Power players now ensconced at Institute | AspenTimes.com

Power players now ensconced at Institute

Brent Gardner-SmithAspen Times Staff Writer

Walter Isaacson, the former chairman and CEO of CNN and the former editorial director of Time Inc., started his new job as president and CEO of The Aspen Institute on March 31.And a week later, the Institute named nine new members to its heavyweight board of trustees, including top Disney executive Michael Eisner, publisher of the New York Daily News Mortimer Zuckerman and former Congressman Vin Weber.Isaacson is now the 10th president of The Aspen Institute and succeeds Elmer W. Johnson, who resigned in August 2002.A journalist and writer, Isaacson is now heading up a nonprofit that focuses on “informed dialogue and inquiry.”Founded in 1950 in Aspen, the institute runs seminars, policy studies and fellowship programs and keeps its headquarters in Washington, D.C., where Isaacson will work most of the year. He plans to spend summers in Aspen.The organization also has a campus on the Wye River in Maryland and there are other Aspen Institute centers in Berlin, Rome, Lyon and Tokyo.Recently Isaacson gave his first speech to the board of trustees of the Institute and he said that the Institute’s mission – to promote enlightened leadership based on values – is “more important than ever.””Seething hatreds are terrorizing the world,” he said. “International understanding is at a low. Leadership around the world is fractured. And both politicians and corporate executives have squandered the trust of the public. “Many of the old international nonprofits and think tanks and forums are still mired in the mentality of the Cold War or of the go-go networking of the ’90s … “At a time like this, it is crucial to offer people the opportunity to reflect upon, to reconnect with, and to deepen their understanding of the values – and the balances between competing values – that have been at the core of our humanity as civilization has made its fitful progress through the centuries.” Isaacson also said it was important that The Aspen Institute not be so elitist that it stops listening to the “common citizen.” “We must continue to attract aspiring people from all walks of life who understand the need to relate current problems to enduring values,” he told the Institute’s trustees. Isaacson, 50, is a former Rhodes scholar who began his journalism career at The Sunday Times of London. He joined Time in 1978 as a national affairs writer and rose through the editorial ranks. In July 2001, he was named the chairman and CEO of CNN, which like Time magazine, is part of the AOL Time Warner conglomerate. He is the co-author of “The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made,” a book about American statesmen and the Cold War; the author of “Kissinger: A Biography,” and the author of “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life,” which is due to be published this summer. Isaacson’s heavyweight resume will no doubt help him in his new job, as the Institute’s board of trustees includes prominent people such as Prince Bandar, Madeline Albright, Lester Crown, David Gergen, David Koch, Ann Richards, and Jack Valenti. And the newest members of the Institute’s board also have impressive resumes. The nine new members are L. John Doerr, Sylvia Earle, Michael Eisner, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Bonnie Palmer McCloskey, Peter Reiling, Roderick K. von Lipsey, Vin Weber and Mortimer Zuckerman. William H. Donaldson resigned from the board after he was nominated by President Bush in January 2003 to serve as chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Trustee Philip Merrill was granted a leave of absence during the period of his appointment as head of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. L. John Doerr is general partner in the Silicon Valley venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Doerr backed the founders of Lotus, Netscape, Compaq, Sun Microsystems, and Amazon.com. Sylvia Earle is a marine biologist and an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society. Named Time magazine’s first “hero for the planet” in 1998, Earle has pioneered research on marine ecosystems. Michael Eisner has served as chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company since 1984. Henry Louis Gates Jr. serves as the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University and is a staff writer for The New Yorker. Bonnie Palmer McCloskey is a director and vice president of the Aspen Center for New Medicine, a director of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, and a member of the Society of Fellows of The Aspen Institute. Peter A. Reiling is president and CEO of TechnoServe Inc., a nonprofit international economic development agency helping economically depressed rural communities in Africa, Latin America and Central Europe to build profitable businesses. Roderick K. von Lipsey is vice president at Goldman, Sachs & Co. Private Wealth Management, Investment Management Division. He was a director on the National Security Council staff in the Clinton White House. Prior to that, he served as a senior aide to General Colin Powell. Vin Weber is a partner with Clark & Weinstock, a management consulting firm. Weber is a former U.S. congressman, serving Minnesota’s Second Congressional District from 1980 to 1992. And Mortimer Zuckerman is chairman and editor-in-chief of US News & World Report and publisher of the New York Daily News. Zuckerman also serves as chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is bgs@aspentimes.com

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