Party Leadership

Ronna Romney McDaniel, Chairman

Ronna Romney McDaniel was elected as the Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party on February 21st, 2015. Ronna Romney McDaniel has been a grassroots conservative activist her entire life. She learned politics from the ground up beginning as a driver for her mother’s US Senate Race in 1994 and has worked on many campaigns from school board to Presidential.

Throughout her career, Ronna has managed multi-million dollar budgets, has been responsible for the management and personnel of staff, and has overseen grassroots campaigns and media projects. In addition, she has been a successful fundraiser and has been involved in all aspects of campaigns and political projects.

In February 2014, Ronna was elected the Republican National Committeewoman from Michigan. Ronna has served as a Precinct Delegate, as a District Committee Executive Member and State Committeewoman in Michigan. She Chaired the Women for Mitt Michigan Coalition in 2012, and served as National Delegate to the Tampa Convention representing Michigan’s 11th District.

In 2013, she served as Co-Chair for the Mackinac Leadership Conference and was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Board of Marriage and Family Therapists, being recently elected vice-chair by the board.

She received her B.A. in English from Brigham Young University. Ronna is married to Patrick McDaniel and has two children, Abigail and Nash.

Jeff Sakwa, Co-Chair

Jeff Sakwa graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in accounting. From there, he earned his real estate license and found success in building companies, such as Noble Reality Inc., which he has owned and operated since 1984. Education is one of his greatest passions; making sure that our children can grow in supportive learning environments and be given the tools they need to succeed in the 21st century economy is one of his top priorities. He is the co-founder and president of “Stand Together Day, Defeat the Label, Orchestrate Change,” an anti-bullying effort that is creating the largest campaign in the history of the cause. He has chaired school improvement initiatives, managed school fundraisers, and has served as trustee and vice president of Temple Shir Shalom for five years. In addition, he has become personally involved in his children’s school -as well as many others- and has proudly earned honors for his contributions.

Jeff spent much of his life marginally involved in politics until he threw himself into it full-time in 2011. Jeff knows that improving the lives and futures for our children is of the utmost importance. Jeff was born in Detroit, raised in Huntington Woods and Farmington Hills, and is proud of his two children, Ian and Blair.

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. Robert Steele grew up in Greenville, Michigan. He was educated at the University of Michigan, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1978 with High Honors, and his MD degree in 1981 at age 23. After additional training at the University of Cincinnati and Washington University in St Louis, he returned to Ann Arbor, joining one of his medical school mentors in private practice at St Joseph Mercy Hospital. He previously served on the Clinical Faculty at the University of Michigan Medical School for over 20 years. A Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, he has received advanced certification in Echocardiography and Interventional Cardiology, and has performed more than 20,000 cardiac catheterization procedures.

A founding member of Michigan Heart PC, he served many years on the Board of Directors, and Chaired the Finance Committee. The practice grew to include 36 physicians and 300 employees with 7 permanent and 2 satellite offices in 5 counties prior to its purchase by Trinity Health System. He has also served on the Board of Directors of a large non profit managed care organization in addition to various medical staff, and physician organization committees A long-time auto enthusiast, Dr. Steele enjoys all things automotive including autocross, racing, mechanical work and restoration, and helped pay for Medical School working in a UAW organized parts plant. He is a lifetime member of both the National Motorist Association and NRA, and a current member of the Washtenaw Sportsman Club. He has been a member of the non-partisan Heritage Foundation for more than 25 years, was a founding member of the SE Michigan Committee for Heritage, and previously on a Mackinac Center for Public Policy Advisory Board.

In 2010 his challenge to the longest serving Congressman in US History, John Dingell, was his closest race ever. Steele raised over $1 million in individual donations, the most by any US House challenger in the country. He was a state wide republican nominee for the University of Michigan Regents in 2012 and 2014. Dr. Steele and his wife, Phyllis Boniface MD, a Psychiatrist with a busy practice specializing in Psychopharmacology, have 4 children, including a son and 2 daughters who are college graduates, with 1 daughter still in college.

David Wolkinson, Administrative Vice Chair

David Wolkinson was born in Royal Oak, Michigan in 1980. He grew up in Oakland County where he graduated from Southfield-Lathrup in 1998. He then earned three degrees from Michigan (a BA and MA in Economics and a JD by the time he was 24). In pursuit of his lifelong interest in politics David was first elected the Administrative Vice Chair of the Michigan Republican Party at the 2013 Republican State Convention and re-elected at the 2015 convention. Prior to being elected Vice Chair, David served as the Policy Director on Rick Snyder’s 2010 campaign. David is an attorney in private practice. When not working or attending to political activities, he is an NBA enthusiast and Detroit Piston fanatic.

Adi Sathi, Coalitions Vice Chair

Adi Sathi grew up in Southeast Michigan and has been a resident of the Great Lakes State for over 24 years. He first found a passion for community work and political activism during his time in college at the University of Michigan where he earned both his Bachelors and Masters Degrees. During his time as a student, he was elected by his peers to serve as the Executive Director of the Association of Big Ten Students, an organization that consists of the 14 Big Ten schools from 11 different states and represents over 540,000 students. For his work in this role, he was invited to the 2013 White House Youth Summit, selected as one of 40 student leaders to attend the AIPAC Campus Allies trip to Israel, and recognized by Red Alert Politics on their 2014 ‘30 Under 30’ list. Honorees on this list were selected based on the positive impact they have had on the conservative movement.

