The Institute for Cultural Evolution’s 2nd Annual Austin Conclave on the Future of the Right: July 7 – 10, 2016

Participant Biographies

Adam BellowAdam Bellow is editorial director of Broadside Books/HarperCollins and president of Liberty Island Media, an independent publisher of conservative-themed fiction. Previously he was executive editor-at-large for Doubleday/Random House and editorial director of The Free Press/Simon & Schuster. A publishing professional for nearly 30 years specializing in books for the conservative/libertarian audience, he is the editor of numerous intellectual bestsellers including many that were highly controversial. He is also the author or editor of several books of his own, including New Threats to Freedom (Templeton 2010), The State of the American Mind (Templeton 2015), and IN PRAISE OF NEPOTISM: A History of Family Enterprise from King David to George W. Bush (Anchor 2003).

Ted BuergerTed Buerger is a successful executive and social entrepreneur. He is a co-founder and Chairman of, a founding board member of NoLabels Foundation, originally a founding board member of NoLabels, and was previously co-founder of Growth Capital Partners and three other successful national businesses. Ted also serves on the board of the Western New York Foundation, and the Welfare to Work Foundation (of which he was a founder), and was previously chairman of the non-partisan Center for the Study of the Presidency. He has a special passion for community, for the Hudson River and for using new media to bring people together around shared concerns.

Chris CrawfordChris Crawford is a Program Assistant for the Governance Initiative at the Democracy Fund philanthropy. Chris assists in evaluating the Democracy Fund’s grant making opportunities to organizations building bridges across the ideological divide and seeking out ways for our government to solve problems in the face of increased polarization. Chris worked as a government affairs associate at Susan B. Anthony List. He graduated from The George Washington University with a B.A. in Political Science.

Mindy FinnMindy Finn is a campaign and political veteran with diverse skills honed for the world’s most recognizable leaders and brands. She is the founder and current President of Empowered Women, a non-profit that inspires, educates and gives voice to a bold, new generation of American women. She is also the Senior Advisor for IMGE, and advises companies and non-profits dedicated to strengthening America’s civic institutions including Medium, The Democracy Fund, Open Congress and Ready to Serve. Finn previously lead strategic partnerships and digital programs for dozens of political campaigns and committees. She was recently named one of “50 Politicos to Watch” by POLITICO and a “Tech Titan” by the Washingtonian magazine.

George FriedmanGeorge Friedman is an internationally recognized geopolitical forecaster and strategist on international affairs. He is the Founder and Chairman of Geopolitical Futures, a new online publication that is dedicated to explaining and forecasting the course of global events. Prior to founding Geopolitical Futures, Friedman guided the intellectual vision and was Chairman of Stratfor, the private intelligence publishing and consulting firm he founded in 1996. Friedman resigned from Stratfor in May 2015

Betsy Wright HawkingsBetsy Wright Hawkings is the Program Director for the Governance Initiative at the Democracy Fund, a private foundation that fosters the highest ideals of the American republic – government of, by, and for the people. She leads the Democracy Fund’s grant making to organizations building bridges across the ideological divide and seeking out ways for our government to solve problems in the face of increased polarization. Current grantees of the Governance Program include the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Aspen Institute’s Congressional Program, and the Faith & Politics Institute. Prior to the Democracy Fund she served as a Capitol Hill chief for 25 years.

Margaret HooverMargaret Hoover is an American political commentator, political strategist, media personality, gay rights activist, and author. She is the best selling author of the book American Individualism: How A New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party published by Crown Forum in July 2011. Her work is committed to renewing the Republican Party to enable it to connect with a new generation of Americans, even as it remains true to the principles of individual freedom and fiscal conservatism and continues to champion a robust U.S. foreign policy. Hoover is married to John Avlon, Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Beast.

