The Steamboat Institute established the Tony Blankley Chair for Public Policy and American Exceptionalism to honor the memory of our dear friend, Tony Blankley, and to build on his legacy. Tony Blankley was a master journalist and communicator and acted as the Moderator for our first three Freedom Conferences (2009, 2010 and 2011). His insights and good humor were indispensable.

Tony and his wife, Lynda Davis, were among the first to recognize the virtue of putting the citizen activists and potential citizen activists, who attend our programs, in direct and personal contact with nationally-recognized leaders in the conservative community. Most importantly, they understood how this is an essential component of the fight for our freedom. Tony and Lynda gave us their unwavering support from the beginning of the Steamboat Institute, and their support gave us the credibility that has been a linchpin of our success.

Accordingly, we seek to honor the memory of our dear friend, Tony Blankley. Tony’s grasp of public policy, the proper role of government, and the concept of American Exceptionalism is beyond dispute. It is our intention to see that his ideals are preserved and expounded through the first-ever academic Chair to foster academic excellence at the Steamboat Institute.

Tony Blankley Chair Application Process

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The mission of The Steamboat Institute, a 501(c)(3) educational organization formed in 2008, is to “promote America’s first principles and inspire active involvement in the defense of liberty.”

The principles shared and espoused by Tony Blankley and the Steamboat Institute are:

  1. Limited Taxes and Fiscal Responsibility
  2. Limited Government
  3. Free Market Capitalism
  4. Individual Rights and Responsibilities
  5. Strong National Defense

To promote our mission, the Steamboat Institute holds an annual Freedom Conference & Festival in August of each year, as well as a Speaker Series throughout the year.  We are proud to bring the nation’s conservative thought and policy leaders to Colorado and to share resources virtually around the globe.

Tony Blankley: First Moderator and “Face of The Steamboat Institute”

The late Tony Blankley served as Moderator of the first three Freedom Conferences, in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Tony firmly believed that unless it was cherished and protected, liberty could be extinguished in a single generation. Throughout his career in public service and the press, Tony worked tirelessly to promote freedom and liberty for the individual. With the support of Tony’s family, we are honoring the memory of our dear friend, Tony Blankley with an award that will help preserve and promote the ideals he held dear.

Tony Blankley Chair for Public Policy and American Exceptionalism

The Tony Blankley Chair, founded in 2012, was created to provide high-profile recognition and financial support to emerging conservative thought leaders who share the ideals espoused by both Tony Blankley and the Steamboat Institute.

The first recipient of the Tony Blankley Chair, awarded in 2014, was Tom Rogan, columnist for National Review and The Daily Telegraph, as well as a frequent contributor on Fox News Channel, CNN and other media outlets.  Tom was awarded a $10,000 stipend and travel expenses for his speaking engagements on behalf of the Steamboat Institute.  During his tenure as our Tony Blankley Fellow, Tom has become a regular panelist on The McLaughlin Group.  In recognition of his contributions and leadership as our inaugural Blankley Fellow, in 2015 the Steamboat Institute extended Tom’s fellowship for one year and awarded him the designation of Senior Fellow.

The 2015 recipient was Jillian Melchior, columnist for National Review and fellow for the Franklin Center and Independent Women’s Forum. Her investigative reporting covers, among other things, government waste, fraud and abuse, energy and environment issues, and organized labor. She has lived in China, reporting on Christianity and persecution. Earlier this fall, she covered Europe’s refugee crisis, reporting from Austria, Hungary, Serbia and Croatia on behalf of the Steamboat Institute. She has also done foreign correspondence in Iraq, Ukraine, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and elsewhere. She has worked as an editorial writer for The Daily, an online editor for Commentary, a Robert Novak fellow, and a Bartley Fellow at the Wall Street Journal Asia. Her writings have been published in The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, The Weekly Standard, Commentary, TechCrunch, The Detroit News and other publications. In early 2016, Jillian was named Political Editor of Heat Street.  She is a graduate of Hillsdale College and a native of Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The 2016 recipient was Hadley Heath Manning, a senior policy analyst and director of health policy at the Independent Women’s Forum. She frequently comments on health care, entitlements and economic policy, and manages IWF’s health policy projects and publications. Manning appears frequently in radio and TV outlets across the country, including Fox Business’ Stossel Show and Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto. Her work has been featured in publications including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, POLITICO, Roll Call, Real Clear Policy, National Review Online and Huffington Post. In 2016, Manning was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in Law and Policy. In 2015, the Republican National Committee honored her as a Rising Star, and in 2014, she was named to the Red Alert Politics 30 Under 30 list. She has also completed the National Review Institute’s Washington Fellowship, class of 2012-2013. Manning graduated with distinction from the University of North Carolina in 2010 as a Morehead-Cain Scholar with a double major in economics and journalism.