Adi transitioned his work in student government to the world of Republican politics after being elected to serve as one of the youngest committee members on the 11 th Congressional District Republican Committee. As both a member of the committee and a precinct delegate, Adi has worked with the grassroots to help numerous Republican candidates get elected to office. Along with this, he also served as the campaign manager for Satish Jasti, the Republican Party nominee for Wayne State Board of Governors in the 2014 election cycle. This statewide campaign allowed Adi to build coalitions with various groups both inside and outside the Republican Party leadership structure. As the Vice Chair of Coalitions for the Michigan Republican Party, Adi is dedicated to build upon the coalitions that he has already worked to create in order to help secure more Republican victories in the years to come.

Darwin Jiles Jr, Ethnic Vice Chair

Darwin Jiles Jr was recruited by Baker College through a high school readiness program on a full scholarship. He successfully completed an honorary Associates degree in Small Business Management and an Accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration Corporate Finance. While at Baker, Darwin received numerous academic and leadership awards. Darwin also worked in corporate America completing training and development programs with several fortune 500 companies. Further, he received certification as a food safety manager. He also completed a successful DC-based apprenticeship with an Arlington, Virginia public relations firm.

In 2008, Darwin experienced the death of his father who was the victim of a homicide and was found in front of an abandoned home on Flint's north side. His death created a deep passion for moral change and betterment for Darwin's inner city hometown of Flint, MI. His passion for transformation aims to improve leadership on all fronts, especially within the community. In 2011, Darwin Jiles Jr was part of a mayoral campaign, with roles such as college campus volunteer and community recruitment strategist. Darwin’s career continued with involvements in two state campaigns, a Genesee County Prosecuting Attorney candidate, and he later worked for a United States Senate campaign in Michigan. Darwin also volunteered marketing efforts for two Michigan Supreme Court justice candidates.

In 2013, Darwin went back to school to further his education and began a MBA program at Oakland University where he was nominated most influential in his class by his peers and professor. Darwin is currently three classes away from obtaining his graduate degree. In the fall of 2014, he completed an International Summit Trip in New York City at St. Francis Catholic College and married his beautiful, Hispanic wife from southwest Detroit. Currently, Darwin is working on his graduate thesis by participating in a host apprenticeship with an entrepreneurship entity.

Wendy Day, Grassroots Vice Chair

Wendy Day has been involved in politics since college, where she started as a liberal Democrat. After learning more about our country's history, and the proper role of government, she joined the Republican Party. In 2004, she worked full-time on the George W. Bush campaign. She served on the Livingston County GOP Executive Committee, chaired the Lincoln Day Dinner Committee with Col. Oliver North, and was elected as a Trustee on the Howell School Board from 2006-2010.

In February of 2009, Wendy co-organized her first Tea Party rally in Michigan. She ran Common Sense in Government and was able to influence important legislation. She also spearheaded the "snowman protest" that garnered international attention. In 2014, she ran for State Representative, narrowly losing her Primary election. She has worked and consulted on several campaigns.

Wendy Day is a military wife and has supported her family through her husband's, Command Sergeant Major Kevin Day, two deployments. Her oldest son, David, is also in the Michigan National Guard and works in helicopter maintenance. Most recently, she worked with Families of the Fallen as a Support Coordinator. She graduated from Central Michigan University, and has completed extensive Graduate Degree work. She has been a college instructor since 2001 and has worked with groups across the country, providing training in effective communication and political activism.

Wendy and her husband, Kevin, live in Howell with their four children, David, Craig, Allison, and Brady. She was a homeschool mom for four years and is a strong supporter of Education Freedom. Wendy understands the importance of faith in the community and supports family values, including being endorsed by Right to Life during her campaign for State Representative.

Kelly Mitchell, Outreach Vice Chair

Kelly Mitchell has lived in Michigan her entire life, growing up in rural Thetford Township. Her activism in Republican advocacy began as a Young Republican. Having been a resident in Genesee and Kent Counties at different stages, she served in multiple county and district level positions.

In 2012, Kelly was elected to the Electoral College as one of 16 statutory delegates to be seated in the Electoral College if the people of Michigan favored the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney. She is a former legislative intern for former State Representative Marty Knollenberg, State Committee Member, Precinct Delegate, 3rd District Committee member, and has been appointed to the RNC Michigan Black Advisory Council. She has served on the Women for Mitt Coalition, Women for Ruth Johnson, and Women for Terri Lynn Land for Senate campaigns. She is also a member of the Michigan Conservative Energy Leadership Council and has been appointed to the Kent County Board of Commission Solid Waste Management.

Kelly is a 2013 graduate of the Michigan Excellence in Public Service Series and was awarded the MRP Grassroots Leadership Award in 2015. She has an Associate's Degree in Applied Science and a Bachelor's Degree in Business.

Kelly is employed as a Sales Executive for a Blueprint Precision Tooling Company in Walker, is married with one adult daughter, and resides in Grand Rapids where she is a Certified Tourism Ambassador.

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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