IMG_0019Peter Hopkins is the co-founder and president of Big Think, the knowledge company that makes people and companies smarter, faster through efficient e-learning from world-renowned experts. As president, Hopkins sets the vision for Big Think’s content strategy that enables the world’s top visionaries to share big ideas shaping the 21st century at and offer their e-wisdom needed for a competitive edge in the knowledge economy. Peter directs the company’s individual and corporate e-learning solutions, including Edge, which helps Fortune 100 companies attract, develop and retain top talent at all levels, and Mentor, which offers a subscription to lifelong and efficient e-learning for personal and professional growth from Big Think’s world-class experts. He is an editorial advisor to TEDMED.

Vidar JorgensenVidar Jorgensen is Co-founder of Grameen America & Grameen PrimaCare. He is the majority owner of three industry-based conference and research companies, which in turn own and manage over 200 conferences and several membership-based research groups focused on biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, health care, insurance, financial services, entertainment, and infrastructure development. He is a member of the board of Conscious Capitalism, Inc.

Michael LindMichael Lind is an American writer, and an ASU Future of War Fellow at New America in Washington, D.C., which he co-founded. He is a contributing editor of Politico and The National Interest and a columnist for Salon. Lind was a guest lecturer at Harvard Law School and has taught at Johns Hopkins and Virginia Tech. He has also been an editor or staff writer at The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and The New Republic. Lind has published a number of books on U.S. history, political economy, foreign policy and politics as well as fiction, poetry and children’s literature.

Lauren McCannLauren McCann is Executive Vice President of Stand Together, a new organization within the Koch network that seeks to revitalize civil society by unleashing the power of community and voluntary association to solve our country’s toughest problems and help people to improve their lives. Specifically, Stand Together supports and accelerates the impact of community-based efforts, providing both capital and organization development. Lauren has diverse experience as an accomplished senior executive working at the intersection of business, philanthropy, and stakeholder relations. Prior to joining Stand Together, Lauren served as vice president of strategic development for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

Alexander McCobinAlexander McCobin is co-founder and president of Students For Liberty. Under his leadership, Students For Liberty has grown into the largest libertarian student organization in the world. Previously, Alexander worked at the Cato Institute and ran another nonprofit organization that introduced high school debate programs to underserved youth in the greater Philadelphia area. Alexander also serves on the Board of Advisors of The Atlas Society and is an honorary board member of the Our America Initiative. Alexander received his B.A. in philosophy and economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 2008 and received his M.A. in philosophy at Georgetown University in 2014.

Steve McIntoshSteve McIntosh is co-founder and President of the Institute for Cultural Evolution (“ICE”) think tank. A leader in the integral movement, he is author of three books on cultural evolution. In addition to ICE and his work in philosophy, McIntosh has had a variety of other successful careers, including founding the consumer products company Now & Zen, practicing law with one of America’s largest firms, and working as a corporate executive. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School and the USC Business School.

Charles MurrayCharles Murray is a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute think tank. He is a political scientist, author, and libertarian. His 1994 New York Times bestseller, The Bell Curve sparked heated controversy for its analysis of the role of IQ in shaping America’s class structure. Murray’s other books include What It Means to Be a Libertarian (1997), Human Accomplishment (2003), In Our Hands (2006), and Real Education (2008), and Coming Apart (2012). His most recent book is, By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission.

Grover NorquistGrover Norquist is an American political advocate who is founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, an organization that opposes all tax increases, and a co-founder of the Islamic Free Market Institute. A Republican, he is the primary promoter of the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” a pledge signed by lawmakers who agree to oppose increases in marginal income tax rates for individuals and businesses, as well as net reductions or eliminations of deductions and credits without a matching reduced tax rate. Prior to the November 2012 election, the pledge was signed by 95% of all Republican members of Congress and all but one of the candidates running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Norquist also chairs the Washington, DC-based “Wednesday Meeting,” a weekly gathering of more than 150 elected officials, political activists, and movement leaders.

Jay OgilvyJay Ogilvy is our conclave’s facilitator. Trained in philosophy (Yale PhD in 1968), he taught for 7 years at Yale, 1 at Texas, 4 at Williams College. Then he transitioned into contract research and consulting at SRI International. In 1987 he co-founded Global Business Network, a boutique consultancy that specializes in using scenario planning to develop long range strategies for large corporations and government agencies. Jay is the author of many books and is a frequent facilitator of invitational conferences for Esalen’s Center for Theory and Research, and chairs Esalen’s Global Potentials Program.

