Law and Public Policy

Society of Fellows Celebrates its 50th Anniversary

August 8, 2014  • Katie Williamson, Guest Blogger


Over the weekend, the Society of Fellows celebrated its 50th Anniversary in Aspen, CO. Since its founding in 1964, the Society of Fellows has been a part of the Aspen Institute, helping it achieve its mission and create a close-knit community of donors.

“Society of Fellows members have been the backbone of the Institute,” said Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson. Isaacson addressed the Fellows to thank them for their commitment and said he looks forward to another 50 years of their loyal support.

Aspen Institute Executive Vice President, Amy Margerum Berg, used the celebration as a time to also recognize Isaacson as the recent recipient of the Henry R. Luce Lifetime Achievement Award due to his editorial excellence and contributions to publishing around the world. She further applauded Isaacson for his leadership and energy as president of the Institute for the past 11 years.

A special commemoration video for the anniversary was shown, featuring SOF member and Institute Trustee Bonnie McCloskey, SOF members Paula Paepcke Zurcher, Stephanie Naidoff, and Vanguard Chapter members Mel Lewis and Lauren McCloskey Elston.

“If you’re in the Society of Fellows, you feel it, you’re inspired,” said Bonnie McCloskey. Lewis said the Institute provided her with the “exposure to so many ideas, topics, people, and just looking at the world in a different way that I hadn’t thought of myself.”

To date, the Society of Fellows has raised more than $40 million for the Institute and has grown from 33 members in 1950 to more than 1,400 today. The mission of the program, to “sustain and strengthen” the Institute, remains strong as the Society of Fellows continues to contribute to numerous improvements, scholarships, and new programs at the Institute. You can read more here for a detailed timeline of the Society’s history and engagement throughout the years.

Society of Fellows Director Peter Waanders saw the event as a culmination of 50 years of enthusiasm for the Institute,

“Sunday night was a wonderful celebration of the Society of Fellows program and 50 years of success,” he said. “We focus a lot on the ‘mind’ here at the Institute, but with a fun dance band — and Fellows of all ages dancing — we definitely show that the ‘Body and Spirit’ are alive and well!”