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Friday, July 1, 2016

We’re Not in the Suburbs Any More

FEE's new Atlanta headquarters

FEE sits squarely at the intersection of media, education, and free-market think tanks. Each of these industries has undergone dramatic changes in the past decade, and FEE has reimagined its business model and repositioned its programs accordingly.  

A striking symbol of this transformation is the comparison of our new headquarters office in Atlanta’s Midtown district with our historic headquarters building in Irvington-on-Hudson, NY.

We designed our new office to attract talented young people who are ambitious to forge their careers in high-tech digital media and educational outreach.

The organizing principle of the layout is teamwork. Workstations are generous and in sight of each other, with collaborative tables in between. Unassigned private rooms allow for conferences, phone calls and quiet work, as needed.

The break area is large enough for the entire staff and acts as a staging area for group projects, as well as partner group events.

One wall of the break area is devoted to a digital display of the key performance metrics in all our operations. At a glance, the entire staff can see and celebrate the successes of our person-to-person outreach, performance, online learning, online store sales, mass media exposures, and donation revenues.   


By contrast, our work areas in Irvington were scattered among the bedrooms on the second and third floors of a Victorian mansion, and the break room was downstairs in a separate wing.

Although our space might understandably be mistaken for a digital marketing agency, we are dedicated to bringing the intellectual tradition of the freedom philosophy to the next generation. To stay mindful of this, an entire wall of our entrance hall–the James M. Rodney Wall of Ethical Entrepreneurship–features images of outstanding entrepreneurs, whose lives exemplify the principles of ethical value creation. Covering an adjacent wall are images of the intellectual giants whose ideas these entrepreneurs have advanced through their careers in business and through their philanthropy to organizations like FEE.

Inspiring quotations from those intellectual heroes are scattered throughout the space, as are images of ordinary wooden pencils, in honor of our founder Leonard E. Read, author of “I, Pencil.” An entire wall of our main conference room will be devoted to the cream of the Henry Hazlitt Library from Irvington. This is primarily as a reminder of our heritage, because, to be candid, everything in the library is today more easily accessed online than in physical form!

As I previously wrote in these pages, our decision to sell the Irvington mansion and move into the central business district in Atlanta was governed by the question, “Are we about investing in freedom’s next generation or about preserving memories of last generation’s heroes by maintaining an expensive museum?”

Our new headquarters announces to all, most significantly to current and prospective staff, that we are “all in” on investing in freedom’s next generation.

  • Wayne Olson is the Chairman of FEE's Board of Trustees and a former executive director of the Foundation for Economic Education.