Pete PetersonPete Peterson is Dean of Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, and Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement. He is a leading national speaker and writer on issues related to civic participation, and the use of technology to make government more responsive and transparent. Peterson was the first executive director of the bi-partisan organization, Common Sense California, and he writes widely on public engagement for a variety major news outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle. Peterson was the Republican candidate for California Secretary of State in 2014.

Carter PhippsCarter Phipps is co-founder, Managing Director, and Senior Fellow of The Institute for Cultural Evolution. He is an author, a journalist, and a leading voice in articulating the emerging evolutionary worldview. His acclaimed 2012 book, Evolutionaries: Unlocking the Spiritual and Cultural Potential of Science’s Greatest Idea, was published by Harper Perennial.

Kirsten PowersKirsten A. Powers is an American political pundit and analyst. She began her career as a Democratic Party staff assistant with the Clinton-Gore presidential transition team in 1992, followed by an appointment as Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Public Affairs in the Clinton administration from 1993-1998. She subsequently worked in various roles including press secretary, communications consultant and party consultant. She also serves as a columnist to USA Today, Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and a contributor on Fox News.

Avik RoyAvik Roy is the Opinion Editor at Forbes. He has advised three presidential candidates on policy, including Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney. As the Senior Advisor to Perry’s campaign in 2015, Roy was also lead author of Gov. Perry’s major policy speeches. The Wall Street Journal called Perry’s address on intergenerational black poverty “the speech of the campaign so far.” Roy is author of Transcending Obamacare: A Patient-Centered Plan for Near-Universal Coverage and Permanent Fiscal Solvency, and How Medicaid Fails the Poor. Roy’s work has appeared in National Review, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, USA Today, Health Affairs, and National Affairs. He is a frequent guest on television, including appearances on NBC, CBS, HBO, PBS, MSNBC, CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business, and Fox News. Prior to his career in policy and journalism, Roy was an analyst and portfolio manager at Bain Capital and J.P. Morgan, among other firms. He was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied molecular biology, and the Yale University School of Medicine.

William RugerWilliam Ruger
William Ruger serves as the vice president of research and policy at the Charles Koch Institute and the vice president for research at the Charles Koch Foundation.  Before coming to CKI/F, he was most recently an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Texas State University.  Ruger is the author of a biography titled Milton Friedman and co-author of two books on state politics: Freedom in the 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom and The State of Texas: Government, Politics, and Policy. Ruger’s recent scholarly articles appeared in International Studies Quarterly, Civil Wars, Economics of Governance, and State Politics and Policy Quarterly.

Ben SasseBen Sasse Ben Sasse is a U.S. senator representing the great state of Nebraska. A fifth-generation Nebraskan, Ben grew up walking beans and detasseling corn, experiences that taught him the value of hard work. Sasse studied at Harvard, Oxford, and St. John’s—Annapolis before receiving his PhD at Yale, where his dissertation won both history and best dissertation prizes. He comes to the Senate having spent the previous five years as a college president. When he was recruited to take over the failing Midland University, Ben was just 37 years old, making him one of the youngest college presidents in the nation. The 130-year-old Lutheran college was on the verge of bankruptcy when he arrived, but became one of the fastest-growing higher education institutions in the country by the time of his departure. Most of Ben’s career has been spent guiding companies and institutions through times of crisis with straight talk about the core issues. He has worked with the Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey and Company, as well as private equity firms and not-for-profit organizations, to tackle failing strategies across a broad array of sectors and nations.

Carrie SheffieldCarrie Sheffield is founder of Bold, a Millennial-focused, news & cultural platform centered on ideals of personal responsibility and accessible capitalism. A senior writer for Opportunity Lives, she was a founding reporter at POLITICO and wrote editorials for The Washington Times under Tony Blankley. Carrie was an analyst at Goldman Sachs, Moody’s Investors Service, researched for American Enterprise Institute scholar Edward Conard and served as Warren Brookes Journalism Fellow at Competitive Enterprise Institute. Carrie earned a master’s in public policy from Harvard University, concentrating in business policy. She has a B.A. in communications at Brigham Young University and completed a Fulbright fellowship in Berlin.

