Our Founders


The social scientist Daniel Yankelovich was a pioneer of public opinion research in America, the founder of DYG, Inc., a business research firm specializing in tracking social trends, and a public intellectual with thirteen books to his credit. His publications included Wicked Problems, Workable Solutions (2015) Toward Wiser Public Judgment (co-edited with Will Friedman, 2011), The Magic of Dialogue (1999), Coming to Public Judgment (1991) and Ego and Instinct (with William Barrett 1970). 

Dan grew up in working-class Dorchester, MA before attending Harvard College, Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Sorbonne. He was named by PR Week as one of the ten most influential people of the past century in the arena of public affairs, communications and public relations. Dan was also the recipient of The Parlin Award for pioneering work in marketing research, the Dinerman Award of the World Association of Public Opinion Research, the Outstanding Achievement Award from the New York Chapter of the American Association of Public Opinion Research, and the Roper Center’s Warren J. Mitofsky Award. 

He died in 2017 at age 92. 


Cyrus Vance was served U.S. secretary of state from 1977 to 1980, under President Jimmy Carter, where he was instrumental in negotiating the Panama Canal Treaty and the Camp David peace accord. Earlier, he served as deputy secretary of defense and secretary of the Army under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1969, Mr. Vance was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award. 

At Public Agenda, Vance was the guiding force for the organization's work on arms control and foreign policy during the 1980s. In particular, he was a leader in the groundbreaking project called "The Public, The Soviets and Nuclear Arms," which combined in-depth research on public attitudes on U.S.-Soviet relations with a series of town hall meetings around the country. More than 76,000 people came together in the "Public Summit '88" town hall sessions to discuss options for dealing with the Soviet Union. Public Agenda conducted the project in conjunction with the Center for Foreign Policy Development at Brown University. 

A graduate of Yale Law School, Mr. Vance served as associate and partner in the New York law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett over five decades until his retirement in January 1998. A former president of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Mr. Vance was a chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, chairman of The Rockefeller Foundation, and vice-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations.