Edwin Feulner

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Ed Feulner
Edwin Feulner publicity shot.jpg
Born Edwin John Feulner, Jr.
(1941-08-12) August 12, 1941 (age 75)
Chicago, Illinois, United States

Edwin John "Ed" Feulner, Jr. (born August 12, 1941) is the former president of the conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation. He served as President from 1977 to 2013.[1] His replacement, former U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, was named successor in late 2012 and took over as president on April 3, 2013.[2] Dr. Feulner is widely credited with establishing the The Heritage Foundation as the most dynamic and far-reaching public policy research organization in the world.

According to the Heritage Foundation, its mission is "to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."[3]

Personal life[edit]

Ed Feulner was born on August 12, 1941 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) and he was the first born of five. He was also the first and only son. His sisters names are: Mary Ann, Joan, and Barabara. As a child, he usually went by the name "Bud." He was the first of four and the Feulner’s only son. He was often called “Bud” within the family and his sisters were Mary Ann, Joan, and Barbara. Feulner was born into a family of German-American Catholics.[4]

Currently, Feulner and his wife, Linda Claire Leventhal, live in Alexandria, Virginia. They have two children: Edwin J. Feulner III and Emily V. Lown.


Feulner attended Immaculate Conception High School (Elmhurst, Illinois) before he enrolled in Colorado's Regis University, a Jesuit school in Denver. Feulner claims that he was only an "instinctive conservative" until he attended Regis University, where he eventually "came to an intellectual understanding,"[5] in which he was fully able to grasp conservative polices. Feulner graduated from Regis University with a bachelor's degree in English in 1963. 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 then earned a doctorate at the University of Edinburgh.

Early career[edit]

Feulner began his Washington career as 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 becoming the President of the Heritage Foundation, Feulner was the Executive Director of the Republican Study Committee.[6]

Heritage Foundation[edit]

Feulner was a Founding Trustee of the Heritage Foundation from 1973 until he left Representative Crane's office to run the Heritage Foundation full-time in 1977.[7] Prior to 1977, the Foundation had nine employees and went through a bit of a rough patch with four presidents in four years.

Once Feulner became President he changed the direction of the Heritage Foundation. He wanted to run a business, not a research center made up of academics that would publish studies and hope that they would one day be read. He wanted Heritage to be aggressive and expected progress from its analysts and their results by creating easily accessed, concise studies.

Feulner brought a new focus to the marketing of the Heritage Foundation and would transform the foundation from a small policy think tank into a booming enterprise of conservative ideals, eventually creating the think tank the New York Times calls "the Parthenon of the conservative metropolis."[8] This new marketing strategy was called the "briefcase test." A concept which revolutionized the abilities of think tanks and their influence on public policy. It was essentially the ability to create easily accessed, timely, concise research that was able to fit in a briefcase. Not only was the "briefcase test" essential to Heritage's popularity, but Heritage also promoted publishing policy reports and papers before legislation concerning those policies had been passed through Congress. The practice was unusual for Washington think tanks in the 1970s, who usually published such research after legislation had been passed, and brought national attention to the Heritage Foundation. 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."[6]

Since the 1970s the Heritage Foundation has been a beacon of liberal hope. Heritage's political success has inspired many liberals to partake in the creation of a "liberal Heritage Foundation,"[1] which would be able to counterattack the conservative version. Even Bill Clinton, in 2003, complained on NBC's Today Show that the Heritage Foundation had fierce allies in the newspapers and cable programs. The Heritage Foundation's influence is politically broad and well viewed, much more so than liberal programs.

Within a year and a half of Feulner becoming President of the Heritage Foundation, the budget increased to 2.5 million dollars and had a donor pool of about 120,000.[9] The institution is now a 250-person machine, bringing in an income of about 80 million dollars per year[8] and a donor pool of about 600,000.[5] In 2008, Feulner was reported to have earned a salary of $947,999 from the foundation.[10]

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."[11]

Other roles[edit]

He is the former President and Treasurer of the Mont Pelerin Society in 2014.[12] 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[13] and of the Institut d'Etudes Politiques, as well as of the Board of Trustee and a life Trustee of Regis University, his undergraduate alma mater.

