About Us

“[Among] the most influential forces shaping U.S. conservative politics.”

The New Republic, September 12, 2023

The Heartland Institute is one of the world’s leading free-market think tanks. It is a national nonprofit research and education organization based in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission since its founding in 1984 is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.

We are an “action tank” as well as a “think tank,” and we measure our success by the impact we have in the real world. The Heartland Institute plays an essential role in the national (and increasingly in the international) movement for personal liberty and limited government. We are the pipeline between the freedom movement’s leading writers and thinkers and the nation’s 8,400 national and state elected officials.

Because we are effective, we have been the subject of unfair criticism and even libel by various liberal advocacy groups, elected officials, and even Wikipedia. Please see the “Reply to Our Critics” page where we answer our critics and set the record straight. We hope you will defend us, when you can, in the comments fields of websites that defame us and in conversations with friends and colleagues.

Who We Are

A staff of 27 works with a seven-member Board of Directors, some 2,000 donors, some 500 academics and professional economists who serve as Policy Advisors, and a dozen senior fellows.

What We Do

We focus on issues in education, environmental protection, health care, budgets and taxes, and Stopping Socialism. Heartland sends four monthly policy newspapers – Budget & Tax NewsEnvironment & Climate News, Health Care News, and School Reform News – digitally and in print (for HCN) to many national and state elected officials in the United States and thousands of civic and business leaders. We also produce books, policy studies, booklets, podcasts, and videos.

The Heartland Institute also publishes special websites on climate and energy policy: ClimateRealism.com, ClimateAtAGlance.com, and EnergyAtAGlance.com.

In 2023, Heartland spokespersons appeared in print, online, or on broadcast media 9,398 times. Heartland’s podcasts recorded several hundred thousand downloads, and our videos were viewed 3 million times on YouTube, Facebook, and Rumble on more than 33 million impressions.

Heartland has hosted 15 International Conferences on Climate Change and two America First Energy Conferences since 2008 attended by more than 5,500 people. 


The Heartland Institute is endorsed by some of the top scholars, thinkers, and politicians in the world – including many members of congress and state elected officials and the leaders of other conservative and libertarian think tanks such as Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist, The Leadership Institute’s Morton Blackwell, and many more.


Join a group of men and women dedicated to discovering, developing, and promoting free-market solutions to social and economic problems and fighting for more freedom and less government!


Are you a conservative or libertarian considering a career in the free-market movement? Do you want to spend 10 weeks working side-by-side with others who share your interests, learning new skills and making contacts that can launch your career? Being an intern at The Heartland Institute is the right choice for you!

Volunteer Opportunities

Your time is worth more to us than your money! Seriously, please consider donating your time as a Heartland volunteer. You can work from home or come to our beautiful new offices in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

History of The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute was founded in Chicago in 1984 by David H. Padden (1927 – 2011) and Joseph L. Bast. Padden served as chairman and CEO for the organization’s first ten years and then as a member of the Board of Directors until his passing in 2011. Bast served as executive director during those first ten years and then as president and CEO until his retirement in 2018. James Taylor has been President since 2020.

A detailed history of The Heartland Institute can be found here. In 2005, Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast wrote a two-part history of Heartland. They can be found here and here. Two videos also have been produce telling the story of Heartland’s founding and growth over the years. The first video, below, was created in 2009 to celebrate Heartland’s 25th anniversary, and the second video, also below, captures a presentation in 2016 by Joseph Bast on the organization’s founding, mission, and programs.

Heartland Liberty Prize

The Heartland Liberty Prize is an award given to persons who have made outstanding contributions to the cause of freedom and deserve recognition. The prize dates back to 1994, when it was given to Walter Williams and John Stossel at The Heartland Institute’s tenth anniversary benefit dinner.

Since then, 25 individuals have received the award, among them Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, Cato Institute president Ed Crane, economist Richard Epstein, civil rights leader Lee Walker, Acton Institute Founder Fr. Robert Sirico, climate scientist S. Fred Singer, journalist and author M. Stanton Evans, Leadership Institute Founder Morton Blackwell, television host Glenn Beck, journalist James O’Keefe, and civil rights activist Yeonmi Park.

View the award ceremonies in 202220212019201820162015, and 2014.

Heartland Liberty Prize Winners

jeanne ives heartland institute liberty prize

Jeanne Ives

Yeonmi Park

Yeonmi Park


James O’Keefe


Glenn Beck


Joe and Diane Bast


Morton Blackwell


Don Devine


M. Stanton Evans


Dennis Avery
S. Fred Singer


Richard Epstein
Rev. Robert Sirico


Robert Poole


Gary Becker


George Clowes


Jack Roeser
Jim Johnston


Mae & Martin Duggan
Robert Rector


Ed Crane
Dave Padden


Lee Walker
Al Salvi


Walter Williams
John Stossel