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Lawson Bader, a veteran of the free-market movement and seasoned policy organization executive, is the president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Bader came to CEI in January 2013 from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he served as vice president.
He succeeds Fred L. Smith, Jr., who founded CEI in 1984. Smith continues to serve CEI as Founder and Chairman and as head of the organization’s Center for Advancing Capitalism.
Bader, a Washington, D.C., native who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, earned degrees from Wheaton College in Illinois and The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
During his 16 years at Mercatus, Bader played a vital role in the organization’s donor and policy maker outreach efforts, helping it become a leading university-based research center for market-oriented ideas. An accomplished speaker who regularly emcees or speaks at 25 or more events each year, Bader has served in a variety of roles at Mercatus.
As Mercatus’s director of economic education, he created and managed the Capitol Hill Campus, an educational outreach program that uses an international network of faculty to teach key congressional staffers basic economic and market principles. The program was a key part of the organization’s growth and annually reached more than 1,300 staffers, representing more than 85 percent of all congressional offices.
Bader also developed a similar initiative that worked with state policy makers and local officials, and he advised on other important Mercatus programs, including its Financial Markets Working Group, Spending and Budget Initiative, State and Local Policy Project, and Regulatory Studies Program.
Before joining Mercatus, Bader served as manager of government relations at SRI International, an Arlington, Va.-based non-profit that performs research on science and technology, economic development, environmental and defense issues. He also worked as a policy analyst with SRI’s Washington International Corporate Circle. Prior to SRI, he served as a legislative analyst with Pierson, Semmes and Finley and as a special assistant at the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.
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