New Center Will Bolster Research, Host Major Policy Addresses, and Amplify Chicago’s Voice on Critical Issues
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs announced today that a major gift to its Second Century Campaign from the Crown Family has made possible the establishment of the Lester Crown Center on U.S. Foreign Policy. The new Center will bring together national policy experts and top thinkers to address matters related to world politics and global events.
The Center will host an annual Lester Crown Distinguished Lecture on U.S. Foreign Policy, will convene a Lester Crown National Security Roundtable, and will produce the Council’s signature annual public opinion survey and supplemental research on timely foreign policy issues. The Crown Family’s gift also supports the development of digital resources to make the Council’s foreign policy content more accessible across platforms.
“We are very excited about the establishment of the Lester Crown Center on U.S. Foreign policy,” said James Crown, Chairman of Henry Crown and Company. “The Center will enhance the Council’s ability to increase public engagement and foster a deeper understanding of the public’s attitudes on critical foreign policy issues – a lasting legacy that I know will make my father proud.”
Steve Crown, Co-President at Henry Crown and Company, added, “Our father always has been passionate about the importance of engaging with global policy issues. This new Center is perfectly tailored to make a strong and meaningful impact in precisely the kind of areas that have meant so much to my dad.”
The annual Crown Lecture aims to raise the profile of Chicago and to position the Council as a place for major foreign policy addresses—with the first one scheduled to take place this fall. Speakers will be selected based on their connection to the most pressing U.S. foreign policy issue.
The Crown Roundtable will be hosted by Council President and former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo H. Daalder. By employing a small group format, the roundtable will create opportunities for local and civic leaders to build relationships with national foreign policy leaders, and will, in turn, provide national leaders with direct exposure to the interests of those in Chicago and the broader Midwest—regions typically underrepresented in Washington foreign policy circles.
“We are honored to be part of Lester Crown’s incredible legacy and deeply grateful to the Crown Family for the transformative gift that has made this possible,” said Ambassador Daalder. “Our shared vision for the Crown Center will have lasting impact, shaping foreign policy debates over the critical choices facing Chicago, the Midwest, the nation, and the world.”
In addition to its function as a forum and symposium for ideas, the Crown Center will produce original research to deepen our understanding of—and propose solutions to—critical foreign policy issues. For more than 40 years, the Council’s annual public opinion survey has captured critical shifts in American thinking on U.S. foreign policy. The Crown Center’s polling work will continue this heritage while building a new tradition of research that seeks to inform—and influence—the public debate on critical global issues.
The Crown Family first suggested the gift to the Second Century Campaign at the 2015 Global Leadership Awards Dinner where Lester Crown was a guest of honor. His unwavering commitment to the Council and its mission has spanned decades. He joined the Council’s board in 2002, and has served as Chairman since 2004 and as Chair Emeritus since 2015.
With a centennial anniversary in 2022, the Council is poised for transformative growth. The Second Century Campaign will allow the Council to explore and develop ideas that address large-scale political, cultural, and technological changes and disruptions that are driving historical shifts in the global order.