IDEAS: the Magazine of the Aspen Institute Summer 2018
Sometimes change comes fast—to the country, to the Institute. In a year when it came for both, and fast, the Institute kept up: in both policy and public programs, only a few of which are highlighted in “Around the Institute” (see “The Right Place for an Argument,” page 46).
And the new year brought us a new headquarters and a new leader, at pretty much the same time. Much of the excitement over the announcement of Dan Porterfield as the Institute’s new president and CEO was around the dramatic increases he made in access to college for high-school students who never thought they’d be able to go—much of that work in concert with the Institute’s College Excellence Program—and also around the unique connection he made with wide swathes of students. So I went to Franklin & Marshall College, where he was finishing the school year before heading to the Institute, to meet as many of those students as I could (see “Personal Leadership,” page 52).
I saw that connection in almost every conversation I had with students—particularly when I watched Porterfield at a lunch with a group of graduating students he’d worked closely with during their college careers. An additional student turned up as the last course: to do a run-through of his audition for Teach For America, which in a virtually unprecedented move was coming to F&M’s campus in recognition of its distinction as the top contributor of successful TFA candidates among liberal arts and smaller colleges. After the five-minute presentation, the rest of the class offered the student practical tips.
Then Porterfield stood up. He advised the student to stick to four and a half minutes and then “drop the mic.” He looked up and addressed the room: “You have to excel at every part of the interview process.”
We look forward to that standard—and to meeting it, and Porterfield, in our new Washington building (see “Moving On In,” page 58). It’s a space where Aspen-style retreats are at last possible in the capital city—including on the airy roof deck, where visitors will be forgiven for thinking they’ve happened on the Marble Garden.
– Corby Kummer