mariana, and mother-in-law Ida, left the USSR in the summer of 1975. She had to leave her family and friends behind not knowing if she would ever see them again. It was truly a "leap of faith." After spending about two weeks in Vienna, Austria, and then six…

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Pete Peterson

Dean of the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University

Pete Peterson is a leading national speaker and writer on issues related to civic participation, and the use of technology to make government more responsive and transparent. He was the first executive director of the bi-partisan organization, Common Sense California, which in 2010 joined with the Davenport Institute at the School of Public Policy to…

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