Written by Gabriel Dillard
Blake Zante been hired as the new executive director of the Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at Fresno State, succeeding Mark Keppler, who served in the role for 19 years.
Zante is an alumnus of the Maddy Institute Legislative Intern Scholar Program and former student body president at Fresno State, where he graduated with honors from the Smittcamp Family Honors College in 2018.
Zante most recently served as a district representative to former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy.
The Maddy Institute aims to provide non-partisan, interdisciplinary and fact-driven analysis of public policy issues that impact the Central Valley as well as the state. The institute provides practical training for local officials and civic leaders, paid internships for San Joaquin Valley students with local, state and federal legislators and symposia and extension courses on a range of topics relating to public policy and public administration.
“The experience I gained as a Maddy intern played a significant role in my career and professional development, so it goes without saying that it’s an absolute honor to serve as the Maddy Institute’s executive director and continue the legacy of Senator Maddy,” Zante said. “I look forward to helping train the San Joaquin Valley’s next generation of public servants, strengthening the cooperative relationship among the Valley’s four public universities, fortifying our role as a thought leader on issues impacting the prosperity of our Valley, and cultivating deeper partnerships from Modesto to Bakersfield.”
The Maddy Institute was established by the California Legislature in 1999. It honors the legacy of Maddy, a state senator whose 28 years of public service to the San Joaquin Valley were marked by respect for his colleagues regardless of party or position, according to a news release.
“As a Maddy alum myself, it is exciting to see us bring one of our own to lead our next chapter at the institute,” said Melissa Frank, the Maddy Institute’s chair of the board and assistant general counsel for The Wonderful Company. “I also want to thank Mark Keppler, on behalf of our entire board and alum community, for his leadership and commitment to the vision, mission and values of the institute.”
In 2019, the Maddy Institute expanded its reach through a partnership with California State University, Bakersfield; California State University, Stanislaus; and University of California, Merced.