New America (organization)

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New America
New america logo14.jpg
Motto New America is committed to renewing American politics, prosperity, and purpose in the Digital Age.
Formation 1999; 18 years ago (1999)
Type Public Policy Think Tank
Headquarters 740 15th Street NW, Ste 900
Anne-Marie Slaughter
Revenue (2014)
Expenses (2014) $21,539,240

New America, formerly the New America Foundation, is a non-partisan think tank in the United States.[2][3][4] It focuses on a range of public policy issues, including national security studies, technology, asset building, health, gender, energy, education, and the economy. The organization is based in Washington, D.C., with additional offices in New York City.

Ted Halstead served as New America's founding President and CEO from 1999 to 2007.[5] Steve Coll served as New America's second President.[6] In 2013, Anne-Marie Slaughter became President of New America, replacing Steve Coll.[7] Google's Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, is the chairman of the foundation's board of directors.[8]

History and mission[edit]

New America was founded in 1999 by Ted Halstead, Sherle Schwenninger, Michael Lind, and Walter Russell Mead as a non-profit, public policy institute whose stated mission is to "invest in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States".[9] The organization has a staff of over a hundred employees and fellows with offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

The organization continues to "emphasize work that is responsive to the changing conditions and problems of our 21st-century information-age economy" with "big ideas, impartial analysis and pragmatic solutions".[9] Newsweek's Howard Fineman called it a "hive of state-of-the-art policy entrepreneurship".[10]

Organization and structure[edit]

Congressman Jim Moran speaking at New America Foundation
New America hosts talks and public events on their program topics. Pictured is author Cory Doctorow speaking about copyright in June 2010.

The organization houses programs and initiatives that focus on domestic, economic and global issues.[11] and also houses a fellowship program.

Foreign policy[edit]

The foundation's National Security Studies Program researches and analyzes global issues, from the inner workings of al-Qaeda to overall national foreign policy strategy. With the presence of journalists such as Steve Coll and Peter Bergen, it has carved out a policy niche in the issues of Afghanistan and counter-terrorism. Bergen, who leads the program, is a CNN national security analyst and author of several best-selling books, including The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda.[12] Coll, former president of New America, has also written several books on al-Qaeda and Afghanistan, including the 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner for general non-fiction, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden. James Risen in The New York Times complimented Coll on "revealing how Saudi Arabia and its intelligence operations aided the rise of Osama bin Laden and Islamic extremism in Afghanistan".[13]

The foundation also has a policy focus on the Middle East with its Middle East Task Force, directed by Leila Hilal, which covers analysis and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa.


New America's Open Technology Institute (OTI) led by Kevin Bankston has become one of the largest programs within the organization. Focus areas of OTI include wireless community networks building, the creation and management of an open source platform that supports broadband research tools and speed tests, the development of a platform (called Commotion Wireless) to lower barriers for building distributed communications networks, among other projects.

In the same vein of technology, the foundation Future Tense initiative, a partnership with Arizona State University and Slate Magazine, explores emerging technologies and their effects on society and public policy. Central to the partnership is a series of events in Washington, D.C., that take an in-depth look at issues that, while little-understood today, could reshape the policy debates of the coming decade.


The foundation's Economic Growth Program, directed by New America co-founders Sherle Schwenninger and Michael Lind, aims to take a policy look at America and the world's economic problems. In 2011, the program commissioned a paper "The Way Forward: Moving From the Post-Bubble, Post-Bust Economy to Renewed Growth and Competitiveness"[14] which warned of the severe economic problems America would face if continued on its current path. The program did not believe in immediate government deficit reduction; it believed that will only make the situation worse. Instead, as stated in the paper, it had other suggestions, including investing in a sustained infrastructure program, lasting from five to seven years, to create jobs and demand.

Formerly, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget was a part of New America until it separated to become the Fix the Debt campaign. The bipartisan Committee ran a number of projects, including U.S. Budget Watch, a project funded by Pew Charitable Trusts which reports on important fiscal issues relating to the 2008 election and afterwards. One of its more recent initiatives is the "Go Big" initiative, which was created after the Budget Control Act of 2011, enacted in early August to raise the debt-ceiling and avoid default. The effort urged a bipartisan 12-member Joint Congressional Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the Super Committee, with finding an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by November 23.

Maya MacGuineas, who has worked at the Brookings Institution as well as on Wall Street, led the Committee and now leads Fix the Debt. After advising politicians from both parties, she serves as a trusted mediator on budget talks between Democrats and Republicans.[15] In addition, in April 2010 the Committee's policy director, Marc Goldwein, joined President Obama's bipartisan Fiscal Commission.[16] Goldwein, 26, was also named one of the Forbes' "30 under 30".[17]

Education Policy Program[edit]

New America's Education Policy Program comprises scholars on pre-k to K-12 through higher education and into the workforce. The policy staff produce the EdCentral blog. It also comprises the Federal Education Budget Project, which serves as a "source of information on federal education funding for policymakers, the media, and the public."

Fellows program[edit]

The organization provides fellowships to "foster the next generation of thinkers and public intellectuals" through the Bernard L. Schwartz Fellows program. The fellowship "supports talented journalists, academics and other public policy analysts who offer a fresh and often unpredictable perspective on the major challenges facing our society".[18] Alumni of the program include Jacob Hacker, Megan McArdle, Katherine Boo, Robert Wright, Tim Wu, Chris Hayes, Romesh Ratnesar, David Auerbach, and Dayo Olopade.

