Ronald S. Lauder
International businessman and President of the Jewish National Fund, Ronald S. Lauder combines a deep commitment to his heritage with an innovative network of business enterprises in a mosaic of philanthropic and professional endeavors that reaches around the world.
Dedicated to long-term, free market investment in Eastern Europe and former Soviet countries as they emerge from communism, he is Chairman and primary stockholder of Central European Media Enterprises Ltd., investing in and operating broadcast television in Eastern and Central Europe. The company is now a leading television broadcaster with stations reaching 97 million people in seven countries.
Ronald’s broad background includes extensive experience in European affairs that stretches from public service to his family’s Austro-Hungarian heritage. His dedication was clearly on display during his tenure as United States Ambassador to Austria. Appointed by President Reagan in April 1986, Ronald brought to his diplomatic post fluency in European languages and the experience he gathered in European affairs during his previous service as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO policy. During his tenure as Ambassador, he built strong diplomatic bonds between the two nations while personally repudiating Austrian President Kurt Waldheim’s Nazi past.
His experience in Austria heightened Ronald’s appreciation for his Jewish heritage and forged his commitment to help revitalize Jewish life across Eastern and Central European communities that had been devastated by the Holocaust. Upon his return from Vienna in 1987, he established The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. With Ronald’s leadership as President, the Foundation has focused on Jewish education and community outreach programs. Today the Foundation supports Jewish schools, camps and community centers in Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic and Ukraine.
Former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Ronald’s commitment to Jewish communal life is further reflected through his leadership as Chairman of the International Public Committee of the World Jewish Restitution Organization and President of the World Jewish Congress. He also serves as Chairman of the Jewish Heritage Council; Director of the International Board of Governors of the International Society for Yad Vashem; member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Theological Seminary; member of the Board of Directors of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; member of the Board of Trustees of the Anti-Defamation League Foundation; member of the Board of Trustees of The Abraham Fund; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Sakharov Archives at Brandeis University and member of the International Board of Governors of the Tel Aviv Museum.
To build better understanding between people and cultures, Ronald, in 1987, created an International Student Exchange Program. First centered on high school students in New York City and Vienna, since its inception the program has grown to include students from Budapest, Warsaw, Prague, St. Petersburg, Berlin and Sofia.
In addition to his international interests, he has long been committed to civic causes and public policy issues at home. A Republican activist on the state and national level, he was a Republican/Conservative contender for Mayor of New York City in 1989. During the campaign he advocated innovative policy alternatives for New York City - a role he continues to play today.
As the Chairman of New Yorkers for Term Limits and as Member of the Board of Trustees for US Term Limits, in 1993 he led the successful term limits referendum campaign in New York City , a victory hailed as one of the most significant achievements in the national term limits movement. In 1994, Ronald waged successful term limits campaigns in 11 towns across the New York State. And in 1996, he again won at the ballot box, successfully turning back an effort by incumbent politicians to repeal New York City’s term limits law.
A patron of the arts and noted collector himself, Ronald serves as Chairman of The Museum of Modern Art, and as a member of the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Advisory Board. He is also a member of the Board of Governors of the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Visiting Committee of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Prior to his appointment to the Pentagon in 1983, he was Executive Vice President of Estée Lauder Inc., the world’s largest privately-owned cosmetic company, and Chairman of Estée Lauder International, Inc. His business career began when he joined the Estée Lauder International Division in Belgium in 1964. He is currently Chairman and President of Lauder Investments, Inc., Chairman of Estée Lauder International, Inc., and Chairman of Clinique Laboratories, Inc.
The son of the late Joseph and Estée Lauder, founders of Estée Lauder, Inc., he was born on February 26, 1944. He attended the Bronx High School of Science and holds a Bachelors degree in International Business from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He studied at the University of Paris, and received a Certificate in International Business from the University of Brussels.