Institute Purpose | Paul Simon Public Policy Institute | SIU

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Paul Simon and Mike Lawrence

The Institute's Purpose

Founded in 1997 by Paul Simon, a former two-term U.S. Senator from Illinois and one-time candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute differentiates itself from similar organizations by working directly with elected officials and others to fashion and implement change in public policy. Mike Lawrence, was the institute's second director.

Many of these organizations are considered "think tanks," which is not a title that aptly describes the Simon Institute. Paul Simon spoke of his institute as a "do tank" because it seeks--and achieves--positive results and concrete actions based on its work.

Paul Simon established the nonpartisan institute to maintain this fundamental difference from virtually all other organizations of its kind. It does so by asking two important questions:

  • Can anything be accomplished by our taking on this project?
  • Is our involvement differentiated from other organizations' work on this subject?

By asking these questions, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute determines its potential to make a real difference in society before taking on the responsibility to address any given issue.