Selection Committee Members include:

  • Edwin Meese – 75th Attorney General of the United States
  • Lynda C. Davis, Ph.D. – widow of Tony Blankley
  • Steven Hofman – Consultant; Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor
  • Mary Kissel – Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Member
  • Lauren Maddox – Principal, Podesta Group; Former Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
  • Thomas P. McDevitt – Chairman, Board of Directors, The Washington Times
  • John O’Sullivan – British commentator and former speechwriter for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; Senior Fellow with National Review
  • John Roberts – Author and television producer for The McLaughlin Group; veteran of the Reagan White House
  • Tom Rogan – Tony Blankley Senior Fellow; Columnist for National Review

Fellowship Description, Application Process and Timeline

The application is open to emerging thought leaders in the United States.  Applicants should be a college graduate or post-graduate student, and may include college faculty members on sabbatical.  Applicants must have a record of professional achievement, leadership skills, experience with public speaking and/or published articles or commentaries in the arena of ideas. We are looking for someone with the potential to inspire others and who will be a friend of the Steamboat Institute for many years to come.

Nominations will be accepted from the Selection Committee and other groups affiliated with the Steamboat Institute.

The application process will begin in April 2017, and will include:

  • General questionnaire
  • Personal mission statement – Applicants should describe their passion for and commitment to the conservative principles outlined above (limit 500 words)
  • Writing sample (i.e., example of published work – limit 1,500 words)
  • Personal essay – Applicants may discuss their experience, why they are deserving of the fellowship and what they plan to do in the future (limit 750 words)
  • Official Academic Transcript (undergraduate and/or post-graduate) – this requirement applies only to current students or to those who graduated from college or graduate school within the past five years
  • Professional resumé
  • Links to 1-2 video samples of your work (for example, TV interviews or appearances, speaking engagements or similar). Alternatively, you may provide a 2-minute self-made video in which you discuss a topic of importance to you.
  • Two Letters of Recommendation – Applicants may provide professional and/or personal references, including from members of the Selection Committee, National Advisory Board of the Steamboat Institute, friends of the Steamboat Institute, current and former employers, academics, mentors and others

Key Dates:

April 1, 2017

  • Nomination process begins. Application available online.

June 30, 2017

  • Application deadline (11:59pm MDT)

July 2017

  • Steamboat Institute Board Members, Selection Committee, and other partners review applicants and make a decision.
  • Fellowship recipient is notified no later than July 31, 2017

August 2017

  • The Steamboat Institute announces the Tony Blankley Fellowship recipient by nationwide press release.
  • Tony Blankley Fellow is announced and award is presented at the 9th Annual Steamboat Institute Freedom Conference & Festival, August 25-26, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

October 2017-July 2018

  • Tony Blankley Fellow produces policy paper and/or commentary suitable for publication in both regional and national media outlets
  • Tony Blankley Fellow makes radio and TV appearances to promote his/her work and to promote Steamboat Institute
  • Tony Blankley Fellow speaks at annual reception/fundraiser in Washington DC (May 2018)
  • Tony Blankley Fellow speaks at annual Winter Policy Summit (Feb 2o18—Location TBD)
  • Tony Blankley Fellow speaks at events around the U.S., as requested – including events hosted by Steamboat Institute and other organizations
  • August 2018: Tony Blankley Fellow speaks at Steamboat Institute’s 10th Annual Freedom Conference & Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Requirements of Fellow and Expected Outcomes

