There's a place that has history, discussion, and current events as a focus of connecting in the Erie community.

It's the Jefferson Educational Society, Erie's very own "Think Tank."

Quotes from U.S. presidents, and pictures of them too, fill the Jefferson Educational Society along State Street in Erie.

But what is the JES as it's affectionately called?

"The JES is a community think tank," said Ferati. 

Ferki Ferati took a researcher job here, out of college. Today, he's the president of the JES, seeing it into its 15th year.

"We started as very small offering 10/12 programs a year," said Ferati. "But it was this intellectual thirst in Erie that basically told us we want more, and more, and more." 

The JES produces more than 200 publications a year.

Dr. William Garvy founded the Jefferson Educational Society. 

But what the educational society is known for, is the Global Summit Speaker series

Bringing in world renowned speakers right to Erie, including former presidents.

"There's been about 150 speakers just for the Global Summit or speakers for other JES programs, this is an area where they can come to reflect where they can collect their thoughts," said Ferati. "It's a speakers room. And many times they do that right before." 

There is a stage to foster educational conversation for community members.

"They need to be able to have dialogue and have a platform where ideas are emerging and they are not politicized all the time we are non partisan," said Ferati. "That is very important to us." 

Angela Beaumont is the Director of Programming.

"We talk to the speakers that we have and they come up and say you should talk to this person," said Beaumont. "Erie is actually a great place to visit."

And what is happening in Erie is getting noticed.

"So, we've started sort of a chapter for our Global Summit, our flagship series in Redlands California," said Ferati. "We're looking at other communities our size of smaller to expand." 

Until then, the JES will also focus on other programming

Tackling local issues like poverty, and the economy. Often in partnership with community organizations that provide space to the JES across Erie county.

"We're in Corry, Edinboro, Fairview and Eastside ECAT," said Beaumont. 

The JES also spearheads a leadership academy for ages 25 to 45, taking the emerging leaders around Erie county and even to the Pennsylvania State Capitol.

"They meet with the Governor the Lt. Governor they meet with both leaders of the Senate and House," said Ferati. "Both Republican and Democrat." 

Helping to grow the reach of this community gem.

"It's the American dream, I'm from Kosovo originally I came here as a war refugee ," said Ferati. "It shows that America still can be a place where dreams can come true." 

He's not the only one working there from another country. In total there's around a dozen employees.

The JES has several rooms available for rent for meetings or other events.

A placed filled with U.S. and Erie history.