MUSCATINE — When Brian Hanson takes over as the Stanley Foundation chairman in November, he will focus his efforts on preparing it for a new chapter, one that will involve even more members of the Stanley family.
Since the organization was established in 1956, it has had two chairmen. Max Stanley served for nearly 30 years until his death, and his son, Richard Stanley, served in various capacities since that time. But Hanson, who will succeed Richard Stanley, envisions a much shorter tenure for himself—he has committed to the role for at least three years.
“As we move forward, I anticipate that there will be sharing of the chair role among family members, that it won’t be one person who spends 25 or 30 years in the role and that that’s important too, for the organization and for bringing in perspectives and leaderships to guide the work of the organization,” he said.
Hanson is the great-nephew of C. Maxwell and Elizabeth Stanley.
Having been with the foundation since 1989, Hanson has an appreciation for maintaining continuity within the organization’s mission,one that has largely been the same since 1956: to tackle “big, fundamental threats to humanity,” Hanson said.
Some of the foundation’s goals, such as its focus on nuclear policy, have remained the same through the years. Back then, the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal was of great concern. Now, the Soviet Union no longer exist, but the threat is as present as ever, with new technologies and global players. Hanson said the foundation would continue to focus on understanding the role of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, in nuclear deterrence.
Other goals, such as the focus on climate change, evolved from emerging needs.
“Here, the emphasis is really, how can we work together with other nations and other businesses in order to address climate change,” he said.
The foundation fosters global citizenship in Muscatine, by sponsoring trips abroad for Muscatine Community School District teachers through the Catherine Miller Explorer Award and other educational programs. Hanson said that work will continue.
“Continuing to engage Muscatine is fundamentally important to the work of the foundation,” he said, particularly because it promotes global citizenship in the city, a core goal.
Hanson, who also works for the think tank Chicago Council on Global Affairs, said he understood the importance of global citizenship early on.
“We have a stake, we citizens have a stake in these issues,” he said.