The Tony Blankley Fellow will be invited to participate in the Steamboat Institute’s Annual Freedom Conference & Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  He or she will be required to complete general policy papers and commentaries suitable for publication in outlets such as the The Washington Times, Wall Street Journal  and other national publications.  The Fellow will also be encouraged to represent the Steamboat Institute by speaking at various events around the country.  These events will be hosted by the Steamboat Institute and/or in partnership with other conservative organizations.  The Steamboat Institute will pay travel expenses for the Fellow.

The Steamboat Institute has established excellent relationships with many national-level media outlets, including the The Washington Times, Wall Street Journal, National Review Online and C-Span.  Additionally, our Selection Committee and our National Advisory Board include many prominent conservative thought and policy leaders and representatives of organizations who can assist with promoting the work of our Fellows.  We fully anticipate our Fellows making both radio and TV appearances to further promote their work.

The Tony Blankley Fellows will focus their writing efforts on broader policy issues that highlight the impact our founding principles have in today’s society.  Potential topics include:

  • The role of the government in providing healthcare to citizens
  • The role of unelected officials in formulating and executing monetary policy
  • The role of regulatory agencies in formulating the details of federal legislation
  • The extent to which providing services is a proper role of government
  • The proper means for citizens to re-assert their sovereignty and independence

Future of Fellowship, Stipend and Endowment

The Tony Blankley Chair is an ongoing project, with at least one fellowship to be awarded annually.  Each recipient of the Tony Blankley Chair will receive a minimum $10,000 stipend, to be paid in four quarterly installments.  Our goal is to increase this amount as the program grows.

The Steamboat Institute is working to establish an endowment to ensure the future of the fellowship.

Program Evaluation

The success of the Tony Blankley Chair will be measured on multiple levels:

  • The number of applications received and the quality of the candidates who apply
  • The media exposure received by the program and the Fellow – We will count media hits, radio/TV appearances, the number of newspapers that print our commentaries and hits on our website for the stories generated by our Fellow.  In addition, we will track the degree to which we strengthen relationships with our partner organizations and activists through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.  We will create fan pages and will seek to build “friends” and “followers.”
  • The impact of the commentaries on public policy – for example, one of the policy papers produced by the Tony Blankley Fellow could result in national legislation, which promotes free markets and limited government.
  • The number of letters to the editor and online comments in response to our columns – this is an important measure of whether our message has reached concerned citizens, community leaders, elected officials and others who are in a position to influence public policy.

Ultimately, our hope is that the recipient of the Tony Blankley Chair will remain an ally to the Steamboat Institute for many years to come.  We hope that the Fellows who receive this opportunity will be part of growing and expanding the reach and influence of the Steamboat Institute.  The success of our Fellows over time, and their contribution to the Steamboat Institute, will be the final measure of success.


Tony Blankley firmly believed that, unless it is cherished and protected, freedom could be extinguished in a single generation.  The Steamboat Institute’s Tony Blankley Chair for Public Policy and American Exceptionalism will continue Tony’s legacy of tirelessly promoting freedom, free market principles and American Exceptionalism.  We are blessed to live in America, and we must stand strong to challenge trends in public policy which jeopardize our freedom.

Apply Online

About Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, 1948-2012

The Steamboat Institute had no greater friend than Tony Blankley.Tony served as our conference moderator for the first three Freedom Conferences and was a constant source of aid and support.  The Steamboat Institute would not be what it is today without Tony Blankley.


We are extremely grateful for the individuals and organizations who support the Tony Blankley Chair, including:

Michael Barone
Thomas W. Birmingham
Lynda C. Davis, Ph.D.
Hillsdale College
Jean Pierre Sagouspe
John Sammarco
Bill & Toni Thomson