The Heritage Foundation has been recognized as a world leader among think tanks. That’s why the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program invited a Heritage vice president to serve as a featured speaker at two of its signature events.
Heritage Vice President for Policy Promotion Bridgett Wagner recently spoke at the 2020 Global Think Tank Summit and 2020 North American Think Tank Summit. Both events were held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At the Global Think Tank Summit, Wagner and a panel of renowned international thinkers discussed how think tanks can best flourish in a world impacted by COVID-19.
The session, “COVID-19 Affect: Accelerator, Transformer or Terminator: What Think Tanks Must Do to Survive and Thrive in a World Disrupted,” gave Wagner the chance to highlight some of the many innovations Heritage has made to keep up with the needs of a pandemic-stricken world.
Wagner began by discussing Heritage’s Enterprise Risk Management group, designed to bring together Heritage leaders to assess risks to the organization. “As the pandemic worsened, the group started to meet daily, allowing the team to review programs more actively and make early decisions,” explained Wagner.
Heritage’s strategic plan includes a goal of increasing mobility and digital capabilities over the next several years. Due to changes required by COVID-19, that plan was accelerated. Heritage quickly shifted all staff to laptop computers, moved to cloud-based apps, and dramatically improved work-sharing capabilities.
Wagner also highlighted the highly successful changes to Heritage’s Young Leaders Program. As a supplement to traditional in-person internships, the entirely virtual Academy program has already brought together two cohorts of 200 fellows each for a 12-week program. The Academy offers policy discussions, career exploration panels, leadership training, mentorships, and capstone projects. In addition to college students and young professionals, the group includes scores of young nonprofit leaders and teachers from around the globe.
Wagner also joined the 2020 North American Think Tank Summit for a session called “From Ideas to Action.”
Wagner highlighted Heritage’s National Coronavirus Recovery Commission as an example of the widespread, productive influence generated by the think tank.
Early in the pandemic, Heritage formed the commission, which developed nearly 300 specific recommendations for both private and public entities. Members of the group included Heritage President Kay C. James, its chairman, as well as numerous business and community leaders. The commission made more than 40,000 contacts with policymakers across the United States, and 35 U.S. states adopted the commission’s top recommendations.
“We know that in our large and very diverse country, state and local officials play an important role in monitoring and protecting vulnerable populations—and opening economies or restricting movement,” Wagner said. “And to help in that effort, we have called on the federal government to make our data more widely available. We believe that innovation rather than regulation should be the order of the day in this crisis.”
Wagner presented some of the many recommendations produced by the commission on topics such as testing regimes, education, data infrastructure, health care, and regulatory policy.
You can find a copy of the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission’s final report and recommendations here.