Raymond G. Chambers (born August 7, 1942) is a philanthropist and humanitarian who currently serves as the World Health Organization Ambassador for Global Strategy. Chambers' philanthropic efforts are diverse, with major focus areas in global health, mentoring, and revitalizing his home city of Newark, New Jersey.
Early life and education
Chambers is the former Chairman of Wesray Capital Corporation, a private equity holding company which he co-founded with William E. Simon, the former United States Secretary of the Treasury. The "WES" in the firm's name represented Simon's initials and "RAY" was for Chamber's first name. Their first big coup was the leveraged buyout of Gibson Greetings from RCA in 1981 for $80 million, with each partner contributing $330,000 and the balance paid for with loans; After taking Gibson public in 1984, each partner walked away with a profit exceeding $70 million.
After Simon ended his active involvement in the firm's management, Chambers was responsible for deals including the 1985 purchase of Avis Rent a Car System, which was sold 14 months later to an employee stock ownership plan for $1.75 billion along with the sale of other Avis assets for $674 million, netting a profit of $740 million on a $10 million capital outlay.
Involvement in Newark
Chambers has played an active role in revitalizing Newark, working with organizations and schools throughout the city, including in the West Ward where he grew up. He is a longtime supporter of the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, which he had belonged to as a child in the 1950s. He has funded college educations for hundreds of Newark public school students served by the Club.
Chambers was the founding Chairman of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, helping obtain contributions from local corporations and contributing his own money, with the goal of creating a cultural center for Newark modeled after New York City's Lincoln Center and Washington, D.C.'s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
As a partner in YankeeNets, Chambers played a critical role in bringing the New Jersey Devils to what is now the Prudential Center, with YankeeNets contributing $105 million to construct the publicly owned facility. Chambers' name was engraved on the Stanley Cup as President of 2003 New Jersey Devils Chambers was an early supporter of Cory Booker, helping to convince him that he had a future in politics.
Global Health and United Nations
In February 2008, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed Mr. Chambers as his first Special Envoy for Malaria. During his tenure, visibility, awareness, and funding for malaria each increased exponentially, contributing to the distribution of over 1 billion life-saving mosquito nets to sub-Saharan Africa and averting over 6.2 million malaria-related deaths, most of which were children under 5 years of age.
In February 2013 the Secretary-General expanded Mr. Chambers’ mandate as his first Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the internationally agreed set of humanitarian targets. Mr. Chambers worked with key funding partners—including governments, financial institutions and the private sector—to secure adequate resources to provide the essential supplies, delivery mechanisms, systems support and measurement tools needed to attain the health MDGs. In addition to his Special Envoy role, Mr. Chambers served as one of the UN Secretary-General’s MDG Advocates.
With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, Mr. Chambers was appointed by the Secretary-General as his Special Envoy for Health in Agenda 2030. In this role he was tasked with catalyzing efforts and commitments required for the successful implementation of the health-related goals in Agenda 2030—which included ending the epidemics of AIDS, TB, and malaria.
In 2018, Mr. Chambers transitioned his focus to supporting the World Health Organization (WHO), the specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. The WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appointed Mr. Chambers as the WHO Ambassador for Global Strategy to advise him in mobilizing the international community to advance the global health agenda. Regarding Mr. Chambers’ appointment, Dr. Tedros said “Ray Chambers is a giant of public health who understands as well as anyone the critical need to prioritize the health and wellbeing of all people on the planet.”
Chambers was a member of the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation. He is the Founding Chairman of the Points of Light Foundation and co-founded America's Promise Alliance with Colin Powell. Chambers is also the co-founder of the MENTOR / National Mentoring Partnership and served as Chairman of the Millennium Promise Alliance. With Peter Chernin, he co-founded Malaria No More and served as its co-chairman until being named UN Special Envoy for Malaria.
Awards and recognition
In 2002, Chambers received the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership.
2014 New Jersey Hall of Fame inductee.
- Booker, Cory. United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good, p. 33. Random House Publishing Group, 2016. ISBN 9781101965160. "The other person I met was a man named Ray Chambers. Ray was born in Newark in 1942 and later graduated from Newark's West Side High School."
- Fallon, Scott. "Sports Arena Is Part of Grand Plan for Newark, N.J." Archived 2016-10-08 at the Wayback Machine, The Record (Bergen County), June 11, 2001. Accessed August 26, 2016. "Born in 1942 into a blue-collar family, Chambers attended public schools before studying at Rutgers-Newark. He received an MBA from Seton Hall in 1968 and went to work for a series of Wall Street firms."
- Worthy, Ford S. "WES THREATENS TO PULL OUT OF WESRAY", Fortune (magazine), July 21, 1986. Accessed September 10, 2008.
- Davis, L. J. "WILLIAM SIMON'S FACIFIC OVERTURES", The New York Times, December 27, 1987. Accessed November 13, 2016.
- "Sans Simon, Wesray cleans up on Avis"[dead link], Fortune (magazine), October 26, 1987. Accessed September 11, 2008.
- "Vestar Capital Nears Blockbuster Final Close"[permanent dead link], Buyouts, November 8, 1999
- "The Color of Politics", The New Yorker, February 4, 2008. Accessed September 11, 2008.
- "WHO welcomes UN Secretary-General's new envoy for malaria"
- "Secretary-General Appoints Ray Chambers of United States as Special Envoy for Malaria, Financing of Health-Related Millennium Development Goals"
- Excellence in Philanthropy: Updates On Past Winners 2001-2013, Raymond Chambers
- "The President Participates in a Ceremony for 2008 Recipients of the Presidential Citizens Medal", The White House: President George W. Bush, December 10, 2008. Accessed August 26, 2016. "Ray Chambers has reached out to help at-risk youth and worked to turn the tide against malaria in Africa. By standing with the people of Africa in the fight against this treatable and preventable disease, he has helped lift a burden of unnecessary suffering. The United States honors Ray Chambers for his steadfast commitment to mentoring young people and his noble work to eliminate malaria."
- "The 2011 TIME 100", Time (magazine). Accessed August 26, 2016.
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