Earlier today, I had the pleasure of announcing that the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s board of directors has selected Kent Lassman to be the next president of CEI.
I was a member of our search committee, and our task was to find an intelligent, charismatic, and effective leader who embraces CEI’s feisty approach to promoting economic liberty, innovation, and prosperity. We were lucky to have interviewed nearly two dozen fine candidates, any number of whom would have made a great choice. In the end, though, the search committee and board agreed that Kent would be the best person to lead CEI into the future.
You can read Kent’s bio sketch on the CEI website here. But those few hundred words can never give you the full measure of Kent as a person. So, let me make a, perhaps, less formal introduction to the latest addition to the CEI family.
Among the first things one senses when meeting Kent is his energy, enthusiasm, and unbridled passion for free enterprise and individual liberty. He is a fierce competitor, and he likes to win—qualities that are apparent not only in his professional life, but in his personal life as well. He was a competitive swimmer in college and competes in running and swimming races several times a year, at venues as varied as the local Turkey Trot to ultra-marathons and Ironman triathlons. This summer, he will swim in a 12.5 mile race around the island of Key West, Florida. And he brings that same competitive nature to his work, with a drive that helps him get things done.
But Kent also has a keen analytical mind; he is a policy wonk at heart. Before even completing his undergraduate degree, Kent started working as a technology and telecom analyst at the market-oriented Progress & Freedom Foundation. In stints with PFF, Citizens for a Sound Economy, and FreedomWorks, Kent studied tech and telecom, the electric power industry, tax and budget, and federalism issues, authoring dozens of studies and hundreds of shorter articles. Later, in a leadership role with FreedomWorks, he had to master the details of that group’s work on a broad range of economic policy issues.
Perhaps most importantly, Kent understands how to make public policy relatable to ordinary people. We in Washington may love haggling over the nuances and intricacies of often obscure regulatory matters, but Kent appreciates how these things affect real people in their everyday lives. And he has years of experience building effective advocacy campaigns that not only educate policy makers but motivate people outside the Beltway to demand reform. So, we have every confidence that Kent will pick up where his predecessors left off, building on CEI’s tradition of pairing the analytical power of a traditional think tank with the aggressive advocacy of our movement’s activist wing.
Over the past five months, as CEI searched for a new president, my colleagues and I have been busy continuing our work to reform regulatory policy on banking and finance, labor and employment, food and drug, technology and transportation, and energy and environmental issues. We also have been eager to turn the page on a new chapter for CEI. We are committed to ensuring that CEI remains as feisty and aggressive as we have been for the past three decades. And we are excited that Kent Lassman will be leading us as we confront the challenges ahead.