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June 03, 2016

Financier Named Carnegie Hall’s First Black Board Chair

Robert Smith, a private-equity billionaire who has recently begun raising his philanthropic profile, was elected Thursday as chairman of the board of Carnegie Hall, writes The New York Times. The 53-year-old founder of Vista Equity Partners is the first African-American to preside over the board of the nation’s most prominent concert stage.

Mr. Smith, a Denver native now based in Austin, Tex., joined the board in 2013 after a meeting Carnegie Hall’s executive director, Clive Gillinson. He replaces a fellow investment mogul, Ronald Perelman, who stepped down last year after a brief, stormy tenure marked by clashes with Mr. Gillinson and much of the board.

A music fan who owns one of Elton John’s old pianos and named his sons after Jimi Hendrix and John Legend, Mr. Smith has supported Carnegie Hall’s education programs and efforts to increase diversity in classical music. He recently launched his own philanthropy, the Fund II Foundation, and earlier this year made his first public mega-gift, donating $50 million for engineering programs at Cornell University, his alma mater.