Party Leadership

Ron Weiser, Chairman

Ron Weiser was elected Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party on February 11, 2017. He also served as Chairman from February, 2009 through January, 2011.

Chairman Weiser has chaired numerous political and judicial campaigns including four Michigan Supreme Court races and was Chairman of Team Michigan from 1997-2000. He served as the Michigan Finance Chair of Bush for President in 1999 and 2000 and as a member of the National Executive Committee of Victory 2000. He served as Ambassador to Slovakia under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He served during 2005-06 as the Michigan Republican State Finance Chair and was a National Co-Chair for Senator John McCain in 2007-2008.

In February 2011, he was appointed as Co-Chair of the RNC’s National Finance Transition Committee. From April 2011 to February 2013, he served as the RNC’s National Finance Chair.

Chairman Weiser was one of the primary architects of the "Right-to-work law" legislation enacted by the Michigan legislature in December 2012.

Chairman Weiser was selected in 2016 to lead the Republican National Committee's fundraising efforts for President Donald Trump.

Chairman Weiser was born in South Bend, Indiana on July 7, 1945 and graduated with honors in 1966 from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He also did post-graduate work at the University’s Business and Law Schools.

In 1968, Chairman Weiser founded McKinley Associates Inc., a national real estate investment company and served as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until 2001, and again upon his return from Slovakia to the present. He married his wife Eileen in 1983 and they current live in Ann Arbor with their son, Daniel. The Weisers also have two married children, Elizabeth and Marc, and five grandchildren.

Amanda Van Essen Wirth, Co-Chair

Amanda Van Essen Wirth was elected Co-Chair of the Michigan Republican Party on February 11, 2017. She was previously Chair of the Ottawa County Republican Party in 2015 and 2016. She was the Vice Chair of the Ottawa County Republican Party in 2013 and 2014.

Amanda Van Essen Wirth is a graduate of Thomas M. Cooley Law School where she received her J.D. concentrated in Constitutional Law and Civil Rights. She is also a graduate of Grand Valley State University where she received her BBA in Marketing. In 2014, she completed the United States Army Judge Advocate General's Legal Center Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course. In 2016, she completed the Advanced Course.

Amanda Van Essen Wirth is a practicing attorney in Hudsonville, MI. She is the attorney Guardian ad Litem for Ottawa County, representing children that have been victims of abuse and neglect. She lives in Hudsonville with her husband, Chris and 5 year old, Noah, as well as, their 3 horses, 2 dogs, and 1 mule.

Kathy Berden, National Committeewoman

Kathy Berden was elected as the National Committeewoman from Michigan on May 9, 2015. As a farmer with her husband Dean, mother of their four children and a grandmother of ten, Kathy became involved in politics to secure the promise of America, for not only her children and grandchildren, but for all Americans. 

She has served as a State Committee Member from the 10th Congressional District for the past six years, and four years ago, she was elected Chair of the Sanilac County Republican Party. With her team, they were able to transform their local party, triple meeting attendance, and increase fundraising and activities of the party by focusing on community engagement in fairs, festivals and other community organizations. As Chair, Kathy felt it was important to present a positive face in the community for the Republican Party.

In 2012, she was a member of the Michigan Delegation to the Republican National Convention and worked tirelessly to promote our Michigan Republican Team.

Additionally, Kathy has been a grassroots leader and county captain for several campaigns, including Congresswoman Candice Miller, Attorney General Bill Schuette, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and many others.

Dr. Rob Steele, National Committeeman

Dr Rob Steele was elected to the RNC in 2016. A University of Michigan Regent Scholar, he received his bachelor’s degree with High Honors and MD degree in 1981 at age 23, one of the youngest graduates in the history of UM Medical School. He served over 20 years as an Assistant Clinical Professor at UM.

In private practice since 1987 he was a founding member of Michigan Heart PC, a practice that grew to 35 physicians and 300 employees, serving on the Board of Directors and Chairing the Finance and Benefits Committee. He holds Board Certifications in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases, Interventional Cardiology and Echocardiography and has performed over 20,000 heart catheterizations.

A founding member of the Southeast Michigan Committee for Heritage, he has been involved with organizations like Heritage Foundation, Hillsdale College and Mackinac Center for nearly 30 years.

His first involvement in partisan politics came in 2010 when he ran against John Dingell, the longest serving Congressman in history while working full time as a Cardiologist. Steele finished higher above the Republican baseline than any legislative candidate in the state giving Dingell his closest race ever, while raising over a Million dollars in individual donations, tops for all US House challengers. In 2012 and 2014 Steele was the top Republican nominee at State Convention for the University of Michigan Board of Regents.

