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Our Prequel: Hudson Institute in Indianapolis


Hudson Institute’s tenure in Indianapolis represented a bold experiment in American policymaking.  Could a national think tank be relevant to national policy and global affairs from the heartland?  Not only did Hudson’s 1984-2004 era answer the question in the affirmative, it created a new blueprint for how influence in policymaking can be complemented by impact gained from putting ideas into action.

Heartland Symposia

Dr. Gary Geipel served in multiple leadership roles at Hudson Institute in Indianapolis including Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.  One of his signature projects was the Heartland Symposia sponsored by the German Marshall Fund.  Eschewing the traditional government-to-government exchanges between foreign capitals and Washington DC, Dr. Geipel convened multiple sessions in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Orlando and elsewhere in groups comprised of journalists, academics, civil society and private sector leaders alongside policymakers.

Workforce 2020

Workforce 2020 was a sequel to Hudson’s landmark Workforce 2000.  Deploying Hudson’s distinctive scenario planning methodology, the book established the general contours of the employment landscape and the various roads that workers could travel to the 2020 economy.  It soon became a rarity in the think tank world—a bestseller.  It was also quite prescient.  The authors—Richard Judy and Carol D’Amico—predicted the rising and rapid pace of technology causing massive disruption of certain sectors, the rise of what we then called “free agency” in employment options, and the retirement of millions of baby boomers causing massive and severe labor shortages.  It also foreshadowed particularly adverse effects on men in the labor force, as well as income disparities among various population groups that we predicted would occur unless significant improvements were made in America’s education and workforce development systems.

Wisconsin Welfare Reform

Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, seen here with British welfare minister Iain Duncan Smith and Jay Hein, is widely acknowledged as one of the pioneers in global welfare reform.  This grand accomplishment began in the humbled origins of his small state when he signed legislation ending the Depression-era entitlement system with a new model to empower the poor.  Hudson Institute established an office in Madison to serve as external policy support to help design the replacement system which became the framework adopted by the US Government in 1996 and later by Britain, Germany, Israel and others. 

Competitiveness Center

As Vice President of the United States, Dan Quayle served as chair of the President’s Council on Competitiveness which sought to reduce regulation in order to spur American business innovation.  Upon leaving office in 1993, Quayle established the Competiveness Center at Hudson Indianapolis under the leadership of his former White House staffers Al Hubbard and David McIntosh (both of whom served as Executive Director of the White House center under Quayle’s leadership).


Following his service in Washington DC to US Senator Dick Lugar and President Ronald Reagan, Mitch Daniels returned to Indiana to serve as president of Hudson Institute.  Working with Neil Pickett and others, he maintained the original Hudson’s rigorous and contrarian approach to the world’s big challenges.  And with the help of COO Mark Lubbers, Mitch grounded the Institute with sound business practice and pragmatic reforms.  Mitch’s successor, Les Lenkowsky, continued in this trajectory and the two would re-unite at the end of decade as senior members of President George W. Bush’s administration.