The Corner

Michael S. Joyce, Rip

A great man. I’ll have more to say shortly. Meanwhile, this is making the rounds by email:

Michael S. Joyce, president of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation for 15 years and a leader of conservative philanthropy, died on February 24 after a long illness. He had lived for the past several years with his wife on Big Cedar Lake in West Bend, Wisconsin. He was 63.

Joyce was once called “the godfather of modern philanthropy” by Irving Kristol because of the important role he played in deploying foundation grants to build the modern network of conservative think tanks and advocacy groups. Waldemar Nielsen, author of The Golden Donors, the authoritative history of American foundations, once remarked that “Mike Joyce is pretty close to being the central figure within conservative foundations, the chairman of the board or whatever you want to call it.” He was credited by friends and foes for guiding a conservative “war of ideas” for the purpose of changing the direction of national policy in both domestic and foreign affairs.

He was also an informal advisor to the Bush administration, suggesting names for presidential appointments and policy ideas for possible presidential initiatives. Joyce’s name was strongly associated with the president’s effort early in his term to promote faith based initiatives. Writing in the Wall Street Journal shortly after the President’s inauguration in 2001, Paul Gigot observed that “Michael Joyce is the closest thing to the original source for what Mr. Bush is trying to accomplish.”

Joyce began his career in philanthropy in 1975 when he was named to head the Goldseker Foundation in Baltimore. At that time he was one of the youngest chief executives in the entire field. In 1978, he moved to New York City to head the Institute for Educational Affairs, a not-for-profit educational organization chaired by Kristol and William E. Simon, the prominent investment banker and treasury secretary. The next year he was appointed executive director of the John M. Olin Foundation, one of the early conservative foundations which Simon also chaired. He served in that post until 1985, when he was appointed president of the newly-created Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

During his 15 year tenure at the Bradley Foundation, Joyce helped to direct millions of dollars to conservative think tanks, fellowships, advocacy groups, and public policy experiments in welfare reform and school vouchers. Joyce and the Bradley Foundation are credited by many with playing a key role in launching Milwaukee’s nationally famous parental choice scholarship program, and in stimulating a broader movement to implement the idea in cities across the nation.

In 1993, Joyce teamed up with William Kristol to establish the Project for the Republican Future for the purpose of developing ideas and strategies that might help Republican candidates re-capture the Congress and the presidency. The Project was influential in debates over health care in the early years of the Clinton administration; and many thought the project played a role in 1994 helping Republicans capture the Congress for the first time since the 1950s.

In answer to a question some years ago about his general philosopy, Joyce remarked that “At Olin and later at Bradley, our over-arching purpose was to use philanthropy to recover the political imagination of the nation’s founders.”

When he retired from the Bradley Foundation in 2001, Joyce was encouraged by President Bush to lead Americans for Community and Faith-Centered Enterprises, an organization created for the purpose of advancing the administration’s faith based initiatives. He also co-founded the Foundation for Community and Faith-Centered Enterprise, a not-for-profit educational foundation based in Phoenix, Arizona, which operated as an advocate for charitable organizations. After achieving the goals set for these organizations, Joyce became a principal with Practical Strategies, Inc., a public policy consulting firm with offices in Washington, D.C. and Wisconsisn.

He served on President Reagan’s transition team in 1980, and co-authored a chapter on the arts and humanities endowments for the Heritage Foundation that was credited with paving the way for the appointment of William Bennett as Reagan’s Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Michael S. Joyce was born in Cleveland, Ohio on July 5, 1942 to William Michael and Anna Mae (Stewart) Joyce. He attended Catholic schools in Cleveland, and then studied at Cleveland State University, where he earned a B.A. degree in history and philosophy in 1967. Later he earned a Ph.D. in education from Walden University.

Early in his career he was a teacher and football coach in two Catholic high schools in the Cleveland area. In 1968, he took a post at the Educational Research Council of America, which produced textbooks for use in high school history and government courses. He remained in this position until 1975.

He served on the boards of Cobalt Corporation (formerly Blue Cross/Blue Shield), Harp & Eagle Ltd., the Pinkerton Foundation, the Philanthropy Roundtable, the Foundation for Cultural Review, the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, and the Clare Booth Luce Fund. He was a member of the Mt. Pelerin Society and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a Catholic lay organization.

He is survived by his business partner and wife of 17 years, Mary Jo (Repinski) Joyce of West Bend, Wisconsin, and three children: Mary Therese Joyce (24), Martin M. Joyce (21), and Angela R. Joyce (20), all of Wisconsin. Also surviving is a sister, Sheila M. Montgomery of Milwaukee and two brothers, Timothy J. Joyce of Brewster, Massachusetts and Kevin F. Joyce of Seattle, Washington.

Services will be held Saturday, March 4 at St.Mary’s Catholic Church, 446 North Johnson Street, Port Washington, Wisconsin, with visitation at 12:15 p.m. and Mass at 1:30 p.m. A private burial will follow.

Arrangements are being handled by Eernisse Funeral Home, 1600 W. Grand Avenue, Port Washington, Wisconsin. (262-284-2601;

The family requests that in lieu of flowers contributions may be sent in Mr. Joyce’s name to the Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation (P. O. Box 347 West Bend, WI 53095) or Lay ministries of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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