SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Congressman Ben McAdams is still pondering whether to make another run at the District 4 seat he lost to now-Rep. Burgess Owens last fall, but he’s got plenty on his plate in the near-term.
On Thursday, McAdams shared details of two new public service-oriented projects that he says will allow him to continue to give back while making the best use of his skills as a “force for finding policy consensus.”
This week, McAdams steps into a senior fellow role with the Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business. The center has pioneered a problem-solving approach that brings the work of data scientists together with policy and community engagement experts to “design solutions for and with communities, governments, nonprofits and philanthropists.”
McAdams said he worked with the organization on a number of issues during his time as Salt Lake County mayor and is looking forward to joining the team in a different capacity. That new role, McAdams said, is likely to include lecturing and teaching as well as other opportunities to leverage his experience with evidence-based decision-making and data analysis on both the private and public sector sides of challenging issues.
McAdams also cited work he did while still a member of Congress with the bipartisan What Works Caucus to advance evidence-based policy and data-driven decision-making at the federal level.
Entrepreneur and investor Jim Sorenson launched the Sorenson Impact Center (then known as the James Lee Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing) in 2013 with a $13 million endowment and a mission to apply the kind of approach that fuels innovation industries to solving some of the toughest societal challenges.
Sorenson said bringing McAdams on board will have immediate and positive impacts on the work of the center.
“His expertise and commitment to social impact will be an exceptional resource for students and the team. He will contribute to the mission of the center to advance and accelerate the field,” Sorenson said in a statement.
Sorenson Impact Center CEO Geoff Davis also celebrated the new team member and noted the role will allow McAdams to share his experience with the next generation of civic leaders.
“Ben’s leadership and track record of creating social innovation by harnessing market forces is needed now more than ever, and his role as a Sorenson Impact senior fellow will augment our ability to creatively solve important social, economic and environmental issues,” Davis said in a statement. “We expect his impact on our students to be even more profound as he helps us prepare the next generation of impact leaders.”
McAdams also announced a new organization he’s calling the Common Ground Institute that will focus on “bridge building” as a way to address and resolve the kind of ideological stalemates that keep policy solutions from moving forward.
McAdams said while the effort is currently in startup mode, he intends to continue on the public sector path he traveled to solve problems and “help heal a country that has never been so divided.”
The former state legislator noted his work on landmark nondiscrimination proposals in Utah as well as participation in the widely acclaimed principals document, Utah Compact, that typify, he believes, Utah stakeholders with disparate starting points finding a way to reach common ground.
“The ‘Utah Way’ is one in which we have our own, strong and different views on issues but are able to work together toward solutions of important problems,” McAdams said.
And, while McAdams is keeping the possibility of a 2022 run to regain his lost congressional seat wide open, he wishes his replacement all the best.
“I think Rep. Owens should be given every opportunity to succeed, and as a Utahn and an American, I want him to be successful,” McAdams said.