ON-Lion Letter
The Philanthropy Roundtable in Washington, D.C., has announced the selection of Bruce and Suzie Kovner as the 2016 recipients of the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership.  The Simon Prize honors the ideals and principles that guided Simon's giving, including personal responsibility, resourcefulness, volunteerism, scholarship, individual freedom, faith in God, and helping people to help themselves.

Bruce Kovner was born in Brooklyn to a Jewish family shaped by the immigrant experience; his grandparents fled to the United States to avoid pogroms in Poland and Russia in the late 19th Century.  He was raised in southern California. While his parents were not able to complete their educations, they invested in their son, and he went on to attend Harvard as an undergraduate and a Ph.D. candidate, studying under Edward Banfield, Bradley Prize recipient James Q. Wilson, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

In 1983, he founded Caxton Associates, a global macro hedge fund which grew to manage $14 billion in assets.  At Caxton, he became known as a leader of the quant revolution, recruiting excellent minds in science and math regardless of their background in finance (or lack of it).  

He retired in 2012 to focus on philanthropy with his wife, Suzie.  A passionate advocate for education and the arts, she was inspired by her grandfather, Edgar Fairchild, a successful business leader who was committed to helping students pursue more academic opportunity than was available to him.

Bruce Kovner began supporting school-choice initiatives more than 20 years ago by funding private vouchers for disadvantaged kids, working for charter-school legislation, and supporting charter-school networks.  Since 1996, the Kovner Foundation has focused on education reform, promoting excellence in the arts and education, defending private enterprise and individual rights, and funding scholarly work that strengthens democratic principles.

"I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to meet Bill Simon years ago when he was in the Nixon administration," Mr. Kovner said.  "We have long been admirers of his work in government, business, and philanthropy.  We feel particularly honored by the prize because of our strong connection to the principles he worked for throughout his life:  free enterprise, individual freedom, and helping those who want to help themselves.  Our work for education reform, reducing poverty through strong economic growth, and supporting innovative policy research reflects these shared ideals.  We also share his view that taking leadership roles in organizations we support can sometimes be particularly helpful in accomplishing our goals."

The Kovners will be honored in November during a special luncheon in Charleston, S.C., at the 2016 Annual Meeting of The Philanthropy Roundtable, which is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
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