We the People Video: Founding Principles of Freedom


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State Policy Network originated in 1986 as the Madison Group, an informal confederation of the state think tanks and their supporters named after the Madison Hotel in Washington, DC, where they first met. In 1992, SPN was established as an independent 501(c)(3) educational organization providing services to its members - the state-focused, free market think tanks and their national think tank partners. At that time, the goal was to encourage cooperation and collaboration among the fledgling state think tank movement, maintaining a basic schedule of meetings and providing advisory services as needed during its first five years of operations.

The state policy research community rapidly grew and matured during the 1990s, SPN's Board of Directors realized the need for a stronger organization that would provide additional services. After extensive discussions, the existing Board took a bold and historic step in September 1998, dissolving itself and appointing a transitional Board to fulfill the broader role envisioned for the organization. SPN's primary mission continues to be serving and supporting independent, state-focused, market-oriented policy research organizations and these institutional changes created the flexibility to provide a broader range of services to state think tanks.

SPN's Board, staff, and physical location changed during 1999. Byron Lamm, SPN's founding Executive Director, passed the reins to current President Tracie Sharp in January 2000. Tracie has an 18-year career in the state think tank community, helping to establish and develop two successful state think tanks - the Washington Policy Center (Seattle) and the Cascade Policy Institute (Portland, OR). She has been involved with SPN since its formative years as the Madison Group.

Unfortunately, in the midst of all these changes, SPN lost a leading light when Tom Roe, its long-time Chairman of the Board, passed away in January 2000. Tom had an abiding vision for SPN as a service and networking organization that would help coordinate state and national efforts to promote free enterprise.

Carl Helstrom, Executive Director for The JM and Milbank Foundations, succeeded Tom as Chairman of SPN in October 1999. In addition to a Board of Directors consisting of free market leaders, the President's Advisory Council advises the President on management and policy issues facing state think tanks.

When SPN was founded, there were 12 independent, market-oriented, state-focused think tanks. Today - in less than 20 years - there are 65 representing all 50 states.


About SPN

State Policy Network is made up of free market think tanks - at least one in every state - fighting to limit government and advance market-friendly public policy at the state and local levels. SPN and our members make the Founders' vision for the American Republic a reality as the nation's only 50-state distribution network for market-oriented public policy ideas. Our programs advance and defend American liberty and free enterprise by assisting new start-up organizations, growing existing state think tanks, recruiting talent to the think tank industry, developing strategic partnerships, and promoting the free-market state movement. Read More

Contact Information

1655 North Fort Myer Drive
Suite 360
Arlington, VA 22209

Phone (703) 243-1655
Fax (703) 740-0314
E-mail info at SPN.org

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State Policy Network is recognized by the IRS as a non-profit organization under Section 501 (c)(3). All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.