Bill Schambra was born in Texas, grew up in Michigan, received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and his doctorate from Northern Illinois University. For many years he was a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C., where he was Director of Social Policy Programs. He was also “house intellectual” at the U.S. Justice Department Office of Personnel Management and the Health and Human Services Department during the 1980s. Since 1992 he’s been senior program officer for the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation based in Milwaukee, one of the largest foundations in the country, where he is working to restore the meaning of civil society. We are grateful to the Bradley Foundation for supporting the Schumacher Center’s local currency efforts, which the Foundation sees as a way not only of creating economic opportunities but of tying local communities together in a joint enterprise.
I heard Bill speak back in 1982 when he was at the American Enterprise Institute. I went to a panel presentation and was struck with the incisive and learned remarks he made. Bill has been a long-time advocate for the restoration of civil society on a human scale. He wrote a brilliant article about the old values of the new citizenship called “By the People,” which appeared in the summer 1994 issue of Policy Review. One of the quotes in the article that I think is timely for today comes from Michael Joyce, who is now his boss at the Bradley Foundation: “Americans are eager to seize control of their daily lives again, to make critical life choices for themselves based on their own common sense and folk wisdom, to assume once again the status of proud, independent, self-governing citizens intended for them by the founders.” You’ll find this theme restated by Bill in his remarks and in his publications.
Bill has done a great service in emphasizing a rebirth of personal responsibility, mutual aid, compassionate engagement, the restoration of human communities, and the vital importance of preserving a society in which all can contribute, create, build, and realize their human potential free of stifling mandates from distant giant institutions—notably big business, big labor, and big government, which wield coercive power over individuals in our society. I think you’re going to enjoy listening to Bill Schambra, and I’m happy to present him now on behalf of the Schumacher Center.