NET WORTH: $1.78 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Blackstone Group
FUNDING AREAS: Health, Education & Youth, New York City Community
OVERVIEW: Jonathan Gray and his wife Mindy move philanthropy through the Gray Foundation. The couple's philanthropy focuses on healthcare and opportunity for low-income children in New York. The Gray Foundation is also focused on funding initiatives to advance the care of individuals living with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. The couple's cancer research is largely motivated by the passing of Mindy's older sister, Faith, from ovarian cancer.
BACKGROUND: Jonathan Gray was born in Highland Park, Illinois, in suburban Chicago. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1992 with a BA in English and a BS from Wharton. He also met his wife, Mindy, at UPenn, in a senior year English class. After graduating, Gray joined Blackstone’s Mergers and Acquisitions and Private Equity group, and was offered a position in the company’s newly formed Real Estate Private Equity group after that. He was made named Global Head of Real Estate in 2011 and named to the company's board of directors in 2012. He has been cited as a possible future replacement for boss and company cofounder Stephen Schwarzman when he retires.
HEALTH: In 2012, double alumni of UPenn class of 1992, Gray and Mindy established the Basser Research Center at the Abramson Cancer Center at the Perelman School of Medicine at UPenn with a gift of $25 million. The center conducts research on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes which are linked to markedly increased risks of developing breast and ovarian cancer. The center is named in honor of Mindy's older sister, Faith Basser, who died of ovarian cancer at 44. Mindy also serves as a director of the executive committee of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, which claims to be the "largest private philanthropy in the United States dedicated exclusively to funding ovarian cancer research." In 2013, Gray and Mindy gave an additional $5 million to support BRCA-related pancreatic cancer research, and also launched an external grants program, to fund BRCA-research globally.
While UPenn's Brasser Center is an emphasis of Gray's health philanthropy, the family has also directed money to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Montefiore Medical Center, National Jewish Health, the Lungevity Center in Illinois, and to the Hospital for Special Surgery Fund.
EDUCATION & YOUTH: Gray and Mindy recently gave a $10 million gift towards a new college savings pilot program that aims to increase number of low-income New York children who go on to attend college. Academic access and readiness is an important part of this funder's work and Gray is on the board of Harlem Village Academies in New York. The couple has recently supported places like Prep for Prep, Inner-City Scholarship Fund, Schools That Can, Year Up, and Breakthrough New York, a nonprofit that works with low-income students to prepare them for college and graduation. At least $3 million has gone to the Trinity School, where he's a board member, and to Educational Alliance, which runs educational, health, arts, and social service programs in New York City. As well, Mindy sits on the leadership council of Peer Health Exchange, a charity dedicated to giving teens comprehensive health education. In higher education, UPenn, of course, and also Columbia Business School, have seen funding in recent years.
NYC COMMUNITY : The Grays have directed funds to places like Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, and Robin Hood Foundation. The couple has given assorted sums to various Jewish outfits including the Center for Jewish History and JCC Manhattan. Money has also gone to the Police Athletic League, the United Way of New York, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New York City.
LOOKING FORWARD: Expect the Grays to focus on their select interest areas for now. Gray is still very much engaged in business, but this is a couple to watch for greater giving down the line.
The Gray Foundation does not provide a clear avenue for getting in touch with the couple, but below is an address
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
- Dana Zucker, Executive Director, Gray Foundation