Don Henley, a 1997 National Humanities Medalist, visited NEH on January 29, 1999. A multiple Grammy award-winning musician and a member of The Eagles rock group, Henley is founder and chairman of the Walden Woods Project, a nonprofit organization engaged in the protection of historically and environmentally significant land surrounding Walden Pond in Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts. Since the project's inception in 1990, Mr. Henley has helped raise $17 million by producing benefit concerts and record albums, as well as other fundraisers. This money has been directed to the environmental initiative and to a related effort to complete construction of the Thoreau Institute, a library and educational facility housing a comprehensive archive and an electronically accessible media center devoted to Henry David Thoreau. Opened in spring of 1998, the institute holds the most valuable and heretofore inaccessible collection of Thoreau research material in the world. It also hosts a visiting scholars program and symposiums, and serves as a curriculum resource for precollegiate and higher education. In 1996 the NEH awarded a $575,000 Challenge Grant to help finance construction of the Thoreau Institute. Mr. Henley visited NEH to provide an update on the institute's activities.
Attending the meeting were (from left to right in photograph) NEH Chairman Bill Ferris, NEH Chief of Staff Ann Young Orr, Don Henley, Kathi Anderson (assistant to Mr. Henley on the Thoreau project), and NEH Office of Challenge Grants Director Stephen Ross.