Board Chairman Dave Kennedy On IJ’s 10th Anniversary

March 1, 2001

March 2001

Board Chairman Dave Kennedy On IJ’s 10th Anniversary

By Dave Kennedy

It’s hard to believe it was more than 20 years ago when I first met Chip Mellor, and Clint Bolick only the year following.  We all lived out West and became involved with a regional public interest law firm based in Denver, Colorado.  Each of us felt passionately about the overarching, coercive arm of government and its intrusion into the daily lives of not just each of us, but into the lives of plain, ordinary people everywhere.  We tried to do something about intrusive governmental action—about unaccountable bureaucrats presuming to force “solutions” and programs on others because those bureaucrats “knew better what was good for us, than we ourselves did.”  As time passed, each of us left the Rocky Mountain area and went our own separate ways

IJ Chairman of the Board Dave Kennedy personifies IJ’s commitment to principle and tireless devotion to action and results.

How well I remember, then, Chip Mellor’s phone call a few years later, asking to meet with me to discuss a proposal that he and Clint Bolick wanted to make to start a new kind of public interest law firm.  The year was 1986, and knowing Chip and Clint, I looked forward to hearing what they had to say.  Not surprisingly, they brought passion, vision and intellect to the proposal.  However, I had to give them my candid advice when they asked, and that was that they were not quite yet seasoned enough to pull off the ambitious agenda they had in mind.  That set the two of them off to develop the strategic litigation blueprints, fundraising talents, management acumen  and other skills they brought together when they finally launched the Institute for Justice ten years ago.  The experience since then has been, for me at least, a dream come true.

Since the Institute began, it has been characterized by a steadfast commitment to principle and at the same time by a tireless devotion to action and results.  As anyone who has started a business in either the profit or non-profit world knows, the start-up phase is a make-or-break time of great intensity.  That was certainly true at the Institute for Justice.  I remember fondly, and with some amazement, those early days when we were confronting the challenge of actually creating an organization that would leave its mark on constitutional jurisprudence.

Throughout the entire time, it has been my great pleasure to work with the incredible group of individuals on the Board of Directors and with the devoted and amazingly talented staff, which Chip, with Clint’s help, has put together. The Board itself consists of both lawyers and non-lawyers.  They belong to the organization not for any specific expertise they may bring, but rather, for their fundamental commitment to the mission of the Institute—securing the rule of law essential to a society of free and responsible individuals.  This Board is a marvelous collection of deeply committed individuals who give freely and much more than generously of their time, their energies and their personal resources.

Added to that kind of commitment at the Board level, is a staff—a team—of individuals who, at their relatively very young age, would make any idealist proud.  They share completely the Board’s commitment and devotion to principle.  They work long hours, tirelessly and always without complaint, to further the cause of individual liberty, and to vindicate the rights of our clients.  All of this they do in a very special way, which we have all come to call simply “The IJ Way.”

You just have to understand how incredibly inspiring it is for all of us to be affiliated with such an enterprise!

As we look ahead, the future of IJ has never looked brighter.  We know there will always be challenges, but with the strength and integrity this organization has demonstrated over the years, we will turn those challenges—all of them—into opportunities.  I want to thank everyone who has been with us in this quest thus far, and invite all of you to be part of a very exciting future.

Dave Kennedy is the Institute for Justice’s Chairman of the Board of Directors

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