Atlas Network

Atlas Network


The Atlas Network is a Washington DC-based non-profit organization that works to support and grow a network of more than 400 think tanks in more than 80 countries promoting individual liberty and free market ideals.

Many of the member think tanks of the Atlas Network have supported climate science denial and have campaigned against legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The Atlas Economic Research Foundation (AERF) was founded by Antony Fisher in 1981 with the goal of bringing “innovative, market-based perspectives to issues of public policy.” [1] Fisher had previously founded the Institute of Economic Affairs, an influential London-based think tank promoting neoliberal ideas of small governments and low regulation.

Atlas Network is the trading name of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. Previous names have been the Atlas Foundation and the Atlas Research Foundation. The International Policy Network (IPN) in the UK, also founded by Fisher, is effectively a UK variant of the Atlas Network.

According to UK Charity Commission filings (PDF), The Atlas Economic Research Foundation (UK) was working as the International Policy Network, and is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, number 262982. In April 2001, with the consent of the Charity Commission, it adopted the working name of The International Policy Network, 'IPN', and in December 2004, 'UK' was added to the name.  The UK Atlas Economic Research Foundation and the IPN UK are no longer listed among UK Charities. and the UK branch was most recently operating with a new name, “Network for a Free Society.” The U.S. Atlas Network appears to be a separate entity from the International Policy Network US Inc., although Atlas Network's 2010 financial records reveal that they continued to provide support to IPN[2]

The stated vision of the Atlas Network is to “win the long-term policy battles that will shape history, we need freedom champions to create credible institutes – well-managed and independent of vested interests – that use sound business practices to advance sound public policy ideas.

SourceWatch describes the Atlas Economic Research Foundation as “The Johnny Appleseed of antiregulation groups […] on a mission to populate the world with new 'free market' voices.” The mission of Atlas, according to John Blundell (president from 1987 to 1990), “is to litter the world with free-market think-tanks.” [3]

The Atlas Network has played a role in the work of a varity of conservative think tanks including the Manhattan Institute in New York, the National Center for Policy Analysis in Texas, Instituto Libertad y Democracia in Peru, the Acton Institute in Michigan, Fundación Libertad in Argentina, the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, Instituto Libertad y Desarrollo in Chile, the Centre for Civil Society in India, Istituto Bruno Leoni in Italy, and the Association for Liberal Thinking in Turkey, among others. [1]

Atlas identifies, screens, and offers initial support to individuals and groups who want to create local think tanks. Atlas “strives to provide personal assistance to individuals who are starting a free-market institute” and offers online training programs “that will walk you through the early stages of starting a think-tank.” [4]

Stance on Climate Change

Atlas has cosponsored numerous Heartland Institute events dedicated to the proposition that climate change is not a crisis.

In a November 2014 commentary, Atlas CEO Brad Lips wrote: “The Kyoto Protocol – signed by President Clinton in 1998 (but never ratified by the U.S. Senate) – now appears to have been the high-water mark for the Global Warming movement (since coincidentally that was that last year of measured “warming”). Even those who believe global warming is a catastrophic, man-made problem now struggle to make a case that global energy austerity is a practical or cost-effective course of action.”


According to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation Website, [1]