New America NYC[edit]

Launched in winter 2011–12, New America NYC is an initiative that aims to further the foundation's goals of research and policy innovation. The space, located in SoHo, hosts several events each month generally focused on politics, media, and culture.

Published articles[edit]

Articles published by New America staff include the 2012 report "The Outlaw"[19] by Steve Coll, which ran in The New Yorker and explores Osama bin Laden's life and his use of media to get his message out; "Romney Lays Out Weak Obama Attack Line After New Hampshire Primary Win"[20] in The Daily Beast by Peter Beinart; and "An American Hospital: The Most Dangerous Place?"[21] by Shannon Brownlee in TIME magazine.

On January 13, 2014, the foundation put out a report[22] by Peter Bergen et al. on the effectiveness of the National Security Agency and its spying programs gathering big data, nationally and worldwide, just four days before President Barack Obama's speech[23] on NSA reforms as a consequence of the disclosures since June 2013 by former NSA-contractor Edward Snowden. The report found only insignificant or minimal influence of the agency's surveillance programs on cases of terrorism.[24]


The list of organizations and individuals that supported the foundation in 2013 includes more than 140 contributors. The top donors, giving more than $1,000,000 each, were the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, Eric and Wendy Schmidt, and the US Department of State.[25]

Board of Directors[edit]

The New America Foundation's Board of Directors[26] consists of 23 members. It is chaired by Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet Inc, who succeeded founding chairman James Fallows in 2008. Other members include:

Former members[edit]

Leadership Council[edit]

The foundation's Leadership Council, chaired by Scott Delman, recognizes those individuals who contribute $25,000 or more to the Foundation each year. As members of the Leadership Council, they participate in the intellectual life of the Foundation in numerous ways. For instance, they are invited to attend a special annual retreat with New America senior staff, Fellows and Board of Directors, as well as a series of salon dinners. The Leadership Council currently has 17 members, which includes Craig Newmark (Customer Service Rep and founder,, Leo Hindery, Jr. (Managing Partner, InterMedia Partners), and Neal Baer, M.D. (Executive Producer of the television series A Gifted Man).[27]


  1. ^ "New America Foundation". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 12 September 2016. 
  2. ^ "New America Organization Status". 
  3. ^ Nissenbaum, Dion (June 28, 2015). "Author Warns U.S. Military to Focus on China". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  4. ^ "Steve Coll, New America President, Stepping Down, Writing 'Ghost Wars' Sequel". The Huffington Post. 2012-06-25. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  5. ^ Morin, Richard; Deane, Claudia (December 10, 2001). "Big Thinker: Ted Halstead's New America Foundation Has It All: Money, Brains and Buzz". The Washington Post (p C.01). 
  6. ^ Weil, Martin; Silverman, Elissa (July 23, 2007). "Author, Ex-Post Editor To Head D.C. Think Tank". Washington Post. 
  8. ^ New America Foundation, Board of Directors, accessed May 11, 2010
  9. ^ a b New America Foundation, About New America, accessed June 23, 2010
  10. ^ Howard Fineman, "Living Politics: Election Gave '04 Brokers More Clout", Newsweek, November 13, 2002
  11. ^ New America Foundation, Programs and Issues, accessed June 23, 2010
  12. ^ "Peter Bergen's "The Longest War"". The Washington Post. 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2014-05-02. 
  13. ^ Risen, James (April 11, 2004). "What Clarke Knew and When He Knew It". New York Times. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  14. ^ Nocera, Joe (2011-10-10). "This Time, It Really Is Different". New York Times. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  15. ^ Brady, Jessica (2011-11-15). "Maya MacGuineas in High Demand During Fiscal Debate". Roll Call. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  16. ^ Dan Froomkin, "Obama's Fiscal Commission: What's Going On In There?", The Huffington Post, May 5, 2010
  17. ^ "30 Under 30". Forbes. 2011-12-20. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  18. ^ New America Foundation, The Bernard L. Schwartz Fellows Program
  19. ^ Coll, Steve (16 May 2011). "The Outlaw". The New Yorker. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  20. ^ Beinart, Peter (11 January 2012). "Romney Lays Out Weak Obama Attack Line After New Hampshire Primary Win". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  21. ^ Brownlee, Shannon (9 January 2012). "An American Hospital: The Most Dangerous Place?". TIME. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  22. ^ Peter Bergen, David Sterman, Emily Schneider and Bailey Cahall: "Do NSA's Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?" on the website of New America, January 13, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  23. ^ "Remarks by the President on Review of Signals Intelligence" on, January 17, 2014, text and video. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  24. ^ Peter Bergen et al.: "Do NSA's Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?", ibid.: "An in-depth analysis of 225 individuals recruited by al-Qaeda or a like-minded group or inspired by al-Qaeda's ideology, and charged in the United States with an act of terrorism since 9/11, demonstrates that traditional investigative methods, such as [...], provided the initial impetus for investigations in the majority of cases, while the contribution of NSA's bulk surveillance programs to these cases was minimal. Indeed, the controversial bulk collection of American telephone metadata, which includes [...], under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, appears to have played an identifiable role in initiating, at most, 1.8 percent of these cases. NSA programs involving the surveillance of non-U.S. persons outside of the United States under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act played a role in 4.4 percent of the terrorism cases we examined, and NSA surveillance under an unidentified authority played a role in 1.3 percent of the cases we examined." Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  25. ^ "Our Funding". New America Foundation. Retrieved 2015-04-14. 
  26. ^ "Experts". New America Foundation. Retrieved 12 April 2016. 
  27. ^ Leadership Council |

External links[edit]