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It’s no secret that getting a good education can change the trajectory of a person’s life – and in turn, the trajectory of society.
But how should that education be delivered? And who should determine the best educational setting for children?
Pull up a seat and grab a drink as we explore the current state of school choice.

Acton on Tap is a series of complimentary events sponsored by the Acton Alumni Association. This event is co-sponsored by Avail Academy and M.I.S.F. The first drink for each attendee is on the house. 

McGrath Headshot
Lee McGrath, J.D., M.B.A.
Institute for Justice

Senior Legislative Counsel

This fall the US Supreme Court will hear the most important case regarding equity for independent and religious schools in nearly 20 years (Espinoza vs. Montana Dept. of Revenue). Recently, much research has documented the outcomes and contributions of these schools to their communities and common good. The event will include a presentation of new research by Cardus and Notre Dame University as well as comments from Lee McGrath at Institute for Justice. Register here and help spread the word about this upcoming one-of-a-kind event in the Twin Cities.

Lee McGrath is the Managing Attorney of the Institute for Justice’s Minnesota office and serves as IJ’s Senior Legislative Counsel. He joined the Institute in December 2004.

Lee was instrumental in lobbying the Minnesota legislature to reform its eminent domain laws in 2006 following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. New London. He also led efforts to deregulate Minnesota’s transportation industry. These included repealing the state’s regulations of in-state household goods movers and the City of Minneapolis’ cap on taxis. Following Minneapolis’ opening the taxi market, Lee joined with other IJ attorneys to defend the deregulation in court. The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit’s decision in Minneapolis Taxi Owners Coalition v. City of Minneapolis in 2009 set precedent that numerous federal circuits have adopted.

Lee became IJ’s legislative counsel in 2011 and has been instrumental in lobbying for greater economic liberty and reforms to forfeiture laws in states across the country. Since 2011, IJ has worked with legislators to enact over 75 bills. These include new laws that end civil forfeiture and replace it with criminal forfeiture as well as establish sunrise and sunset reviews of occupational licensing laws based on the concept of least restrictive regulation.

Lee received his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul where he was the president of the Federalist Society’s student chapter. Before that, Lee worked for more than 20 years in corporate finance at General Motors and other corporations. His last position was as Vice President and Treasurer of Jostens, the yearbook and ring company headquartered in Bloomington, Minn.

In addition to his law degree, Lee holds an MBA in finance from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. Lee also was a Policy Fellow at the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota.

Lee and his wife Bonnie have four children and live in Edina, Minn.

Pennings Headshot
Ray Pennings, M.A.

Executive Vice President

Ray co-founded Cardus in 2000 and currently serves as Executive Vice President, working out of the Ottawa office. Ray has a vast amount of experience in Canadian industrial relations and has been involved in public policy discussions and as a political activist at all levels of government. Ray is a respected voice in Canadian politics, contributing as a commentator, pundit and critic in many of Canada’s leading news outlets and as an advisor and strategist on political campaign teams.

Ray completed a degree in History at McMaster University and obtained a Master of Arts in Religion degree from Puritan Theological Seminary. He has led a number of large research projects at Cardus over the years and was lead author on Death is Natural: Reframing the End-of-Life Conversation in Canada. In addition to authoring Cardus reports and columns he has also written chapters in several publications including Church and Caesar (RHB, 2004), Living for God’s Glory (RHB, 2011), Calvin the Revolutionary (RHB, 2010), Religious Liberty and the Law (Routledge, 2017), and The Handbook of School Choice (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017).

Ray’s grasp of applied public theology is evident not only through his writings, but through his volunteer efforts as well. He was founding president of EduDeo (formerly Worldwide Christian Schools) and has served as Chair on the board of Redeemer University College, and as a board member for the Civitas Society and the Rosebud School for the Arts. Ray currently sits on the adjudication committee for the Redeemer Centre for Christian Scholarship and on the Champions Circle for Compassionate Ottawa. Ray and his wife, Kathy, have one adult son.

Event Details

Start Date

End Date


Latitude North House
718 Washington Avenue North
Third Floor
Minneapolis, MN 55401
United States


6:00pm | Doors Open

6:30pm | Event Begins

Lee McGrath presenting on the U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of Montana’s Blaine amendment - and what it could mean for school choice in Minnesota

Ray Pennings presenting on Cardus Education Survey data (positive social and individual outcomes from non-public school graduates)

7:15pm | Panel Discussion 

7:45pm | Event Concludes—networking


Acton on Tap is a series of complimentary events sponsored by the Acton Alumni Association. This event is co-sponsored by Avail Academy and M.I.S.F. The first drink for each attendee is on the house. 

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