Edwin Feulner

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Ed Feulner
Edwin Feulner publicity shot.jpg
President of the Heritage Foundation
In office
May 2, 2017 – January 1, 2018
Preceded byJim DeMint
Succeeded byKay Coles James
In office
February 16, 1977 – April 4, 2013
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byJim DeMint
Personal details
Edwin John Feulner Jr.

(1941-08-12) August 12, 1941 (age 79)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Edwin John Feulner Jr. (born August 12, 1941) is credited with establishing the American conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation and served as its president from 1977 to 2013 and again from 2017 to 2018.[1][2]


Feulner attended Immaculate Conception High School and graduated from Regis University with a bachelor's degree in English in 1963."[3] After receiving an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business in 1964, he attended Georgetown University and the London School of Economics, where he was a Richard M. Weaver Fellow. He put his studies on hold while President of The Heritage Foundation. Later, in 1981 he earned a PhD in Political Science at the University of Edinburgh.[4]

Early career[edit]

Feulner began his Washington career as an analyst for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, then called the Center for Strategic Studies. He later became a congressional aide to congressman (and later Secretary of Defense) Melvin Laird. Feulner subsequently became a long-serving executive assistant to Illinois Republican congressman Phil Crane. Prior to his presidency of the Heritage Foundation, Feulner was executive director of the Republican Study Committee.[5]

Heritage Foundation[edit]

Feulner was a founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation from 1973 until 1977, when he left Representative Crane's office to run the outfit full-time.[6] It had nine employees and in those four years had churned through four presidents.

As president, he changed the foundation's direction. He wanted it to be more aggressive, more market-driven and less ivory-tower, creating easily accessed, concise studies.

By focusing the foundation's marketing, he transformed it from a small operation into a booming enterprise of conservative ideals, eventually creating the think tank that The New York Times calls "the Parthenon of the conservative metropolis."[7] This new marketing strategy was called the "briefcase test", a concept that revolutionized the influence of think tanks on public policy and boosted Heritage's popularity. Now the focus was on easily accessed, timely, concise research that could fit in a briefcase. A further fillip was the foundation's publishing of policy reports and papers ahead of related legislation, rather than the established think-tank practice of waiting until it had been passed. As Feulner related to The Washington Examiner, "It doesn't do us any good to have great ideas if we are not out there peddling our products."[5]

Within a year and a half of Feulner becoming president, Heritage's budget had increased to $2.5 million with a donor pool of about 120,000.[8] The institution has around 250 employees and annual income of about $80 million[7] and a donor pool of about 600,000.[3]

In January 2013, Feulner published a column, "Economic Freedom on the Wane", to review the results of the annual Index of Economic Freedom, which has been a joint project of The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation since 1995. The index measures individual countries' policies in four broad areas: the rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets. In the 2013 edition, citizens of the United States were

lucky we didn't fall out of the top 10 altogether. Our Index score went down a bit over the last year. We held onto the No. 10 slot mostly because Ireland declined enough to wind up in 11th place. As recently as 2008, the U.S. ranked seventh worldwide, had a score of 81 (on a 0–100 scale, with 100 being the freest), and was listed as a "free" economy. Today, the U.S. has a score of 76 (its lowest since 2000) and is "mostly free," the Index's second-highest category.[9]

Other roles[edit]

Feulner was president and treasurer of the Mont Pelerin Society in 2014.[10] He has served as a trustee and as the chairman of the board of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. He has also been a member of the board of the National Chamber Foundation[11] and of the Institut d'Etudes Politiques, as well as of the board of trustees and a life trustee of Regis University, his undergraduate alma mater.

