Kavelle and Ken Bajaj
A dynamic known for their Midas touch. Both have a record of starting businesses from scratch and selling them for billions (AppNet, DigitalNet, and SystemsNet). They’ve been instrumental in helping causes (frequently writing six to seven figure checks) that help support for low-income children receive higher education and have been particularly supportive of the Indian-American community through the Kaur Foundation and the Sikh Human Development Foundation.
David and Katherine Bradley
One of Washington’s most philanthropically-minded couples, the Bradleys have allocated substantial funds from the estimated $300 million sale of the Advisory Board and Corporate Executive Board companies to the City Bridge Foundation, which has shifted its focus away from international projects (AIDS relief in South Africa, abused children treatment centers in the Philippines, etc.) to efforts to improve early childhood educational opportunities for low-income children in the Washington area. Over the next five years the foundation has pledged more than $8 million towards the District’s schools, this includes the launching of new schools, recruitment and training of teachers, and literacy programs. The Bradleys remain strong supporters of local visual and performing arts organizations, with personal commitments to The Washington Ballet, Phillips Collection and the Kennedy Center.
Calvin and Jane Cafritz
As the senior heir of one of the capital’s largest real estate dynasties, Calvin Cafritz was left in charge of the clan’s philanthropic endeavors when his mother, famed hostess Gwen Cafritz, left her estate to the previously established Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation to improve the quality of life for residents of the Washington, D.C. area. When his brothers Carter and Conrad sued, Calvin settled by relinquishing some of the assets, but the move has hardly diminished the foundation’s staggering record of support (over $150 million donated in the last 10 years) for a myriad of causes that include The Kennedy Center, Washington Stage Guild, Dance Place, The Phillips Collection, The Washington Ballet, Brookings Institution, Georgetown University, the Holocaust Museum, the Black Student Fund, La Clinica del Pueblo and the D.C. Primary Care Association.
Jean and Steve Case
Having made his fortune as a co-founder of AOL, it’s apt that Case continues to forge ahead in an online medium while giving back. His new venue, Revolution Health Group, has 12 companies, ranging from specialty health care providers to luxury resorts (Colin Powell is an investor). The Case Foundation changes with the times, adapting the long arm of charity to reach those hard-to-scratch places (Africa, the younger generation, the Internet, etc). In 2006, they donated $5 million to PlayPumps to help build water filtration systems in rural parts of Africa. In January of 2008, the Cases launched two online contests to give away $750,000. One of them is a Facebook campaign, “Causes,” which gives away $250,000 and is aimed at a young, hip demographic. “On Facebook, millions of people self-identify with a cause,” says Jean.
Maryland developer Eugene B. Casey was such a skinflint that he was known to turn off the office Coke machine at night to save money. Not so his widow, Betty Brown Casey, who has used his millions to endow numerous causes – chief among them the Washington National Opera. In 1996, Mrs.Casey bought the old Woodward & Lothrop building downtown for $18 million with plans to turn it into a grand new home for the company. When the opera elected to stay at the Kennedy Center instead, the benefactress promptly sold the site to developer Douglas Jemal for a whopping $28.2 million and then turned the proceeds over to the opera’s endowment fund. That – plus additional contributions over the years – has earned her the unprecedented title of lifetime chairman. As head of the $170 million Eugene B. Casey Foundation, Mrs. Casey directs donations to dozens of causes each year, mostly area hospitals, hospices, schools and colleges. Although her civic-minded dream to completely finance an official residence on Foxhall Road N.W. for Washington’s mayors fell through a few years back, her environmentalist causes, including $50 million to plant trees, help ensure her place in the pantheon of American philanthropists.
Dick and Lynne Cheney
Some may be surprised to learn that the busiest day in the Vice President’s press office was not during the Scooter Libbey shakedown or his hunting mishap in Texas, but tax day, when Scotus and his wife released their financial disclosure forms. While people may balk at the size of the Halliburton earnings, it’s usually not discussed how their blind trust is doling out millions to help the poor and medical causes. The $8 million annual list of recipients include Capital Partners for Education and George Washington University’s Cardiothoracic Institute (a cause near and dear to the Veep’s heart, quite literally). And with rumors that the Cheneys will be moving to Virginia when his term ends, the metro area should continue to benefit from their gifts.
