WASHINGTON—James G. McGann, Ph.D., longtime director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, died Nov. 29. McGann worked closely with The Heritage Foundation throughout his tenure at Penn and supported the entire think tank community with his annual “Global Go To Think Tank Index” and international conferences.
Ed Feulner, Heritage Foundation founder and former president, said:
“Jim McGann’s world-renowned think tank rankings were a way of creating friendly competition in the public policy world. As competition inevitably does, it provided an impetus for think tanks to improve themselves as they strived to work their way up the rankings in various categories. His objective assessments of strengths and weaknesses were not only helpful to the think tanks themselves, but the improvements that often resulted benefited the citizens of the nations that we served.
“Jim had a brilliant intellect, a big heart, and he desired to make the world a better place for all humankind. He achieved that in spades with the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program that he created. That is the legacy he leaves to the world. He was a good friend of Heritage and of the think tank community, and he will be deeply missed.”
Bridgett Wagner, vice president of policy promotion at Heritage, added:
“Jim McGann brought together think tank leaders from around the world with the goal of improving the quality of our work and making important connections. All of us at Heritage will miss him dearly. His friendly demeanor and helpful insights made the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program an important partner for many organizations throughout the United States and world.”
Earlier this year, McGann invited Feulner and former Heritage President Kay C. James to contribute essays for a new book, “The Future of Think Tanks and Policy Advice in the United States,” which includes 25 authors from America’s top think tanks. Heritage partnered with McGann to host the North American Think Tank Summit in 2018 and has consistently ranked as one of the most impactful think tanks in Penn’s annual index.