Joseph G. Lehman is president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, an independent, nonprofit research and educational institute in Michigan. The Mackinac Center is one of the largest of 65 independent think tanks across the country that focus primarily on state-level policies that affect peoples’ freedom and quality of life.

Lehman first joined the Mackinac Center in 1995. He later became vice president for communications at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., before returning to the Mackinac Center as its executive vice president. He became president in 2008.

Lehman’s commentary on public policy has been carried by The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, National Journal, National Review, Investor's Business Daily, Wired magazine and nearly every daily Michigan newspaper.

He has addressed audiences at the National Conference of State Legislatures annual meeting, the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual Mackinac Policy Conference and gatherings of economists and policy experts in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

He is vice chair of the National Taxpayers Union and a director of the education reform organization Legislative Education Action Drive Foundation. He is an advisory board member of the Niskanen Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank, and the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

Lehman is a leader among state-based public policy experts. In 2013 the State Policy Network recognized him with its Roe Award for leadership, innovation and accomplishments in public policy. He has trained more than 600 think tank executives from nearly every state and more than 50 countries in strategic planning, communications and fundraising. Lehman is the leading instructor on the Overton Window theory developed by late Mackinac Center vice president Joseph Overton and has trained people around the world to understand this model of policy change.

Prior to his public policy career, Lehman was an engineer and project manager for nine years at The Dow Chemical Co. He graduated from the University of Illinois College of Engineering and is a registered professional engineer.

Lehman and his wife, Karen, are the founders of Midland County Habitat for Humanity. He twice received the Dow Chemical Vice President's Award for Community Service. He is an ordained deacon in the Presbyterian Church in America.

In Remembrance on Independence Day: William T. Wilson, Ph.D.

Economist once paid steep price for intellectual honesty … more

Michigan Government Salaries Database Shows Value of Transparency

Public records now at public’s fingertips … more

Why Mackinac Published Names and Wages of Government Workers in a Searchable Database

The information belongs to the people … more

Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation Supports Education Initiative

$500,000 grant announced in December … more

Infrastructure Funding Principles

Eight guidelines to maximize value for taxpayers … more

Five Road Funding Principles

Mackinac Center President Joseph Lehman lays out a free-market approach to pay for roads … more

The Mackinac Center, Policy, and Politics

Setting the record straight … more

RIP Ranny Riecker

Center mourns loss of founding director. … more

Grosse Pointe State Rep: Public Schools Must Control 'Who Is Allowed to Attend'

"Local control" more important than students' education. … more

Lawmakers Walk Out on Legislatures, But No One Walks Out on a Union

Lawmakers who walk out of their legislatures are exercising an ability the unions they support deny to everyone who sits across the table from a union. … more

In Memory of Peter C. Cook

Peter C. Cook, faithful friend of liberty and exemplar of civil society, passed away Sunday evening at 96 years old in his hometown of Grand Rapids. Mr. Cook, as I knew him, served on the Mackinac Center’s board of directors from 1992 to 2003. … more

No Conversation Allowed

Some economic development officials are complaining of “collateral damage” from candidates and others who publicly discuss reining in Michigan’s generous array of targeted business subsidies and incentives. … more

The Truth About Sacred Lies

A book review of Paul A. Cleveland's "Unmasking the Sacred Lies." … more

Glenn Beck Highlights Mackinac Center’s “Overton Window”

Friday on his Fox television show, Glenn Beck described public policy changes along a spectrum from right to left, dubbing the range of current policies “the Overton Window.” He borrowed the term my colleagues and I gave to a theory of change developed by the Mackinac Center’s late vice president, Joseph Overton. … more

Political Anatomy 101

Confidence in government breeds complacency in politics. When people think government is handling things tolerably well, they see no reason to pay much attention to politics. When confidence sinks from low to lower, grass-roots political energy spikes upward. That’s why people are now leaping off the sidelines and into TEA parties and raucous town hall meetings to protest sky-high taxes, exploding deficits and the government’s attempt to take over health care. Smart politicians can seize this opportunity by exercising an oft-neglected part of the political anatomy: the spine. … more