THE FIFTH ANNUAL WFB JR. PRIZE DINNER
OCTOBER 18, 2018
CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER
CONSERVATIVE LEADERS AND PHILANTHROPISTS GATHER TO HONOR WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY JR.’S LEGACY; RECOGNIZE KAREN BUCHWALD WRIGHT AND EDWIN J. FEULNER’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT
National Review Institute hosts its Fifth Annual William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Dinner at the Chicago Cultural Center; raises nearly $1.2 million for the Institute’s programs. Recognizes Karen Buchwald Wright for Leadership in Supporting Liberty and Edwin J. Feulner for Leadership in Political Thought.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, OCTOBER 18, 2018 — In its fifth year, the William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Dinner has quickly become a marquee gathering and celebration for the conservative movement. Held annually around the country, this year’s black-tie gala took place on Thursday, October 18th, at the Chicago Cultural Center. NRI board member Dick DeVos (Michigan) and Michael W. Grebe (Wisconsin) were dinner co-chairs. In total, the crowd comprised 300 leaders of the business, political, philanthropic, and academic communities from across the country.
For his entire life, Bill Buckley sought to preserve and buttress the foundations of our free society. To honor his achievement and inspire others, NRI’s Board of Trustees annually award the William F. Buckley Jr. Prizes for Leadership in Supporting Liberty and Leadership in Political Thought. These prestigious awards honor their namesake and those who champion the principles Buckley advanced during his lifetime.
The evening began with a welcome from NRI President, Lindsay Craig, who thanked guests for supporting the National Review mission and highlighted the many advocacy groups fighting for liberty. Father Robert Sirico gave the invocation. The National Anthem was performed by Madeleine Kearns, a National Review Institute William F. Buckley Jr. Fellow in Political Journalism who sings soprano for the Cathedral Choir of St. John the Divine. In concluding the dinner, NRI’s new chairman, Peter J. Travers, thanked guests for attending and invited them to join the gilded-era themed after party for dessert and dancing. Guests were treated to classical and American Songbook music by the Fred Radke Band. Radke, the band leader, is a longtime friend of dinner honoree Edwin J. Feulner.
Prominent attendees included notable National Review writers such as Jonah Goldberg, David French, Andrew C. McCarthy, Charles C. W. Cooke, Ramesh Ponnuru, Reihan Salam, John O’Sullivan, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Jay Nordlinger, and John Fund.
To increase its programming in the Heartland, NRI recently visited Chicago as part of our series of eight half-day conferences in memory of William F. Buckley Jr. This February marked ten years since his passing. Continuing our year-long salute to his legacy, this dinner’s theme was “Remembering William F. Buckley Jr.” The theme was spotlighted by Richard Lowry’s opening remarks and a video that featured a compilation of archived Firing Line clips and footage from NRI’s Buckley Legacy conferences. These conferences celebrated his revered life and powerful legacy, and on Thursday NRI continued this theme of remembrance, reflecting on WFB’s accomplishments and highlighting the role of the National Review mission today.
In addition to bringing NRI’s Buckley Legacy tour to Chicago, over the past five years NRI has hosted events and worked closely with state think-tanks and regional policy organizations. We aim to energize the local conservative base and introduce our friends and supporters around the country to state-based and regional organizations doing vital work for the broader movement.
This year, the William F. Buckley Jr. Prize for Leadership in Supporting Liberty was awarded to Karen Buchwald Wright, Chairman, President, and CEO of Ariel Corporation, and Chairman of the Ariel Foundation, which she established in 2009. Leonard Leo, Executive Vice President of the Federalist Society, presented the award. Wright is known for her support of many conservative organizations over the years. In accepting the award Wright said, “Liberty is the ideal most deeply embedded in this nation’s heart, and supporting it is, for me, the most natural thing in the world.” Wright concluded by speaking about the organizations that she supports with gratitude. “I’m exceedingly grateful to the many, many organizations who continue to stand strong before the constant attacks against our personal rights and our shared beliefs. As only one person, there’s no possible way for me to do the work of thousands. But, luckily for us, there are so many dedicated people who are willing, and I know they use our donations to provide hope for the future. They go about this fight with hope, and love,” she said.
Barbara Van Andel-Gaby, trustee of the Richard and Barbara Gaby Foundation and Vice Chairman of The Heritage Foundation Board of Trustees, presented the William F. Buckley Jr. Prize for Leadership in Political Thought to Edwin J. Feulner for his work in public policy. Feulner is the founder and long-serving president of The Heritage Foundation—a powerhouse of Buckley’s ideas, which the New York Times has referred to as “the Parthenon of the conservative metropolis.” Feulner spoke about the first time he met Buckley in 1964 and said that “For so many of us, the philosophy of freedom found its voice in Bill Buckley and its platform in National Review. It soon became clear that Buckley was developing not just a readership but a national movement. NR was not just another journal but a political act.”
This year’s Buckley Prize Dinner in Chicago, where supporters from across the country gathered, is indicative of National Review Institute’s commitment to maintaining a consistent presence in the Midwest and our goal of making real the “National” in the National Review mission. The encouragement NRI has received from friends and supporters in the Midwest has been tremendous. Over the past five years, NRI has grown its programming, bringing National Review’s best talent to various cities outside of our home in New York. NRI plans to continue to expand its core programming, which complements the mission and work of National Review.