In the lineup of area general contractors, Clark Construction Group, Inc. is a first world power. With some 400 big name builds in and around the Washington area, including 17 Metro stations, FedEx Field, the MCI Center, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the USAir Arena and PSINet Stadium for the Baltimore Ravens. If Clark had been in “Field of Dreams,“ he would have built that one too. This mega philanthropist also built and donated $30 million to the A. James Clarke School of Engineering at the University of Maryland and $10 million to Johns Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering for the next generation of big builders.
Bill & Hillary Clinton
Over the past eight years, the Clintons have donated 9% of their income – that’s $10.2 million, folks – to charity. What with Bill’s ten mill book income and $50 mill speech income, this power couple can afford to give back, big time. And they do. Both published authors (Sen. Clinton’s Living History garnered an eight million dollar advance) have hit the top of the pops as far as book sales are considered; the former president’s My Life alone has brought in nearly $25 million to date.
This small-town boy from the Alleghany hills of Pa., Davies enjoyed helming the rock-fueled thrill ride that was AOL in the mid-nineties with friends Ted Leonsis and Len Leader. The latter introduced Davies to Venture Philanthropy Partners founder Mario Marino, Davies became heavily involved with VPP, which he considers “probably the most significant thing that has happened [to him] since leaving AOL.” He’s on the boards of the See Forever Foundation, and he serves on the board of the Community Foundation for the Natioanl Capital Region.
Having revolutionized the credit card industry (Fairbanks, among other pioneer moves, was one of the first to realize that those little gold cards’ reports offered virtual “blueprints” of consumer habits which could then be sold to marketing/ad companies), he’s socked away around $750 million. Fairbanks has a keen eye for art, which he whetted by donating $6 million to the Indianapolis Museum of Art last year. With total grant dollars adding up to more than $17 million, this Capital One (currently the 11th largest bank in the world) financier is a partner in Lincoln Holdings LLC, the owner of the Capitals pro hockey team as well as the Washington Mystics.
The late Shirley Feld was said to have had a buzzer under the carpet by her foot to coordinate the mood of her guests with the schedule of the kitchen; this spirit of showmanship is completely apropos to her son Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey’s Kenneth Feld. It’s portfolio of three-ring, four-star entertainers includes Siegfried and Roy, nine performance-on-ice extravaganzas (including Disney on Ice), the touring units of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and many others under the umbrella of Feld Entertainment, Inc. In 2007, the Feld Foundation donated $200,000 to the Duke Ellington School to help the production of the The Wiz, which was one of the most expensive high school musicals to date. In the past five years, he’s donated over $5.5 million to the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, the Smithsonian, Toys for Tots and the Special Olympics.
Jean-Marie and Raul Fernandez
At the helm of the Fernandez Foundation, this couple looks to give next generation a lucky break through scholarships, laptops and mentoring, similar to the one Raul received before founding his $200 million business Proxicom. Jean-Marie’s served as the gala chair for record-breaking events, including this year’s over-the-top Cinderella Ball for The Washington Ballet. Both are committed to the families foundation, that supports causes to improve the lives of needy Washingtonians. As a founding investor of Venture Philanthropy Partners, he wrote a seven-figure check. They also have given generously to the National Zoo, Children’s National Medical Center and St. John’s College High School.
Diane and Steve Goldberg
In 2006, the Goldbergs quietly gave $50 million to fund a new wing of the Children’s National Medical Center. While he’s been building a successful real estate development firm, she’s been volunteering at the Children’s National Hospital since 1983.It wasn’t until this donation was marked as one of the largest gifts in the country, that this very philanthropic couple became noted for decades of donations and millions of dollars to organizations that support everything from the environment to education.
