State Policy Network honors David R. Brown with prestigious Roe Award

AMELIA ISLAND, FL — Dr. David R. Brown, the founder and chairman of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, on Thursday (November 15) accepted the 2012 Roe Award for the advancement of free-market ideas, the highest honor bestowed by the national network of state-based think tanks.

“After a successful career as the most sought-after orthopedic surgeon in our state, the man from Fox, Oklahoma, has become one of the most influential leaders of the free-market movement,” OCPA president Michael Carnuccio said. “His legacy makes me proud to be an Oklahoman and thankful to be an American.” 

At the formal Thomas Roe Awards Gala at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, before a crowd of nearly 1,000 State Policy Network affiliates, SPN presented Brown with a bronze eagle, a symbol of liberty and the courage and conviction necessary for its preservation.

“Dr. Brown is an especially worthy recipient of this award — and it’s particularly fitting that he should receive it this year, as we celebrate our 20th anniversary,” SPN president Tracie Sharp said. “As the then-chairman of the Heritage Foundation, Dr. Brown was enormously helpful to us when we launched. A year later, he again advanced our network when he founded the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.”

Like Thomas Roe, the founder of both SPN and the South Carolina-based Roe Foundation, Brown was one of the earliest champions of free enterprise to grasp the importance of state-based efforts to expose the limits of government and to highlight the limitless potential of the entrepreneur.

In 1978, when Brown joined Roe on the board of the Heritage Foundation, the nation faced economic malaise at home and hostility abroad — and, in Washington and Oklahoma City alike, legislators continued to crow for more government. By the mid-1980s, Ronald Reagan was president — but the long-term success of his low-tax and deregulatory scheme was anything but assured.

In a conversation with Reagan, Roe once lamented the lack of “mini-Heritage Foundations” in the states. “Build some,” the president said. “Put a think tank in every state.”

Taking Reagan’s suggestion to heart, Roe built his in South Carolina and Brown founded OCPA.

Today, the State Policy Network connects more than 60 think tanks and thousands of members across the country. The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs is a premier think tank in Brown’s home state, and a nationally respected organization within SPN. Recently tapped to host the 2013 State Policy Network Annual Meeting, OCPA will celebrate its own 20th anniversary next year.

Brown continues to serve not only as OCPA chairman, but also as honorary chairman and trustee emeritus of the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.