Feulner is a member of the advisory council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.[14]

Among other executive and advisory roles, Feulner was President of the Philadelphia Society 1982–83[15] and 2013-2014 and 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 the 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]

Feulner is a leader - a role that is undisputed and has been internationally recognized. In 2007 and 2010 The Daily Telegraph (UK) "named him one of the 100 most influential conservatives in America."[16] Forbes Magazine, in 2009, Karl Rove ranked Feulner as the sixth most powerful conservative in Washington. Later in 2009, Feulner was featured on Fox News Sunday as a "Power Player of the Week." Not long after, in July 2010, Feulner was mentioned in Downhill magazine's list of "the 100 Americans the Left hates the most."[16]

In 1989 he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest civilian award in the United States awarded by the President of the United States, by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Since 2006, Feulner has been a member of the Honorary Board of Trustees of Fundación Burke, a Spanish institution founded in 2006 to "deepen and spread the traditional principles of Western political thought ... [and] conservative principles".[17] In 2007 GQ magazine named Feulner one of the "50 most powerful people in D.C."[18] The same year, Feulner was named one of the "100 most influential" American conservatives by the UK Telegraph.[19]

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute awarded Dr. Feulner the Charles Hoeflich Lifetime Achievement Award in April 2009. In June 2012, Feulner received the Bradley Prize for "extraordinary talent and dedication" at Washington's Kennedy Center.

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


"There are no permanent victories in Washington, only a permanent series of battles."[9] - After Obama's second inauguration

"I think we've (The Heritage Foundation) made conservative ideas mainstream and equally credible."[9] - when asked to identify Heritage's most important achievement.

"The best way to put more money in people's wallets is to leave it there in the first place."

"The basic questions which I, as a college student of draftable age, will ask the women marchers for peace, the ban the bombers, and the other assorted groups of pacifists are: Can we, as citizens of the leading country of the free world, be satisfied with peace? With the Communists professing the intention of world conquest, shouldn't our goal also be one of world conquest - but world conquest for the free enterprise, republican form of government which enables an individual to express his talents freely, and advance on his own merits? Isn't it about time that we admit we are in a war, and that given the nature and avowed purpose of the enemy, peaceful coexistence is impossible, and that we must either conquer or be conquered?"[20] - Student at Regis University



  1. ^ a b c d "Edwin Feulner". Heritage.org. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ Sullivan, Sean, and Rachel Weiner, "Conservative Sen. Jim DeMint resigning from Senate to head conservative think tank", Washington Post, December 6, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
  3. ^ About, heritage.org.
  4. ^ Edwards, Lee. Leading the Way. Crown Forum. 
  5. ^ a b Miller, John. "Feulner's Farewell" National Review. 2013
  6. ^ a b Edwin Feulner: The Heritage Foundation’s president revolutionized the Washington think tank scene, Joe Rogalsky, The Washington Examiner, October 1, 2007. Accessed May 4, 2012.
  7. ^ Jennifer Harper (April 10, 2012). "Inside the Beltway: Apres Rick". Washington Times. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2016-02-19. 
  9. ^ a b c Miller, John (April 8, 2013). "Feulner's Farewell". National Review. 
  10. ^ "Salaries of Top Think Tank Leaders", Think Tank Blog, August 17, 2010. The blog was citing data compiled by Washingtonian magazine "from James McGann's ongoing work". Retrieved 2012-12-08.
  11. ^ Fuelner, Ed, "Economic Freedom on the Wane", Townhall.com, January 19, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  12. ^ William H. Peterson (March 7, 2006). "A blueprint for rightists". The Washington Times. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Imprimis archive: Lay Your Hammer Down: Commencement Address to the Hillsdale College Class of 2004". Imprimis. Hillsdale. 2004. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  14. ^ "National Advisory Council". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on May 20, 2011. Retrieved May 20, 2011. 
  15. ^ phillysoc.org
  16. ^ a b "Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2016-02-22. 
  17. ^ "Mission", foundation webpage. The foundation was named after Edmund Burke (1729–1797), the Irish-born "father of the modern conservative thought". Feulner is currently listed as a Trustee. Translations by Google Translate. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
  18. ^ The 50 Most Powerful People in D.C., Raha Naddaf and Greg Veis, GQ. Accessed March 2, 2008.
  19. ^ The most influential US conservatives, The Telegraph, March 11, 2007. Accessed April 5, 2016.
  20. ^ Edwards, Lee (2013). Leading the Way: The Story of Ed Feulner and The Heritage Foundation. New York: Crown Forum. p. 19. 

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