Paul StebbinsPaul Stebbins is Director of the board of World Fuel Services Corporation. Since his appointment in 2002, he has led the company through a period of unprecedented growth and profitability. During this time, WFSC has been consistently recognized as a high performing company on multiple lists compiled by Forbes and Barron’s. Before joining WFSC, Stebbins and his partner, Michael Kasbar, co-founded Trans-Tec Services, Inc., a global marine fuel services company acquired by World Fuel in 1995. Stebbins holds a bachelor’s degree in government from Georgetown University.

John Street John Street is serial entrepreneur who now works as CEO of Pax8, Inc., a leading supplier of cloud-based IT solutions. Prior to founding Pax8 in 2012, he built the MX Logic company into the world’s largest independent provider of cloud-based email and web security. Before that, John was CEO of USA.NET, Inc., and successfully raised over $100 million in private equity financing. In the 1990s John was CEO of Telephone Express, growing the company from startup to over $80 million in annual sales. He is an accomplished pianist and longtime supporter of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra, and he was the executive producer of a Grammy Award-nominated Children’s Jazz Album. John has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame and is a CPA.

Michael StrongMichael Strong
Michael Strong co-founded FLOW with John Mackey in 2003. Radical Social Entrepreneurs, launched in 2012, is one of three “descendants” of FLOW, along with its siblings Conscious Capitalism and Peace through Commerce. He is lead author of Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World’s Problems, co-authored with John Mackey, Mohammad Yunus, Hernando de Soto, Don Beck, and others.  He is currently the co-founder of the Khabele Strong Incubator, a secondary school integrated with an entrepreneurial incubator for teens.  Prior to FLOW he spent fifteen years as an educational entrepreneur.  A charter school he created in New Mexico was ranked the 36th best public high school in the U.S.

Rich TafelRich Tafel is Director of the Future Right Project and Senior Fellow of The Institute for Cultural Evolution. He is the founder and president of a strategy company Public Squared that provides collaborative solutions to our world’s most challenging problems with a unique ability to bring together diverse sectors and ideologies into win-win-win coalitions to bring sustainable change. In 1993, Rich created Log Cabin Republicans and moved to Washington DC to open a national office as its first Executive Director where he implemented a values strategy for gay rights creating 50 grass roots chapters, a PAC and foundation. Rich served as appointee of Governor William Weld (R ) MA in the role of Director of Adolescent Health Services. He is the author of Party Crasher: A Gay Republican Challenges Politics as Usual.

Robert TraynhamRobert Traynham is a political veteran and communications expert, advisor, consultant, as well as analyst and contributor to cable TV, radio, and print media outlets. He has advised political figures and campaigns, as well as major corporations, on communications strategies and has led a dynamic career in congressional and presidential politics. Currently, he works as a Political Analyst for MSNBC. He also co-hosts the radio talk show about elections and campaigns, “The Flacks,” on the POTUS channel of XM Satellite Radio.

Caroline WrenCaroline Wren is the President & Founder of Bluebonnet Fundraising, LLC which specializes in national fundraising for political organizations, candidates, issue-based organizations and nonprofit groups. Caroline currently serves at the Director of Fundraising Operations for the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee which is responsible for raising the $64,000,000 needed to put on the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Additionally, Caroline works with many conservative clients including American Unity Fund, Republican Jewish Coalition, College Republican National Committee and several U.S. Senate candidates. This election cycle, Caroline also worked as a fundraiser for the Super PAC’s supporting the Presidential bids of Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Lindsey Graham. Previously, Caroline served as Senator Lindsey Graham’s Finance Director for his 2014 Senate reelection campaign. Prior to that she was at Holloway Consulting. She has previously worked on the finance teams of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and U.S. Senator John McCain’s presidential campaigns. Caroline also served as the Associate Director of Major Donors for GOPAC.