The Innovation, Science, and Entrepreneurship Advisory Council (ISEAC) is co-chaired by Dr. Philip Auerswald and Darlene Cavalier. Dr. Auerswald is an economist at George Mason University and co-founder of The National Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Cavalier, a professor at Arizona State University, is the founder of SciStarter and a founding board member of the Citizen Science Association. In the following Q&A, these thought leaders reveal their ambitions for the council charged with engaging our national expertise as we seek to shape, inform, and inspire another 250 years of American ingenuity. These co-chairs center our discussion on perhaps the most important legacy of America250: hope for America’s future.
A250: What inspired you both to be co-chairs for this advisory council?
In The Science of Liberty, author Timothy Ferris describes how the concurrence in the late 18th century of scientific and democratic revolutions was no coincidence—they were integrally linked phenomena put into action by many of the same people. At their best, entrepreneurship and innovation follow in the same Enlightenment tradition, refusing to take the world as we find it as the best the world can be.
We have been inspired to play an active role in the celebration of America’s 250th anniversary because we’re proud to be Americans, excited to commemorate America’s founding, and deeply committed to engaging people from all walks of life in highlighting the role that innovation, science, and entrepreneurship has played—and will play—in our country.
A250: What do you hope to accomplish as a co-chair pair?
We share the vision of the Commission that the people of the United States are not the audience for America250. Rather, we—all of us—are the team that will make America250 what it can be. We see America250 as a shared experience that begins today and extends to 2026 and well beyond. We will actively support the Commission in seeking to involve every American in deep reflection, ongoing learning, and committed action “to form a more perfect union.”
A250: What is your vision for the advisory council?
Toward these aims, the advisory council will be searching for ways that America250 will not only commemorate, but to actively embody, the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, and discovery that has been such a significant part of the American experience. Our goal will be purposeful, engaging initiatives that have long-lasting and positive impacts.
A250: How will you know you’ve accomplished your goals?
We believe that realizing the full potential of America’s 250th anniversary means focusing as much on the possibilities of the future as the attainments of the past. We will have accomplished our goals if America250 prompts us all to grow in our excitement about what the future may hold while we grow in our appreciation of the great heritage of innovation, science, and entrepreneurship that we share.
A250: What does America need to know about your advisory council?
The message that we feel it is most important for our advisory council to keep in mind and to convey is that innovation, science, and entrepreneurship are for everyone. While we rightly celebrate those individuals whose positive impact has been exceptional, the reality is that innovation, disciplined discovery, and entrepreneurial spirit are in evidence all around us. Now is the time for all Americans first to consider what we most want to celebrate about our nation in 2026, and then to dedicate ourselves over the coming five years to bringing our nation closer to those varied goals and ideals. As we do so, there is no reason for us to be less ambitious than our forebearers. As internet pioneer Vint Cerf said, “When we start to think about 2026, we need to remind ourselves that our imaginations may be insufficiently rich.”