Robert F. Smith Elected as Chairman of Carnegie Hall's Board of Trustees
NEW YORK, NY—Carnegie Hall today announced that Robert F. Smith has been elected as Chairman of Carnegie Hall’s Board of Trustees. Mr. Smith—a trustee since 2013—succeeds Carnegie Hall’s Acting Chairman Mercedes T. Bass. A longtime trustee, Mrs. Bass will continue to serve in a leadership role, resuming her position as a Vice Chair. Both Mr. Smith and Mrs. Bass will assume these posts effective immediately. Mr. Smith was elected today at a meeting of the Hall’s trustees.
Robert F. Smith said, “I am humbled and honored to serve as Carnegie Hall’s next Chairman, working with the board, staff, and entire Carnegie Hall community to advance this iconic institution. Carnegie Hall is perfectly placed to champion not only artistic excellence, but also access and exposure to the best music in the world. During my time on the board, I have enjoyed working with Clive Gillinson on this mission and look forward to building on the Hall’s already considerable outreach efforts into communities to reach our next generation of music lovers and performers. I am excited to continue our partnership and to have this opportunity to work with so many who care about Carnegie Hall, building on its extraordinary legacy to take it to even greater heights in the future.”
Mercedes T. Bass said, “It’s been an honor to serve as Acting Chairman over this past season as we have marked 125 extraordinary years of Carnegie Hall. Now, with the completion of our search, I am delighted to move into this new chapter of our history as we welcome Robert. Through our work together, I know him to be a thoughtful and inspiring leader, and someone with great ideas and a wonderful sense of humor. Robert is devoted to classical music and to securing a successful future for Carnegie Hall. I look forward to working with him as our new Chairman.”
Sanford I. Weill, Carnegie Hall’s President, said, “I join all our trustees in congratulating Robert Smith on his new role as Carnegie Hall’s Chairman. Robert is a dedicated trustee, a highly respected business leader, and a visionary in the technology world. He recognizes that music education is important to the intellectual development of young people and that we must play a role in returning music to our schools. His own example and strong belief in education has inspired a legion of students to study engineering to equip themselves with the skills that will be in demand in the future. It’s exciting to pass the torch to the next generation of leadership. On behalf of everyone at Carnegie Hall, I especially also want to express our deep gratitude to Mercedes Bass for her hard work and excellent leadership over the last season. As always, we admire and appreciate her unwavering dedication to the Hall.”
Joshua Nash, chair of Carnegie Hall’s succession committee said, “Our committee members have spent considerable time in recent months consulting our trustees as part of this process. We were delighted to unanimously recommend that Robert F. Smith be appointed as our next Chairman and we are very pleased that our fellow trustees agreed.”
Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s Executive and Artistic Director, said, “I’m thrilled that Robert has agreed to become Carnegie Hall’s new Chairman, and I personally look forward to working closely with him to chart the future course for the Hall. I have greatly enjoyed our work together over his time on the board and have valued his passion for music and his global commitment to young artists through his rich and varied philanthropic efforts with the Menuhin Competition and the Sphinx Organization among others. Robert’s appreciation for connecting underserved communities to the arts combined with his keen understanding of the transformational power of digital technology will bring capabilities that will be very important to us as we continue to evolve Carnegie Hall’s unique leadership role in the world of the twenty-first century.”
At Carnegie Hall, a recent major leadership gift from the Fund II Foundation, founded and led by Mr. Smith, supports the national expansion of Link Up, a music education curriculum for students in grades 3–5 developed by the Hall’s Weill Music Institute, which is now offered for free to over 90 orchestras nationally and in select international locations, and expected to reach five million students over the next ten years. It has also created PlayUSA, a new WMI initiative that works with orchestras and partner organizations to put musical instruments into the hands of low-income and underserved students across the country while also providing access to music instruction. Mr. Smith is a Founding Patron of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, created by WMI in 2013, and a supporter of Ensemble ACJW, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. In addition to his involvement with Carnegie Hall, Mr. Smith’s family foundation underwrote the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition’s first visit to the United States in Austin, Texas and with The Cleveland Orchestra in 2014. Subsequently, under his patronage, Mr. Smith has personally arranged for appearances by Menuhin young violinists in Berlin, Germany and in Davos, Switzerland during the World Economic Forum. Mr. Smith has also been a supporter of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, New York.
