Bio and Story
Jeff Walker currently serves on the Boards of New Profit, Berklee College of Music, Morgan Library, Lincoln Center Film Society, Millennium Development Goals Health Alliance where he Chairs the Community Health Worker Pillar, The Miller Center and University of Virginia’s Undergraduate Business School, where he was President for ten years. He is a partner in Bridge Builders investment fund. Jeff is Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of The Quincy Jones Musiq Consortium, Chairman of The Council of Foundations at University of Virginia (UVA), serves on the Visiting Committee at the Harvard Business School and is on the Advisory Boards of MIT Media Lab, UCLA Film TV and Theater School, Center for Contemplative Sciences at UVA, Blue School, The Tibetan Village Project, Witness.org, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and Ideo.org. He is President of the 15 Central Park West Board.
Previously, Jeff was Executive-in-Residence at Harvard Business School, focusing on social enterprises and collaboration, and a Lecturer at the Kennedy School. At Harvard, he also helped to develop and launch a course in exponential fundraising for nonprofit leaders at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations.
He served as the Chairman of Millennium Promise, with the United Nations and Columbia University, an incubator to eliminate extreme poverty, and was the long-time Chairman of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (Monticello), where he still serves as an Emeritus Trustee. Jeff Co-Founded and was Chairman of Npower, an organization that provides shared technology services to nonprofits.
Jeff has a new book coming out in September through Random House called “The Generosity Network”.
For twenty five years Jeff was CEO and Co-Founder of CCMP Capital, the $12 billion successor to JPMorgan Partners, JPMorgan Chase & Co’s global private equity, Vice Chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Chairman of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. He has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.S. from the University of Virginia, is a Certified Management Accountant and a Certified Public Accountant.
It’s funny the things you remember from childhood, and the meanings those memories take on over time. I remember the little record player my family bought on which I first heard the Beatles’ song “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” My parents had a large stereo console in their living room in Florida that I was occasionally allowed to listen to; they had a collection of Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra records, not my taste at that time. So with money saved from my allowance I went to the local department store to buy my own records to play on the little portable player. I bought my first 45 rpm single, the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and the Byrds’ Turn Turn Turn, my first long-playing album. I listened to those records over and over again. They gave me the feeling of being connected, of being present. And they made me want to play an instrument and make music of my own.
So when seventh grade started, I walked into the band room and introduced myself to the band master. He welcomed me in, took a look at my braces, and said that I should play the tuba or the sousaphone. (I think the idea was that the mouthpieces on those instruments wouldn’t interfere with my dental work.) From seventh grade until high school graduation, I played in the concert band, the jazz band, the wind ensemble, and the marching band. I became band leader and loved working and playing with my fellow band members. That feeling of team, of creating something amazing with others from thin air continues to draw me to music today.
The love of being part of a band drew me to working with others as a team. From the business partnership I co-founded, JPMorgan Partners, to the myriad for-profit and non-profit boards I have served on, to my current role as a counselor and advisor to non-profit leaders and boards, every team I’ve played with has enriched my life in a thrilling way.
These partnerships remind me of the jazz bands I’ve played in. To be a good partner, you need to know your stuff—to have the talent and skill of a practiced musician—but that isn’t enough. You also need to have a managed ego, to be a good listener . . . to let the other performers get their chances to solo . . . to know how to let your sound and theirs come together in a wonderful composition. If you do all that, the process will be joyous and the results will be thrilling—not just to the band but to those you serve (your audience).
Since my retirement from the private equity/venture capital world in 2007, I’ve increased the time I spend on non-profit enterprises from 20 percent of my time to 90 percent. I find working with boards, social enterprises, non-profit leaders and fellow donors to be hugely rewarding and, when there is a fit, very similar in feeling to when I played music with a great ensemble—flowing.
And to this day I’m always looking for another band . . . another ensemble to play with. From my years in business, I had a long-standing friendship with Ray Chambers—a brilliant financier but also an active, world-class philanthropist. I considered him a mentor (as many others do), and I always wanted to find a way to work on a cause with him. One day Ray called and invited me to a dinner he was hosting to meet Professor Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University. The topic would be Africa and global economic development. “This might be our chance to work together,” Ray said.
I was delighted to accept Ray’s invitation, but I wondered how I could possibly have an impact on a vast challenge like global development. The dinner was a real mind-opener. We spent the evening talking about how business approaches to innovation could be used to transform the ideas that development agencies and academic experts had been studying for years into powerful tools for change. I quickly saw how I could make a difference. Working with Ray and the team he had assembled, I could help apply prototyping approaches, learn from our experiments, and then scale the successful projects. I became convinced that we could have a real impact—and that we’d have fun doing it, too. Perfect!
That was the start of Team Generosity. Within a few months, Ray introduced me to Jennifer McCrea. Over time, many others you will hear about in this book joined us. Working with people you enjoy on projects you believe in is like being part of a flowing, joyful, jazz ensemble—with the added bonus that the causes we work on help decrease suffering in the world. How much better can life be?!