Reynold Levy

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Reynold Levy served as the president of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts from 2002–2014. He was replaced in that role by Jed Bernstein.

Levy’s leadership at Lincoln Center continued a distinguished career of public service. He has been President of the International Rescue Committee, the senior officer of AT&T in charge of government relations, President of the AT&T Foundation, Executive Director of the 92nd Street Y, and Staff Director of the Task Force on the New York City Fiscal Crisis.

During his tenure, Lincoln Center’s award winning and critically acclaimed programs flourished, even as its unprecedented and much applauded physical transformation modernized and expanded successfully its artistic facilities, its public spaces and its physical infrastructure. To help accomplish these ends, Lincoln Center’s Board of Directors was enlarged and strengthened, the historic $1.2 billion capital campaign is now complete and annual fundraising has grown at an 8% compounded annual rate for the better part of a decade. As a consequence, Lincoln Center is now enjoyed by hundreds of thousands more New Yorkers and visitors from around the country and around the world. Its 16-acre campus has become a must-see destination. And, its admired presentation program has never offered more world and American premieres, nor attracted more widely known ensembles and distinguished companies, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Mariinsky Ballet, the London Symphony, the Mark Morris Dance Company, the Paris Opera Ballet, Heisei Nakamura-za and Theatre du Soleil, to cite but a few.

In addition, during Levy’s tenure, Lincoln Center has altered its economic model to reduce historic dependence on ticket revenue and contributed income. Among other measures, Lincoln Center’s endowment has grown, Fashion Week and Channel 13 have been attracted as tenants, restaurant and catering revenue has greatly expanded and, most recently, Lincoln Center has established an institutional consulting practice with its first client being the construction authority in the New Bin Hai district of Tianjin where work on conceiving and constructing a new performing arts center is well underway.


A graduate of Hobart College, Levy holds a law degree from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in government and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. He has served as a consultant, volunteer, and Board member of numerous nonprofit and profit organizations, including the Manhattan Theatre Club, The Municipal Art Society of New York, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, The Grove Foundation, The Charles R. Bronfman Foundation, the Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education, and Third Way. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Charles H. Revson Foundation, a member of the Board of Overseers of the International Rescue Committee, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a trustee of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. His most recent Board affiliation is as a Director of First Republic Bank.


Levy has authored three books, Nearing the Crossroads: Contending Approaches to American Foreign Policy (1975, Free Press of MacMillan), Give and Take: A Candid Account of Corporate Philanthropy (1999, Harvard Business School Press) and, most recently, Yours for the Asking: An Indispensable Guide To Fundraising and Management (2008, John Wiley and Sons). He has written extensively and spoken widely about philanthropy, the performing arts, humanitarian causes and issues, and the leadership and management of nonprofit institutions. Levy has held the post of Senior Lecturer at The Harvard Business School. He has also taught law, political science and nonprofit administration at Columbia and New York Universities and at the City University of New York. Levy is now working on a book tentatively titled They Told Me Not To Take That Job to be published by Public Affairs Press in the Fall of 2014.


Levy’s alma mater, Hobart College, honored him with its Alumni Medal of Excellence, given to only twenty graduates in the 125 year history of the school. The International Rescue Committee bestowed on him its coveted Freedom Award. Columbia University awarded Levy the highly regarded Lawrence A. Wien Prize for Social Responsibility. Lincoln Center granted him its Laureate Award. Levy has received the 2009 Design Patron Award granted by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum for his stewardship of Lincoln Center’s massive physical transformation, a $1.2 billion building project for the high quality improvement and expansion of public spaces, infrastructure and artistic facilities. In recognition of Lincoln Center’s successful modernization and rejuvenation, the Board of Directors decided to name a sculpturally expressive bridge designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro as “The President’s Bridge: In Honor of Reynold Levy, October 1, 2012.” In 2009, Levy was granted the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding’s Corporate Bridge Builder Award, and was honored by Sing for Hope for his contributions to the arts, humanitarian causes and the City of New York. In 2012, Levy was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Levy will receive honorary degrees from Dickinson College, Macaulay Honors College of The City University of New York, and Fordham University.

Media Appearances[edit]

Levy has appeared often on television and radio and is quoted frequently as an authoritative source in the print and electronic media. He has been a guest on Gilbert Kaplan’s syndicated public radio program “Mad About Music.” His professional life has been profiled on CNN’s Pinnacle and Budd Mishkin’s One On 1 on New York One. Levy was interviewed three times on Richard Heffner’s Open Mind on Channel 13, his role as moderator of The Lincoln Center Dialogue was featured on public television, and he has appeared as a guest on Morning Joe and on the Charlie Rose Show. In addition, Levy and the institutions and causes with which he is actively identified have been the subject of frequent news and feature stories in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, New York Magazine and many other publications. His speeches and essays have also found their way into over a dozen books and anthologies.

Levy is married to Elizabeth Cooke, formerly Executive Director of the Parks Council of New York and President of The Bronx Museum of the Arts, and currently a trustee of the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center Foundation and of City Limits.