Biography: Robert F. Smith
Robert F. Smith is the Founder, Chairman, & CEO of Vista Equity Partners, based in Austin, Texas. He directs Vista’s investment strategy and decisions, firm governance, and investor relations. Vista currently manages equity capital commitments of approximately $25 billion and oversees a portfolio of more than 30 software companies that employ over 30,000 employees worldwide. Since Vista’s founding in 2000, Mr. Smith has overseen over 200 completed transactions by the firm representing over $60 billion in transaction value.
Vista has managed capital for hundreds of limited partners, including many prominent public, private, and corporate pension plans, endowments, family offices, and high net worth individuals. For the second time in a row, in November 2015, Vista was named as world’s #1 performing private equity firm based on its performance over the last 11 years, according to the HEC-Dow Jones annual ranking conducted by Professor Oliver Gottschalg. In 2012, Buyouts magazine awarded the firm’s Vista Equity Partners Fund III the Gold Medal as the top-performing 2007-Vintage Buyout Fund in the U.S. Under Mr. Smith’s leadership, Vista has exclusively focused on the enterprise software, data and technology enabled solutions sectors. Vista understands the software business model, uniquely creating value for all shareholders by combining specifically developed operational improvements (the "Vista SOPs"), operational capability, and a long-term perspective. Among Vista’s portfolio companies are Solera, Misys, TIBCO, Active Network, Bullhorn, Omnitracs, and Newscycle.
Born in Colorado to two parents with PhDs, Mr. Smith trained as an engineer at Cornell University, earning his bachelor of science in chemical engineering. Following his MBA from Columbia Business School with honors, Mr. Smith worked at Kraft General Foods, where he earned two United States and two European patents. In 1994, he joined Goldman Sachs in tech investment banking, first in New York and then in Silicon Valley. As Goldman Sach’s Co-Head of Enterprise Systems and Storage, he executed and advised on over $50 billion in merger and acquisition activity with companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, eBay, and Yahoo.
In November 2010, Mr. Smith launched a national philanthropic effort called Project Realize. This visionary approach—termed “Free Market Philanthropy”—combines the best elements of the American free enterprise system with the core American ideals of giving back and lifting others up. Project Realize currently operates in Chicago, Austin, and San Francisco.
Mr. Smith’s business achievements and global philanthropic works have received recognition from numerous entities, including the Reginald F. Lewis Achievement Award, the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Robert Toigo Foundation, the Ripple of Hope Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, the Award of Excellence from the National Association of Investment Companies, the Columbia University BBSA Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Pierre Toussaint Medallion awarded by the Archdiocese of New York.
Mr. Smith is the founding director and President of the Fund II Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving the African-American experience, safeguarding human rights, providing music education, preserving the environment while promoting the benefits of the outdoors, and sustaining critical American values. In January 2016, Cornell University honored Mr. Smith's leadership by naming the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
In addition to his board chairmanship at Carnegie Hall, Mr. Smith is also the Chairman of Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights. He serves on the Board of Overseers of Columbia Business School, as a Member of the Cornell Engineering College Council, and as a Trustee of the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco. Mr. Smith is also an avid fly fisherman.
About Carnegie Hall
Since 1891, Carnegie Hall has set the international standard for excellence in performance as the aspirational destination for the world's finest musicians. Now celebrating its 125th anniversary season, the Hall today presents a wide range of performances each season on its three stages—the renowned Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, intimate Weill Recital Hall, and innovative Zankel Hall—including concert series curated by acclaimed artists and composers; citywide festivals featuring collaborations with leading New York City cultural institutions; orchestral performances, chamber music, new music concerts, and recitals; and the best in jazz, world, and popular music. Complementing these performance activities, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute creates extensive music education and community programs that will serve 600,000 people in the New York City area, nationally, and internationally next season, playing a central role in Carnegie Hall’s commitment to making great music accessible to as many people as possible. For more information, visit carnegiehall.org.
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