Around the Institute

Henry Crown Fellowship 25th Anniversary Celebration Opening Remarks

June 9, 2023  • Daniel R. Porterfield

The Henry Crown Fellowship celebrated 25 years of Fellowship June 9-11, 2023, with more than 200 Fellows and an additional 70 guests gathering in Chicago, the hometown of Henry Crown. While paying tribute to the program’s founders, Fellows also participated in the Socratic-style learning gathering around the seminar table. The event highlighted the more than two decades of leadership ventures and their profound global impact. It was a time of joy, reflection, and community building to focus the Fellows on the next 25 years of engagement and impact.

Aspen Institute President and CEO Dan Porterfield delivered the below welcome remarks at the celebration on June 9th, 2023 at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk in Chicago, IL. Follow him on LinkedIn.

Thank you, Aileen, Maya, and Tina for opening our dinner. There are many to thank this evening:

Our founding supporters: The Crown Family, especially Lester and Jim, and Francis and Muriel Hoffman.

The trustees of the Aspen Institute, led by Margot Pritzker and the many here this weekend, including HCF chair Bill Mayer, Cesar Conde, Andy Cunningham, Arne Duncan, Arjun Gupta, Mark Hoplamazian, Carla Piñeyro Sublett, Jessie Woolley-Wilson, Karlheinz Muhr, and Laura Lauder, spouse of Henry Crown Fellow Gary Lauder.

The Institute’s General Counsel, a proud member of the “9th Symphony” class, Jim Pickup. And, of course, our superb Henry Crown Fellowship staff, led by “We Go the 11’s” Tonya Hinch and Esther Turner.

The Aspen Institute came into the world 75 years ago in an age of post-War hope and institution-building, when a group of thinkers and doers from civil society and the business world gathered in the Colorado mountains to discuss nothing less than the future of humanity.

They did so with a shared belief in human dignity and a social order defined by freedom, justice, opportunity, equity, and democratic fellow-feeling.

From that first convening, our ever-growing institution has pursued a bold purpose, which is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world.

We do this in many ways and places, with many kinds of impact—from youth groups to the halls of Congress, from global convenings to small town America, from the hopeful continent of Africa to the heroic country of Ukraine, from new convenings in places like Tulsa to those returning pilgrimages to your Aspen home base where each of you has gone deep and made lifelong friends and grown.

For 25 years, the Henry Crown Fellowship has embraced and embodied the noble purpose of the Aspen Institute, expressing it anew with every class. You ignite human potential. You build understanding. You create new possibilities for a better world.

You do this together, as a Fellowship, committed to being there for one another in both breakthrough moments of clarity and triumph and joy and also in those all too human times of confusion and setback and even heartbreak.

We’re very proud of the relentless and restless work you do in the world, your callings as they evolve—and we’re also proud of the ways that the Henry Crown community has shaped the Institute itself and the relevance of the Aspen Idea.

Your ideas have brought deeper depth to our dialogues.

Your ventures have expanded our imagination for what can be created.

Your vision has brought us new programs and partnerships and fellowships.

Your mentorship has helped others to be their best for the greater good.

And your lives of service have added layers to our understanding of the leadership journey.

We hope this weekend will provide many opportunities to catch up and reconnect, to share hopes and doubts, and think together about work that’s worth doing and what matters most right now. Our staff and sponsors deserve many accolades for pulling this together.

As you enjoy this time here—and reflect on the weeks to come ahead on this remarkable fellowship and its value in your life—I would like to issue an invitation.

Through a process chaired by Andy Cunningham, our Board and senior management are developing a strategic plan for the Aspen Institute as a whole. With this plan we are going to grow our importance and our impacts and reach.

So, we invite each of you to give thought to the direction and destiny of the Aspen Institute itself, the ways it can draw more deeply upon the Henry Crown community, and the opportunity we all have, in these turbulent times with the world spinning like a top…to be and do still more, and in particular:

To include and embrace the young;

To bring our leadership models to greater scale; and,

To build a still more beautifully interconnected and supportive global community from the tens of thousands of leaders around the world who have walked through one Aspen doorways, loved what they found there, and now are yearning for more.

Thank you, Henry Crown community. And now I’ll turn it over to Esther Turner to continue with the program.