“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address inspired many Americans, including David Rubenstein. That day, a sixth grade Rubenstein set his sights on government, a destination he later reached by securing a spot as an aide in Jimmy Carter’s White House. He went on to have a career in law, before founding the asset management company, The Carlyle Group.
Rubenstein’s early giving also reflected the reciprocity at the heart of the President’s message. “I was giving away money to organizations that had been good to me,” he says of his generous gifts to Duke University and the University of Chicago Law School, where he’d received scholarships.
From there, Rubenstein turned his giving to his home city, Washington, D.C., where he helped restore the Washington Monument and bought the Magna Carta for public display. Rubenstein's philanthropy has not been limited to financial contributions however. Instead, he urges all philanthropists to give of their time, energy, and ideas. For him, that involves serving on as many as 30 boards at once and gladly chairing capital campaigns for the organizations he assists, when Rubenstein urges everyone to give of their time, energy, and ideas, he is absolutely walking the talk.
Crediting philanthropy for helping him get past “tunnel vision” and enriching his life, he has no plans to slow down. “The last thing in the world I want to do is be sitting on a beach when I’m 80 years old,” says a droll Rubenstein. “I’m afraid I would have a heart attack just trying to relax.”
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