I’ve written before about some of the female philanthropists who’ve emerged from investment banking giant Goldman Sachs. Women like Jacki Zehner, who’s made our Most Powerful Women list largely for her work through Women Moving Millions, reached rarefied air in a male-dominated industry. Having been invited into the Goldman partnership, Zehner and other top-ranking female Goldman executives have directed some of their wealth toward philanthropy.
Besides Zehner, consider Anne McNulty’s strong support of women’s leadership education, or Connie Duckworth’s ARZU, which aims to empower Afghan women through rug weaving. Many of these businesswomen believe that financial empowerment is key to tackling gender equity, because, as Duckworth puts it, “She who writes the checks controls.”
Then there’s Robin Chemers Neustein, who became a Goldman general partner in 1990 and held a 0.65 percent stake in the firm prior to its 1999 IPO. Neustein studied at Mount Holyoke College before receiving her undergraduate degree from Brown, as well as her JD/MBA from Northwestern. After cold calling various investment firms in New York, she got a bite from Goldman, joined the firm in the early 1980s, and the rest is history.
Neustein engages in philanthropy through her Lightfighter Trust, which from 2008 to 2015 supported scientific research into the nature, causes, and relief of combat stress and trauma. One project at SUNY Downstate Medical Center aimed to help individuals with PTSD by developing an effective strategy to block reconsolidation of traumatic memories. It’s unclear if Lightfighter still focuses on this area, however.
Apart from this work, Neustein also has a strong interest in supporting women scientists. She lived with her family in Israel for a time, and commuted back and forth to the states. In Israel, Neustein developed a relationship with the Weizmann Institute of Science, including with Nirit Dudovic, one of the institute's top researchers. Dudovic works in the realm of ultrafast light, which sheds— well, new light — on the dynamics between electrons in atoms and molecules, at the heart of chemical and physical reactions. Neustein has supported Dudovic's work, and the professor is the inaugural bearer of the Robin Chemers Neustein Chair.
In what should sound like music to the ears of the STEM-inclined, Neustein calls research scientists “some of the most entrepreneurial people I know… They think up new and important questions, write a plan, get it funded, hire staff, work hard for information, and then get the results out there. They are among the best start-up people on Earth.”
As for why Neustein makes big bets on female scientists specifically, she says there’s a need for science “to have freedom to ask all the questions and get the broadest perspective, and that requires making sure that you pull in both genders...the untapped gender is women.”
Apart from Neustein’s giving at the Weizmann Institute, other work includes endowing a postdoctoral fellowship for female research scientists at Mount Sinai Medical School and creating an endowed chair for neurobiologist Leslie Vosshall. Neustein also endowed Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development, directed by cell biologist Elaine Fuchs.
Of the many Wall Street Givers we’ve profiled, no firm has produced more active female donors than Goldman Sachs, and Robin Neustein is yet another. For a complete overview of her philanthropy, read our Wall Street Profile linked below.
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