McCall, H. Carl c. 1938–
H. Carl McCall c. 1938–
The first African American elected to the office of New York state comptroller, H. Carl McCall is the most powerful elected official in the state, next to the governor. In this position, he serves as New York’s chief financial officer and is responsible for managing the state’s money. The Harlem Democrat has earned a reputation for finding fiscally sound reasons for doing the “right thing” for minority-and female-owned businesses in New York. He has also doubled the state’s retirement fund to over $100 billion. Through his successes, McCall has raised the visibility of his seat as state comptroller—formerly a low-profile position. He has raised it to such a level, in fact, that he set his sights on running for governor in the 2002 election.
A Boston native, McCall is one of six children raised by his mother, a single parent on welfare. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth and completed his studies at Andover Newton Theological School and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He came to Harlem as pastor of the Metropolitan United Methodist Church after being ordained by the United Church of Christ.
As commissioner of the New York City Council Against Poverty, McCall got his first taste of activism and politics. His association with Harlem political leaders such as former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton, ex-Mayor David Dinkins, and Congressman Charles Rangel provided support for a bid for the New York Senate in 1975, which he won. He remained in the Senate three terms, before he joined then President Jimmy Carter’s administration as a deputy ambassador to the United Nations.
McCall then launched a campaign for New York’s lieutenant governor position, but didn’t make it past the Democratic primary election. In 1982, a governor-appointed position as head of New York’s human rights division was McCall’s consolation prize after losing his first bid for a statewide office. He also served as commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In addition, McCall spent eight years in the private sector as a vice president for governmental relations at Citibank/Citicorp. From 1991 to 1993 he also took on the position of president of the New York City Board of Education, where he oversaw a $7.6 billion budget that supported nearly a million students, 212,000 employees and 1,000 schools. In 1993 McCall was appointed by the Legislature to complete retiring Republican Edward Regan’s term as the state’s comptroller.
McCall’s single-most important responsibility as comptroller is his position as the sole trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (NYSCRF). Under McCall’s investment management, the fund doubled to an astonishing $107 billion, which would ensure its security far into the future. New York’s became only the second largest retirement fund in the country, next to
At a Glance…
Born c. 1938; married Dr. Joyce Brown, President, State University of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Education: B.A., Dartmouth College, Andover Newton Theological Seminary, University of Edinburgh.
Career: Vice President, Citicorp/Citibank, 1985-93; New York State Senator; Ambassador, United Nations; Commissioner, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Commissioner, New York State Division of Human Rights; President, New York City Board of Education, 1991-93; Comptroller, State of New York, 1993-.
Member: Council on Foreign Relations; Board member, New York Stock Exchange, 1999-.
Awards: Nelson A. Rockefeller Award for Distinguished Public Service, 1997, among others.
Addresses: Office —Comptroller, State of New York, Alfred E. Smith Office Bldg., 6th Floor, Swan St., Albany, NY 12236.
California’s. “He’s [McCall] done a magnificent job doubling the pension fund under his management,” New York State Retirement System Advisory Council member Stanley Hill said in an interview with Black Enterprise. “He’s been a great person for the position in terms of fiduciary responsibilities and social issues as well.” McCall defended his work as less social in nature, and all business. “We’re about making sound investments that pay off, but making them in our communities,” McCall told Black Enterprise. “There’s a body of evidence that these types of investments can work, and the climate is right, particularly at a time when pension funds are doing well and making so much money.”
Some black politicians try to downplay race, but McCall focused the state’s money toward minorities. A booklet published by the comptroller’s office boasted that 87 of his first 100 appointments were women and minorities—56 women, 22 African Americans and nine Hispanics. Shortly after he took office, he set aside a quarter of his office’s trading resources for managed funds for minority-and female-owned firms. He led New York to invest $100 million in a state minority business agency. Under his direction, New York spent $50 million on businesses in hard-hit economic development areas. He also suggested plans to relieve tax burdens on small businesses and dispense with a lot of the bureaucractic red tape business owners get caught up in. After bringing minority firms into state business, he reported that some of the minority-and female-owned business performed as well as or outperformed some of the larger firms. “We haven’t lowered standards by picking minorities,” McCall told Black Enterprise, “we’ve lowered barriers.”
According to Black Enterprise, McCall had a “knack for finding a fiscally responsible reason to do the right thing.” When news spread that corporate giant Texaco’s hiring and promotion practices were discriminatory, McCall leveraged public outrage and the NYSCRF’s significant Texaco stock ownership for a public apology and a commitment from Texaco to prevent such discrimination in the future. He used the same tactics against tobacco companies as the federal government tried to arrange a liability settlement to compensate people who were sick with smoking-related illnesses.
McCall also influenced the governor’s financial decisions for the better. New York had boasted 88 Fortune 500 companies in 1982, when Governor Mario Cuomo took office. By 1993 the number was down to 53. Neither large- or small-business owners were pleased with the governor’s money and business policies. Nine months after McCall took office, the governor made his most business-friendly proposals ever.
