New Canaan resident Carol Platt Liebau took over the reins of the conservative Yankee Institute for Public Policy last month as its new president.
Liebau replaces Fergus Cullen, the former head of the New Hampshire Republican Party, who was the institute’s executive director for the last five years.
Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, who chairs the Yankee Institute’s board of directors, said Liebau was chosen from a group of about 30 candidates from across the country. When Cullen was interviewed for the job he was the only candidate.
That’s a testament to how far the organization has come over the years with establishing itself as a reputable nonprofit think-tank, Simmons said.
Liebau, who was one of five candidates interviewed for the position, was chosen partly because she lives in Connecticut, Simmons said. He said Cullen did a great job, but his residency in New Hampshire was problematic for the organization.
Simmons said Liebau stood out from the rest of the candidates for her fundraising ability, which is crucial for the nonprofit organization that is funded by private individuals and foundations.
“She has an engaging personality,” he said. “She’s willing to reach out.”
In a phone interview earlier this week, Simmons said he was impressed with her background as a published writer. She was the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review and published Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (and America, Too!) in 2007.
Liebau is an attorney, author, political and policy advisor, and media commentator, according to her biography.
In addition to practicing law, she has served as legislative assistant to Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond of Missouri; as a consultant to the U.S. Senate campaigns of John D. Ashcroft (1994) and Congressman Tom Campbell (2000 and 2010); and as law clerk to Reagan appointee Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She has been a guest radio talk show host for the nationally-syndicated “Hugh Hewitt Show” and for KABC radio in Los Angeles.
But beyond her national public policy and media credentials Liebau is a woman.
“I am concerned as chairman with broadening the appeal of our fiscally conservative policies,” Simmons said. “We are not attracting enough women to the organization.”
Liebau will be the first female president of the organization, which has been operating since 1984. She will oversee a staff of two.
“My principles and values are closely aligned with those of the Yankee Institute, which is dedicated to improving lives through freedom and opportunity,” Liebau said. “Just as freedom is a necessary condition for the flourishing of the human spirit, it’s likewise important to take care of those who truly cannot care for themselves.”
She said that operating in a traditionally “blue” state such as Connecticut “creates great opportunities, but unfortunately at the cost of providing a living example of the misery that high taxes and overregulation create.”
The Yankee Institute put its organization on the map in 2010 when it created their own database of state spending called CTSunlight.org. It was able to get the state to follow suit with their own website www.transparency.ct.gov in 2011. It then started its own news website called Raising Hale, which is operated by its founding editor Zachary Janowski.
It has also filed and lost a lawsuit challenging some of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s executive orders.