Edwin Feulner

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Ed Feulner
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 byFrank Walton
Succeeded byJim DeMint
Personal details
Edwin John Feulner Jr.

(1941-08-12) August 12, 1941 (age 82)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationRegis University (BA)
University of Pennsylvania (MBA)
University of Edinburgh (PhD)

Edwin John Feulner Jr. (born August 12, 1941) is a former think tank executive who founded the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation and served as its president from 1977 to 2013 and again from 2017 to 2018.[1][2] Feulner's positions have included advisor and chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, from which he received the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom in 2006.[3]

Early years and education[edit]

Feulner was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 12, 1941, to Helen Joan (née Franzen) and Edwin John Feulner, the owner of a Chicago real estate firm. He has three sisters: Mary Ann, Joan, and Barbara. The family comes from a line of devout Roman Catholic German Americans. Three of his maternal uncles were parish priests.[4]

Feulner attended Immacultate Conception High School in Elmhurst, Illinois and Regis University, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in English in 1963.[5] He attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received an MBA in 1964. He was a Richard M. Weaver Fellow at Georgetown University and the London School of Economics.

Later, in 1981, he received a PhD in political science from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland,[6] where his doctoral thesis, "The evolution of the Republican Study Committee", was on the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.[7]


Feulner began his 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 Wisconsin Republican Melvin Laird. Feulner subsequently became a long-serving executive assistant to Illinois Republican congressman Phil Crane. Prior to co-founding and becoming president of The Heritage Foundation, Feulner served as executive director of the Republican Study Committee.[8]

Heritage Foundation[edit]

Feulner was a founding trustee of The Heritage Foundation from its founding in 1973 until 1977. In 1977, he left Representative Crane's office to become the foundation's president.[9] At that time, the foundation had nine employees and had been through four presidents in the four years since its 1973 founding. As president, Feulner made the foundation more aggressive, market-driven, and less ivory tower, and it began publishing easily-accessed and concise studies. By focusing the foundation's marketing, he helped transform Heritage from a small operation into a booming enterprise of conservative ideals, eventually creating the think tank that Newt Gingrich, in a New York Times column, called "the Parthenon of the conservative metropolis."[10]

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. Its 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 waiting until legislation had been passed, which had been the approach of most think tanks at the time. Feulner told The Washington Examiner, "it doesn't do us any good to have great ideas if we are not out there peddling our products."[8]

Within a year and a half of Feulner becoming president, Heritage's budget increased to $2.5 million and its donor pool grew to about 120,000.[11] Under his leadership, Heritage ultimately grew to 250 employees and, with annual income of about $80 million[10] and a donor pool of about 600,000, one of the world's largest think tanks.[5]

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 an ongoing joint project between The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation since 1997. The index measures individual countries' policies in the broad areas of rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency, and open markets.

In 2023, Feulner retired as chairman of Heritage's board of trustees. a role he had briefly resumed in 2017 following the 2016 election of Donald Trump.[12]

Other roles[edit]

In 2014, Feulner served as president and treasurer of the Mont Pelerin Society.[13] He has served as a trustee and as chairman of the board of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. He has also been a member of the board of the National Chamber Foundation,[14] the Institut d'Etudes Politiques, and the board of trustees and a life trustee of Regis University, his undergraduate alma mater.

He became a member of the advisory council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and was the foundation's chair in 2021.[15][3]

Among other executive and advisory roles, Feulner was president of the Philadelphia Society from 1982 to 1983[16] and from 2013 to 2014, and is a past director of the Council for National Policy, the Acton Institute, and George Mason University.[1] Feulner served as a member of the GingrichMitchell Congressional UN Reform Task Force in 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 was the chairman of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy from 1982 to 1991, a consultant on domestic policy to U.S. president Ronald 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.

In 2007 GQ magazine listed him as one of the "50 most powerful people in D.C."[17]

In 2007 and again in 2010, Daily Telegraph named him "one of the 100 most influential conservatives in America".[18][19]

In 2009, Karl Rove, writing in Forbes, listed him as the sixth-most powerful conservative in Washington, D.C..[20]

In June 2012, Feulner received the conservative Bradley Prize for "extraordinary talent and dedication". In 2018, he was awarded National Review Institute's William F. Buckley Jr. Prize for Leadership in Political Thought.[21]

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 and his wife, Linda Claire Leventhal, live in Alexandria, Virginia. They have two children.


  • Looking Back (The Heritage Foundation, 1981). ASIN B0006E54OC, OCLC 8740675
  • Conservatives Stalk the House (Green Hill, 1983). ISBN 0898031125
  • The March of Freedom (Spence Publishing Company, 1998). ISBN 978-0965320887
  • Intellectual Pilgrims (Mont Pelerin Society, 1999). ISBN 978-0891950790
  • Leadership for America: The Principles of Conservatism (Spence Publishing Company, 2000). ISBN 978-1890626228
  • Getting America Right (co-authored with Doug Wilson) (Crown Forum, 2006). ISBN 978-0307336910
  • The American Spirit (co-authored with Brian Tracy) (Thomas Nelson, 2012). ISBN 978-1595553379


  1. ^ a b c "Edwin Feulner". Heritage.org. Archived from the original on July 9, 2022. 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 "Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D". Victims of Communism. Archived from the original on May 24, 2022. Retrieved December 5, 2021.
  4. ^ Edwards, Lee. Leading the Way: The Story of Ed Feulner and the Heritage Foundation, Crown Publishing Group: Random House; ISBN 9780770435790 (2013)
  5. ^ a b Miller, John. "Feulner's Farewell" National Review. 2013.
  6. ^ Cloud, Thomas. "How Heritage President Ed Feulner Became Dr. Feulner". My Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on January 5, 2022. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  7. ^ Feulner, Edwin John (1981). "Evolution of the Republican Study Committee". Archived from the original on March 14, 2022. Retrieved March 14, 2022. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Jennifer Harper (April 10, 2012). "Inside the Beltway: Apres Rick". Washington Times. Archived from the original on January 19, 2023. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  10. ^ a b "Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D." The Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on January 19, 2023. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  11. ^ Miller, John (April 8, 2013). "Feulner's Farewell". National Review.
  12. ^ "Edwin Feulner". The Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on July 9, 2022. Retrieved December 5, 2021.
  13. ^ William H. Peterson (March 7, 2006). "A blueprint for rightists". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on October 4, 2015. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  14. ^ "Imprimis archive: Lay Your Hammer Down: Commencement Address to the Hillsdale College Class of 2004". Imprimis. Hillsdale. 2004. Archived from the original on May 29, 2010. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  15. ^ "National Advisory Council". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on June 10, 2011. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  16. ^ phillysoc.org Archived February 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ The most influential US conservatives, The Telegraph, March 11, 2007; accessed April 5, 2016.
  19. ^ "Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D." The Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on January 19, 2023. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  20. ^ "Karl Rove Picks The Seven Most Powerful Conservatives". Forbes. November 11, 2009. Archived from the original on June 18, 2022. Retrieved December 5, 2021.
  21. ^ Heritage's Ed Feulner Awarded National Review Institute's Buckley Prize Archived February 13, 2019, at the Wayback Machine, The Daily Signal, October 22, 2018.

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