He is a member of the advisory council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.[12]

Among other executive and advisory roles, Feulner was president of the Philadelphia Society 1982–83[13] and 2013–2014 and is a past director of Sequoia Bank, the Council for National Policy, the Acton Institute, George Mason University and the American Council on Germany.[1]

Feulner served as a member of the Gingrich-Mitchell Congressional UN Reform Task Force (2005) and of the Meltzer Commission from 1999–2000. He was vice chairman of the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform, known as the Kemp Commission, from 1995 to 1996. He also was the chairman of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (1982–91), a consultant for domestic policy to President Reagan, and an adviser to several government departments and agencies.[1]

Awards and distinctions[edit]

In 1989 Feulner received the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian award in the United States.

He is frequently recognized by media and in conservative circles as an influence in US right-wing policy thought. In Forbes Magazine, in 2009, Karl Rove called Feulner the sixth most powerful conservative in Washington. In 2007 GQ magazine considered him one of the "50 most powerful people in D.C."[14] And in both 2007 and 2010, the UK's Daily Telegraph named him "one of the 100 most influential conservatives in America".[15][16]

In June 2012, Feulner received the conservative Bradley Prize for "extraordinary talent and dedication". In 2018, he took the National Review's William F. Buckley Jr. Prize for Leadership in Political Thought.[17]

He has been awarded eleven honorary degrees, and has received honors from the governments of Taiwan, South Korea and the Czech Republic.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Feulner was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Helen Joan (née Franzen) and Edwin John Feulner Sr., owner of a Chicago real estate firm. He came from a line of German-American Catholics (his grandparents had immigrated to the US in the 1870s). Feulner and his wife, Linda Claire Leventhal, live in Alexandria, Virginia. They have two children: Edwin J. Feulner III and Emily V. Lown.


  • Looking Back (Heritage Foundation, 1981). ASIN B0006E54OC
  • Conservatives Stalk the House (Green Hill, 1983). ISBN 0-89803-112-5
  • The March of Freedom (Spence Publishing Company, 1998). ISBN 978-0-9653208-8-7
  • Intellectual Pilgrims (Mont Pelerin Society, 1999). ISBN 978-0-89195-079-0
  • Leadership for America: The Principles of Conservatism (Spence Publishing Company, 2000). ISBN 978-1-890626-22-8
  • Getting America Right (Co-author Doug Wilson) (Crown Forum, 2006). ISBN 978-0-307-33691-0
  • The American Spirit (Co-author Brian Tracy) (Thomas Nelson, 2012). ISBN 978-1-59555-337-9


  1. ^ a b c "Edwin Feulner". Heritage.org. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  2. ^ "Statement From the Chairman of Heritage's Board of Trustees". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Miller, John. "Feulner's Farewell" National Review. 2013
  4. ^ Cloud, Thomas. "How Heritage President Ed Feulner Became Dr. Feulner". My Heritage Foundation. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Edwin Feulner: The Heritage Foundation's president revolutionized the Washington think tank scene[permanent dead link], Joe Rogalsky, The Washington Examiner, October 1, 2007. Accessed May 4, 2012.
  6. ^ Jennifer Harper (April 10, 2012). "Inside the Beltway: Apres Rick". Washington Times. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D." The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  8. ^ Miller, John (April 8, 2013). "Feulner's Farewell". National Review.
  9. ^ Fuelner, Ed, "Economic Freedom on the Wane", Townhall.com, January 19, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  10. ^ William H. Peterson (March 7, 2006). "A blueprint for rightists". The Washington Times. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  11. ^ "Imprimis archive: Lay Your Hammer Down: Commencement Address to the Hillsdale College Class of 2004". Imprimis. Hillsdale. 2004. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  12. ^ "National Advisory Council". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  13. ^ phillysoc.org Archived February 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ The 50 Most Powerful People in D.C. Archived March 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Raha Naddaf and Greg Veis, GQ. Accessed March 2, 2008.
  15. ^ The most influential US conservatives, The Telegraph, March 11, 2007. Accessed April 5, 2016.
  16. ^ "Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D." The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  17. ^ Heritage's Ed Feulner Awarded National Review Institute's Buckley Prize, The Daily Signal, 22 October 2018

External links[edit]