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David launched the Independent Institute, an academic non-profit, public policy, research and educational organization, as the first “garage” think tank, in 1986. Starting Independent in his Oakland, California basement, David subsequently established Independent’s offices in San Francisco until the Loma Prieta earthquake precipitated its relocation back across the bay in Oakland.
With the launch of Independent, David was able to realize his dream of an organization adhering to the highest standards of independent scholarly inquiry in pursuing the creation of transformational ideas addressing the most pressing social and economic challenges of the day. He was the consummate entrepreneur, constantly identifying and leading the pursuit of opportunities for advancing the principles and application of liberty for greatest impact in the public square.
Prior to founding Independent, David earned three degrees from the University of California at Berkeley (two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s, in engineering and mathematics), followed by an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, where he served both as Research Assistant for the economist Yale Brozen and Director of the Lecture Series on Economic Science. His education, combined with his philosophical inclinations, propelled him quickly into the rigorous address of public affairs. He became founding Vice President and Director of Academic Affairs for the Cato Institute (then in San Francisco, now in Washington, D.C.), following which he became the founding President of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy.