Socrates Program

In 1993, Laura and Gary participated in the Aspen Institute’s “Democracy in the Digital Age” seminar. Despite how stimulating and relevant the program was, they felt a glaring gap in its survey of contemporary democracy and civil society. Where was the thinking of the new, young, emerging Silicon Valley community? Where were the younger voices of the people actually creating the content? The younger entrepreneurs conceiving and building dynamic new business and social models weren’t at the Aspen Institute. They were passionate that these were key individuals who would benefit greatly from the Institute’s seminars and many would be the world’s future leaders.

In 1996, Laura and Gary acted on this passion by helping the Aspen Institute launch the Socrates Program. They invited 350 Silicon Valley young leaders to come to Aspen and engage in a Socratic seminar — Dilemmas of the Digital Age: The Impact of Technology on Democracy in America – 75 young professional leaders participated.

The seminar was a hit and since then, the program has blossomed into a popular permanent program at the Institute. Over the past 24 years, over 6,000 young professionals from across the globe have participated in seminars. The program serves as a forum for emerging leaders, ages 28 to 45, to convene and explore contemporary issues through expert-moderated dialogue and seminars that are designed as values-based Socratic explorations to facilitate the exchange of ideas. Socrates Programs include day-long salons in major U.S. cities and weekend-long seminars in Aspen and abroad.

Laura and Gary have endowed the program by giving and helping to raise over $5 million in 2012 for operations and scholarships to ensure the long-term success of the Socrates Program.

Learn more on the Socrates Program’s website.

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