Institution News

150 Forward to be made public in June, calls for bold new response

At its quarterly business meeting today, the Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees approved a new strategic plan for the Institution titled 150 Forward. The plan was developed over the past year and a half following wide community consultation, market research, and externally advised analysis. The plan will guide strategic decision making over the next 10 years, leading up to the Institution’s 150th anniversary in 2024 and beyond.

Framed within the context of Chautauqua’s mission to “… explore the best in human values and the enrichment of life …,” the plan for the first time names values that guide the organization and an overarching goal that frames the 10-year key objectives of the plan as follows:

  1. Optimize the summer assembly season on the Chautauqua Grounds to provide a first-class experience around the arts, education, religion, and recreation;
  2. Expand Chautauqua’s convening authority year round to broaden its impact beyond the summer assembly season;
  3. Drive the implementation of a comprehensive, science-based approach to improving the health and sustainability of Chautauqua Lake and elevate its conservation as the centerpiece of the region’s economic prosperity; and
  4. Grow and diversify revenue to address critical needs, increase financial resiliency, and fund Chautauqua’s future.

Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill served on the 13-member Strategic Planning Working Group, chaired by former Trustee and Foundation Director Laura Currie, originally of Chautauqua, New York, and currently of Nashville, Tennessee.

“The plan seeks to weave together Chautauqua Institution’s storied past with our inspired present and our bright future,” Hill said. “Just as our founders, Lewis Miller and John Heyl Vincent, imagined a community of learners and seekers on the Grounds and beyond, this plan asks us to be bold enough to imagine the Chautauqua of tomorrow that will live on the Grounds, off the Grounds, and online. The plan also celebrates connections among our four founding pillars of the arts, education, religion, and recreation, acknowledging that sometimes the best way to enter dialogue is through song or play or spiritual inquiry.”

The planning process began last January when Hill and others embarked upon a series of meetings, individual conversations, focus groups, and surveys to collect input from Chautauqua’s broad constituencies. During the 2018 summer assembly season, Board Chair James Pardo, Currie and Hill hosted meetings every Thursday afternoon, where community members were invited to learn about the planning process and to share their aspirations.

“We asked our community members, partners, and regional stakeholders to share their aspirations for Chautauqua and to imagine what we might look like in 2024,” Pardo said. “We also stated firmly at the start of the process that our mission to explore the best in human values and the enrichment of life would not be changed, updated or modified in any way. In fact, through our conversations with community members and through our research endeavors, we learned that Chautauqua’s distinctive mission could not be more urgent or important.”

The plan will be shared with the community in multiple ways starting in June, when additional details will be unveiled in the Institution’s new publication, Chautauqua Magazine, which will be distributed to more than 30,000 constituents via mail. Hill, Pardo, and Currie will also host weekly meetings Thursday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. at the Hall of Christ where they will present the plan and respond to questions. An online version of the plan will be available June 22 (day one of the 2019 summer assembly season) at To assure effective implementation of the plan, Chief of Staff and Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Shannon Rozner is responsible for plan monitoring and assessment.

“If we’ve done this right, individuals who took the time to share advice and feedback during the community consultation phase of this planning process will see evidence that their input informed the process and helped to shape the strategies we are pursuing,” Currie said.

Hill said he and other Institution leaders will be available to present the plan to Chautauqua region groups and organizations upon request following the 2019 summer assembly season.



The pre-eminent expression of lifelong learning in the United States, Chautauqua Institution comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. Over the course of nine weeks, more than 100,000 people visit Chautauqua and participate in programs, classes and community events for all ages — all within the beautiful setting of a historic lakeside village. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue.