Atlanta, Ga.–At its Annual Retreat in Bonita Springs, Florida last weekend, the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) announced the winner of its second-ever Blinking Lights Award: Robert “Bob” Chitester.
The Blinking Lights Award, part of FEE’s Blinking Lights Project, recognizes the unique achievements of an individual whose actions represent the vital link between personal character and a free society. The name of the project comes from a peaceful demonstration in communist-era Poland during which people signalled their support for a free Poland by simultaneously blinking the lights in their Warsaw homes.
Bob Chitester is chairman, president, and CEO of Free To Choose Network, a tax-exempt public foundation encompassing three influential initiatives: Free To Choose Media, an award-winning, global entertainment company that produces and distributes thought-provoking public television programs and series; izzit.org, an educational initiative that produces video-based teaching units for a large network of K-12 and college educators; and the Free To Choose Press publishing company.
Lawrence W. Reed, FEE’s president, lauded Chitester as “a pioneer in putting free market ideas in front of large television audiences.”
“Bob is a man of character and principle. His influence has been substantial and underappreciated precisely because he puts good ideas far ahead of personal attention,” said Reed.
In 1977, Chitester persuaded Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman and his wife Rose Director Friedman to undertake the film project that became Free To Choose, an award-winning PBS TV series and an international best-selling book based on the series, with sales in the millions. More than 30 years later, the series and book are still in wide use and have been profoundly influential.
More than 500 projects have been launched through Free To Choose Media under Chitester’s orchestration, ranging from documentaries and cable series to home video programs, many of which can be viewed on www.FreeToChoose.TV. He created the Stossel in the Classroom educational program that puts videos before hundreds of thousands of high school students.
Chitester is now at work on multiple new productions including programs on economist Adam Smith, school choice, and on the story of the free market revolution that transformed New Zealand in the 1980s.
“Bob Chitester saw that Milton Friedman was not merely a distinguished intellectual, but a potential television star,” said Dr. Frederic J. Fransen, Founder of Donor Advising, LLC and a FEE trustee. “Bob always thinks big. He is not satisfied with polishing one blinking light if the landscape is dark, but rather seeks to illuminate the globe with the stories of freedom. His impact cannot be overstated.”
Chitester earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Michigan, and received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from Allegheny College. He and his wife, Carol Lovell, have four children and eight grandchildren.
The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) envisions a future in which the ideas of freedom are familiar and credible to rising generations. Toward that end, FEE is a leader in marketing the economic, ethical, and legal principles of a free society, focusing on youth aged 14-26. Through student seminars, publications, courses, and content on FEE.org, FEE makes these ideas widely accessible, easily understandable, and engaging to young minds.
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