From the President
Welcome to Chautauqua!
This site is designed to introduce you to the remarkable array of experiences and opportunities available on our historic campus in western New York state and to keep you abreast of how the Chautauqua movement is playing out throughout the world.
We also hope you’ll visit the online expression of our mission through the platforms that compose CHQ Assembly, where we have compiled some of the most exciting and thought-provoking programs of our recent Summer Assemblies and fresh programming throughout the year that allows Chautauqua to convene conversations in real time, year-round. This new effort, inspired by our strategic plan 150 Forward, was created in 2020 not only to give you a glimpse of our traditional season during nine weeks each summer but also to inspire year-round conversations about how we might engage as a global community in pursuit of the best in human values and the enrichment of life.
Chautauqua was founded in 1874 to serve as a resource for lifelong learning. Responding to the great need for information in the lives of Americans — who at that time were largely finished with schooling at a young age — Chautauqua hosted a gathering of people of all ages from throughout the United States and Canada.
Today this institution — while reflective of its history in much of the architecture and many of its rituals — responds to a modern need to sift through the flood of information in our lives and to place it in a context that sparks an imaginative understanding of our place in the world around us. This is a critical undertaking at a time of information overload. At Chautauqua, we invite you to probe deeply the great issues of the day, to partake in a high form of engaged dialogue, and to put what you’ve experienced to work in your home communities with a profound mandate: to change the world for the better.
The Chautauqua experience invites all who visit this special place, or who engage with us online or in special forums around the globe, to blend the intellectual, creative and spiritual aspects of life with moments of relaxation and reflection.
Bring an open mind, a hungry soul and a willingness to wonder. Your rewards will be outstanding.
Welcome to Chautauqua Institution.
Michael E. Hill
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About Michael E. Hill
Michael E. Hill was selected as the 18th President of Chautauqua Institution on Nov. 4, 2016. He began his work at Chautauqua on Jan. 1, 2017, and immediately set about ushering in a fresh, expanded vision for the Institution as it approaches its sesquicentennial in 2024, with emphasis on building its brand and thought leadership with a focus on expanding engaged dialogue in the nation, an evolution to year-round programming, and revitalizing “The Chautauqua Movement” beyond Chautauqua’s physical grounds. During his tenure as President, Hill has overseen the approval and implementation of a new strategic plan, 150 Forward, that will see Chautauqua through and beyond its 150th birthday in 2024; the Institution’s response to the 2020–21 coronavirus pandemic and its associated challenges, including a significant investment in mission-driven online properties via CHQ Assembly; the successful completion of the $41.5 million Chautauqua Amphitheater project; the appointments of a new generation of Institution leaders in key strategic areas; and an expansion of the Institution’s engagement efforts within the Chautauqua community, with its regional neighbors and partners, and with national partners.
Prior to his appointment at Chautauqua, Hill served as President & Chief Executive Officer of Youth For Understanding USA, where he dramatically expanded and diversified programs. He co-led a historic civil rights trip to Cuba with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C., at the invitation of Mariela Castro, two weeks before diplomatic relations were restored between the U.S. and the island nation. An international educator, he has served as a panelist and speaker on issues surrounding international education and student educational exchange.
Prior to joining YFU, Hill served as Senior Vice President of External Affairs for United Cerebral Palsy. In that role, he led international public education, fundraising, communications, marketing and branding efforts for one of the world’s largest health care charities. He previously led national development, communications and volunteer efforts for Washington National Cathedral as Executive Director for External Relations and held a similar role at The Washington Ballet. Earlier in his career, Hill directed a $125 million effort to expand the historic Arena Stage, securing the largest single gift ever made to a theater in the United States, and served as Executive Director of St. Bonaventure University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, where he oversaw the construction of a new museum complex, the renovation of a historic theater, the addition of an artist residency center and the quadrupling of programming at the multi-venue arts complex. He began his career as a journalist, serving as a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Fellow and as a Staff Correspondent for the Courier-Observer.
Hill holds a B.A. in journalism from St. Bonaventure and an M.A. in arts and cultural management from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. He is completing a Doctorate in Education from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. He was a founding faculty member of the Master of Arts Management program at George Mason University, where, in 2011, he was named faculty member of the year. He has also given lectures on the non-profit sector to groups from France and China in his work with GMU and as a visiting lecturer for Georgetown University. In 2016, he was chosen as a leadership fellow in the American Express — Aspen Institute Academy, and in 2012, was selected as one 12 American Express NGen Leadership Fellows in the United States. He is a member and Secretary of St. Bonaventure University’s Board of Trustees, and a member of the Robert H. Jackson Center Board of Directors and a member of the Leadership Network of the American Enterprise Institute. Hill first came to the Institution in 1996 as Assistant Editor/Copy Editor of The Chautauquan Daily and later served as guest critic for theater and symphonic music.