Donald Graham and Katharine Weymouth
This uncle-niece duo is synonymous with The Washington Post after taking the reigns from their late Katharine Graham; to be more exact, the Washington Post Company, a conglomerate of myriad smaller media companies with the Post as crown jewel. Donald Graham owns 335,000 or so shares of publicly-traded stock in the company, which makes him (even as a comparably lower-salaried CEO) a major media and money player. The Post’s foundation, The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, endowed in 1944 by Eugene Meyer (first president of the World Bank and publisher of The Washington Post) and his wife, Agnes, a journalist and education activist, remains a powerhouse charity gives away about $8 million annually to a consortium of causes including American University, Signature Theatre, and Food & Friends.
Harman International founder and Shakespeare Theatre (for $15 million) endower Sidney Harman gives back through the Harman Family Foundation, which won the 2007 Wilmer Shields Rich Awards for Foundation Communications in the category of Independent, Family, and Operating Foundations. With his well-liked politico wife, Rep. Jane Harman by his side, they generously donate to causes that support education innovation and the arts in addition to the Martin Luther King Center for Social Change, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Public Agenda Foundation and Emory University’s Carter Center.
A generous spirit plus a personal fortune of approximately $1 billion and control of a myriad of family-related endowments totaling another $1.8 billion allow Teresa Heinz to be one of the country’s most generous donors to a wide range of causes. Although she was first married to the late Republican Sen. H. John Heinz II, an heir to the Heinz foods product fortune, and currently married to Sen. John F. Kerry, a Democrat, Mrs. Heinz avoids partisanship where major contributions are concerned. She is regarded as a visionary in philanthropic circles, especially for the annual six-figure Heinz Awards bestowed upon ground-breaking innovators in such widely diverse fields as education, the environment, social welfare, technology, medicine, public policy, the arts and humanities.
Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay
The Holladays were among the first to apply the revisionist approach to collecting, devoting 20 years to assembling art by women. However, the second step was to display this astonishing collection for public consumption, and with this in mind, Wilhelmina Holladay transformed the former Masonic Temple on the corner of 13th Street and New York Avenue into the National Museum of Women in the Arts. With $17 million in funds raised privately, the museum officially opened to the public in 1987; Holladay was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2006.
A founder with her former husband, Robert, of BET, Johnson gives back as freely as she rakes it in. Media giant Viacom bought BET IN 2002 for about $3 billion, and the couple reportedly split about $1.6 billion in proceeds from the deal. In 2007, where she announced a $4 million gift to CARE earmarked to improve resources and opportunities for poor women around the world. Sources report that Johnson has given away close to $22-million in the past five years, and her goal is to reach $100 million in the near future. She’s well on her way, having donated 2.5 million for performing arts center at the private Hill School and $5 million to UVA for The Sheila C. Johnson Center of Human Services (a center focusing on family and children‘s needs).
This 2006 Washington Business Hall of Fame inductee earned money for college working nights at a 7-Eleven, then went on to launch Yurie Systems, which he sold in 1998 (at age 37) to Lucent Technologies for $1.1 billion. With $500 million estimated to be stowed away, this ex-Navy man is heavily involved in the University of Maryland as a jointly appointed faculty member, building donor (the Jeong H. Kim Applied Sciences Building), and the $5 million dollar supporter UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering. Kim is also part owner of the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals and a key supporter of Venture Philanthropy Partners, a group that funds innovative programs for inner-city kids. His private foundation is named for his second daughter, Jurie.
This founding Venture Philanthropy Partner honcho has some serious civic pride where Washington is concerned. “I want this city to rival New York in terms of cultural attractions,” he says. Heavily entrenched in the arts community, Kimsey was appointed Kennedy Center trustee by President George W. Bush in 2006. A co-founder of AOL, Kimsey supports New Leaders for New Schools and the Washington National Opera, sits on the board of the National Symphony, and established the Kimsey Foundation in 1996 to focus attention on improving education and social conditions in Washington.
