Friends of FPRI,
On April 14, I delivered a progress report at our Annual Brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel. I print below the text of my report.
On this occasion we like to give our supporters a brief report on how we're doing. You deserve to know whether your financial support is being spent wisely.
In accordance with the strategic plan chaired by our trustee Jim Papada and which our board approved a year ago, we have broadened geographically, now offering regular programming not only in Philadelphia but in New York City, Princeton, Washington, D.C. and on the web -- which we could not do without our trustee John Haines and his wife Debbie taking the lead in Princeton and our trustee Devon Cross and senior fellow Vanessa Neumann in NYC.
I am pleased to announce today that our trustee Jim Gately will chair a new monthly series of breakfast briefings in the suburbs. These will begin in September with a briefing by our senior fellow Lawrence Husick on cyber war -- a briefing that has been described by former national security advisor Bud McFarlane as “the best briefing I've heard from anyone, anywhere” on this subject.
Also, we’ve expanded our social media presence, going from 1500 fans or likes on Facebook last June to over 5000 now, and that number now seems to be growing exponentially. The way these corporate pages work is that at any one moment in time you can see a small number of the most recent likes or fans, and if you click on the Facebook page of each fan, you can usually see where they live or work. So as of 8:00 a.m. yesterday, I found that of our 10 most recent fans – only one is in the United States; one is a university student in Iran, two are in Burma, one in Bangladesh, another in Costa Rica, another in Afghanistan, another in Yemen, another in the United Kingdom, and the tenth in the Isle of Man, a self-governing dependency of the British crown. So when I say we have fans all over the world, I mean it!
Alexa.com, which ranks websites on the basis of volume of web traffic, ranked our website last June in the top 330,000 in the US and top 750,000 in the world. Now we are in the top 135,000 in the US and top 525,000 in the world. (By the way, the website of the Philadelphia Eagles is in the top 6,000; so we have miles to go.)
The University of Pennsylvania ranks think tanks worldwide. We are ranked number 33 in the country but the 32 organizations above us have budgets that are between 10 to 100 times larger than us. This year Penn created a new ranking for think tanks with a budget under 5 million dollars, and we are number one in the United States.
Metrics are important, as my chairman Bob Freedman keeps reminding me, but they don't tell the whole story.
- That story gets filled in when I get an email from an army officer deploying to Afghanistan to train Afghan police and he wants to speak to Andrew Garfield, the principal author of our study on Afghan police reform.
- That story gets filled in when I get an evaluation form from a teacher who participated in our history weekends, and he says that our weekend conference was the best professional development experience of his entire career.
- That story gets filled in when I hear from my former intern Tina Kaidanow that she was appointed as the very first US ambassador to Kosovo. I googled her yesterday and I see she is now deputy ambassador in our embassy in Kabul.
- That story gets filled in when our Marine Corps veteran Dave Danelo writes up his study on the geopolitics of northern Mexico and then immediately gets appointed as policy director for the Office of Customs and Border Protection in the Department of Homeland Security.
There are tons more stories like these but I think you get the idea, which is simply this: this organization matters -- it matters to Philadelphia, it matters to the United States, it matters to the world. It matters to students, it matters to teachers, it matters to policy makers, and it matters to all concerned citizens.
And we thank you for giving us the support that makes this possible.
Need I tell you we need more of it?
Alan H. Luxenberg
Foreign Policy Research Institute