The Pelican Institute fulfills its mission by:
The Pelican Institute Team
Daniel Erspamer is the Chief Executive Officer of The Pelican Institute, having been appointed in May of 2017. Prior to joining the Pelican Institute, Daniel served as Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at State Policy Network, the service organization for America’s free-market, state-based think tanks, of which the Pelican Institute is an affiliate member. Prior to that, he served a variety of leadership and development roles at the national office of Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Foundation. He received a B.A., with honors, in Political Economy and Communication from Tulane University. Daniel and his wife, Emily (a graduate of Tulane University School of Law), have four children and reside in New Orleans.
Emily joined the team at the Pelican Institute as Vice President. In this role, Emily is responsible for directing Pelican’s policy platform as well as working closely with allies to advance free-market initiatives. Prior to joining the Pelican Institute, Emily served as Director of DCI Group’s field division in Washington, D.C. She worked directly with state-based advocacy teams across the country to develop and execute grassroots campaigns for clients representing a variety of industries including energy, transportation, education, and healthcare. Emily began her career as a grassroots consultant in Baton Rouge and served as a consultant on dozens of political campaigns in Louisiana. Emily is a graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication with a concentration in Political Communications. Emily resides in Lafayette with her nine-year-old dog and best friend, Hank.
Aly Rau joined The Pelican Institute as External Affairs Manager bringing years of Grassroots and Fundraising experience. In her previous roles, Aly was able to introduce a fresh approach and her unique skills leading to success in electing public servants to political office. She studied Political Science and Psychology at The University of New Orleans. With a history of activism in philanthropic organizations across the southern region of the state, Aly feels a higher calling to her work at The Pelican Institute. Currently, she is working with America’s Future Foundation to cultivate a network for young professionals in Louisiana focused on furthering liberty. Aly’s roots are planted in Livingston Parish where she lives with her husband, Mason, and her son, Charles.
Eric Peterson is the Director of Policy for the Pelican Institute, joining the team in February of 2019. Prior to Pelican, Eric worked on state policy for a variety of organizations including Americans for Prosperity and the Institute for Free Speech. At these organizations, Eric cultivated a passion for tax policy, occupational licensing reform, and of course, free speech. Eric’s writings have appeared in numerous outlets including the Washington Post, National Review, and Forbes.
A native of the Land of Lincoln, Eric was fortunate to attend Tulane University where he majored in political economy and cheering on the olive and blue. He looks forward to attending his adoptive home and being in the stands for Tulane football once again.
Chris Jacobs is a Senior Fellow at The Pelican Institute. He has over a decade of experience in a variety of policy roles on and off Capitol Hill. He previously worked as Policy Director for America Next, a new start-up think tank, and as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Heritage Foundation and the Joint Economic Committee’s Senate Republican staff. Before that, Chris worked as a Policy Advisor for the House Republican Conference under then-Chairman Mike Pence during the debate surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and as a Health Policy Analyst for the Senate Republican Policy Committee during the first two years of the law’s implementation. He got his start on Capitol Hill as an intern for then-Congressman Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. While serving as Policy Director for America Next, Chris contributed to the Wall Street Journal‘s Think Tank policy blog. He has taught part-time on health policy at The American University, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and History Phi Beta Kappa
For the last four years, Baehr has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Currently holding rank as a major in the Marine Corps Reserves, Baehr serves as president of the New Orleans Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society. He also previously clerked for Judge Edith Brown Clement of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as serving on active duty as a defense counsel judge advocate in the United States Marine Corps. Throughout his career, Baehr has stood up for the ideals of America’s founding fathers, and he will bring this passion for defending freedom and liberty to his new role as general counsel for the Pelican Institute.
Margaret Mire is a Senior Fellow at The Pelican Institute, most frequently called upon to discuss issues like criminal justice reform, taxation, and budgetary excess. She currently works with American for Tax Reform in Washington D.C. while helping to steer Louisiana policy conversations in a liberty-friendly direction.
Trent Hill is the Digital Marketing Strategist for the Pelican Institute, working to expand the digital footprint of the only think-tank in Louisiana committed to small government, low taxes, and less spending. He is a graduate of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he still lives and works at a digital marketing company specializing in search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and other forms of online marketing.
Board of Directors
Stephen M. Gele, Chairman
Daniel J. Erspamer, CEO
In Memoriam: Kevin Kane
The Pelican Institute was founded in 2008 by Kevin Kane, who led the organization until his untimely death in October of 2016. A well-respected leader on free-market public policy, his work, alongside other partners in the state, led to the passage in 2017 of landmark criminal justice reforms. Many individuals and organizations celebrated Kevin’s accomplishments and noted his passing, including The Times-Picayune, State Policy Network, The Advocate, and Gambit.