The challenges our country faces today bear striking similarity to what the United States confronted in 1938 when a group of leaders in industry and finance established the American Enterprise Institute. Our country was in crisis; the suffering the Great Depression caused spurred unprecedented government control over the private sector and prompted calls for a greater government role in health care, job creation and unemployment, housing, and trade. Concerned for the nation’s future, AEI’s founders established an institute dedicated to defending free enterprise and its crucial relationship to America’s social and political institutions.

These convictions continue to animate AEI scholars today. While our country confronts different threats than we did in 1938, the demands for massive government overreach feel familiar. AEI scholars are at the vanguard of defending the free enterprise system and promoting policies that will help Americans through our current challenges without resulting in invasive government policies that will burden future generations.

AEI serves as a powerful intellectual hub for articulating and advancing ideas for American prosperity, freedom, virtue, constitutionalism, and security. With your engagement and support, our scholars and staff fight for those things that have made and still make America an extraordinary nation—indeed, in our view, the best nation in the history of the world.

We are preparing for future challenges and opportunities by attracting to
AEI preeminent scholars across policy areas who share our values. In 2020, 15 new resident and visiting scholars and fellows joined AEI’s ranks. They are further bolstering AEI’s role in making the case for free enterprise, individual initiative and responsibility, constitutionalism, and American leadership into 2021 and beyond.

AEI is also cutting through the national political polarization to help guide our leaders in addressing the needs of our nation. In October—by design, before we knew the presidential election results—AEI published Governing Priorities, an edited volume featuring guidance and policy tools from nine AEI scholars for the next presidential administration. Throughout this Annual Report, you will see quotations from the volume’s essays that drive to the heart of our mission. In the years ahead, you can expect AEI and its scholars to continue to lead the most urgent debates facing the country and world and, as always, speak truth to power and inject facts and empirical research into conversation so often dominated by overheated rhetoric and mudslinging.

AEI’s government relations, communications, and outreach teams are first in class, improving continuously and working constantly to maximize the visibility and impact of all our work. We continue to build our robust network of state and local leaders, equipping them with practical policy ideas to advance prosperity in their communities; expand and modernize our communications capabilities to help shape the views of millions of Americans; engage thousands of students with new knowledge and insight; and inform key policymakers on our nation’s most immediate challenges, as well as those around the corner.

Your engagement with our work carries forth the spirit of AEI’s founders, who acted in vigorous and principled defense of this great American experiment in self-government. That clarity of purpose continues to guide AEI’s work today and gives us reason for optimism about AEI’s future and that of our nation.

Thank you for your involvement and support of AEI, which makes everything we do possible. We are honored to lead the AEI community, humbled by this important mission, and prepared to rise to meet the enormous challenges ahead.

Daniel A. D'Aniello

Robert Doar
Morgridge Scholar