David M. Rubenstein to retire as Kennedy Center board chair in January 2025

Following 14-year tenure as board chair, in 2025 Rubenstein will become head of the newly formed Kennedy Center Foundation, to provide national philanthropic support for the Kennedy Center.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announces that board chairman David M. Rubenstein will retire from the board of trustees after 14 years, effective at the board’s Annual Meeting in January 2025. Only the sixth chairman in the Kennedy Center’s history, Rubenstein was elected board chairman in 2010 and re-elected each year since that time. Originally appointed to the Kennedy Center board by President George W. Bush, he has subsequently been reappointed by Presidents Obama and Biden. A search committee has already been identified and will begin the search process, in coordination with the White House, for his successor.

A philanthropist, leader, and investor, Rubenstein will leave an indelible imprint on the nation’s cultural center. Under his leadership, the Center has evolved into one of the most interactive arts and cultural destinations in the country—a national model for artistic excellence, inclusivity, creativity, and arts education. In addition to hiring the Center’s current president, Deborah F. Rutter, in 2014, cornerstones of his tenure include the building of the REACH (a 72,000-square-foot arts innovation annex), expansion of the Center’s year-round programming to include hip hop and comedy, increased access to the arts for underrepresented communities, a renewed commitment to broadcast programming, and new amenities for the public to experience and interact with the living Presidential memorial to John F. Kennedy.

David M. Rubenstein. Photo by Robert Severi.

Beyond his extraordinary board leadership, Rubenstein’s financial generosity is unsurpassed. At $111 million, he is the largest individual contributor to the Center in its 52-year history. In addition to his extraordinary personal giving, Rubenstein has had a profound impact on the Kennedy Center’s fundraising operations and capacity, advocating for the public to support the Center as a vital American institution and bringing together leading corporations, partners, and foundations in support of the Center.

“Jill and I congratulate David on his retirement as chairman of the board of the Kennedy Center,” said President Joe Biden in an official White House statement. “David understands the power of the arts to bring people together and strengthen our democracy. His commitment to making the arts more accessible to more Americans—and to ensuring the Kennedy Center reflects the diversity that is our nation’s strength—will benefit our country for generations to come.”

“Serving as Chair of the Kennedy Center has been the honor of a lifetime,” said David M. Rubenstein. “The Center is an immensely important cultural and historical icon, entertaining, teaching, and inspiring our nation and the world. I have relished the opportunity to work beside incredible public servants and to see and enjoy the world’s greatest artists perform on the Center’s stages. One of the best decisions we made was hiring Deborah Rutter as president of the Center. Deborah made my job easy with her excellent judgment, leadership skills and vision, and commitment to excellence. In her good hands and with the support of the board and a new chair next year, the Center will continue to thrive and serve with distinction.”

“When David brought me on board 10 years ago, it was clear he was a board chair like no other,” said Deborah F. Rutter. “Humble yet bold, quick-witted yet an excellent listener, generous yet strategic. His support of the arts is one of patriotic duty. Our growth in the last decade has been fueled by his belief that the nation’s Cultural Center must reflect all our communities—on our stages, in our seats, on our staff, and on our board. Equal to his inspiring vision and generous financial support are his presence, his time, and his passion. We are all better for having had the opportunity to dream and work alongside David.”

Upon completing his current and final term, Rubenstein will lead the Kennedy Center Foundation, a new organization established by the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees, which will focus on advancing national philanthropic support for the Kennedy Center.

Highlights of Rubenstein’s achievements and contributions as board chair include:

  • The REACH (Lead funder – donated $50 million towards the $250 million project)
  • Deepened the Center’s role and implementation as a living presidential memorial
    • Permanent exhibit on the Terrace Level, Art & Ideals: President John F. Kennedy (Opened in 2022)
    • Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary (co-chair of Anniversary Committee)
    • Underwrote a life-sized bronze statue of JFK (2021) commissioned by the Kennedy Center
    • Provided his original copy of signed Declaration of Independence for display at the REACH
    • Celebration of the JFK Centennial (2017)
    • The Presidency of John F. Kennedy: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (2011)
  • Marquee award shows/broadcast programming
    • Kennedy Center Honors (CBS)
    • Mark Twain Prize (PBS, CNN)
  • Support/Underwriting:
    • MyTix – discounted ticket program for students and military
    • Rubenstein Arts Access Program
    • Rubenstein Family Organ – Concert Hall
    • Annual Arts Summit
    • International festivals
    • National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera productions
    • Sound Health and Songs for Hope (Arts + Wellbeing programs)
    • Social Impact programming
    • Arts Across America
    • Profiles in Creativity (interview series)
    • A variety of education programs, including national partnerships, local performances for teachers and students, and onsite performances for youth
  • Financial Sustainability
      • Creation of the Sustainability Fund
      • Building of the endowment (currently $130 million)
      • Ensured stability during the COVID pandemic, including the Employee Relief Fund

David M. Rubenstein is Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest and most successful private investment firms. Established in 1987, Carlyle now manages $382 billion. Rubenstein is Chairman of the Boards of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Gallery of Art, the Economic Club of Washington, and the University of Chicago; a Trustee of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Medicine, the Institute for Advanced Study, the National Constitution Center, the Brookings Institution, and the World Economic Forum; and a Director of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Rubenstein is an original signer of The Giving Pledge, a significant donor to all of the above-mentioned non-profit organizations, and a recipient of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy and the MoMA’s David Rockefeller Award, among other philanthropic awards.

Rubenstein is a leader in the area of Patriotic Philanthropy, having made transformative gifts for the restoration or repair of the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Monticello, Montpelier, Mount Vernon, Arlington House, Iwo Jima Memorial, the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian, the National Archives, the National Zoo, the Library of Congress, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Rubenstein has also provided to the U.S. government long-term loans of his rare copies of the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th Amendment, the first map of the U.S. (Abel Buell map), and the first book printed in the U.S. (Bay Psalm Book).

Rubenstein is the host of The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations on Bloomberg TV and PBS, Bloomberg Wealth with David Rubenstein on Bloomberg TV, and Iconic America: Our Symbols and Stories with David Rubenstein on PBS; and the author of The American Story: Conversations with Master HistoriansHow to Lead: Wisdom from the World’s Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers, The American Experiment: Dialogues on a Dream, and How to Invest: Masters on the Craft.

Rubenstein, a native of Baltimore, is a 1970 magna cum laude graduate of Duke University, where he was elected Phi Beta Kappa. Rubenstein graduated in 1973 from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was an editor of the Law Review.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America’s living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, attracting millions of visitors each year to more than 2,000 performances, events, and exhibits. With its artistic affiliates, the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera, the Center is one of the nation’s busiest performing arts centers dedicated to providing world-class art, powerful education, and outstanding memorial experiences to the broadest possible constituency. Across all its offerings, the Kennedy Center is committed to increasing accessible, inclusive opportunities for all people to participate in, and learn through the arts, including more than 400 free performances each year and a variety of Specially Priced Ticket programs for students, seniors, persons with disabilities, and others. On September 7, 2019, the Kennedy Center inaugurated the REACH, its first-ever major expansion. Designed by Steven Holl Associates, the REACH provides visitors with new opportunities to interact and engage with the Center as the nation’s premier nexus of arts, learning, and culture. On September 8, 2022, the Kennedy Center unveiled Art and Ideals: President John F. Kennedy, a new 7,500-square foot permanent exhibit exploring Kennedy’s presidency and his commitment to the arts. To learn more about the Kennedy Center, please visit www.kennedy-center.org.


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