“Atlas Network is not endowed and it does not accept government funding. It does not support political candidates or parties, or otherwise involve itself in partisan politics.
We are grateful to those generous individuals, philanthropies, and businesses that entrust us with financial resources to build a greater public consensus around the ideas of a free society by advancing the Atlas Network mission.”
According to their financials page, “Atlas Network is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Atlas Network is not endowed and does not accept government funding. All of its programs depend upon the generosity of foundations, individuals, and corporations.” [5]
The Conservative Transparency database breaks down the Atlas Economic Research Foundation's funding as follows (1985 to 2013): [6] 
Aequus Institute $24,000
Armstrong Foundation $5,000
Cato Institute $20,000
Center for Independent Thought $94,725
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation $196,122
Chase Foundation of Virginia $428,820
Chiaroscuro Foundation $600,000
Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation $28,500
Claws Foundation $400,000
Diana Davis Spencer Foundation $92,000
Donors Capital Fund $374,000
DonorsTrust $812,950
Dunn's Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking $255,000
Earhart Foundation $4,071,988
Exxon Mobil $967,500
Friedman Foundation For Educational Choice $1,000
George Edward Durell Foundation $395,000
International Policy Network $37,596
Jaquelin Hume Foundation $93,000
JM Foundation $130,000
John M. Olin Foundation $5,000
John Templeton Foundation $4,111,989
John William Pope Foundation $180,000
Joyce and Donald Rumsfeld Foundation $1,000
Lovett and Ruth Peters Foundation $100,000
Lowndes Foundation $175,000
Paul E. Singer Foundation $50,000
Philip M. McKenna Foundation $10,000
Pierre F. and Enid Goodrich Foundation $265,000
Ravenel And Elizabeth Curry Foundation $200,000
Reams Foundation $15,000
Robert P. Rotella Foundation $25,000
Ruth & Lovett Peters Foundation $63,000
Same Line Foundation $33,700
Sarah Scaife Foundation $2,645,000
Searle Freedom Trust $170,000
Smith Richardson Foundation $591,830
State Policy Network $17,894
The Carthage Foundation $1,415,000
The Challenge Foundation $15,000
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation $243,890
The Opportunity Foundation $2,000
The Randolph Foundation $64,500
The Rodney Fund $7,000
The Roe Foundation $332,500
The Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation $293,000
The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation $62,000
William E. Simon Foundation $5,000
William H. Donner Foundation $674,869
Grand Total $20,801,373
Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty $30,000
Advance Arkansas Institute $10,000
Alaska Policy Forum $6,580
American Center for Civic Character $10,500
American Traditional Institute $15,000
Beloit College $10,000
Bluegrass Institute $105,000
Brown University $10,500
Cato Institute $10,000
Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise $10,000
College of Charleston Foundation $10,000
Common Sense Institute of New Jersey $10,000
Deep Springs International $10,500
East Carolina University $8,000
Foundation for Government Accountability $34,394
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education $20,200
Free To Choose Network $26,350
George Mason University $212,805
George Mason University School of Law $86,000
Goldwater Institute $20,500
Hispanic American Center for Economic Research $132,198
Human Rights Foundation $10,000
Idaho Freedom Foundation $5,500
Illinois Policy Institute $23,000
Institute for Humane Studies $10,000
Intellectual Takeout $15,000
International Freedom Educational Foundation $179,844
International Policy Network US $10,000
John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy $25,800
Just Facts Inc. $5,500
Liberty Fund $5,164
Mackinac Center for Public Policy $12,000
Mercatus Center $30,000
Moving Picture Institute $10,000
National Center for Policy Analysis $15,000
North Dakota Policy Council $17,500
Northwood University (Michigan) $20,500
Ocean State Policy Research Institute $10,450
Peak Freedom Forum $10,000
Pelican Institute for Public Policy $20,250
Platte Institute for Economic Research $8,197
Polish-American Foundation for Economic Research and Education $5,600
Prague Security Studies Institute Washington $224,750
Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia $16,056
Reason Foundation $20,000
Rhodes College $6,000
Rio Grande Foundation $10,000
Rockford College $18,300
Sam Adams Alliance $10,200
Samasource $10,200
Show-Me Institute $120,100
Students for Liberty $165,158
Taliesin Nexus $10,000
The Americas Forum $23,000
The Bastiat Society $24,000
The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College $16,000
The Independent Institute $19,425
The Prometheus Institute (Irvine CA) $50,850
The Ryan Foundation $12,000
University of Detroit Mercy $10,000
University of Richmond $27,500
Washington Policy Center $6,100
Grand Total $2,037,471

