Paul Makarechian was just a boy when his family fled Tehran during the Iranian Revolution. Their new life in the United States began modestly, with Paul, his mother, and brother making a home in a trailer, uncertain if they would ever be reunited with his father. From these humble beginnings, Paul rose to become a successful real estate and hospitality entrepreneur, motivated by a vision to shape a prosperous 21st century.
In the nascent stages of his career, Paul and a group of like-minded entrepreneurs founded Gen Next. As one founder, Todd Rustman, says: “Legacies, problem solving, and the good of the country require leadership. And that means rolling up your sleeves and getting off the sidelines.” This initiative was driven by a mission to tackle societal challenges primarily through political action and philanthropy.
While Gen Next excelled in strategizing and implementing change—the ‘what’ and ‘how’—core purpose, the ‘why,’ was at risk of being taken for granted. Meanwhile, they perceived a nation drifting from the foundational values that spurred its historic meaning and progress.
The organization’s name, too, unintentionally suggested a focus on youth, when in fact it was a collection of visionaries of all ages, united by a forward-looking and values-driven ethos.
With time, the need for a more profound, enduring impact became evident. This understanding, birthed Alder, crystalizing the best of Gen Next but also improving upon its foundation.
The Alder tree, symbolic of pioneers in nature that invigorate and rejuvenate their surroundings, mirrors our ambition to stand tall and with broad shoulders in the forest of American civic life.
Paul, along with Gen Next’s leaders, recognized that the sustenance of a free society hinges on leaders who are committed to reinforcing and nurturing civic institutions and foundational values. Alder emerged to regenerate this core purpose and to retain the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of actionable strategies. It stands today as a testament to their collective vision, aiming to bring about strength and renewal in the civic landscape.
“Truly remarkable leadership is not just about motivating others to follow, it's about inspiring them to become leaders themselves and setting the stage for even greater opportunities for future generations.”
— Secretary Condoleezza Rice
The pursuit of a free and meaningful life for ourselves and future generations calls for a dynamic and active purpose — one that we cannot merely set aside for more convenient times. Regrettably, too many of our leaders in business and public service have retreated from this duty, succumbing to the lure of comfort and the hustle of busyness.
Our times are desperate for legacies that steward us toward a brighter future. We face challenges that arise quickly, are complex, and have enduring consequences. The fabric of social trust is deteriorating and the light of optimism for the future dims.
Historically, a free and just society has been an anomaly, a faintly lit path that must be tended to by its citizens. Each of us must commit to understanding the ideals and values that bring human flourishing to life – ideals like individual liberty, personal character, self-government, and social capital. This path is growing dimmer, urgently needing rekindling.
At Alder, our mission is to amplify the influence of our distinguished and purpose-driven community. Membership is transformative and creates a network effect of impact on various societal issues, including civics, education, economics, security, and culture.
We are committed to excellence in sensemaking, truth-seeking, community building, personal growth, and positive influence.
We engage with our members in a spectrum of insightful content, engaging discourse, collaborative endeavors, and transformative experiences.
We create the conditions for influential individuals to uphold the principles of a free society and overcome pressing issues together.
This arsenal equips them to navigate the clamor of excess information and deep divides, tackling challenges that daunt the majority.
Our community embodies these ideals and imparts them to others, and, in doing so, they bring foresight and wisdom to a reactive and frayed society.
We call upon more individuals to embark on this lifelong journey. And in doing so, we are building an institution that ignites Generational Leadership, supporting leaders who will leave this world in the best possible condition for future generations.
Michael P. Davidson is Alder’s CEO and Chief Thought Leader. His interests lie in the pursuit of ideas and consequences and equipping others to meet their potential for the benefit of society, culminating in Alder’s mission to ignite generational leadership. In a previous incarnation of Alder (Gen Next), he led the organization’s expansion across the country and took its mission international by leading delegations of members to 15 countries, engaging the highest levels of government, business, and culture. He also launched Gen Next’s philanthropic platform to invest in a range of unique causes, including inventive solutions to counter global violent extremism. Michael lives in Tennessee with his wife and four children, plays guitar like an amateur, and enjoys his non-celebrity status as a has-been, junior title-winning wrestler and judoka.