Roger Ream ’76, President
TFAS alumni know firsthand the impact of our programs. Among the thousands of alumni leaders who enter the workforce to defend liberty and leadership in their daily lives, several return to the organization that first gave them their start. On March 4, 1991, Roger Ream ’76 first walked through the doors at TFAS as the executive vice president. Today, Roger gives us exclusive insight into his 30 years working with TFAS, sharing his memories as a student in the Public Policy + Economics track in 1976 and what it means to serve the organization as president. Read more from Roger below and check back here as we feature more TFAS alumni team members in the coming weeks.
TFAS: Which memory stands out to you as a key part of your TFAS experience?
Roger Ream: I have many memories from my summer at TFAS in 1976. It was the bicentennial of American independence, so it was special to be in the nation’s capital that summer. I learned a great deal in my courses, enjoyed an exciting internship for a member of Congress, and heard outstanding guest speakers, including Jack Kemp, M. Stanton Evans and Pearl Bailey. But perhaps what was most valuable was the interaction with a diverse student body. I made lifelong friendships and grew from that experience.
TFAS: What is the most important lesson you learned from participating in a TFAS program?
RR: I learned many things during my program. In my economics courses, we examined what is referred to as the socialism calculation debate between the Austrian school economist Ludwig von Mises and the Polish socialist Oskar Lange. It reinforced why top-down planning is doomed to fail because of the lack of information on the part of elites. Mises won the debate, but elites continue to think they can direct resources and determine the outcome despite information about tastes, desires and needs being dispersed among tens of millions of consumers.
TFAS: What is the most rewarding part of working for TFAS?
RR: TFAS has the ability to shape, influence and even transform lives. I find it quite rewarding when our work serves to light a spark in the mind of a young person with regard to taking responsibility for one’s life and embracing an independence of thinking regarding the role of government in society.
TFAS has the ability to shape, influence and even transform lives. I find it quite rewarding when our work serves to light a spark in the mind of a young person with regard to taking responsibility for one’s life and embracing an independence of thinking regarding the role of government in society.” – Roger Ream
TFAS: What are some key differences and similarities between TFAS programs from when you participated in one and now?
RR: The differences are many. The world is certainly smaller and the digital revolution has changed things significantly. Many students these days are perhaps less informed about American history and civics, but much more interested in global affairs. They come to us much more determined to improve the world, but less prepared to do so. We do our part to teach them the economic way of thinking so they better understand the limits of solutions imposed from the top down and the trade-offs involved in every action or policy initiative, no matter how well-intentioned it may be.
TFAS: Where do you see TFAS in the future?
RR: In the short-run, we are taking a series of strategic initiatives to significantly increase the number of young people we reach through our high school and college programs. We will also invest more program resources in helping those with the greatest potential become the courageous leaders we desperately need in the world. Longer term, I am confident TFAS will be the foremost organization educating and equipping young people to become influential leaders who advance individual liberty and personal responsibility.
TFAS: What would you like to say to TFAS alumni?
RR: We have many enthusiastic and engaged alumni. I would encourage those who are not involved in the life of TFAS to re-engage. It is a welcoming network of professionals who all shared an experience through TFAS. Together we can ensure that TFAS continues to provide a place where young people can come together for civil discussions and a shared exploration for the ideas and institutions that contribute to human flourishing and economic prosperity.
Together we can ensure that TFAS continues to provide a place where young people can come together for civil discussions and a shared exploration for the ideas and institutions that contribute to human flourishing and economic prosperity.” – Roger Ream
TFAS: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
RR: TFAS takes great pride in the high quality of faculty who teach our courses. They are dedicated professors who seek to provoke students to think and who ignite a passion for deeper understanding. Our combination of “Live, Learn and Intern” – the TFAS experience since our founding in 1967 – has proven to be an unsurpassed experience for students on the path to leadership.