Sagamore Institute

WORKING FOR SOCIETY -
  • Our Story
  • Our Mission
  • Our Model
  • Our Team
  • Our Anniversary Reports

Our Story

In early 2004, as Dan Coats was preparing to return to the United States following his service as US Ambassador to Germany, he and Jay Hein determined that America needed a think tank based in the heartland’s values and geography. In contrast to the noise and rancor coming from Washington, D.C., Sagamore Institute was formed that same year to tackle difficult issues with civility and focus on solutions not ideology.

Why "Sagamore"?

One of Indiana’s Native American tribes coined the term Sagamore to identify the member who grapples with serious questions, helps build consensus, and offers wisdom and advice. This is exactly the type of think tank we wanted to build: a place that leaned into hard problems with sleeves rolled up alongside public and private leaders to dedicated to making the world a better place.

Why Indianapolis?

It’s been said that if you want to consume community or culture, it’s good to live in great cities like New York or Los Angeles where there is much to partake. But if you want to produce culture or community assets, there is no place better than Indianapolis. Our headquarters city has a rich civic spirit and long tradition of citizen-led innovations.

To further this legacy, Sagamore hosts the annual Indiana Conference on Citizenship. Did you know that Abraham Lincoln was among Indiana’s first citizens? His family moved to the Indiana Territory merely weeks before statehood was established in 1816. Lincoln’s legacy has a deep imprint on Sagamore’s citizenship agenda: from his days as a boy reading fireside in our state’s frontier to his heroic efforts to preserve our nation as president, we seek to inspire the next generation of educated and engaged citizens.

"Our main value proposition is moving ideas into action. We do not ask who is for or against certain reforms. We ask how we are going to fix society’s most stubborn problems and sustain our most promising solutions.”
Jay Hein
President

Why COhatch?

Work Reimagined

The COhatch mission is to transform communities and rebuild lives. Sagamore is forming a joint venture to advance that mission in Indiana, Ohio, Texas, Florida and other states.  

We moved our HQ office to COhatch Indianapolis for three reasons:

  1. Community: We will use multiple COhatch locations in Indianapolis to serve reach wider across our HQ city
  2. Impact: We will serve as COhatch’s social impact partner to help the company improve lives in dozens of cities
  3. Network: We will help grow and manage a network of impact investors and entrepreneurs dedicated to improving communities across the Unites States

Why Charlottesville?

In tandem with establishing our headquarters in Indianapolis, we opened a field office in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2004. The home of Thomas Jefferson seemed like the perfect complement to our heartland roots since we are dedicated to extending national influence from our places of local innovation.

But it was Jefferson’s idea of the “academical village” that resonates even more deeply in Sagamore’s story. His architectural designs called for faculty townhouses to be interspersed with student apartments enabling the transfer of wisdom in community not just the classroom. This mirrors Sagamore’s scholars working alongside citizens across the globe.

Sagamore’s offices in Indiana and Virginia, as well as our “distributed network of scholar-practitioners” advance our mutual commitment to impact and influence. 

The Levey Years 2010-2020

Sagamore’s headquarters building was built by Louis Levey in the early 20th century. Mr. Levey was a print shop owner and friends with fellow citizens such as literary giant James Whitcomb Riley and his next door neighbor Charles W. Fairbanks, who served as Teddy Roosevelt’s Vice President.

We enjoy recalling this glorious past while convening important conversations aimed at improving our city, state, and nation.

Our Mission

Founded in 2004 by Dan Coats and Jay Hein, Sagamore builds and implements solutions to society’s biggest problems. Through research, consulting, and impact investing, we fight for a society uplifted by heartland policy innovation, business solutions, and citizen engagement.

Ideas & Impact

"A lot of people in politics and policy admire problems. We admire solutions. Focusing on problems tends to pit one side against the other. A focus on solutions leverages ideas, talent, and capital to accomplish something among partners beyond anything single actors can do on their own."
Jay Hein
President

We live our mission daily in three lanes of action.

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Our Model

Ideas. Innovations. Investments.

As an action-oriented think tank, Sagamore advances innovative ideas for real results.

In communities across America, real people are solving real problems in new ways, without regard to labels or ideologies. Unfortunately, far too many innovators work in a vacuum. They are making a difference – whether in the marketplace or their neighborhood – but the ideas and the lessons learned aren’t disseminated for the benefit of other communities, the nation, and the world.

From the nation’s Heartland, Sagamore identifies and supports these innovators, entrepreneurs, practitioners, and experts. We help fill the gap between pervasive problems and sound solutions by connecting the best ideas with leaders who can transform them into smarter policy and improved practice.