In the last 5 years he has given more than 200 talks around the state speaking mainly on Healthcare and Education Policy Reform, and has been active in national groups promoting free market alternative healthcare models.

He and his wife of 30 years, Dr Phyllis Boniface, a Psychiatrist, have 4 adult children. Dr Steele continues in the full-time practice of Cardiology.

Gerry Hildenbrand, Administrative Vice Chair

Gerry Hildenbrand attended Kalamazoo Valley Community College and was elected to the position of Administrative Vice Chair at the February Michigan Republican State Convention.

As a grassroots leader, Gerry Hildenbrand has been active raising funds, organizing Lincoln Day Dinners and events, recruiting delegates and volunteers, and putting in countless hours to support our Republican nominees and elected officials. His dedication to our party’s conservative values stem from his belief that America is our last great hope for freedom and our values must be defended. He has dedicated the last two decades serving our nation in the US Navy and Michigan Air National Guard. He and his wife are raising their three children in Allegan County. They are among the reasons he continues to fight for our cause every day!

As MIGOP Administrative Chairman, he pledged to be responsive and available to all those who want to participate in the process. He will do his best to serve as a liaison between the grassroots and the MIGOP Staff who manage our conferences and conventions. He believes his professional and political background can serve the party well and help build a brighter future for our great state and nation.

Kevin Tatulyan, Coalitions Vice Chair

Kevin Tatulyan was elected as the Michigan Republican Party Coalitions Vice Chair in 2017. Prior to this, Kevin led Michigan to go red for the first time in 28 years in his role as statewide Coalitions Director for now-President Donald Trump in Michigan. He has previously advised and managed multiple campaigns across Michigan and has also held community roles such as Executive Committee member for the 11th District.

Apart from politics, Kevin is a small business owner of a Mathnasium franchise location, which aims to equip youth with a firm educational foundation. Kevin holds bachelor's degrees in Criminal Justice & Political Science from Wayne State University, where he served as the Student Body President. In hopes of keeping tuition dollars low and higher education affordable to all, Kevin also has advocated for higher appropriations to state universities during his role as Vice President for the Student Association of Michigan.

Kevin is excited to bring new faces to the MIGOP and engage with current members moving forward.

Terris Todd, Ethnic Vice Chair

Terris Todd was elected as the Michigan Republican Party Ethnic Vice Chair in 2017. Prior to his election, Terris served as the Director of District Relations in the MI House of Representatives, 5 term Calhoun County Commissioner, Civil Services Commissioner for Battle Creek Fire Department, President of Battle Creek Senior Branch NAACP, Trustee for Battle Creek Community Foundation, along with several board appointments to local non-profit organizations serving at-risk populations. He currently serves as Chair of Education and Outreach for Calhoun County GOP, 1st Vice President of Cereal City Chapter of B.I.G (Blacks In Government) and member of Michigan Republican Party African American Council to the RNC.

Apart from politics, Terris has an extensive background in education and the faith-based community. He is a former teacher and administrator of Battle Creek Public Schools. Currently, Terris is the Director of Education and Children Services for Community Action of South Central Michigan, serving low-income children and families in 3 counties. He is the Vice Chair of Battle Creek Area Learning Center and Chair of Early Childhood Education Advisory Committee. Terris is the founder of the Future Leaders Award, an award for students who excel in Social Studies and Government. He is also an adjunct instructor at Kellogg Community College where he teaches an Education Trends course.

As an ordained minister, Terris has served under the leadership of Bishop Hugh D. Smith Jr, Presiding Bishop of Jabula International Network and Senior Pastor of Embassy Covenant Church Int’l in Troy, MI over 20 years. Terris and his wife Karen were the founders of The Green Pasture Campus Ministry at Michigan State University and Co-Founders of My Brother’s Keeper Inc., a guardianship service for making medical and placement decisions for our most vulnerable citizens. Terris was acknowledged by the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Woman’s Club, Inc. (Battle Creek) with a Leadership Award in 2005 and the Frederick Douglas Award in 2009 (Highest Award).

As MIGOP Ethnic Vice Chair, Terris is committed to carrying out the conservative message and building our party with those who share the beliefs and values that we hold near and dear to our hearts and embedded in our founding documents. Terris and his wife Karen are happily married with three beautiful daughters who are also committed to the work of the Lord and living a life of true freedom and prosperity.

