Monday, March 1, 2021

Most Influential Think Tankers in the US

Washingtonian magazine has a new piece on who it thinks will be the 250 most influential people outside of government who will play the biggest roles in US federal policy debates over the next five years.  Think Tank Watch counts 38 think tankers, or roughly 15% of the list.  Of those 38, Brookings had the most people on the list, with 10.  Here are the think tankers:


  • Barry Lynn: Open Markets Institute, Executive Director

Banking & Finance:

  • Aaron Klein: Brookings Institution, Senior Fellow

Business & Labor

  • Jennifer Hillman: Council on Foreign Relations, Senior Fellow

Climate & Environment

  • Paul Bledsoe: Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), Strategic Adviser

Economic Policy:

  • Dean Baker: Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Co-founder and Senior Economist
  • Oren Cass: American Compass, Founder and Executive Director 
  • Tyler Cowen: George Mason University's Mercatus Center, Director
  • Steve Hanke: Cato Institute, Senior Fellow
  • Adam Posen: Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), President
  • Heidi Shierholz: Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Senior Economist and Director of Policy
  • David Wessel: Brookings, Senior Fellow


  • Rick Hess: American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Resident Scholar

Foreign Affairs:

  • Karen Donfried: German Marshall Fund (GMF), President
  • Michelle Flournoy: Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Co-founder
  • Bonnie Glaser: Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Senior Adviser
  • Trita Parsi: Quincy Institute, Co-founder and EVP
  • Dennis Ross: Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), Counselor and Distinguished Fellow
  • Kori Schake: AEI, Director, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies
  • Christine Wormuth: RAND Corp., Senior Fellow
  • Thomas Wright: Brookings, Senior Fellow

Good Government:

  • Lee Drutman: New America, Senior Fellow
  • Norm Eisen: Brookings, Senior Fellow
  • Norman Ornstein: AEI, Emeritus Scholar


  • Stuart Butler: Brookings, Senior Fellow
  • Michael Cannon: Cato Institute, Director of Health Policy Studies
  • James Capretta: AEI, Resident Fellow
  • Paul Ginsburg: Brookings, Chair of Health Policy Studies
  • Scott Gottlieb: AEI, Resident Fellow
  • G. William Hoagland: Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), SVP
  • Genevieve Kenney: Urban Institute, VP of Health Policy
  • Kavita Patel: Brookings, Nonresident Fellow


  • Claudia Flores: Center for American Progress (CAP), Immigration Campaign Manager
  • Tom Jawetz: CAP, VP of Immigration Policy

Legal Intelligentsia

  • Benjamin Wittes: Brookings, Senior Fellow

National Security & Defense

  • Fiona Hill: Brookings, Senior Fellow
  • James Lewis: CSIS, SVP
  • H.R. McMaster: Hoover Institution, Senior Fellow
  • Michael O'Hanlon: Brookings, Senior Fellow


It should be noted that Time magazine has just issued its 2021 Time100 Next list of the 100 most influential people in the US, and not a single current think tanker made the list.  Jake Sullivan, who was a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is on the list, but he is currently the White House National Security Advisor.