Robert Kogod and Robert Smith
It’s hard not to look at a major building in Washington, without it having a Kogod/Smith touch. For years, these brother-in-laws were at the helm Charles E. Smith real estate fortune and helped to expand the empire into over a billionaire dollar enterprise. In the last year Kogod donated the courtyard to connect the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Museum and American Art Museum at a cost of $25 million. Smith donated the Robert H. Smith School of Business for $15 million at the University of Maryland. Smith is alos president emeritus of the trustees for the National Gallery of Art.
An entrepreneur whose boyish spirit pervades his interests, Leonsis recently got together with friends from his old neighborhood in Brooklyn and invested in the renovation and reopening of the school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church. On site, they recreated the Sunset Park Youth Center where Leonsis played basketball as a kid (Another one of his favorite charities: Hoop Dreams). An original AOL investor, Leonsis formed Lincoln Holdings, which owns 100 percent of the Washington Capitals as well as a 45 percent interest in Washington Sports and Entertainment, the holding company for properties including the Washington Wizards, the Mystics, the local TicketMaster franchise, and the MCI Arena. This company has given away millions of dollars in Caps tickets and contributes generously to local charities.
The capital region is dotted with Lerner’s real estate including White Flint, Tysons Corner and Dulles Town Center. It’s commitment to the region is also shown in local projects like Bethesda’s Imagination Stage children’s theater and expansive ballpark which houses the Nationals, of which he is the principal owner. Lerner and his wife, Annette, have given substantial gifts to George Washington University, and their synagogue, Ohr Kodesh, a Conservative congregation in Chevy Chase. They’ve also supported: Food and Friends; The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Shady Grove Adventist Hospital; Hadley’s Park; the Weizmann Institute of Science; the Scleroderma Foundation of Greater Washington; YouthAids; Junior Achievement of the Greater Washington Area; the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School; the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington; and Imagination Stage, among many others.
Samuel Lehrman, Robert Lehrman and Heidi Berry
The three grandchildren of Giant Foods co-founder Samuel Lehrman direct the Jacob and Charlotte Lehrman Foundation (named for their parents), whose mission is to support and enrich Jewish life in Washington, D.C., Israel and throughout the world. Contributions in this area include the District of Columbia Jewish Community Center, the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, the Sixth & I Street Historic Synagogue, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Jewish Social Services Agency. The siblings’ mutual interest in the visual and performing arts also helps propel the foundation’s multi-year support of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington National Opera, National Symphony Orchestra, Shakespeare Theatre Company and the Studio Theatre. Health care organizations receiving recent grant include Children’s National Medical Center, Sibley Memorial Hospital and Food & Friends. Education grants include those to Gallaudet University, DC Scores and the DC Writers Corps.
Forrest, John and Jacqueline Mars
These candy men have amassed a serious fortune (each have over $10 billion) by producing the chocolate covered candies that don’t melt in your hand at Mars & Company. Through the years they’ve helped to support a rainbow of causes from endowing professorships at Yale University in their late father’s name, to underwriting productions for the Washington National Opera and supporting the Sporting Library in Middleburg.
With just over $487 million in assets the Marriott Family Foundation one of the largest private foundations in the city and gave away over $24 million last year alone to children, education and health causes. In particular, they’ve supported special education causes and helped to secure employment for over 10,000 with special needs. A good Mormon, Marriott also tithes and gives millions annually to the Church of Latter-day Saints.
It is no exaggeration to say that the Washington area performing arts scene would not be what it is today without the considerable gifts of Mrs. Mead and her late husband, Gilbert, who died one year ago. The couple contributed an estimated $50 million from Mr. Mead’s Consolidated Papers fortune to local theaters, including the Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage, the Studio Theatre (which named a new stage in their honor), Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Arlington’s Signature Theatre and the Flashpoint arts center in Northwest Washington, which serves smaller companies lacking their own space. The Meads’ commitment was to Arena Stage, the recipient of $35 million challenge grant for a new facility which will be called the Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater when it opens in 2010.
Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and Catherine Conover
Other American dynasties may have given more, but no one can match the Mellons for arts philanthropy. Andrew Mellon (1855-1937), who made his fortune in banking, aluminum and oil, was one of the greatest art acquisitors of all time. His Raphaels, Vermeers and Rembrandts formed the nucleus of the National Gallery of Art’s initial collection, to which his children, Paul and Ailsa, later added equally monumental gifts of Impressionists and other masterworks. Paul’s widow, “Bunny,” now in her mid-90s and rarely seen in public, supports conservation and equestrian pursuits as well as the arts. (Most of her remaining collection will revert to the National Gallery at her death.) Her step-daughter, Catherine Conover, who prefers to use her mother’s maiden name, is the founder of Island Press, a small D.C.-based environmental book publisher. She is also a director of the Center for Resource Economics and one of the largest donors to Pike’s Tides, efforts which pay homage to her father’s own environmental concerns, including the creation of Cape Hatteras as a national seashore and his donation of Sky Meadows State Park to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The secretary of the treasury made his fortune while serving as CEO of Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s largest and most successful investment banks. An avid nature lover, Paulson has been a member of The Nature Conservancy for decades and was the organization’s board chairman and co-chair of its Asia-Pacific Council, where he worked with former president of the People’s Republic of China, Jiang Zemin, to preserve the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan province. He donated $100 million worth of his Goldman Sachs stock to a family foundation dedicated to conservation and environmental education.
Mitch and Steve Rales
These very private billionaires who run the show at Danaher make philanthropy a priority. It’s reported that Steve spends the first 30 minutes of the day going through the newspaper to find a charity he’d like to support. Mitch, is a major donor to the National Gallery of Art and has been building up a significant collection of modern and contemporary art at his Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Md. Rumor has it that he may one day donate this multi-million dollar gallery as well.
The self-made real-estate businessman has personally donated over $100 million of his wealth to reshape the D.C. education system. When he wanted to make sure his contributions are meaningful, he established Fight for Children and it’s annual “Fight Night” and “School Night” which raises millions more to give to public and charter schools. Recently the Children’s National Medical Center has broken ground on wing Robert funded with $25 million. Last year, he was named a trustee of the Kennedy Center.
Alice and David Rubenstein
Rubenstein, a former Jimmy Carter aide, is the co-founder of the Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms (more than $46 billion under management). His notable bequests include $5 million to Johns Hopkins to support the building of a new outpatient facility for children and young adults, giving millions to Duke University, and serving on the boards of the Kennedy Center and Johns Hopkins University. When a rare copy of the Magna Carta was in jeopardy of leaving the U.S., Rubenstein came up with $21.3 million to ensure its new home will be in the Capitol. He has also the funded Princeton Project on National Security.
After the death of foreign exchange and precious metals investor Otto Ruesch in 2004, his widow was elected to replace him as chairman of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, where they had spearheaded the effort to raise $100 million for the now-canceled Frank Gehry wing. Her leadership and continued substantial gifts will help move the landmark museum in a “new direction” as it shifts focus to repairs of the existing structure and an expanded schedule of landmark exhibitions. Mrs. Ruesch also devotes considerable time and resources to a host of other causes that include the Kennedy Center, the Levine School of Music, The Washington Performing Arts Society, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Georgetown University, Arts for the Aging and So Others Might Eat (SOME).
Roger and Vicki Sant
This philanthropically-minded couple set a high standard for local giving, coupled with hands-on involvement in the causes they support. Global power company mogul Roger Sant was willing to take the heat from the press and Congressional overseers when his chairman’s perch at the Smithsonian Institution turned into a hot seat during the expense account scandal that forced the resignation of former Secretary Lawrence Small and other officials over the past year. With the appointment of G. Wayne Clough as Small’s successor, Sant should be able to focus on the positive with regard to “America’s Attic” (the recipient of the couple’s $10 million gift) as well as other interests in the environment and the arts. These include the National Gallery of Art (of which Mrs. Sant is chairman), the Phillips Collection (recipient of a $9 million gift for a new wing named in their honor), the National Symphony Orchestra ($10 million to endow the first position in ocean research at the National Museum of Natural History and establish a Center for Marine Science there) and their own Summit Foundation, which received $20 million to help preserve the Amazon rain forest. A separate Summit Fund of Washington focuses on restoring the Anacostia River and preventing teen pregnancy.
