by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
RALEIGH — The intellectual forces that have driven three decades of freedom-forward research and policy reforms in North Carolina will merge their capabilities, ensuring that North Carolinians’ liberties are robustly defended and advanced as we enter this next decade. Effective January 1, 2021, the staff and resources of the John Locke Foundation and the Civitas Institute will unite to form a policy powerhouse designed to create, innovate, and advocate for freedom-forward solutions across the state and region.
This reorganization to merge capabilities was approved this week by the Boards of Directors of both nonprofit organizations. The decision harnesses the influence and reputation for quality and credibility of both organizations, earned over a combined 45 years of service to North Carolina.
Amy Cooke will continue as Chief Executive Officer of the John Locke Foundation and Publisher of Carolina Journal. Donald Bryson, president and CEO of Civitas Institute, will spearhead the strategic efforts of the John Locke Foundation as its President and Chief Strategy Officer.
“We have created an unmatched powerhouse for economic opportunity and conservative values in North Carolina and in the Southeast,” Cooke said. “We are uniting the pillars of opportunity and hope, infusing them with the sharp minds and empathetic hearts of our team. We enter 2021 dedicated to coming alongside of North Carolinians, fighting for their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Talent from the groups — the 501 (c)(3) John Locke Foundation, and the 501 (c)(3) Civitas Institute — will collaborate as one voice for freedom. Civitas Action, a 501 (c)(4) nonprofit, will remain a sister organization. The team will deploy its expertise across an array of essential policy issues. Emphasis will be placed on fiscal restraint, respect for taxpayers, maximizing opportunities to earn a living, access to affordable quality health insurance and medical care, parental empowerment and necessary reforms in education, election integrity, agricultural freedom, and transparent and accountable government.
As a result, the public and policymakers can expect (1) broader expertise and influence in public policy research rooted in liberty and constitutional limits on power, (2) expanded outreach to lawmakers, (3) grassroots education and mobilization of voters, (4) more cohesive alliances and coalitions, and (5) deeper reporting and analysis of issues and decision-making.
The launch of the southeast’s largest state-based think tank follows a statewide election in which North Carolinians endorsed lawmakers who champion conservative values: limited government, free enterprise, the rule of law, and education opportunity. Despite the voters’ clear message, the Left’s opposition is relentless and well-funded.
“We are engaged in a conflict of ideas with a Leftist ideology steeped in a ‘trickle-up’ economic model, and the creation of a ruling class to kill the individual American Dream,” Bryson said. “Let’s be clear: This won’t happen on our watch. We are unapologetic in defense of liberty and firmly believe that North Carolina’s best days are still ahead of us.” The John Locke Foundation was established in 1990 to research and promote policies and ideas that create a freer and more prosperous North Carolina. It has been a trailblazer among state-based think tanks. The Civitas Institute followed in 2005 with a special emphasis on holding lawmakers and media accountable and working with grassroots coalitions of conservative North Carolinians.
“This is an exhilarating time. With this change, we marshal the intellectual forces necessary to continue the battle for freedom and free markets in the new decade. For the sake of today’s and tomorrow’s North Carolinians, we move from think tank to battle tank. I’m proud to lead this powerhouse team,” Cooke said.
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