Scholars & Scholarships Campaign donors aren't just thinking about the issues. Where others see challenges, they see opportunities to act. They are true partners, bringing depth to our work and enabling the Institute to make a dent in the universe.
Institute trustee Lynda Resnick and her husband Stewart have joined forces with the Institute to create the Aspen Leaders Action Forum, an annual convening inspired by the biennial ACT II meetings of Fellows from the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
The Forum will connect the Fellows with creative leaders from the Institute's assorted programs and international partners, as well as from various other communities in the US and around the world. Like the Aspen Ideas Festival, many of the events will be open to patrons and the public. Through seminars, roundtable discussions, and work-shops, participants in the Forum will challenge one another to think creatively about the leadership demands of the 21st century. Their ultimate goal will be to translate these thoughts and ideas into action.
The Resnick Family Foundation's generous gift of $5 million, which was given as part of the Institute's Scholars & Scholarships Campaign, will provide critical support and continuity for the program during its initial years.
"Lynda and Stewart are true visionaries who understand the extraordinary opportunity we have to expand our network of leaders to create lasting, positive change," said Institute President Walter Isaacson. "This transformative gift reflects their unique commitment to action, and the Forum will rightly bear the mark of their leadership."
"As a center for innovative thought, the Aspen Institute has few peers," said Lynda Resnick. "But this new program's focus on turning ideas into action is what most appeals to Stewart and me. We are proud to be part of it."
Carlyle Group founder David M. Rubenstein has committed a personal gift of $5 million to launch a values-based leadership initiative for Chinese business entrepreneurs. This groundbreaking gift will fund the first three cohorts of Aspen-China Leadership Fellows, adding the perspectives of young leaders from an increasingly significant region to the Aspen Global Leadership Network. This gift will also support Rubenstein Scholars attending the new Aspen Leaders Action Forum, and strengthen the ability of the Institute to support its growing portfolio of leadership initiatives around the world.
"David's gift is an extraordinary vote of confidence in the Aspen Institute, and a pivotal investment in the power and promise of the Aspen Global Leadership Network," Institute President Walter Isaacson said. "We are honored to partner with him in taking our work to new frontiers and levels of excellence." The China Fellowship Program will launch in the spring of 2013 with its first cohort of 22 Fellows. Similar to the Institute's Henry Crown Fellowship Program and the 12 others it has inspired, the China Fellows will attend four week-long retreats to explore their leadership, their legacy, and how they can take action to realize their vision of a "good society". Each Fellow will also launch a venture designed to address a critical societal challenge of their choosing.
"The Aspen Global Leadership Network has done extraordinary work in identifying and nurturing future global leaders," Rubenstein said. "I feel privileged to be able to support and enhance the Network in a way that is frankly modest, compared to all of the resources and time commitments of so many others over the years."
USA Today calls it one of the nation's "Top Ten Literary Gatherings," and The Oprah Magazine has described it as bringing "new meaning to the idea of escaping into literature." Now, longtime Aspen Writers' Foundation patrons (and owners of a local Aspen bookstore Explore) Sam and Cheryl Wyly are giving $1.5 million to lift the Aspen Summer Words retreat and literary festival—a decades-old gathering of writers for workshops, readings, and meetings with editors and agents—to even greater heights.
Writing is an integral part of the Wylys' life—Sam attended his first Summer Words in 2005, and has since gone on a Writers' Foundation writing retreat in Ireland and written three books—making the gift highly personal.
"This is a truly exceptional gift from two people who have had an immeasurable impact on the Aspen community," said former Aspen Writers' Foundation Executive Director Lisa Consiglio. "We are thrilled to have the support of a couple who are so clearly connected to our mission."
Aspen Institute Trustee Bob Hurst and his wife, Soledad, have committed a generous gift of $2 million to create an endowment that will support programming for the Aspen community in perpetuity. Bob notes, "We love Aspen and believe it's critical that the Institute be programmatically strong and present through the year for the local community."
The new Hurst Community Fund will enable the Institute to expand its seminars for young people in Aspen and throughout the Roaring Fork Valley by introducing a Great Ideas Seminar for middle school students, and by growing the program for 11th grade students.
In addition, the Hurst Community Fund will establish a new Hurst Lecture Series, enabling the Institute to take advantage of opportunities to present talented, high-profile leaders in conversation for a public audience at a modest ticket price.
Three long-time leaders at the Institute have stepped forward with significant gifts to create scholarships and advance the Institute's work. Jim Calaway, chairman of the Institute's Lifetime Trustees, is committing $1 million in support of education initiatives ("Calaway Scholars" will participate in a variety of programs) and seed funding for collaborative projects. Calaway's son, James Calaway, has also added his own gift to expand the family's legacy. Trustee Leonard Lauder will support two key initiatives at the Institute: He will direct $2 million toward a new endowment for the Socrates Program, and $1 million to bring "Lauder Scholars" to the Aspen Seminar in perpetuity. And trustee Anne Welsh McNulty has established the McNulty Prize Fund with a gift of $1 million. This fund extends the impact of the John P. McNulty Prize—created to recognize Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellows with exceptional leadership projects—by providing scholarships to other Fellows with promise.