Kelley Unger Introduces Seattle’s Discovery Institute

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Conservative Organizations in Washington… Who Knew?



Kelley Unger, Friday Harbor 

Kelley is currently employed as the Director of Development Operations at Discovery Institute, where she has served since 2006.


In an age of fake media, polarizing social media posts, and left-leaning academic institutions, where do conservatives turn for positive news and programming? Believe it or not, there are many reliable and trustworthy organizations who are promoting conservative values.

In fact, Seattle, Washington is home to one such organization. Discovery Institute is a nonpartisan, secular think that that promotes thoughtful analysis and effective action on local, regional, national and international issues. The Institute is home to an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.

Discovery Institute has a special concern for the role that science and technology play in our culture and how they can advance free markets, illuminate public policy and support the theistic foundations of the West. The Institute was founded by Bruce Chapman and George Gilder in 1991. Their board was at one time chaired by Congressman John R. Miller (RIP) and Michael Medved is one of their Senior Fellows.

Many may have heard about their largest program, the Center for Science & Culture (CSC), because since 2004 the intelligent design movement has gotten a lot of press (whether fair or unfair). The CSC is the institutional hub for scientists, educators, and inquiring minds who think that nature supplies compelling evidence of intelligent design. It supports research, sponsors educational programs, defends free speech, and produces articles, books, and multimedia content.

Discovery Institute also has a number of other programs that have made a significant impact both regionally and nationally, including:

Economics – The Center on Wealth, Poverty, and Morality connects the practical truths of economics with the perennial truths of ethics. It is building a sustained and accessible defense of free enterprise, entrepreneurship, and stewardship in the moral categories consonant with most Americans.

Education – Discovery Institute’s American Center for Transforming Education works with state legislators, policymakers and parents to promote systemic change to our nation’s education system so that it well serves the families that utilize it.

Citizen Leadership – The Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership enables young leaders to consider the foundational ideas of leadership in a free society by connecting them with mentors and fellow young leaders through seminars, lectures, and fellowship programs. Their goal is to develop the next generation of public and private sector leaders, in the spirit of collegiality and non-partisan cooperation.

Human Exceptionalism – The Center on Human Exceptionalism is to affirm and uphold the intrinsic nature of human dignity, liberty, and equality. In resistance to a growing movement against unique human personhood, the program aims to revitalize a commitment to the traditional Western view of human rights and concomitant duties—both of which are summed up by the term “human exceptionalism.”

Regional Transportation and Development – Founded in 1993, as the Cascadia Project, Discovery Institute’s Cascadia Center for Regional Development is an important force in regional transportation and sustainable development issues. Cascadia is known for involvement in transportation and development issues in the Cascadia Corridor, Puget Sound and in the U.S.-Canadian cross-border realm.

Technology – The Technology and Democracy program advocates free market-oriented public policies for promoting investment and innovation in the information economy.

Discovery is headquartered in Seattle, Washington with scholars and fellows located around the country, and even internationally. The work of Discovery Institute is disseminated through books, papers and reports, conferences, lectures and seminars, through regular radio and television appearances by scholars and fellows, and through sponsorship of national and international colloquia, seminars and conferences. Many of their past events are available for online viewing.

Take a moment to peruse each of Discovery Institute’s program offerings and the vast number of resources linked through their webpage. If you are interested in receiving regular communication on any of their programs, subscribe at

As was noted at the beginning, there are other such organizations that provide valuable resources. Over the coming weeks and months, we hope to introduce San Juan County to some of these organizations and use their quality content to inform and engage our members.