Around the Institute

Executive Director’s Update

October 17, 2012  • Henry Crown Fellows Newsletter

It’s a beautiful autumn morning in Washington, and I’ve just dropped my daughter at school. Between two months in Aspen and assorted travels, my car has been parked in the garage for three months. So when I turned on the CD player, I couldn’t remember which disc I had in there. As it began to spin, at first, there was nothing but silence. Then the sound of distant applause. Then the booming voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., proclaiming to the world that…he had a dream. And I remembered: The last time I drove the car was to come home in June from Wye River where the 2011 21 Lassos Class had attended their second seminar — the Aspen Executive Seminar — and, of course, performed Antigone. In their rendition, Creon was George Wallace; Antigone was Dr. King. The play was performed under a makeshift wooden chapel roof with the beautiful pastures of Wye as the backdrop. And the music…the music was sublime, reminding us of one of the Fellowship’s most powerful themes: the possibility of heroism.

The Henry Crown Fellowship is full of heroes. People tackling some of the most vexing problems of our times. And this is what gives Eric, Martha, Nikki and I such pride as we continue the tradition of finding the most compelling Fellows to join us at the seminar table at Aspen and Wye River. It’s nomination season now. And I thank each of you as you help us to find just the right candidates: proven entrepreneurial leaders who have reached that all-important inflection point in their lives…ready to think about assuming a broader, more impactful leadership role in their communities, whether in the US or abroad.

You certainly helped us to graduate one of our strongest classes ever (the 2010 One4All Class) in August and, just 24 hours later, to assemble yet another amazing mosaic of leaders (the 2012 True North Class) who show tremendous promise to raise the bar yet higher. And for this, we thank you.

Beyond the formal seminars of June and August, the Fellowship has been very active:

  • Of 13 graduated classes, 11 have or will have held reunions in 2012 (with several 2013 reunions already in the works).
  • Nine Henry Crown Fellows including Bernie Sucher, Ali Mufuruki, Ricky Arriola, Tamsin Smith, Pauline Brown, Anand Giridharadas, Tonya Hinch, Pete Karabatsos, Mike Soenen and 22 Fellows from around the globe joined Skip Battle and me for a fascinating alumni seminar entitled China: Behind the Curtain. Thanks to Desmond Shum, Eric Li, Shane Tedjarati, Kathleen Gan, Shan Li and Sean Hinton for spending evenings with us, arranging company visits, and helping us to deepen our perspectives yet further. 
  • We also had six Henry Crown Fellows attend the latest version of the “Good Life Seminar”, co-moderated by Keith Berwick and ALI South Africa Fellow Heather Sonn in Antigua, Guatemala in mid-July.
  • And, thanks to the ever-amazing creativity and networks of Eric Motley, this past April, 48 Fellows from around the country joined he and Chairman of the Henry Crown Fellowship Board of Overseers Bill Mayer in Washington, DC for a fascinating conversation on “legacy” with Lester, Jim and Steve Crown moderated by Stace Lindsay, followed by a probing interview of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Suzanne Malveaux — just the sort of compelling event we plan to do more of in 2013 and beyond.

Looking beyond the Fellowship to the broader Aspen Global Leadership Network, we have two pieces of news we’d like to share:

  • In March 2013, working closely with Shane Tedjarati and other Henry Crown Fellows in and deeply connected to China, we are launching the Aspen-China Fellowship Program (exact name still in the works), adding a critical voice to our growing global network of Fellows. We thank David Rubenstein for his vision and generosity in sponsoring the first three classes of China Fellows.
  • On July 29-August 1, 2013, thanks to the enormous generosity of Lynda and Stewart Resnick, what was once “Act II” and a biennial event will become the annual Aspen Leaders Action Forum. As with Act II, this will be a high energy mix of inspirational readings-based seminars (moderated by Skip Battle, Keith Berwick and Ben Dunlap and many others), thoughtful roundtable dialogues, interactive project workshops and lots of fun. Please mark these dates on your calendar! We have room for 250 Fellows from around the globe and hope that, as always, the Henry Crown Fellowship is well-represented.

We hope to see you in New York City on October 31 for the celebration of the winner of the 2012 John P. McNulty Prize for outstanding projects from the Aspen Global Leadership Network and on November 1 for the Aspen Institute’s Annual Fall Gala. Join Walter Isaacson, Bill Mayer, Francis Hoffman, Lester and Jim Crown and all of us as we honor former US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Filmmaker George Lucas, and Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein.

That’s it for now. One of our goals for 2013 is to stay ever-more in touch with you all. Eric will continue to develop his brilliant “Aspen Notebook“. Thanks to the generosity of the 2009 Lucky Xiii Class, we’ll soon have podcasts of our most stirring moderations available for you to call on when you are feeling the need for a booster shot of inspiration. And, as always, Eric and I will do our utmost to take advantage of our regular January-February “barnstorming interview tour” by reaching out to you in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and LA.

Until then, if not before,