According to PR Watch, Philip Morris contributed over $475,000 to Atlas in 1995 alone. [7]

According to ExxonSecrets, Atlas has received a total of $1,082,500 from ExxonMobil since 1998.  [8]

Key People

The following individuals were listed on the Atlas Network Website as of August, 2015: [9]

Atlas Network Staff 

  • Chelsea Schick — Associate Director of Development and Events
  • Chantilly Alberti — Development and Events Associate
  • Paolo Angelini —  Office Manager
  • Reza Ansari —  Outreach and Persian Programs Manager
  • Daniel Anthony —  Vice President of Marketing and Communications
  • Cindy Cerquitella — Atlas Leadership Academy Director
  • Alejandro A. Chafuen (Alex), Ph.D. — President
  • Erwin Chaloupka — Economic Policy Associate for Central and Eastern Europe
  • Brittany Cobb — Development and Events Manager
  • Grace Courter —  Marketing and Communications Associate
  • Kristina Crane — Operations Manager
  • Eric D. Dixon —  Editor
  • Harry Kalsted —  Development and Operations Associate
  • Autumn Lansford — Atlas Leadership Academy Program Associate
  • Stephanie Giovanetti Lips — Director of Outreach
  • Brad Lips — Chief Executive Officer
  • Laura Liu —  Economic and Trade Policy Advisor
  • Rómulo López — Director of Finance
  • Elisa Martins — Associate Director of Programs
  • Nicholas Miller —  Development and Events Associate
  • Dr. Tom G. Palmer — Executive Vice President of International Programs
  • Casey Pifer — Institute Relations and Programs Associate
  • Katherine Price — Development Associate
  • Clark Ruper — Director of Development
  • Johannes Schmidt — Grants and Awards Program Associate
  • Jeremy SchofieldIT Manager
  • Gonzalo Schwarz — Director of Grants and Awards
  • Alexander Skouras — Associate Director of Institute Relations
  • Matt Warner —  Vice President of Programs and Institute Relations
  • Mariana Zepeda — Research Associate and Assistant to the President

Advisory Council

  • Scott Barbee  
  • Robert Boyd  
  • John Cerasuolo
  • Derwood Chase  
  • Stuart Chase
  • Barry Conner
  • Sam Corcos
  • John Dalsheim  
  • Sean Fieler
  • Dan Gressel
  • Pamela Hoiles
  • Nicolas Ibanez  
  • Bob Jefferies
  • Leo Kayser III
  • Jeffrey Kofsky
  • Warren Lammert III 
  • Ron Manners
  • Oscar Garcia Mendoza
  • Luis Perez
  • Borut Prah  
  • Nadine Prah
  • Jed Sunden
  • Lauren Templeton
  • Jon Basil Utley  
  • Mariela Vicini
  • Kathryn Washburn
  • Shari Williams



  • George Ayittey, Ph.D. — Fellow
  • Nicolás Cachanosky, Ph.D. — Sound Money Project Fellow
  • William Dennis — Senior Fellow
  • Rainer Heufers — Think Tank MBA Senior Fellow
  • Jerry L. Jordan —  Sound Money Project Senior Fellow
  • Garry Kasparov —  2014 Templeton Leadership Fellow
  • Michel Kelly-Gagnon —  Dobson-Lengvari Fellow
  • Casey Lartigue, Jr. — Asia Outreach Fellow
  • Mario Vargas Llosa —  Templeton Leadership Fellow Emeritus
  • William J. Luther, Ph.D. —  Sound Money Project Fellow
  • Deroy Murdock —  Senior Fellow
  • Charles Murray —  2015 Templeton Leadership Fellow
  • Alexander William Salter 
  • Judy Shelton, Ph.D. —  Sound Money Project Co-Director & Atlas Network Senior Fellow
  • Robin Sitoula  — Senior Program Advisor

Past Board Members

As of December, 2011, Board Members included: [10]


August 2015

Atlas announces that Australian think tank the Institute of Public Affairs is a finalist in its flagship Templeton Freedom Awards for a campaign against the country's laws that had put a price on greenhouse gas emissions.

