Around the Institute

Homeward Bound

July 1, 2020  • Institute Staff

Give NowThe issues that threaten the long-term quality of life in the broader Aspen community may be larger than one organization can solve—but that isn’t stopping the Institute.

With leadership from president and CEO Dan Porterfield, the Institute has envisioned a new program, the Hurst Community Initiative, to support the inspiring work being done in the Colorado region from Aspen to Parachute to help its citizens make positive change. With generous support from Institute trustee Bob Hurst and his wife, Soledad, the Institute has hired a full-time director of community engagement, Evan Zislis, who is working on initiatives that will promote dialogue, increase understanding, and facilitate opportunities for meaningful collaboration.

In addition to this new program, the Institute continues to bring Aspen area residents and visitors together for enriching programs year round. From large public lectures by nationally renowned leaders to smaller text-based seminars for adults and teens focused on foreign and domestic policy, leadership and values, and human flourishing, Aspen Community Programs brings together Roaring Fork Valley and Colorado River Valley residents for self-reflection and inspiring conversations.

In the spring of 2020, the team engaged in local efforts to support the large number of valley residents who, practically overnight, were out of work due to the shutdown of ski areas, hotels, restaurants, and retail businesses. Aspen Community Programs canceled its own fundraising efforts and contributed funds to local schools, food banks, and other nonprofits directly in touch with children and families in distress. It hosted virtual seminars for the teen alumni of Institute programming—the Hurst Student Seminars and Teen Socrates—on the topics of learning and hope, chaos and order, and resilience and flexibility.

The deep and inspiring work of the Institute is now being shared and experienced by more people around the country and world—and of course in its founding home, the Roaring Fork Valley. As the world navigates the complexities of a global pandemic, the ensuing economic crisis, and a reckoning with systemic racism in society, the Institute is finding opportunities to collaborate, to share resources, and most importantly, to connect with people in the community to make a difference.