About the Fellowship Who Was Edwin A. Morris? Fellowship Alumni Leadership

The history of the E.A. Morris Fellowship for Emerging Leaders program begins with the extraordinary leadership history of Ed Morris himself. This history was eloquently recounted by Sen. Jesse Helms, and entered into the Senate Congressional Record of January 19, 1978. The full text of that Congressional Record entry is reprinted in this document, courtesy of the archives of the Jesse Helms Center in Wingate, NC.

Ed Morris passed away on July 31, 1998, but through the E.A. Morris Charitable Foundation and the E.A. Morris Fellowship for Emerging Leaders, Mr. Morris’s legacy of leadership continues, and serves to train and energize new leaders for the future of North Carolina. This Fellowship experience has already begun to generate a growing base of emerging leaders with the knowledge, skills, and understanding to bring together public and private institutions to solve key problems.

Legacy Becomes a Fellowship

The E.A. Morris Fellowship for Emerging Leaders grew out of several organizational ideas focused
on citizenship and free enterprise. One was the North Carolina Institute for Citizenship, conceived in early 2003, and intended to provide support for citizens actively involved in government. This Institute would potentially serve college students, young adults, candidates and newly elected officials, as well as senior executives and officials, mainly through information on issues and networking. The goal: citizen participation in the government process.

Out of the NCIC idea grew another similar concept in leadership and government participation, the North Carolina Free Enterprise Institute. Its goals were straightforward: “to recruit, teach, and nurture citizens, including candidates and elected officials, whose primary goal is to implement the principles of free enterprise and limited government.” Compared to NCIC, the mission had been narrowed to focus on young, emerging leaders, 25-35 year olds, and incorporated training in effective communication and other skills.

On August 13, 2003, on the anniversary of Mr. Ed Morris’s 100th birthday, a discussion to further renew the mission of the North Carolina Free Enterprise Institute took place in Raleigh, N.C. Meeting under the sponsorship of the E.A. Morris Foundation, the organization’s name was briefly changed to re-elect its leadership imperative: the North Carolina Free Enterprise Leadership Institute. While retaining the leadership mission, the organization was finally incorporated as the Center for Citizenship, Enterprise, and Government.

Thus in 2003, the Center for Citizenship, Enterprise and Government got underway under the leadership of longtime community leader, the late Jim Lofton. He had a long career that included Chief-of-Staff to Jim Martin (both on Capitol Hill and in the N.C. Governor’s office), work with the State Capitol Foundation, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, the Wake County Economic Development Commission, as Chairman of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors, Chairman of The Conference Table, as an entrepreneur and owner of the William Thomas House Bed and Breakfast, and numerous other business and civic positions. In 2003, Jim became the President of the new organization, CCEG.

Under the leadership of Jim Lofton, with funding from the E.A. Morris and other charitable foundations, CCEG planned to implement the training in principled leadership that is the legacy of Ed Morris, through retreats and other leadership opportunities.

E.A. Morris Fellowship moves to John Locke Foundation

Jim Lofton’s unfortunate death in 2006 left the CCEG leadership program plans as yet unfulfilled. The Center for Citizenship, Enterprise, and Government was to be dissolved. Rather than abandon the vision of training and promoting young leaders that was inspired by Ed Morris, the CCEG, E.A. Morris, and John Locke Foundation boards agreed to transfer responsibility for the leadership program to the John Locke Foundation. Since the E.A. Morris Foundation had been a contributing founder to the John Locke Foundation in 1990, and the JLF mission to promote personal freedom, individual liberty and responsibility, and limited government through informed citizens meshed well, the program was a natural fit.

Under the banner of the E.A. Morris Fellowship for Emerging Leaders, this leadership program has been in operation since 2006. We believe it remains true to the legacy of Ed Morris. In each of its first years of operation, the program has graduated outstanding Fellows in diverse professional fields.

The E.A. Morris Fellowship for Emerging Leaders program is directed by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek, who is the former Director of Educational and Academic Programs at John Locke Foundation (2005-2011) and currently consults independently on leadership and leadership development. She is one of several lecturers and guest speakers who address the Fellows at each E. A. Morris Fellowship retreat.

Our sincere thanks to Mr. John Thomas, President, E.A. Morris Charitable Foundation, and the E.A. Morris Board, for their continued financial and moral support of this Fellowship program.