After serving as President for the Center’s first two decades, Lawrence W. (Larry) Reed, became president emeritus of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Midland-based research and educational institute on September 1, 2008. The Center's mission is to equip Michigan citizens and other decision-makers to better evaluate Michigan public policy options and to do so from a "free market" perspective.
On September 1, 2008, Reed assumed the presidency of the Foundation for Economic Education, headquartered in Irvington, New York. In this article, FEE: A Lighthouse for Freedom, FEE's history and importance were highlighted by Reed.
Reed holds a B.A. degree in Economics from Grove City College (1975) and an M.A. degree in History from Slippery Rock State University (1978), both in Pennsylvania. He taught economics at Midland's Northwood University from 1977 to 1984 and chaired the Department of Economics from 1982 to 1984. He designed the university's unique dual major in Economics and Business Management and founded its annual, highly-acclaimed "Freedom Seminar." In 1982, he was a major party candidate in the general election for the U. S. House of Representatives from Michigan's 4th district. He moved to Boise, Idaho in 1984 to direct a policy institute there before moving back to Michigan to head up the Mackinac Center in December 1987.
Under his leadership, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has emerged as the largest and one of the most effective and prolific of over 40 state-based "free market" think tanks in America. He served a term as president and 15 years as a member of the board of directors of the State Policy Network, a national organization whose membership consists of those state-based groups.
In 1994, Reed was invited to give the Commencement address to the graduating class of the Colleges of Education, Health, and Human Services and Extended Learning at Central Michigan University (CMU) before an audience of 6,000. CMU conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Administration. In 1998, Grove City College (his undergraduate alma mater) bestowed upon him its "Distinguished Alumni Award." In 2008, he delivered a Commencement address to an audience of 3,500 at Northwood University and received a second honorary doctorate, Doctor of Laws.
In the past twenty years, he has authored over 1,000 newspaper columns and articles, 200 radio commentaries, dozens of articles in magazines and journals in the U. S. and abroad, as well as five books. His articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Baltimore Sun, Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, among many others. Reed's most recent book is Striking the Root: Essays on Liberty. Since 1978, he has delivered more than 1,000 speeches in 40 states and 15 foreign countries, including one at Peoples University in Beijing, China.
Reed's interests in political and economic affairs have taken him as a freelance journalist to 69 countries on six continents since 1985, including five visits to Russia, five to China, four to Nicaragua, three to Poland, five to Kenya, and others to such places as Cambodia, East Germany, Mozambique, Haiti, Japan, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, Greece, Italy, Australia, Slovenia, Croatia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Singapore, Israel, Egypt, Malaysia, Vietnam, Iceland and New Zealand.
From firsthand experience, he has reported on hyperinflation in South America, voodoo in Haiti, black markets behind the Iron Curtain, reforms and repression in China and Cambodia, the recent stunning developments in Eastern Europe, and civil war inside Nicaragua and Mozambique. Among many foreign adventures, Reed visited the ravaged nation of Cambodia in 1989 with his late friend, Academy Award winner Dr. Haing S. Ngor; recorded an authentic native voodoo ceremony in a remote region of Haiti in 1987; traveled with the Polish anti-communist underground for which he was arrested and detained by border police in 1986; interviewed presidents and cabinet officials in half a dozen nations; spent time with the contra rebels during the Nicaraguan civil war; and lived for two weeks with the rebels of Mozambique at their bush headquarters in 1991, at the height of that country's devastating civil war.
Reed was elected in 1994 to the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) in Irvington, New York -- one of the oldest and most respected economics institutes in America and publisher of the journal, The Freeman, for which he writes a column entitled "Ideas and Consequences." In 1998, he was elected chairman of FEE's board of Trustees and reelected chairman in 1999 and 2000.
In 1993, he was appointed by Governor Engler to the Headlee Amendment Blue Ribbon Commission. In 1994, he was named to a task force of the Secchia Commission on Total Quality Government, which was charged by Governor Engler with the mission of streamlining Michigan state government.
In December 2007, he was named Visiting Senior Fellow with the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.
His spare-time interests include reading, travel, flyfishing, hiking, skydiving, and animals of just about any kind.