Throughout his career in office, McCall maintained respectful relationships with other New York leaders, but he has been forced to take steps against unjust financial actions taken by others in the state. Twice he was forced to sue the governor in order to prevent attacks on the NYSCRF. McCall also faced off with New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani when the mayor barred state auditors from the offices of several city agencies. Giuliani believed the state audits were intended to embarrass him during his reelection campaign. McCall sued the city for access to the agency records and won. “I have to be independent, because I am the independent comptroller,” he told About...Time Magazine. “I have to comment on the governor’s fiscal policies. When they are correct, I will say so. When they are not, I will say that too.”
In 2000 McCall began to consider running for governor himself, deciding to launch a campaign for the 2002 race. He knew that the key to his success was significant voter turnout from the African-American and Latino communities, and the key to that was voter registration. McCall was not only a smart money man, but an effective vote-getter. He developed his vote- getting skills where many black politicians do—the church. McCall appealed to minority constituents both with his record of accomplishments, and by portraying himself as a cool-headed fiscal manager and independent thinker.
By the July 2000 filing deadline for campaign finance reports, McCall had reached his goal of raising over $1 million toward his 2002 gubernatorial campaign. He looked forward to a goal of $3 million by the January 2001 deadline. The New York race is an expensive undertaking—McCall’s probable opponent in the race, incumbent governor George Pataki, reportedly spent $20 million in 1998 to win his second term.
Although the New York governor’s seat was clearly in McCall’s sights, he seemed to be calm about it. He shared his plans to run only in private meetings, and saved an official announcement until after the November 2000 elections. “I’ve always taken the position that you don’t have an ultimate goal, you just have to be poised for opportunities,” he told About...Time Magazine.
About...Time Magazine, August 31, 1994.
Associated Press, July 15, 2000.
Black Enterprise, October 31, 1998.
Additional information was obtained on-line at the McCall 2002 web site, http://www.mccall02.org (November 15, 2000).
Vilar, Alberto: 1940—: Investor, Philanthropist
Alberto Vilar: 1940—: Investor, philanthropist
A leading philanthropist, visionary investor Alberto W. Vilar enjoys giving money away. Because his father refused him music lessons, Vilar studied finance and co-founded Amerindo Investment Advisers, a management house with an $8 billion portfolio that controls endowments, family trusts, foundations, and pension funds. He spends his earnings on budding artists, opera companies, and technologically advanced concert halls. His generosity established his reputation as one of the world's most generous arts patrons.
A Frustrated Music-Lover
Vilar was born in Newark, New Jersey, on October 4, 1940. He spent his early childhood in Cuba, and, from age nine, grew up in Puerto Rico, his mother's home. From an early date he fell in love with the violin; later he added orchestral and liturgical music by Bach, Mendelssohn, Puccini, and Verdi. His grandmother, who studied at Havana Conservatory, took him to see Mario Lanza's movies. Vilar's immersion in melody annoyed his father, a sugar magnate who disliked his son's gravitation to swimming, music, and altar service.
The elder Vilar even referred to his son as a "long hair" or a geek, in today's slang. Instead, he wanted Alberto to pursue the practical goals of math, science, and banking. To Vilar's dismay, his father rejected the purchase of a violin and lessons. Vilar continued secretly learning classical melodies.
After the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the elder Vilar lost his business and the family fled to Puerto Rico. Alberto enrolled at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania, to which he later donated $5 million to establish the Vilar Center for Technology. After he graduated in 1962 he enlisted in the U.S. Army. During his service overseas he haunted German concert halls and other performance venues.
In 1964 Vilar obeyed his father by launching a career in finance at Citicorp and Burnham & Company and concentrated on underappreciated stocks related to telecommunications. Within months, he resettled in London, where he had no difficulty finding musical excellence. To Norman Lubrecht of Culturkiosque, Vilar confided, "London in the late 1960s and '70s had some of the best music. So I have been coming to Covent Garden all my life."
At a Glance . . .
Born October 4, 1940, in Newark, NJ; divorced. Education: Washington & Jefferson College, business degree, 1962. Religion: Roman Catholic. Military: U. S. Army, 1962-64.
Career: Citicorp, financial engineer, 1964; analyst, Burnham & Company, 1967; founder, Amerindo, 1980; Amerindo Technology Fund, 1996; Health & Biotechnology Fund and Internet B2B Fund, 2000.
Awards: Hispanic, Outstanding Latino, 2000.