From humble beginnings (a trailer in a strip mall), mega-banking behemoth Chevy Chase Bank remains the jewel in Saul’s investment crown and the largest local bank, with assets over $1 billion. If, as Saul believes, “the more you give of your time, talents, and energy, you get back tenfold,” then he’s in for quite a payday. This generous financial giant (founder of B.F. Saul Real Estate Investment Trust, which has holdings in hotels, office buildings, and land, primarily in the Mid-Atlantic region and the Southeast) is a major contributor to the National Gallery of Art and Catholic Charities and helped Providence Hospital build a new nursing home. In 2007, the Smithsonian Institution’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars recognized Saul with its Award for Public Service, which gave a nod to his philanthropic support and board service at several civic and nonprofit groups in the metropolitan area.
Silver founded his $800 million real estate empire, The Silver Company, and a foundation with its name. Through it, he’s donated $2 million to Lloyd F. Moss clinic for the uninsured poor in the city. He’s donated community centers, adoptive homes and camps for critically ill children along with medical and other necessary supplies to Hurricane Katrina victims before most aid organizations could reach the devastated area. As Silver has said, “As far as helping people from a charitable point of view, that’s something we believe in. That’s what we do. We practice that. We always have practiced that.”
The storybook hero in a modern-day fairytale, Singh parlayed $42 paid to a computer lab in Manhattan, Kan., in 1982 into a $1 billion fortune. Early partners in Nextel, investors in XM Radio, and founders of LCC International Inc., a wireless consulting firm, the Singh is notoriously attention-shy, preferring to fly under the radar where the press are concerned (they last granted an interview in 1998). Singh have plenty to offer his pet cause (the same which brought him over as a scholarship student), education. Rajendra Singh sits on the John’s Hopkins University board of trustees, and both he and his wife Neera, help provide scholarships for women in India and to the University of Maine, his alma mater.
George and Tricia Vradenburg
Yet another AOL investor (there seems to be a theme here, which is that the deep pockets of the internet are frequently turned out to the greater good), Vradenburg is president of the Vradenburg Foundation, which supports capacity-building efforts in arts, culture, health, education, and security. He’s also a crusader for the betterment of the online experience, representing on an array of policy issues, from protecting consumer privacy, winning industry support for a pledge of “zero tolerance” for child-related crimes online, campaigning against junk e-mail, protecting intellectual property online, and developing a new framework for e-commerce and international trade. Vradenburg may have whetted this crusading attitude when he was appointed in December 2003 to “Private Sector Senior Advisory Committee” of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. In recognition of his community service, Vradenburg has received the Outstanding Community Leadership Award on National Capital Philanthropy Day, the Golden Links Award from the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and the Bridge Builders Award from Partners for Livable Communities.
With deep pockets, the popular former governor of Virginia co-founded the Virginia Health Care Foundation and the Virginia High-Tech Partnership and helped Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Venture Philanthropy Partner. Known for kicking in millions of dollars to his own political races (upwards of $10 million), for decades Warner has been giving equally as much to charitable causes such as healthcare, education and the environment. If elected, he’s said he will put his funds in a blind trust and continue to make significant donations.
Howard & Nancy Zirkin Zirkin is president of Zirkin-Cutler Investments, Inc., a firm which provides investment management services for individuals, pensions, retirement accounts, foundations, and charitable organizations. He founded H. Zirkin Investments, Inc., in 1973, which he sold to First National Bank of Maryland (now M&T Bank) in 1996. Zirkin and his wife Nancy are heavily involved in civil rights activism, with Nancy focusing on women’s rights.