Sagamore advances its mission across three lanes of action: ideas, innovations, and investments. They are complementary to one another, and each is required for meaningful impact to be achieved. Ideas expand our possibilities, innovations put those ideas to work, and investments are how we sustain both. 

Ideas

Ideas matter. They can improve the human condition and alter the course of history. As a think tank, ideas are our business. Sagamore built on this foundation by forming an expert network of fellows providing independent and innovative research and analysis to public and private sector leaders. But we don’t just uplift scholars – we highlight and support practitioners who are already acting upon their ideas but may not recognize the pioneering idea behind their work.  

Innovations

We love ideas, but we care even more about the lives and systems that can be improved through those ideas. That is why we are dedicated to applied research – research that actually puts theories to test in the real world. We’re in communities, getting our hands dirty, working alongside innovative practitioners, learning from them, and measuring the impact of ideas and theories put into practice. This allows us to gain insight into which prescriptions work, which don’t, and why. 

Investments

We believe that good business creates a better society. Indeed, enterprise has always given an uplift to the whole population and provided the surest path out of poverty for the most disadvantaged. Sagamore operates an impact investing platform called Commonwealth to offer innovative financial services to expand economic opportunity. Commonwealth’s investors and entrepreneurs advance change on the ground with market solutions, performance philanthropy, and upgrades to nonprofit business practice. 

Our Team

Board of Trustees

Katie Mote

Chair

Dayton Molendorp

Vice Chair

Craig Westrick

Treasurer

Claudia Cummings

Secretary

Allison Barber

Trustee

Mike Humphrey

Trustee

Chris Lowery

Past Chair

Sam Odle

Trustee

Earl Martin Phalen

Trustee

Jerry Semler

Trustee

Doug Wilson

Trustee

Jean Wojtowicz

Trustee

Staff

Jay Hein

President

Rob Panos

Chief of Staff

Rich Westlake

Chief Financial officer

Laurel Vandenberg

Director | Scholarships for Education Choice

Martha Martin

Director | Sagamore Visa Programs

Mary Jo Hein

Assistant Director | Scholarship for Education Choice

Jacob Baldwin

Program Manager | Commonwealth

Lisa Morphew

Operations Manager

Rachel Houck

Program Coordinator

Emily Cooprider

Operations Coordinator

Fellows and Partners

Pierre Atlas

Senior Fellow

Rick Baker

Senior Fellow

David Bell

Partner | Circle City Fellows

Chuck Bentley

Partner | Christian Economic Forum

Rex Bolinger

Senior Fellow

Joanna Brown

Senior Fellow

Jesse Carlton

Partner | Indiana Defense Network

Donald Cassell

Senior Fellow

Jim Dotson

Partner | Mission Triangle

Alan Dowd

Senior Fellow

Andrew Falk

Senior Fellow

Jamie Goodwin

Partner | India Collective

Jamie Goodwin

Partner | India Collective

Darrin Gray

Partner | Center for Serving Leadership

Eugene Habecker

Senior Fellow

Brian Hudson

Partner | Clapham Group

Mark Jay

Senior Fellow | Center for Healthcare Affordability

Byron Johnson

Senior Fellow

Carole Kariuki

Senior Fellow

Brian Kelley

Partner | Prison Entrepreneurship Program

Matthew Klein

Senior Fellow

Matt Konkler

Senior Fellow

Toby Malichi

Senior Fellow

Noah Manyika

Senior Fellow

Toby Miller

Partner | One Heart Indiana

Blair Milo

Director | Center for Talent and Opportunity

Nelson Okanya

Senior Fellow

Burgess Owens

Partner | Second Chance 4 Youth

David Palmer

Partner | Purposeful Design

Jerry Pattengale

Senior Fellow

Shawn Peterson

Partner | Catholic Education Partners

Steve Riach

Partner | One Heart Project

Matthew Rohrs

Senior Fellow

Gina & Travis Sheets

Senior Fellows

Amy Sherman

Senior Fellow

Chad Slotta

Senior Fellow

Jeff Sparks

Senior Fellow

John Stahl-Wert

Partner | Center for Serving Leadership

Aaron Story

Partner | Elevate Indianapolis

Jason Turner

Senior Fellow

Brittany Vessley

Senior Fellow

John Waters

Senior Fellow

James White

Senior Fellow

Chip Weiant

Senior Fellow

Todd Wilson

Senior Fellow

Our Anniversary Reports

Enjoy some of our favorite stories, celebrating 15 years of working for society from the heartland.

From 2004 to 2014, this report captures some of our biggest wins in the heartland, in D.C. and around the globe.

Sagamore President Jay Hein and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels reflect on the role of Sagamore in her first 5 years.

As a think tank committed to moving ideas into action, this gala recognized the first recipients of the “Celebrating American Ideas” award.