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Laura and John Arnold Get a Head Start on Philanthropy

Ambition. Drive. A bit of impatience. A solid grasp on the value of money. The same qualities that lead to storied careers can make for powerful philanthropy.

After speeding through Vanderbilt in just three years, John Arnold became a star energy trader at Enron before starting his own enormously successful hedge fund, Centaurus Advisors. His wife, Laura, received degrees from Harvard, Cambridge, and Yale Law School, and has held prestigious positions in law and academia.

Having accomplished so much by their mid-30s, the Arnolds were faced with the question, what next? Uninterested in “dynastic wealth,” in 2008, the Arnolds responded to a higher calling when they founded the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF), with a mission to achieve transformational change. That same year, the Arnolds signed The Giving Pledge, vowing to give more than half of their net worth to charity.

It was a bold move, even for a young couple with a high risk tolerance. But having written checks for a number of years and watched as problems persisted, the Arnolds knew they needed to do more. Not surprisingly, they’ve laid out an aggressive agenda to realize substantial reforms to pension plans, education, and criminal justice, all in the next decade.

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