IPA executive director John Roskam had described the laws as “the greatest threat to the free market in Australia since bank nationalisation in 1947”.  The laws, introduced despite a toxic anti-science campaign promoted by the IPA, were repealed in July 2014.  

The IPA's campaign included organising and funding speaking tours and promotions for climate science deniers, including former Czech Republic president Vaclav Klaus, mining industry figure and geologist Professor Ian Plimer and writer and anti-wind farm activist James Delingpole.

May 16 - 18, 2010

The conference's theme was “Reconsidering the Science and Economics,” and its purpose was “the same as it was for the first three events: to build momentum and public awareness of the global warming 'realism' movement.”
DeSmogBlog concluded 19 of the 65 sponsors (including Heartland itself) had received a total of over $40 million in funding since 1985 from ExxonMobil (who funded 13 of the organizations), and/or Koch Industries family foundations (funded 10 organizations) and/or the Scaife family foundations (funded 10 organizations). [12]

June 2, 2009

The conference's theme was “Climate Change: Scientific Debate and Economic Analysis,” to reflect Heartland's belief that that “scientific debate is not over.”

April, 2009

Greenpeace reports that Atlas gave over $100,000 (among other donations) to fund a “Danish study,” prepared by Danish think-tank CEPOS, that “provides clean energy opponents a means of raising questions about the viability of renewable energy and a means of directly criticizing President Obama for his statement that Denmark produces almost 20% of its electricity through wind power.” [14]

“[T]he study contains factual errors, its conclusions have been misrepresented and to boot, its findings are not particularly relevant to the US,” Greenpeace concluded.  [15]

March 8-10, 2009

DeSmogBlog researched the funding behind Heartland's Second International Conference on Climate Change and found that sponsor organizations had received over $47 million in funding from energy companies and right-wing foundations. [17]

November, 2003

Paul Driessen, a senior fellow at Atlas, published his book Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death.

Related Organizations

The Atlas network includes a large directory of international think-tanks, accessible here.


  1. Our Story,” Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Archived August 11, 2015.

  2. Network for a Free Society (previously Atlas Economic Research Foundation (UK) working as The International Policy Network UK) Annual Report and Financial Statements” (PDF),  Year ended 31 December 2010. Charity no: 262982. Retrieved from UK Charity Commission. 

  3. Atlas Economic Research Foundation,” SourceWatch profile.

  4. FAQ,” Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Archived August 11, 2015.

  5. Annual Reports & Financials,” Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Archived August 11, 2015.

  6. Atlas Economic Research Foundation,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 11, 2015.

  7. Atlas Economic Research Foundation: the think-tank breeders,” PR Watch, Third Quarter 2004, Volume 11, No. 3. Archived February 13, 2006.

  8. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Atlas; AERF

  9. People: Atlas Network,” Archived August 11, 2015.

  10. Board Members,” Atlas Network. Archived December 23, 2011.

  11. 4th International Conference on Climate Change Conference Program (PDF), The Heartland Institute. 

  12. Brendan DeMelle. “Denial-a-palooza Round 4: 'International Conference on Climate Change' Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries,” DeSmogBlog, May 13, 2010.

  13. Co-Sponsors,” Third International Conference on Climate Change. Archived July 14, 2010.

  14. Recipients of 2009 Fisher Venture Grants,” (Press Release), Atlas Network, April 15, 2009.

  15. “Koch Industries Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine” (PDF), Greenpeace Report, March, 2010.

  16. Co-Sponsors,” The 2009 International Conference on Climate Change. Archived April 28, 2011.

  17. Heartland Institute's 2009 Climate Conference in New York: funding history of the sponsors,” DeSmogBlog.

Other Resources