International philanthropist, diplomat, public servant, entrepreneur, investor and patron of the arts, Ronald S. Lauder combines a deep commitment to his Jewish heritage with a global mastery of business to create a mosaic of philanthropic and professional endeavors that literally reaches around the world.
Mr. Lauder was appointed Ambassador to Austria by President Ronald Reagan after serving several years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO policy. Upon his return from Vienna in 1987, he established the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, which supports Jewish schools, camps and community centers in several countries in Eastern Europe. At this time, he also created an International Student Exchange Program between Jewish high school students in New York and Vienna.
In addition to his international interests, Mr. Lauder 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.
In February of 1999, Mr. Lauder was elected Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. His selection by the Conference followed his election in 1997 as President of the Jewish National Fund of which he now serves as Chairman. He is the Chairman of the International Public Committee of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, and in June 2007, Mr. Lauder was elected to lead the World Jewish Congress, and in 2013 he was re-elected for a second term. Mr. Lauder also serves as Chairman of the Jewish Heritage Council; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Sakharov Archives at Brandeis University; Director of the International Board of Governors of the International Society for Yad Vashem; and is a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, the Board of Directors of the Jewish Theological Seminary; the Board of Directors of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; the Board of Trustees of the Anti-Defamation League Foundation; the Board of Trustees of The Abraham Fund; the International Auschwitz Council; and the International Board of Governors of the Tel Aviv Museum. On February 6, 2013, Mr. Lauder received the French Legion of Honor from President Francois Hollande.
Mr. Lauder created Central European Media Enterprises, Ltd. (NASDAQ: CETV), a leading commercial television company that reaches 95 million people in seven countries throughout Central and Eastern Europe. He is also the Founder and Chairman of the New York based Water Holding Group RWL Water, LLC. Currently, the three portfolio companies within the RWL Water Group are Nirosoft Industries Ltd. based in Carmiel, Israel, Eurotec WTT, based is Padova, Italy, and Aeromix Systems Inc. based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is Chairman of Clinique Laboratories, LLC, a division of the Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. 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 is a member of the Visiting Committee of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
A patron of the arts and a noted collector, Mr. Lauder was Chairman of the Museum of Modern Art from 1995 to 2005 and now serves as the museum’s Honorary Chairman. In 2001 he established the Neue Galerie New York, of which he is President. The museum is dedicated to German and Austrian art.
The son of the late Estée and Joseph Lauder, founders of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., Mr. Lauder was born on February 26, 1944. He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and holds a Bachelor’s 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. Mr. Lauder married Jo Carole Knopf in July of 1967. They have two children and two grandchildren. The family resides in New York City.