April 24, 2017

AFF CommunityLiberty

AFF Congratulates Cato on 40 Years and Reflects on Our Partnership

By: Roger Custer

AFF congratulates the Cato Institute on its 40th anniversary, to be celebrated in Washington, D.C. on May 6.  Cato has a deep and long-standing relationship with AFF that has included joint events, policy scholars as featured speakers, staff members who were mentored by AFF, board members who are AFF donors, and Robert Levy as an advisory board member.  AFF thanks Cato for its long-time support and looks forward to the next 40 years together.

AFF and Cato have co-sponsored events, many of which take place at Cato’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Our organizations have a shared commitment to teach the ideas of liberty to the young professional generation.  Every year, AFF and Cato host “Welcome to Washington” (pictured) during which interns and entry-level staff come to Cato’s auditorium to network and learn best practices from AFF and Cato staff.

You can watch Cato immigration scholar Alex Nowrasteh give advice, Jonathan Blanks talk about criminal justice reform, and Chris Edwards argue for TSA privatization.  Cato often sponsors the AFF Gala and sends many staff members to network with more than 30 sponsor organizations.  Cato also hosted AFF roundtable discussions and professional development events, one of which featured former Cato Vice President Lesley Albanese (pictured, being introduced by Heather Curry).

Cato speakers are often featured at AFF events across the country.  21 current policy scholars have spoken at AFF events on a wide variety of topics including health care, education, foreign policy, law, and economics.  Recent examples include David Boaz giving the libertarian perspective after the 2016 election in Chicago, Trevor Burrus on civil liberties and overcriminalization at a seminar in Austin (co-sponsored with the Center for the Study of Liberty), Emily Ekins on professional advice at “Welcome to Washington,” Ben Friedman debating a colleague from Heritage Foundation about defense policy, and Dr. Tom Palmer in numerous AFF chapters talking about the morality of capitalism.  John Allison was the keynote speaker at the 2013 AFF Gala in Washington, D.C. (pictured below).  Other speakers included Michael Tanner, Ed Crane, Mark Calabria, Gene Healy, Jason Kuznicki, Neal McCluskey, Kelly Cobb, Caitlyn Korb, Ilya Shapiro, Dan Mitchell, and Laura OdatoRoger Pilon published advice about law school on the AFF Blog.

Many Cato staff members were active in AFF earlier in their career, which in turn makes them more effective today.  Cato Vice President of Development and Senior Fellow David Kirby was AFF’s executive director from 2005-2009.  Under his leadership, the organization grew by starting the chapter program and professionalizing operations in Washington, D.C.  Today he gives back financially and occasionally as a speaker at AFF events. In 2014, he gave an AFF talk at Cato’s conference room entitled “How to Succeed in the Movement.”  Cato Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations Greta Pisarczyk has served AFF as part-time director of DC programs and as director of AFF’s development education programs.

Cato’s Director of External Relations Heather Curry is a long-time AFF member and at one point worked part-time as director of DC programs. She writes, “I can count numerous professional opportunities that have stemmed from my long-standing involvement with AFF.  Over the years, AFF has invested resources in me that have paid dividends for my career. With young professionals arriving in DC in record numbers, AFF is in the perfect position to continue to invest in the future of the liberty movement.”

Ilya Shapiro, Cato Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies and Editor-in-Chief of Cato Supreme Court Review, is a long-time AFF member (pictured attending an AFF dinner).  Today he speaks to AFF’s new crop of young leaders and gives back financially to allow others the experience he had.  He says, “I started attending AFF events as soon as I moved to DC in 2004.  The organization has been a central part of my professional and personal life here — and indeed provides a nice intersection of my personal and professional lives.  I’ve much enjoyed reading and writing for Doublethink [a magazine AFF published from 1996-2014], watching and speaking on panels, and, of course, attending the annual gala.  I’ve made some important connections at AFF events, or through people I’ve met through AFF.  Indeed, I doubt my transition from private practice to Cato would have been as seemless if I hadn’t developed the network that AFF provides.  It’s a wonderful group — and a great entree into the DC policy/politics/journalism scene.”

Many of Cato’s financial supporters also support AFF because they understand the crucial need to bring Cato’s message to young professionals nationwide.  Eight current Cato directors support AFF financially.  AFF is also grateful to Cato chairman Robert Levy (pictured with AFF Atlanta leaders Phred Barnet and Jason Riddle). He became involved with AFF at the invitation of David Kirby when he was executive director.  A few years later, a speech to AFF Atlanta about advancing liberty through judicial victories led to an invitation to join AFF’s advisory board.  He accepted and has been very helpful in AFF’s growth and collaboration with Cato.

“America’s Future Foundation (AFF) is an excellent organization that I support.  AFF provides a crucial link between student organizations and policy organizations, including networking and professional development for young professional libertarians in 26 cities nationwide.  I had the opportunity to speak to their Atlanta chapter, where I saw a great group of talented young professionals hungry to learn more about liberty and connect with each other to build our movement.  If you’re inclined to support AFF, it’ll be a worthwhile commitment.”

-Robert Levy, Chairman, Cato Institute

When you support AFF, you support Cato by amplifying its message among the crucial young professional audience.  You allow Cato’s interns and younger staff a special opportunity to hone their skills that they wouldn’t have otherwise.  When you support Cato, you support AFF by providing a venue for joint events, high-quality engaging speakers for programs, and research on issues vital to the success of young professionals.  AFF again congratulates Cato on 40 years and looks forward to the next 40.  Thank you for all you do to advance liberty.