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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 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 39 works with a 12-member Board of Directors, some 5,500 donors, some 500 academics and professional economists who serve as Policy Advisors, 33 senior fellows, and 275 elected officials who pay dues to serve on our Legislative Forum. 

Heartland Staff   Board of Directors   Policy Experts

Donny Kendal
Graphic Designer; host, "In The Tank" podcast
Donny Kendal is a graphic designer for The Heartland Institute and the host of Heartland's "In the Tank" podcast.
Matthew Glans
Senior Policy Analyst
Matthew Glans joined the staff of The Heartland Institute in November 2007 as legislative specialist for insurance and finance. In 2012, Glans was named senior policy analyst.
Lennie Jarratt
Project Manager, Center for Transforming Education
Lennie Jarratt is the project manager for the Center for Transforming Education at The Heartland Institute.
Lindsey Stroud
State Government Relations Manager
Lindsey Stroud is a state government relations manager at The Heartland Institute.
Jim Lakely
Director of Communications
Jim Lakely is the Director of Communications of The Heartland Institute.
Gwendalyn Carver
Director of Development
Gwendalyn Carver joined The Heartland Institute in February of 2006. Carver has held positions as an administrative assistant, bookkeeper, and database manager, and she is now the director of development.

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 are nonpartisan and most of our work is strictly educational. We very rarely lobby, and when we do, we follow strict guidelines.

We focus on issues in education, environmental protection, health care, budgets and taxes, and constitutional reform. Heartland sends three monthly policy newspapers – Budget & Tax News, Environment & Climate News, and School Reform News – 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 2018, Heartland spokespersons appeared in print and on television or radio 5,100 times with a combined print circulation of 112 million readers. We hosted 15 websites generating more than 1 million pages views, and our podcasts were downloaded 3.2 million times in 2018.

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 hosted 29 events in 2018, attended by 2,954 people, total viewers online 17,805. We have hosted 12 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 full-time staff of 38 dedicated men and women discovering, developing, and promoting free-market solutions to social and economic problems!

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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 for the organization’s newsletter, then titled The Heartlander. 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.



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