Around the Institute

Letter from Dan Porterfield

July 1, 2020  • Institute Staff

Give NowOur world is at a crossroads. Four crises have converged in one period of raw and brutal pain: The worst pandemic since 1918. The weakest global economy since the Great Depression. A national reckoning on structural and interpersonal racism in their many forms. The worst trends in global warming in recorded history. Standing at this intersection of enduring inequities and emerging threats, we could take many roads: denial, cynicism, scapegoating, surrender. But those paths are all dead ends.

At the Aspen Institute, we choose instead the path of humanistic optimism and the motivation it fuels to make a difference. It comes down to this: we can and must use our core human capacities for love, reason, empathy, and invention to solve the unprecedented challenges facing our world. These are the attributes that have defined the Institute for decades, and in this moment of need we are proud to be deploying our greatest assets in service of society and the world.

Our programs are shifting major events online, producing digital content on highly relevant issues, and convening their participants in virtual spaces. Community matters now more than ever, and even if we can’t gather physically to ask the big questions and work collaboratively toward solutions, we are committed to creating virtual spaces to bring people together and advance our mission.

At the same time, we are launching powerful platforms—like our new digital channel for elevating ideas, Aspen Ideas Now—and pursuing major strategic initiatives on critical themes, like our cross-Institute undertaking, the Aspen Partnership for an Inclusive Economy. If there is anything this moment in history proves, it is that both people and problems are interconnected, and we must organize ourselves and our work accordingly in order to make the deepest impacts.

You will read about these endeavors, and more, in the pages of our 2020 Impact Report. Other highlights include this year’s Aspen Challenge in Louisville, which brought together (virtually, of course) dozens of young people to pitch sustainable solutions to critical issues facing their community; a new federal law that expands nonprofit transparency catalyzed by the work of our Philanthropy and Social Innovation Program; and more.

We do this work because we at the Aspen Institute are committed to driving change toward a free, just, and equitable society. That is our purpose, and we pursue it relentlessly in everything we do—with respect for all and with humanistic optimism.

Thank you for your partnership.

Dan Porterfield
President and CEO