State Policy Network’s Overton Award recognizes nonprofit leaders in the state-based, free-market Network who embody the qualities of leadership, loyalty, humility, and support for the cause of liberty. These individuals are indispensable right-hand men and women who may not be in the limelight but whose leadership builds great teams, drives effective strategies, and multiplies the impact of their organization’s ideas and influence. The Overton Award also honors these leaders for giving generously of their time, talent, and experience to support their peers and build up state-based leaders across the Network.
The award was created in 2003 in honor of Joe Overton, a respected and beloved member of the liberty movement who died before his time. Overton was senior vice president at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the creator of what is now widely known as the “Overton Window,” a teaching tool that gets people to understand the importance of putting ideas ahead of political action.
The Overton Award is given infrequently and only to executive vice presidents and chief operating officers who fully occupy the space which Joe Overton filled: a leader serving as a bridge from vision to reality, from ambition to implementation.
Past Overton Award Recipients
Michael J. Reitz, 2021
Mike is the executive vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, where he oversees policy development, communications, fundraising, and the Center’s strategic plan. Before joining the Mackinac Center, Reitz was the general counsel and director of labor policy at the Freedom Foundation in Washington.
Jonathan Bechtle, 2018
Jonathan has served as COO & General Counsel at the Foundation for Government Accountability since Fall 2013. FGA’s president notes Jonathan’s contributions include identifying and fixing problems that are small “but will grow to hold the organization back.” Jonathan also helped create Flourish Now, a nonprofit that helps keep families together by having volunteers take care of the children in their home while the family is going through a crisis.
Kristina Rasmussen, 2015
Kristina worked with the Illinois Policy Institute for eight years, eventually serving as its President and COO. In her role of executive vice president, she was responsible for transforming and elevating the Institute’s presence and efficacy. For this accomplishment, she was recognized with the Overton Award in 2015. Kristina is currently with the Foundation for Government Accountability as Vice President of Federal Affairs.
Charles Mitchell, 2014
Charles joined the Commonwealth Foundation as its COO in 2010 and received the Overton Award in 2014. He has served as the Foundation’s CEO and president since 2016. In addition to his role at the Foundation, Charles serves on the boards of USA250 and Americans for Fair Treatment and as an alumni fellow of the Bucknell Project for American Leadership and Citizenship.
Lynn Harsh, 2003
Lynn was recognized with the Overton Award when she was executive director of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, based in Olympia, Washington. The Foundation’s president described her as “the glue that holds this place together.” Lynn currently works for State Policy Network as Vice President of Strategy.