RNC Announces Four New Rising Stars

WASHINGTON – Today at the RNC Spring Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, Chairman Reince Priebus and Co-Chairman Sharon Day welcomed four new members to the Republican National Committee’s Rising Stars program.

Today’s new members are the sixth class inducted into the initiative. The four Rising Stars will participate in a town hall discussion moderated by RNC Co-Chair Sharon Day. The new members are:

·         Adam Laxalt, Nevada Attorney General

·         Art Linares, Connecticut State Senator District 33

·         Estela Hernandez, Vice-Chair Oklahoma Republican Party

·         Jill Upson, West Virginia Delegate District 65

“I am thrilled to add these four new members to the Rising Stars program. Adam, Art, Estela, and Jill are inspiring voices in our party, and I look forward to seeing them continue to serve as leading advocates for Republican ideas in their states,” said RNC Chair Reince Priebus. “They come from diverse backgrounds, and each has a compelling story to share.”

“It’s an honor to host these four leaders at today’s forum and welcome another slate of Rising Stars,” said Co-Chairman Sharon Day. “I’m excited to hear their insights and learn from their experiences. We’re grateful for their leadership and value their willingness to serve the Republican Party.”

Click here to view the Rising Stars webpage. 


Jill Upson was elected in November 2014 to represent Jefferson County’s 65th Delegate District in West Virginia.  As a business major and former retail manager, Jill ran for public office to help revitalize West Virginia’s business climate in order to spur job growth.

In her freshman term as a legislator, Jill served on two major House committees and four minor committees.  She was also named Chairman of the Women’s Caucus, Chairman of the Minority Caucus, and served as Vice Chair of Education Subcommittee B.

In 2014, she was also elected as a member of the Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee.  She is a member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, and the all women’s shooting club, The Well Armed Woman.

In 2012, she was identified by Black Entertainment Television (BET), as one of the “Top 12 Republicans To Watch.” This year, Newsmax included her on its 2015 list of “100 Most Influential African-American Republicans.”

Jill holds the distinction of being the first black Republican woman elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in the state’s history.

She is married to retired Navy Commander, Kelvin Upson and has one adult son.



A Westbrook resident, Senator Art Linares is Ranking Member of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Banks Committee and Ranking Member of the Select Committee on Children. He also serves on the Commerce and Education Committees.

Art’s val­ues stem from his family’s his­tory. His grand­parents fled Cuba, the coun­try they loved, in order to assure that their chil­dren were safe and able to grow up in a free coun­try. In Amer­i­ca, Art’s father started a successful busi­ness, and that success inspired him to start a busi­ness out of his base­ment when he was 19 years old.

In 2010, Art took a sab­bat­i­cal from his solar power com­pany to vol­un­teer for U.S. Sena­tor Marco Rubio in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. He proudly assisted Sen­a­tor Rubio, gain­ing hands-on expe­ri­ence in pub­lic ser­vice by pro­vid­ing help to the senator’s con­stituents, con­duct­ing research and per­form­ing var­i­ous admin­is­tra­tive duties vital to the func­tion of a pub­lic office. That pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence work­ing for Sen­a­tor Rubio inspired Art to get involved in pub­lic ser­vice upon return­ing to Connecticut.

He attended Westbrook public schools and graduated from the Sykes College of Business at the University of Tampa in Florida, where he majored in entrepreneurship, developing his own company as he earned a college degree.



Estela Hernandez was recently elected as State Vice Chair of the Oklahoma Republican Party. She is Chairman of the Community Engagement Committee for the Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women. She helped develop a successful minority outreach program for the Oklahoma GOP and Republican Women’s Club. She has been regularly attending monthly naturalization ceremonies, where she registers new citizens to vote and shares with them the importance of civic engagement.

Estela understands the importance of getting involved at the grassroots level. She is Chairman of Precinct 173 and Vice-Chair for House District 84. She was recently appointed by Governor Mary Fallin to the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women. She is a strong voice for encouraging all Americans to engage in the political process.

Estela’s life story was featured in Family Metro Magazine. Due to her professional and civic accomplishments, she was honored as OKC BIZ Forty Under 40. In 2013, she received the Rising Star Award from the Oklahoma Republican Party. She is a 2014 Honoree of “Ladies in the News.”

Estela has been married for fourteen years and is the mother of three children. Together, she and her husband own and operate a construction company in Oklahoma City.



Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt is a father, a husband and a fourth-generation native Nevadan. He is a former Lieutenant in the United States Navy.  Trained by the US Navy as a prosecutor and legal advisor, Adam served his country as a Judge Advocate General.  While in the Navy, Adam volunteered to serve in a combat zone in Iraq.

In Iraq, Adam’s team was in charge of training our military on proper evidence gathering in the field to ensure criminals and terrorists were able to be prosecuted successfully. For his exemplary service, Adam was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal, and his Unit was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award.

Since departing the Navy, Adam has built a law practice in Las Vegas, solving problems for a wide array of Nevadans and Nevada businesses.  Adam serves on the Board of Trustees for Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, the largest private social services agency in the state. Adam co-founded the Saint Thomas More Society, a legal ethics and leadership society that has sponsored numerous legal education and leadership events in Nevada.

He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Georgetown University and also graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center. Adam and his wife Jaime live in Reno with their daughter Sophia and their dogs, Hoya and Buckley. He was elected Attorney General last November.