In late March of 2021, we lost an esteemed colleague, Evan Dunks. Evan had dedicated his life to helping to build a better and more free society, and he is dearly missed. We asked Joshua Ammons, a colleague and close friend of Evan’s, to share memories of Evan in celebration of his life.
The following is a tribute to Evan Dunks written by Joshua Ammons:
This year IHS lost one of our esteemed colleagues, Evan Dunks. As the email marketing manager for IHS, Evan helped create messages for faculty and students. Evan devoted his career to championing liberty to enable individuals to release their creative potential. Evan drew inspiration from the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, including Adam Smith. His favorite book was On Liberty by John Stuart Mill. He told me that the best communicator of classical liberal ideas was Milton Friedman because of Friedman’s reach, wit, and impact. When asked to help solve a problem, Evan was always willing to provide his perspective and expertise. His grit, humor, and growth mindset inspired colleagues.
He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2014 with a bachelor’s in foreign affairs. Evan encountered IHS through on-campus programs at UVA, and, inspired by the programs, he interned for IHS by the fall of his graduation year. He stayed at IHS for several internships, working on online educational programs for undergraduates.
I met Evan on our very first day as interns in 2014. We had both just moved to the D.C. area to intern at IHS. Together over the following two years, we participated in many programs and tried to take advantage of the opportunities afforded to us. People gravitated toward Evan: Everywhere he went he was quick to make friends and was soon on a first-name basis with everyone. And he was undaunted when unexpected challenges were thrown his way. For example, I remember when we attended a lecture on “Owning Your Obstacles.” The lecturer asked Evan about his role and eventually requested that Evan provide him with a presentation on what he learned. I would have felt intimidated being put on the spot in that way, but Evan had no fear and immediately accepted the invitation. Evan turned to me, exclaiming, “this is awesome!” He never met an obstacle that he would not face.
In addition to his fearlessness, Evan had a keen sense of humor. One of Evan’s funniest achievements as an IHS intern was creating an April Fool’s Day online program featuring cat videos and a puuurfect set of classical liberal puns. My favorite pun involved the Catstitution of Liberty video.
Evan left IHS to join the Mercatus Center in 2015, working on Marginal Revolution University (MRU). His passion for classical liberal ideas then brought him back to IHS after a brief period in the private sector. He ultimately concluded that advancing a free society was his true calling.
Evan enjoyed learning the ukulele, watching action movies, practicing Filipino martial arts, and attending the Adaptive Sports Festival. Few knew of Evan’s many hours as a volunteer for paraplegic sports and the Museum of the Bible. A regular at Northern Virginia happy hours and IHS staff game nights, Evan brought joy to his colleagues and associates with his humor and caring and thoughtful nature. Staff remember the great conversations with Evan over lunch and after work. He brightened every room he entered with his jokes, energy, and smile. Our lunches were filled with laughter, libertarian ideas, and fun.
At Evan’s funeral, his friends remembered Evan’s wit and jovial personality. Throughout Evan’s life, he struggled with physical ailments and hospitalization. His family notes that Evan was hospitalized at least once each year of his life. His memory and impact on IHS and the individuals who knew Evan will last for the rest of our lives. Though I’m troubled by losing a dear friend, I am lucky to be changed forever, having known a man of integrity like Evan.
Evan at an International Students for Liberty Conference.