Kitty Boone to direct new program at Aspen Institute |

Kitty Boone to direct new program at Aspen Institute

Brent Gardner-Smith

Kitty Boone, former vice president of marketing at the Aspen Skiing Co., has accepted a new position at the Aspen Institute.

Boone recently took over as executive director of a new program designed to foster public dialogue about issues that have risen to the top of the nation’s agenda.

Boone is the third well-known Aspenite in the last two years to join the Institute. Former Aspen Mayor John Bennett is now vice president of the Institute’s Aspen campus, and former City Manager Amy Margerum is senior vice president of administration.

The new institute program that Boone is busy shaping has been dubbed “Great Collisions.”

“The effort is to convene an array of thinkers and decision makers on a wide array of important emerging topics,” said Boone. “One issue, as an example, could be the relevance of the Electoral College.”

Unlike other policy discussions convened by the Aspen Institute, the Great Collisions program will place a strong emphasis on sharing the dialogue with the press and the public.

“We want to convene people here in Aspen to think about these things out loud, so that they can be reported to the American people,” Boone said. “They may be televised or Web-cast, and journalists would be present to interpret the discussions.”

Two prominent Aspen Institute board members, Merv Adelson and Gerald Levin, helped formulate the concept. Adelson is co-founder of Lorimar Telepictures and is a partner in the $135 million Wassertein Adelson Ventures fund, which invests in media and Internet companies. Levin is chairman and CEO of Time Warner.

The goal is to hold two or three Great Collision discussions in Aspen each year.

“One thing about this program is that the issues we want to focus on need to be timely,” Boone said. “The point is to get media coverage.”

That differs from the Institute’s policy programs on topics such as national security, communications or the environment, which are often held behind closed doors so that participants are not concerned about how they will be portrayed in the media.

The Great Collisions program is still in the conceptual stage, and no topics have yet been selected. The idea of convening a discussion on the Electoral College, however, strikes Boone as a good example of the type of issues that the institute might explore.

“I think it would be a great conversation to have with all the great thinkers in one room,” said Boone. “But the topics we eventually choose could range all over, to issues of free speech to taxation questions to other emerging issues.”

Boone, who was vice president of marketing with the Skico for 10 and a half years, left the company last year. The opportunity to join the institute came as a result of getting to know Aspen Institute president Elmer Johnson.

“He is anxious to do new things with the organization,” said Boone. “And he is a very interesting and persuasive gentleman. It’s going to be intellectually very challenging to do this, and it’s just a marvelous opportunity.”

Boone, who has an undergraduate degree from Stanford and a master’s in public and private management from Yale, also has public policy experience with PBS television and a Fortune 500 company.

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