Did you know that in the 1990s, that President Bill Clinton rang in the New Year on Hilton Head?
It’s true. It was called Renaissance Weekend. This invite-only American retreat welcomed leaders in business and finance, government, the media, religion, medicine, science, technology, and the arts. It is a sort-of think tank, where conversations are off-the-record and subject matter ranges widely, tending to focus heavily on policy and business issues.
Founded in 1981 on Hilton Head Island by Linda LeSourd Lader and her husband Philip Lader, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Renaissance Weekends are s now held in several locations each year. The Weekends are geared towards the establishment of an environment free of partisanship and commercialism, where “civility prevails.” Membership is by invitation only. The retreat encourages the transcendence of political, economic, and religious differences by bringing together distinguished participants from a wide range of fields.
- including CEOs,
- venture capitalists and entrepreneurs,
- Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize-winners,
- artists and scientists,
- astronauts and Olympians,
- diplomats and Presidents,
- Prime Ministers,
- professors and priests,
- Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
Sixty families pioneered the Laders’ 1980 New Year’s house party. The result has been a cross-generational “continuing conversation” of individuals with broadly divergent perspectives, no political agenda, but a legacy of ideas and friendships.
In later years, festivities took place at the Hyatt/Marriott in Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. Mr. Clinton was spotted on the Resort’s golf courses. And Island residents and visitors watch hi motorcade travel down Hwy. 278.
Each Renaissance Weekend seeks to build bridges across traditional divides of professions, politics, geography, age, religions, philosophies, religion, and race. For over 30 years, these family retreats’ objective has been to encourage personal and national renewal.
Through hundreds of panels, seminars and workshops each Weekend, participants themselves address such public policy and personal concerns as “America’s Responsibility to the World,” “Investment Perspectives,” “How the Media has Covered the War Against Terrorism,” “Corporate Governance After Enron,” “Beating Cancer,” “My Family’s Legacies for Life,” and “Christianity, Judaism & Islam – Eternal Truths & Current Myths.”
Some attendees of Renaissance Weekend during its years on Hilton Head included:
- 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997 – Bill Clinton, former 42nd US President.
- 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997 – Hillary Clinton, former first lady and U.S. Senator.
- 1993 – Harry Blackmun, US supreme court justice.
- 1993 – Ernest Hollings, U.S. Senator.
- 1993 – Charles Robb, U.S. Senator.
- 1993 – Barbara Mikulski, U.S. Senator.
1993, 1995 – Mary Chapin Carpenter, singer and songwriter
- 1993 – Wolf Blitzer, journalist and TV news anchor for CNN.
- 1993 – Peter Arnett, journalist and TV news anchor for CNN.
- 1993 – Andrea Mitchell, TV news anchor for NBC.
- 1993 – Edwin Yoder, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.
- 1993 – Joe Klein, journalist and columnist.
- 1993 – Howard Fineman, journalist and columnist.
Military and Intelligence:
- 1993 – Elmo Zumwalt, former admiral of the US Navy.
For more information on the Renaissance Weekend, go to www.renaissanceweekend.org.