Since 2000, Lenore Ealy has led The Philanthropic Enterprise (formerly The Project for New Philanthropy Studies @ DonorsTrust), a not-for-profit research institute that seeks to strengthen our understanding of how philanthropy and voluntary social cooperation promote human flourishing. She founded and has served as editor since 2004 of Conversations on Philanthropy. In this capacity, Ealy has cultivated a robust network of scholars, practitioners and donors paying attention to critical gaps in classical liberal understanding of the nature of liberty and social order and the role of philanthropy and voluntary action in a free society. Ealy is also series co-editor of Polycentricity: Studies in Institutional Diversity and Voluntary Governance (Lexington).
Since 2014, Ealy has served as Secretary and Executive Director of The Philadelphia Society, a membership organization founded in 1964 that promotes the interchange of ideas in the interest of deepening the intellectual foundations of a free and ordered society.
As founder of Thinkitecture, Inc., a boutique consultancy, Ealy has worked alongside social entrepreneurs, nonprofit executives, and donors to foster the emergence of innovative ideas, practices, and processes supporting non-governmental solutions to social problems. She also provides philanthropic mentoring services, helping donors evaluate their goals and opportunities for giving and assess efficacy of their philanthropy.
Ealy received a Bachelor of Science degree in science education with highest honors from Auburn University in 1983 and received the Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Alabama in 1990. In 1997 she completed her doctoral degree in the history of early modern moral and political thought at The Johns Hopkins University. Her dissertation, directed by historian J. G. A. Pocock, addresses the thought of the seventeenth-century Cambridge Platonist, Ralph Cudworth.
Ealy’s professional portfolio unites several skill sets—academic writing and editing, strategic project design, executive management, and volunteer and board service—around three key questions:
1. What are the social institutions undergirding a free society and how do they evolve?
2. How do individuals inherit, interact with and improve their social institutions and pass their learning into the future?
3. How do philanthropy and voluntary social action promote human flourishing and personal and community resilience?
Ealy has special interest in the areas of K-12 and higher education curriculum and policy and in disaster response and recovery. Serving as an affiliated senior scholar with The Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Ealy participated in a five-year project to follow the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast in the wake of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. In this capacity she has interviewed over one hundred community leaders and residents in New Orleans, Mississippi, and Texas about their experiences in recovering from the disaster. Previously, following the 2004 hurricane season, Ealy convened a research team to conduct an independent review of the giving strategies of the Florida Governor’s Hurricane Fund and make recommendations for leveraging their philanthropic resources for unmet recovery needs.
From 2005-2010 Ealy served as a founding board member of Project K.I.D., Inc., a grassroots not-for-profit organization created to provide respite childcare in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Ealy has been a leading advocate for promoting awareness of and preparedness for the needs of children and youth in disasters among civilians, emergency responders, and policy makers. Ealy coordinated volunteer teams to participate in Operation Golden Phoenix in 2007 and 2008, successfully injecting scenarios and solutions around the needs of children and youth during these full-scale, multi-sector training exercises. Stephen T. Ganyard referenced this work favorably in “All Disasters Are Local,” a New York Times editorial in 2009.
Previously, Ealy has held program management positions at the Heritage Foundation, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Ealy is co-editor, with Robert Garnett and Paul Lewis, of Commerce and Community: Ecologies of Social Cooperation; co-editor, with Steven Klugewicz, of History, on Proper Principles: Essays in Honor of Forrest McDonald (ISI Books, 2010) and co-editor, with Robert C. Enlow, of Liberty and Learning: Milton Friedman’s Voucher Idea at Fifty (Cato Press, 2006).
Ealy holds a B.S. from Auburn University, an M.A. from the University of Alabama, and a Ph.D. in the history of moral and political thought from the Johns Hopkins University.