President’s Year in Review

Dear Trustees, Members, and Friends of the National Institute:

Happy New Year’s Eve! I am writing you this note on December 31st, the last day of a very momentous and busy year for the NISS. As an organization, we have accomplished a great deal and come a long way along the path the Board of Trustees set out for us last year when they elected me to this role. We now have a reinvigorated, revitalized institution that is well positioned to continue its upward trajectory in the coming year. If you will bear with me for a few minutes, I would like to regale you with some of our accomplishments and progress.

Board activities — In addition to responsibly stewarding your organization with several well-attended Board meetings throughout the year, the Board has enjoyed a substantial influx of new Trustees who have brought new energy and new ideas to the NISS. Accounting for Trustees added to the Board during the year to replace retiring board members and new Trustees voted onto the Board at our recent Annual Meeting, eleven of the 21 currently serving Trustees are new to the Board in 2018. I am excited to welcome all of our new Trustees, as they bring a wealth of knowledge, energy, contacts, and ideas that will be hugely helpful to the continued evolution of the National Institute. In concert with our returning and continuing Trustees—who bring the continuity, wisdom, and experience of long service—the composition of your new Board gives me great hope that we will be able to accomplish even greater things in the coming year.

We have established new policies regarding leadership and engagement from our Trustees, as well, so you should expect to see more of them and their support to the National Institute in the coming year. Finally, we have established two new committees of the Board with critical roles in the organization: the Events Committee and the Membership & Development Committee. These committees have been empowered respectively by the Board to shape and drive the events we schedule throughout the year and to cultivate, recruit, and retain members and spearhead fundraising activities. You have already witnessed the results of the Events Committee’s efforts in our busy 2018 agenda, and I am excited by the new events and programs they are already planning for 2019. You should expect to see more of the Membership & Development Committee’s activities going forward, as we look to build on our recent momentum by adding to the organization’s membership and financial strength.

Please note that you do not need to be a Trustee to participate and bring your ideas and enthusiasm to any of the committees we have established. If you are a Member who wishes to participate more actively in this way, please feel free to contact me or any of the Institute’s other Officers.

Events — I will not exhaust you with a recital of all the successful events your Institute put on this year; hopefully you were able to participate in and enjoy them yourself. Suffice it to say that this year’s events were very well received, and I was delighted with the excitement and enthusiasm they generated among the membership and their guests. Our 2018 Gold Medal Dinner was a smashing success. Everything about the evening—the elegant venue, the fresh format, the buoyant attendance, and the fascinating Honorees themselves—was a triumph, and I only hope we can exceed the high bar the Events Committee has set for us with another stellar performance next year. Stay tuned for more details on 2019’s Gold Medal Dinner and the extensive, exciting slate of new events the Events Committee is busy planning as we release them during the year. You won’t want to miss any of it!

The Future — As we look forward into 2019, your President and Board are busy working on a very active slate of ideas and objectives. These are just a few of them:

  • Relaunching the Seed Grant Program with a refreshed format, program, and objectives. This program has been one of the most popular and important activities the National Institute has conducted, and we are working to make it more relevant, powerful, and effective than ever.

  • Building the National Institute’s Membership with a sustained membership drive throughout the year. The Trustees and Officers can use your help, as engaged Members of the NISS, in recruiting new members to our fold. One of the most effective ways is to invited your friends and other potential members to join you at one of our events. Seeing the National Institute in action is always the best way to encourage new Members to join. Please make sure to renew your membership early this year, too!

  • Embarking on more directed and sustained Fundraising activities. This is a personal priority of mine, as the National Institute’s financial health and effectiveness can only be improved by strengthening our financial resources. We have spent 2018 demonstrating some of the increased good and relevance the Institute can have in today’s fractious world, and I hope that we can engage with our Members, Trustees, and others to build a more secure financial foundation for our activities in the future. The new Membership Dues structure put in place this year provides a guide to what we should aim for from our membership, and the generosity of our Benefactors, Patrons, and Friends at the 2018 Gold Medal Dinner gives me confidence that our mission and activities are valued by you and many others.

In conclusion, I would like to thank all of the Members, Trustees, Officers, and Committee Members who have contributed to the wonderful success of the National Institute this year. Without you, we would literally not exist, and I am constantly thankful for your generosity, excitement, and support. Let’s make 2019 even better!

