James Piereson is a senior fellow at the right-wing think tank Manhattan Institute. According to his biography at the Institute he is also "director of the Institute's Center for the American University. In addition, he is chairman of the selection committee for the VERITAS Fund for Higher Education which allocates grants to programs on college and university campuses. He is also chairman of the selection committee for the Hayek Book Prize awarded annually by the Manhattan Institute."
"Mr. Piereson was executive director and trustee of the John M. Olin Foundation from 1985 through 2005 when, following longstanding plans, the foundation disbursed its remaining assets and closed its doors. The John M. Olin Foundation maintained program interests in the areas of public affairs and public policy, and awarded grants in these areas to support research, fellowships, books and journals, and television documentaries. Most of its funds were allocated each year to major universities and private research institutions.
"Prior to joining the Olin Foundation, he served on the political science faculties of several prominent universities, including Iowa State University (1974), Indiana University (1975), and the University of Pennsylvania (1976-82), where he taught courses in the fields of United States government and political thought.
"Mr. Piereson is also trustee of the William E. Simon Foundation. He serves on the boards of several other tax-exempt institutions, including: The Pinkerton Foundation, the Thomas W. Smith Foundation, The Center for Individual Rights, The Philanthropy Roundtable (Chairman, 1995-99), the Foundation for Cultural Review (Chairman), the American Spectator Foundation, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and DonorsTrust. He is a past member of the board of trustees of the Manhattan Institute.
"He is a member of the selection committee for the Clare Boothe Luce Program for Women in the Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering administered by the Henry Luce Foundation of New York City. He is also a member of the grant advisory committee of the Searle Freedom Trust and of the publication committees of City Journal and National Affairs. He is a member of the executive advisory committee of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester, of the board of visitors of the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University, and of the advisory council of the Henry Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom at Claremont McKenna College."
- Center for Individual Rights, Board member, 2005
- Foundation for Cultural Review, Chairman, 1997-2008
- John M. Olin Foundation, Executive Director/Secretary, 1987-2005
- Manhattan Institute, Senior scholar, 2002-2004
- Philanthropy Roundtable, Board member, 1998-2007
- William E. Simon Foundation, Prize Program Advisory Board, President, 2005-2008
- James Pierson, "You Get What You Pay For: Conservative philanthropists invested in ideas, and the payoff was huge, Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2004.