In the more than six decades since its founding, the Aspen Institute has grown and evolved in many directions, but it has always held fast to its reputation as the place where policymakers, writers, artists, executives and members of the public can come together to explore the values underpinning society. That reputation, though, is incomplete. From the beginning, the Institute has been driven by a desire to both convene and have real-world impact.
This desire stems from founder Walter Paepcke’s focus on the “good society”—a concept that still lies at the heart of the Institute. The “good society” is not some final destination. Instead, it is an ideal, an aspiration—a continual striving for improvement, individually and collectively, driven by both the ideas we explore and the actions we take.
Leadership and Board of Trustees
The Aspen Institute is led by a president and CEO and five executive vice presidents.
The Board of Trustees is made up of high-level individuals from the public and private sectors who have been elected by a majority of the membership of the board. The board is responsible for providing counsel to the President, as well as governance over the business, affairs, and property of the Aspen Institute. The board meets three times per year and its twelve standing committees meet regularly to discuss, in depth, the key issues facing the organization.
Independence and Transparency at the Aspen Institute
- The Aspen Institute is transparent about our funding. We disclose all donations and identify each corporate, foundation and government donor in our annual reports, on our website, and to anyone who asks.
- The Aspen Institute retains editorial control of all of our publications and events. We have the final say over what gets published, what topics are covered, and who speaks at any of our convenings.
- The Aspen Institute is a nonpartisan educational organization, which operates independently of the positions and views of our funders. We do not engage in any activity that would require registration under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, and do not engage staff or contractors as “lobbyists” as defined by the Act. With respect to foreign funding, the Institute will not seek to influence any agency or official of the US government or the US public regarding US policy or the policies or relations of a foreign country. Similarly, the Institute will not act, directly or indirectly, as an agent, representative, or in any other capacity at the order, request, or under the direction or control of any government or political entity.
The Aspen Institute is exempt from federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. However, income from certain activities not directly related to the Institute’s tax-exempt purpose is subject to taxation as unrelated business income. Each year, the Aspen Institute files Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service.
The accounting firm of Raffa PC conducted an independent audit of the organization’s financial statements. Raffa also audited the Aspen Institute’s compliance with the requirements of laws, regulations, contracts, and grants applicable to federal programs.
The Aspen Institute has prepared an accounting of restricted charitable and program support, listing all payments $25,000 and over. The list is sorted by Aspen Institute program. This accounting includes all restricted program gifts, grants, non-charitable sponsorships and other types of program revenue. Unrestricted support is not included in this document.