Mark Gurley, Grassroots Vice Chair

Mark Gurley is a financial advisor who has been in the insurance and investment business since 1988. His specialty, since 2002, has been advising financial institutions to maximize their yields, minimize taxes and reward and retain their top performing executives. He obtained his Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) from the American College in Bryn Mawr, PA. Recently, Mark was Certified in Long Term Care (CLTC). Mark has a degree in Business Administration from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI.

He was a founder and director of the Healing Rooms of Grand Rapids from 2002-2009, a ministry that brought healing to the sick and injured. Mark is a charter member of The Oak Initiative and is co-director for the Michigan Oak Initiative. As a founding board member of the Michigan Capitol House of Prayer (MICHOP), Mark is excited that people of prayer from churches across the state come to pray for legislators a total of 50 hours per week across the street from the Capitol in Lansing. Mark was ordained in 2002 and is a frequent teacher and speaker. In 2013, Mark was knighted in the Order of St. Johns of Jerusalem, the oldest Christian order in the world. Commonly known as Knights of Malta. He was knighted for his work for taking a stand against radical Islam.

Mark has a family history of influencing leaders. In the 1860’s, Dr. Phineas Gurley, President Abraham Lincoln’s pastor and spiritual advisor, helped to shape the President’s views on slavery during the Civil War in America through prayer and the study of the Bible. The two men drafted the first version of the Emancipation Proclamation. Dr. Gurley is Mark’s great-great grandfather, and in his family’s tradition, Mark continues to offer spiritual insight to leaders. Mark and his wife Michele have been married over 20 years and have two children whom they home school.

Benjamin J. Soltis, Outreach Vice Chair

Benjamin J. Soltis was elected as Outreach Vice Chair of the Michigan Republican Party in 2017. A long time activist, Benjamin dedicated himself to helping Republicans win across Michigan. As a precinct delegate, he has been an Executive Committee Member of the Jackson County Republican Party since 2015, helped run State Representative Mary Whiteford’s campaign, was Chair of Students for Terri Lynn Land, and was a Student Senator at Grand Valley State University. During his time as Student Senator, he was the only candidate to campaign on the Republican platform of ProLife and Second Amendment issues. Once elected, he unbanned pepper spray on campus, brought about recognition of ProLife issues at the Grand Valley Women’s Center, corrected the size of the American flag, and introduced a resolution to challenge the ban of firearms on campus.

In addition to being a Vice Chair, Benjamin studied Computer Information Systems at Grand Valley State University for four years. He is currently employed at Commonwealth Associates, Inc., a national transmission line engineering company where he is an Information Technology Specialist.

Growing up and currently residing in Jackson County, Michigan, Benjamin was raised with a great appreciation toward the official founding of the Republican Party in his hometown back in 1854. He is the oldest of 7 children, a member of the NRA, active in his Knights of Columbus Chapter, and has earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

Benjamin is dedicated to reaching out to Republicans and helping them realize how they can assist the party. This goes beyond just voting for the candidates, but by providing materials and trainings to aid county party committees with retaining active members.

Michael Banerian, Youth Vice Chair

Michael Banerian is a student at Oakland University and has been involved in politics from an early age. His first major effort was fighting a ballot initiative in his local school district, which would have raised taxes while cutting corners in the classroom. Michael was able to help organize a successful "Vote No" effort on a large scale, pulling students into the campaign in an effort to have their voices heard.

At age 17, Michael founded his own PAC to oppose a similar tax increase. As President of his PAC, Michael was able to amplify the voices of the students and organize hundreds in an effort to fight the increase.

Michael helped students defend their 1 st Amendment rights when a local school district banned students from praying at football games. Michael organized numerous students to protest the ban, leading to its reversal and the restoration of religious freedoms for students.

Michael has served on a U.S. Congressional Campaign, as Campaign Manager for Nick Hawatmeh for State Representative, as Campaign Manager for Nick Hawatmeh for MIGOP Grassroots Vice Chair, as a volunteer for Mike Bishop for Oakland County Prosecutor, and as a volunteer and organizer for Jeff Sakwa for MSU Board of Trustees.

Along with his Vice Chair duties, Michael also serves as the Vice President of the College Republicans of Oakland University.

Michael is committed to growing the Michigan Republican Party and enhancing the way it approaches encouraging young people to vote Republican and  get involved.

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