Lawrence Reed: My Final Week as FEE’s President

A few reflections on my time with FEE and the legacy left behind.

After nearly 11 years as FEE’s president, this is my last week in the job. In a few days, I will assume the role of President Emeritus and Zilvinas Silenas will take over as President.

Since before I announced the search for a successor in June 2018, I knew that this week would eventually arrive. More than a few people of late have asked, “How does it feel?”

Well, I'll Tell You

Transitioning to a different position is not new to me. Before FEE, I served almost 21 years as President of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan. Before Mackinac, I held the top post at the Center for the Study of Market Alternatives in Idaho for three years. And before that, I taught Economics for seven years at Northwood University and chaired its Economics department. If you see fewer articles from me in the next few months, it’s only because I have some major book projects I’m working on.Every departure brings the inevitable mixed emotions. I’ve enjoyed every job I’ve ever had and never left one eagerly or unhappily. It’s a matter of recognizing when it’s time to move on and seize another opportunity.

Passing the FEE presidency to Zilvinas is actually less of a change for me than those earlier moves. I’m not physically leaving my home in Newnan, Georgia. I’ll be the active President Emeritus that Zilvinas and the FEE staff and board have asked me to be. Indeed, the emeritus role will allow me more time to do what I most want to do, namely, write and lecture. If you see fewer articles from me in the next few months, it’s only because I have some major book projects I’m working on.

A changing of the guard at the top doesn’t always go smoothly, in either the public or private sectors. I am very proud of the fact, however, that every single one that I’ve been involved in has been planned in advance, timed well, and executed with near-perfection. The Mackinac Center didn’t skip a beat when I left in 2008, and neither will FEE. That’s no accident. It’s what good management should look like.

Considerable consolation comes from reflecting on all that we accomplished and knowing that we have the best team in the business.

Nonetheless, I’ve been blessed with such phenomenal colleagues on the staff and board of FEE that this transition gives me pause. FEE has been very much a part of my life for more than half a century since I first devoured its publications in 1968. Being able to oversee the organization’s renaissance over the past decade carries with it a very special measure of pride.

Just as much as I enjoyed working with our splendid team, I will miss the interactions that will now be somewhat less frequent. But considerable consolation comes from reflecting on all that we accomplished and knowing that we have the best team in the business.

My Time as FEE's President

Regarding my tenure as FEE president, what am I most proud of? I’ve been asked that a lot. High on the list would certainly be the reinvigoration of the organization, by every measure from its finances to its staffing. The strategic focus on young “newcomers” to the liberty movement would be another. Character is so important that if any society gets that wrong, liberty will be in grave jeopardy. The move from New York to Georgia and the effective implementation of technology to improve our outreach are way up there too.

I think, however, I would personally rank as #1 the heightened emphasis on personal character and its connection to liberty. That’s evident in so many ways, summarized in “Liberty as a Life Philosophy,” “What Does the World Need More of?” and “Are We Good Enough for Liberty?”. Character is so important that if any society gets that wrong, liberty will be in grave jeopardy.

In a few weeks, our annual FEEcon event will take place in Atlanta. Please come! We are very much looking forward to greeting you and introducing you to Zilvinas. We will celebrate liberty together, just as we have for the past decade and as we will for many decades to come!

I also hope you’ll keep in touch through the FEE website, my personal website, and social media. I’m on Facebook, as well as LinkedIn and Twitter. My email address will not change.

Thanks to all of you who have helped in even the smallest way to make my time at FEE a great joy over the years. Never give up. Our cause is noble. It’s worth fighting for. And you may never find a more effective ally in winning the future for liberty than the Foundation for Economic Education.

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