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About Us

The Heartland Institute is one of the world’s leading free-market think tanks. It is a national nonprofit research and education organization based in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission since its founding in 1984 is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.

We are an “action tank” as well as a “think tank,” and we measure our success by the impact we have in the real world. The Heartland Institute plays an essential role in the national (and increasingly in the international) movement for personal liberty and limited government. We are the pipeline between the freedom movement’s leading writers and thinkers and the nation’s 8,400 national and state elected officials.

Because we are effective, we have been the subject of unfair criticism and even libel by various liberal advocacy groups, elected officials, and even Wikipedia. Please see the “Reply to Our Critics” page where we answer our critics and set the record straight. We hope you will defend us, when you can, in the comments fields of websites that defame us and in conversations with friends and colleagues.

Who We Are

A full-time staff of 24 works with a 10-member Board of Directors, some 2,000 donors, some 500 academics and professional economists who serve as Policy Advisors, a dozen senior fellows, and more than 300 elected officials who pay dues to serve on our Legislative Forum. 

Heartland Staff   Board of Directors   Policy Experts

Donald Kendal
Graphic Designer; Research Fellow; Host, In The Tank Podcast and Stopping Socialism TV.
Donald Kendal is a graphic designer for The Heartland Institute, a research fellow for Heartland's Socialism Research Center, and the host of Heartland's In the Tank Podcast and Stopping Socialism TV.
Jim Lakely
Vice President and Director of Communications
Jim Lakely is the Vice President and Director of Communications of The Heartland Institute.
Justin Haskins
Director of Socialism Research Center
Justin Haskins is the director of the Socialism Research Center at The Heartland Institute.
Nathan Myers
Development Coordinator
Nathan Myers is a development coordinator at The Heartland Institute
Andy Singer
Digital Media Manager
Andy Singer the Digital Media Manager at The Heartland Institute.
Keely Drukala
Deputy Director of Communications and Chief Technology Officer
Keely Drukala is the deputy director of communications and Chief Technology Officer for The Heartland Institute.

What We Do

The Heartland Institute is a nonprofit organization recognized as a tax-exempt charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

We focus on issues in education, environmental protection, health care, budgets and taxes, and Stopping Socialism. Heartland sends four monthly policy newspapers – Budget & Tax News, Environment & Climate News, Health Care News, and School Reform News – digitally and in print (for HCN) to every national and state elected officials in the United States and thousands of civic and business leaders. We also produce books, policy studies, booklets, podcasts, and videos.

In 2019, Heartland spokespersons appeared in print and on television or radio 4,849 times with a combined print circulation of 185 million. Heartland's podcasts were downloaded 5 million times, and our YouTube videos were viewed 2.6 million times. 

Heartland hosts an online database and search engine called PolicyBot containing the complete text of (not just links to) more than 32,000 reports and commentaries from some 300 free-market think tanks and advocacy groups.

Heartland has hosted 14 International Conferences on Climate Change and two America First Energy Conferences since 2008 attended by more than 5,000 people. 



The Heartland Institute is endorsed by  some of the top scholars, thinkers, and politicians in the world – including many members of congress and state elected officials and the leaders of other conservative and libertarian think tanks such as Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist, The Leadership Institute’s Morton Blackwell, The Heritage Foundation’s Jim DeMint, and many more.



Join a group of men and women dedicated to discovering, developing, and promoting free-market solutions to social and economic problems and fighting for more freedom and less government!

View Job Openings


Are you a conservative or libertarian considering a career in the free-market movement? Do you want to spend 10 weeks working side-by-side with others who share your interests, learning new skills and making contacts that can launch your career? Being an intern at The Heartland Institute is the right choice for you!

View Internships

Volunteer Opportunities

Your time is worth more to us than your money! Seriously, please consider donating your time as a Heartland volunteer. You can work from home or come to our beautiful new offices in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

View Volunteer Opportunities

History of The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute was founded in Chicago in 1984 by David H. Padden (1927 – 2011) and Joseph L. Bast. Padden served as chairman and CEO for the organization’s first ten years and then as a member of the Board of Directors until his passing in 2011. Bast served as executive director during those first ten years and then as president and CEO ever since.

A detailed history of The Heartland Institute can be found here. In 2005, Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast wrote a two-part history of Heartland. They can be found here and here. Two videos also have been produce telling the story of Heartland’s founding and growth over the years. The first video, below, was created in 2009 to celebrate Heartland’s 25th anniversary, and the second video, also below, captures a presentation in 2016 by Joseph Bast on the organization’s founding, mission, and programs.



Heartland Liberty Prize

The Heartland Liberty Prize is an award given to persons who have made outstanding contributions to the cause of freedom and deserve recognition. The prize dates back to 1994, when it was given to Walter Williams and John Stossel at The Heartland Institute’s tenth anniversary benefit dinner.

Since then, 25 individuals have received the award, among them Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, Cato Institute president Ed Crane, economist Richard Epstein, civil rights leader Lee Walker, Acton Institute Founder Fr. Robert Sirico, climate scientist S. Fred Singer, journalist and author M. Stanton Evans, Leadership Institute Founder Morton Blackwell, television host Glenn Beck, journalist James O'Keefe, and civil rights activist Yeonmi Park.

View the award ceremonies in 202220212019, 20182016, 2015, and 2014.

Heartland Liberty Prize Winners


Walter Williams
John Stossel


Lee Walker
Al Salvi


Ed Crane
Dave Padden


Mae & Martin Duggan
Robert Rector


Jack Roeser
Jim Johnston

2001George Clowes
2002Gary Becker
2003Robert Poole

Richard Epstein
Rev. Robert Sirico


Dennis Avery
S. Fred Singer

2014M. Stanton Evans
2015Don Devine
2016Morton Blackwell
2018Joe and Diane Bast
2019Glenn Beck
2021James O'Keefe
2022Yeonmi Park

2018 By the Numbers

See what sets Heartland apart:
82% of state elected officials read Heartland publications
of state elected officials read one or more Heartland newspapers "sometimes" or "always."
45% of elected officials say Heartland led to a change in policy
of state elected officials say a Heartland publication influenced their opinions or led to a change in public policy.
3.2 Million
the number of times Heartland's six podcasts were downloaded in 2018
184 issues
of weekly e-newsletters sent to subscribers across the country
158 events
that Heartland hosted, attended, or spoke at, reaching over 34,000 guests in 2018.
100,000 fans
on Facebook posting and reposting over 1 million times a week