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Dan and Marsha Coats, Sagamore Co-Founders

By Jay Hein

Adhering to a self-imposed term limit on his Senate service in the 1990s, Dan Coats broke national political custom by transferring his surplus campaign funds to a charity rather than parceling it out as future political capital. And since his campaign-to-charity funds were originated by Hoosier constituents, Dan and his wife, Marsha, wanted their Foundation for American Renewal headquartered in Indianapolis to improve Indiana’s condition just as it sought influence the nation. I was honored to direct the foundation as part of my duties at the Hudson Institute.

After 20 prosperous years as a heartland think tank, Hudson boxed up its papers in 2004 to set up shop in Washington, D.C. I contacted then-Ambassador Coats in Berlin, Germany, to discuss our options. We decided it was essential to have a think tank rooted in Indiana soil to spread Hoosier common sense and innovation toward our state’s greatest needs and to enrich important national conversations. This gave rise to the Sagamore Institute, which was incorporated as an Indiana not-for-profit in May 2004.

Dan Coats became Sagamore’s founding co-chairman alongside Indianapolis business stalwart Jerry Semler. Together, they built a board and led me and Deborah Daniels through successive terms as Sagamore presidents in between our service at the White House and Justice Department respectively.

The results have been wide and deep. We have operated over 200 projects translating game-changing ideas into innovative action in Indiana and around the world. We have also raised over $15 million to allow low-income children to escapte failing inner schools to attend a high performing private K-12 school.

Dan and Marsha Coats are now concluding season in Washington and preparing their return to private life in Indiana. His voice is needed more than ever as other states desire to follow the “Indiana Way” toward fiscal integrity, our nation seeks new strategies to be secure in the age of terrorism, and our communities needed healing that faith-based and community charities can supply best.