Happy New Year to you and your families and friends!

Best regards,

Fred Larsen

Letter from the President

Greetings to all Members, Trustees, and Officers of the National Institute! I am delighted to address many of you for the first time since my election as president by the Board of Trustees last Fall.  

As I write these remarks on a balmy Sunday in April, Spring is in the air and finally seems to have taken hold in New York City, after what seems to have been a particularly long and cold Winter.  I, for one, welcome the sunshine, warm temperatures, and traditional sights and sounds of Spring wholeheartedly. I hope this letter finds all of you enjoying the delights of the season as well.

Spring, as we know, is a season of change and renewal, when the blood quickens and the mind turns toward thoughts of change and growth. I am pleased to tell you that your Board and President have already been hard at work, planning our upcoming calendar of events and discussing ways in which we can invigorate the organization and make it even more relevant and impactful in pursuit of our mission. At our first meeting this year in February, the Board authorized a series of actions to support these objectives, and I will take a little space here to detail some of what your Trustees and fellow Members have been doing.

First, Jonathan and Madelaine Piel have volunteered to steer the Seed Grant Committee, with the able assistance of Nick Robinson. They are taking a fresh look at this highly successful and popular program to see what can be done to increase its impact and expand its reach, and the Board looks forward to their upcoming report and recommendations. As many of you know, the Seed Grant Program has been extremely successful in directly supporting our mission of “promoting studies and researches in the social sciences,” and we hope to make this program even more effective and popular, with all of your help.

Second, the Board authorized the creation of an Events Committee, chaired by Michelle Larsen and ably supported by Judith Hernstadt, Angela Cason, and Rob Gregory. The Events Committee is charged with coming up with exciting, actionable ideas for an expanded calendar of National Institute events in addition to our traditional Gold Honor Medal Dinner and the New York and Palm Beach Issues Discussion Luncheons. They recently met in New York, with Tim Cross and Yours Truly observing, and if that meeting was any indication they are off to a rousing start. This is an effort which welcomes the input of all of you, as well. If you have ideas for particular speakers or events that you would find interesting, please contact Michelle or any of the other committee members to share your thoughts.

Third, we have been able to crystallize our plans for several key upcoming events in our calendar.  Please mark your calendars now for the following:

  • We have arranged a new member cultivation reception at the Explorer’s Club in New York on Thursday, April 26th, at which prospective new members will have the opportunity to mingle with existing Members and Trustees and learn more about our organization. Trustee and Gold Medal Honoree Kent Barwick has graciously agreed to speak a few words about the Institute, and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Early returns indicate that this will be the best attended membership cultivation event ever, so RSVP to Tim Cross at if you can join us!
  • We have secured the incoming chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Jon Parrish Peede, to speak at our New York Issues Discussion Luncheon on Tuesday, June 12. (More details are included elsewhere in this website). This should be a very exciting presentation, and I look forward to seeing all of you there!
  • Lastly, we have booked the Metropolitan Club in Midtown for our Gold Honor Medal Dinner on Thursday, November 29th.  The program of Honorees is still under development, but stay tuned for some exciting news as it develops.

We have had some changes in your Board of Trustees, too.  We said farewell this year to Trustees Stewart Clifford, Barbara Tober, Richard Soghoian, William Kelly, Lucy Brennan, and Eric Widing, who have all stepped down after long and faithful service.  On your behalf, I would like to thank them for their support and energy on the Board and wish them well as continuing Members of the Institute.

The Board also welcomed four new trustees, longtime members Angela Cason, Judith Hernstadt, and Peter Samton, and new addition Rob Gregory, who are already contributing their ideas and enthusiasm to our efforts.  I heartily encourage any members who would like to get more involved in the direction of the National Institute—and to contribute their energy and brainpower to the reinvigoration of this venerable organization—to talk to me or any other trustee about joining us on the Board or, even, one of the key committees in formation.  (Committee members do not need to be trustees to participate.)

Change is afoot, and I am excited for it.  I hope you are excited, too, and that you will join in all of our efforts to make 2018 the most exciting and dynamic year ever for your National Institute of Social Sciences!

Yours truly,


Fred Larsen
President of the Board of Trustees


PS. We have posted brief memorials for longtime Members and Trustees Charlotte Armstrong and Clarence Michalis.  Hail and farewell, old friends!