Robert J. Abernethy

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Robert J. Abernethy (born February 28, 1940) is an American entrepreneur and philanthropist based in Manhattan Beach, California. He is the founder and President of both American Standard Development Company and Self Storage Management Company.

Early life, family, education[edit]

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana and raised in Davidson, North Carolina, Abernethy received a B.A. in Mathematics & Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1962. After serving in the Navy Supply Corps from 1963-1966, he graduated from Harvard Business School with an M.B.A. in 1968. During his time at Harvard Business School, Abernethy studied national security affairs under Henry Kissinger and Graham Allison,[1] defense economics under Tom Schelling,[2] and defense contracting under J. Ronald Fox.[3] Abernethy went on to receive certificates in Construction Management and Real Estate from UCLA in 1973 and 1974.[4]

Abernethy’s parents were professors at Davidson College. His mother, Helen, was an artist and taught Art History. His father, George, taught philosophy.[5] Abernethy has one younger sister, Jean Helen Poston.


After Harvard Business School, Abernethy worked for the Hughes Aircraft Company (from 1972 to 1974), which promoted him to Controller for the Technology Division.[6] Prior to his promotion, he worked on developmental aerospace projects such as the AIM-54 Phoenix Missile Program and the Iroquois Night Fighter & Night Tracker Program. In 1974, Abernethy left Hughes Aircraft and started two companies, American Standard Development Company and Self Storage Management Company, the latter of which develops and manages industrial parks, incubators, and mini storage facilities throughout Southern California.[6] Abernethy served as Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer of the National Self Storage Service Association from 1978-1986.[6] He also served on Public Storage’s Board of Directors from 1980 to 2007.[7] In 2009, Abernethy was inducted into the Self Storage Association's "Hall of Fame."[6]

Abernethy currently works out of the Redondo Beach Information Technology Center in Redondo Beach, California.[8]

Public service[edit]

Abernethy served as a Commissioner on the City of Los Angeles Planning and Zoning Commission from 1984-1988, a Director of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Board of Directors from 1988-1993, a Commissioner on the City of Los Angeles Telecommunications Commission from 1992-1993, a Director of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority from 1995-1998, a Commissioner of the California Transportation Commission from 1999-2000, a member of the California State Board of Education from 2000-2004, and a member of the California Arts Council from 2001-2004.[9]

Educational organizations[edit]

Abernethy is a Trustee Emeritus of Johns Hopkins University, where he serves on Advisory Boards for the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS),[10] SAIS Europe,[11] the Bloomberg School of Public Health,[12] and the Center for Public Health and Human Rights.[13] Since 1993, Abernethy has served on Davidson College's Board of Visitors.

In the Los Angeles area, he serves as a Trustee of Loyola Marymount University[14] and sits on the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Board of Advisors[15] and the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture Board of Visitors.[16]

Abernethy formerly served as a Trustee of Davidson College[17] and Johns Hopkins University,[18] where he sat on the Advisory Board of the Peabody Institute[19] and the Center for Talented Youth. From 1980 to 1990, Abernethy served as Chairman of the Harvard Business School Scholarship Trust.

Public policy and political activity[edit]

Abernethy serves as Vice Chairman of the Atlantic Council[20] and as Trustee of the Brookings Institution.[21] He is a Director of the Truman Center for National Policy,[22] the International Refugee Assistance Project,[23] and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.[24] Additionally, he is a member of the board of Integrity Initiatives International.[25] Abernethy has advisory roles at the United States Institute of Peace[26] and the RAND Corporation Center for Global Risk and Security.[27] Abernethy serves on the US Department of State Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy Sanctions Subcommittee.[28]

He is a member of the Aspen Institute Society of Fellows,[29] the Chairman's Forum of the Council on Foreign Relations,[30] the California Committee South of Human Rights Watch,[31] and the Synergos Global Philanthropists Circle. He was a Director of TechNet and the Pacific Council on International Policy. From 1986 to 2000, Abernethy was Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions.

Abernethy serves as a Director of the New Leaders Council,[32] Editorial Advisor to Democracy: A Journal of Ideas,[33] and a Foreign Policy Advisor to the Center for American Progress. He is a Trustee of the New Democrat Network and the Progressive Policy Institute. Previously, Abernethy was a Trustee of the Democratic Leadership Council and an Advisor to Blueprint Magazine.

Philanthropy and cultural institutions[edit]

Abernethy is Vice Chair of the Los Angeles Music Center.[34] He serves as a Director of the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles and of the William H. Parker Los Angeles Police Foundation.[35] Since 1978, Abernethy has sat on the Board of Managers of the Westchester Family YMCA. Previously, he was a Director of the Hollywood Bowl, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Theatre Center.

Abernethy supports healthcare research, serving as a Director of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship[36] and the John Douglas French Alzheimer's Foundation.[37] He also serves on the Advisory Boards of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Surgery, Innovation & Bioengineering, the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and the UCLA Health System.


  1. ^ "Harvard Kennedy School - Graham Allison". Archived from the original on January 22, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  2. ^ "Thomas Crombie Schelling Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story -". Archived from the original on July 24, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-27.
  3. ^ J. Ronald Fox. "J. Ronald Fox - Faculty - Harvard Business School". Archived from the original on July 24, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  4. ^ "Robert J. Abernethy | Center for National Policy". Archived from the original on July 25, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  5. ^ "Memorial Minutes: George L. Abernethy". Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d "Bob Abernethy : Business Pioneer, Southern California Benefactor" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 27, 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Robert J. Abernethy Retires from Public Storage Board". Business Wire. 2006-12-29. Archived from the original on July 27, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  8. ^ "Redondo Beach Information Technology Center". Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  9. ^ Robert J. Abernethy (2006-12-31). "Robert Abernethy: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek". Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  10. ^ "Johns Hopkins SAIS Board of Advisors". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  11. ^ "SAIS Europe Advisory Council". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  12. ^ "Robert Abernethy - Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  13. ^ "Advisory Committee". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  14. ^ "Board of Trustees - Loyola Marymount University". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  15. ^ "About - UCLA Luskin". Retrieved 2017-12-06. External link in |publisher= (help)
  16. ^ "Board of Visitors". Archived from the original on July 27, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  17. ^ "Board of Trustees - Davidson College". Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  18. ^ "Board Members | Board of Trustees | Johns Hopkins University". Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  19. ^ "Peabody National Advisory Council". Archived from the original on November 9, 2012. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  20. ^ "Board of Directors". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  21. ^ "Board of Trustees". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  22. ^ "Truman Leadership". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  23. ^ "Our Board". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  24. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  25. ^ "Integrity Initiatives International". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  26. ^ "International Advisory Council". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  27. ^ "CGRS - Advisory Board". RAND. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  28. ^ "Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy: Sanction Subcommittee". Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  29. ^ "Current Members". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  30. ^ "Membership Roster - Council on Foreign Relations". Archived from the original on July 27, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  31. ^ "California Committee South | Human Rights Watch". Archived from the original on October 2, 2013. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  32. ^ "NLC Board of Directors". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  33. ^ "About: Democracy Journal". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  34. ^ "Board of Directors". Music Center. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  35. ^ "About". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  36. ^ "Board of Directors". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  37. ^ "Important People". 2013-01-15. Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-18.