Ronald S. Lauder
International philanthropist, diplomat, public servant, entrepreneur, investor and patron of the arts, Ronald S. Lauder is deeply committed to his Jewish heritage and has worked tirelessly to help the Jewish community, worldwide, through a wide range of philanthropic and professional endeavors.
In 1983, Mr. Lauder began his public service career when he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Affairs.
In 1986, he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Austria, by President Ronald Reagan. Upon his return from Vienna in 1987, he established The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, which now maintains 35 Jewish schools, kindergartens and summer camps throughout 15 countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Over 7,500 children are enrolled in these schools today, and 2,500 children attend the summer camps. Over the years, the Foundation has educated more than 30,000 children in a region that was sadly devoid of Jewish learning during the Communist era and this has, in turn, helped build thriving Jewish communities throughout this area.
In June 2007, Mr. Lauder was elected to lead the World Jewish Congress, and has served as the organization’s President ever since. In this capacity, Mr. Lauder meets with heads of countries, diplomats and religious leaders around the world, representing Jewish communities in 100 countries.
In 1986, Mr. Lauder visited Auschwitz-Birkenau for the first time and was shocked to see that the camp had fallen into a terrible state of repair. Worried that the artifacts were disintegrating and would not be available for future generations to see, he immediately brought conservators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to help preserve these historic objects. Mr. Lauder spearheaded the international campaign that raised $40M for the preservation of the remaining barracks of Birkenau, as well as the mountains of shoes, suitcases, eyeglasses and other personal item that the Nazis took from Jewish inmates before they murdered them. Mr. Lauder believes this effort is of utmost importance in an age of Holocaust deniers and growing anti-Semitism throughout the world. Soon, the last eye-witnesses of the Holocaust will no longer be with us and the camp will stand as the only testament to what took place. For all these reasons, Mr. Lauder believes the integrity of the camp must always be maintained.