Steven J. Buri

President, Discovery Institute

Steven J. Buri was appointed President of Discovery Institute in December 2011. He joined the Institute in April 2000 as Executive Director and was named Vice President in 2005.

Mr. Buri has served in various capacities in government at the local, state and federal levels. From 1996-1998, Steve was a senior staff member to U.S. Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA), representing him in international trade, foreign policy and immigration issues. He was also active in statewide political campaigns, working with Washington State gubernatorial candidate Dale Foreman in 1996 and as Political Director for Christopher Bayley's 1998 U.S. Senate campaign.

Following the 1998 campaign, Mr. Buri co-founded Stewardship Partners with Mr. Bayley. Stewardship Partners takes a free-market approach to environmental challenges and works to bridge the gap between private landowners and those responsible for enforcing environmental laws and regulations. He served as Executive Director of the organization from 1998-2000. In 2009 he founded the Roanoke Conference, a statewide political conference designed to connect activists and elected officials with students and young professionals. In just its second year, The Seattle Times, called the conference “the must-attend event for Republicans in Washington State.” The conference is held each January in Ocean Shores, Washington and attracts more than 500 attendees.

In 2010, Steve was selected by the American Council of Young Political Leaders to participate as part of a bi-partisan political delegation to Nepal. The delegation was comprised of a diverse group of leaders, including Republican and Democratic state legislators, local officeholders, and national party officials. The delegation met with local and national leaders in Nepal-including President Ram Baran Yadav-to share policy lessons from the United States and to promote the adoption of a new Nepalese constitution.

Mr. Buri is an active member of the business community in Seattle, and in Newcastle, Washington, where he served as Deputy Mayor of the city from 2010-2011 and as Mayor from 2014-2015. In his council capacity, Steve served on several regional committees including the Eastside Transportation Partnership (ETP), a group of regional leaders charged with representing the transportation needs of Eastside residents.

Steve was born and raised in the small farming community of Colfax, Washington and is a 1994 graduate of Washington State University (Double Major-Political Science, Criminal Justice). He lives on Mercer Island with his wife Angelica, a daughter, Caitlin, and a son, J.D.


Discovery Institute: World Changers

When Bruce Chapman and George Gilder founded Discovery Institute nearly 30 years ago, they envisioned it as a “distributive think tank,” one in which technology would unite the collaborative work of scholars around the country. It was a forward-thinking model that has served us well in 2020, a year in which Zoom meetings have replaced in-person gatherings, both personal and professional.

Purpose and Hope in a Time of Turmoil

Discovery Institute President Steve Buri reflects on the mission of the organization in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic
During a recent staff meeting, two Discovery Institute staff members referenced C.S. Lewis’s essay, On Living in the Atomic Age. In this new era of coronavirus uncertainty, Lewis’s words offer comfort in knowing that the situation we face is not unique, nor unprecedented. The world has faced many plagues before, and wars, and suffering, and the economic uncertainty that often accompanies these periods. And — as has been the case throughout history — human beings face death, regardless of its cause. As I write this, a close friend is suffering severely (and bravely) from cancer. I feared for him, and prayed for him, long before coronavirus came on the scene. Now we fear another contagion en masse.

More Than a Think Tank

Discovery Institute Celebrates Its 25 Year History
I remember a Seattle Weekly article circa 2000 — around the time that I was hired as Executive Director — that described Discovery Institute as a think tank where people “sit around a big table and think really hard.” Needless to say, the article was neither friendly, nor indicative of the role that think tanks really play in policy development. Read More ›