October 20, 2016

Donor Spotlight: Jonathan Orszag

A longtime supporter of the foundation, economist Jonathan Orszag officially joined the board of directors of the Tiger Woods Foundation in 2012. Currently, Orszag serves as the senior managing director and member of the Executive Committee of Compass Lexecon, LLC, an economic consulting firm he co-founded. Early in Orszag’s career, he served as an economic policy advisor on President Bill Clinton’s National Economic Council. Within the private sector, he has handled a number of high-profile mergers, including Orbitz/Expedia, Office Max/Office Depot and Delta/Northwest.

Orszag received a M.Sc. from Oxford University, which he attended as a Marshall Scholar and graduated summa cum laude in economics from Princeton University.

Throughout his impressive professional and academic career, Orszag has been a steadfast advocate of the uplifting power of education. Not only is he a generous supporter of the Earl Woods Scholar Program, but Orszag and his wife, Mary, are both serving as event co-chairs of TWF’s 20th anniversary celebration at The New York Public Library. In a Q&A with Orszag, we learn what drives his professional success and his philanthropic work.

How did you get involved with the Tiger Woods Foundation?

I was asked by a friend, who was on the board of the Tiger Woods Foundation’s Washington, D.C., learning lab, to participate in a golf event for the foundation. I quickly learned that the Tiger Woods Foundation is not a golf foundation, but an educational one. As a son of a math professor, I have always been focused on education as a way to create opportunities for underprivileged kids. As a result, my interests and the foundation’s, especially its focus on STEM, were very well aligned.

What’s the best advice you’ve received and given?

The best advice I have received is the simple idea that to whom much is given, much is expected. The best advice I have given is reminding others of that same, simple concept.

Tell us about someone or something that has inspired you greatly.

I find it inspiring that two of the world’s wealthiest people, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, have inspired other wealthy families to commit to give to charity a majority of their net worth. If all families committed to that idea, we would leave the world a better place for future generations.

Describe yourself in 10 words or less.

Husband, father, economist, passionate golfer, aspiring photographer, lifelong Boston fan.

There are several common traits our staff and scholars possess — traits we believe lead to success. Which trait do you identify with and why?

Undeterred. Why? I do not give up easily. If I fail, I work harder, try harder and/or learn more. I do what it takes to move forward.

How or why did you choose the profession you are in?

I basically fell into my profession. I was asked by a professor in college to go with him to Washington, D.C., to work on economic policy matters. When I left government, I started consulting on similar topics. I fell in love with applying economic theory to real-world situations, from what companies will do with prices if they merge to the effect of new product introductions on consumers. I often joke that I love what I do so much that I would do it for free, but clients are willing to pay me for it, so it is a perfect outcome.

Tiger says the staff is TWF’s biggest strength. What’s the greatest strength of your organization?

Simple: People as well.

Champions of the unexpected for 20 years.