Address: Office— Amerindo Investment Advisers Inc., 399 Park Avenue, 22nd Floor, New York, New York 10022; 212-371-6360. Website— http://www.amerin do.com/contact/contact_main.cfm. E-mail— Institu [email protected]
By 1980 Vilar and partner Gary Tanaka opened their business, co-managed by Emeric McDonald, the director of research. Vilar chose the corporation's name from his first clients, a consortium of Indonesian Chinese, by compressing the proposed American Indonesian Singaporean Investment Company into Amer-indo. While managing the New York City Retirement System, the Nature Conservancy, and San Antonio City Public Service, Amerindo bankrolled startup Internet firms, a risk that more conservative money marketers doubted. Vilar's name soon connected with emerging leaders—Amazon.com, America Online, Ariba, Cisco, Commerce One, eBay, i2, Microsoft, Oracle, and Yahoo. The first to back biotechnology with Genentech, Amgen, and Chiron, he made his reputation with his shrewd stock picks. His interest in stock newcomers led to the creation of the Amerindo Technology Fund in 1996, and in 2000, to the establishment of the Health & Biotechnology Fund and the Internet B2B Fund. Business Week cited his vision of coming advances: "We think the Internet will be the largest business and investment opportunity in history—larger than the Industrial Revolution.… What we see in five years will make the present seem like a quaint anachronism."
When Vilar acquired both leisure and money for travel, he made long opera excursions to world-class culture centers in London, St. Petersburg, Milan, Vienna, and San Francisco, where he opened a branch of Amer-indo. Enamored of grand opera Russian style, after the breakup of his marriage in 1987, he embraced the arts. At the Met, he underwrote performances of La Cenerentola, Cosi Fan Tutte, Fidelio, Le Nozze di Figaro, and La Traviata and co-produced Dr. Faustus and War and Peace. For a long period, he concealed his lavish donations. In 1995 he abandoned closet philanthropy and hired eight charity managers. Because of shrinking public investment in training centers and music halls and in subsidized art education, he aggressively supported music. Columnist Norman Lubrecht in Culturkiosque called Vilar, "buck for buck, the biggest benefactor in musical history."
The Privileges of Wealth
Vast wealth enabled Vilar to live in the toniest locales, including London, Puerto Rico, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., as well as a 32-room residence near the United Nations Building in Manhattan. The setting lost value after real estate billionaire Donald Trump erected a 72-floor tower that impeded Vilar's view. Vilar launched a doomed lawsuit to halt the construction, but continued to enjoy his triplex among art objects and statues of Mozart.
Between late 1998 and spring 2001, Vilar has donated $225 million to ballet, classical music, and opera—his favorite. In turn many companies have recognized his donations by naming or renaming structures after him including the chandeliered Vilar Grand Tier of the Metropolitan Opera and Vilar Hall in Vienna. In March of 2001, he developed an $8 million young artists' project at the Washington Opera and wrote his largest check—$50 million—to the John F. Kennedy Center for performances by the Kirov Ballet and Opera and to launch the Vilar Institute for Arts Management, the first global arts school. By 1999 he added Wagner to his favorites and supported a presentation of Tannhauser at Bayreuth.
Key to Vilar's arts vision for coming decades is the training and nurturing of talent. To turn amateurs into professionals, he anticipated the cost of instruction in languages, directing, and vocal instruction. To assure the most promising a career, he sponsored programs in London, Los Angeles, New York, St. Petersburg, and Washington. Interviewer Jacqueline Trescott quoted him in the Washington Post, saying, "I am going to have a corner on the market for young artists."
Vilar's unprecedented largess has made available splendid venues, including $2 million for La Scala, a $1 million facade and $5 million underground film theater at Carnegie Hall, and the $10 million Vilar Center for the Arts at Beaver Creek, Colorado, the place he calls home. His gifts have benefitted Vail's Gerald R. Ford outdoor amphitheater ($3.5 million), $5 million to the New York Philharmonic, $6 million to the Los Angeles Opera, $15 million to the Salzburg Festival, and $25 million to the Metropolitan Opera Endowment Campaign. For New York University, he provided $23.4 million to the Alberto Vilar Global Fellows Program designed after Oxford's Rhodes Scholarships. For 20 scholars studying acting, composition, dance, film, music, and voice, the fellowship offers each a $40,000 stipend. One of his signal improvements for audiences is the technological equipment to translate titles in five languages, including Japanese. To make opera more accessible, he invested in the marketer Figaro Systems, and outfitted the Vienna Staatsoper and concert halls in London and Salzberg.
Gave to Medicine
Vilar has not limited his philanthropy to music. He distributed $20 million in scholarships to bring foreign students to Columbia University and founded the Cornell-Salzburg Medical Seminars, which convenes 1,000 Eastern European physicians annually in Salzburg and Vienna. In mid-March of 2001, he showed his thanks to the Columbia University medical center that treated his crushed forearm and elbow after a fall on the ski slopes. His gift of $10 million to the Alberto Vilar Center for Research of the Hand and the Upper Extremity emerged from his friendship with a surgeon who shared his zeal for opera. Vilar also donated $25 million, the largest gift in the 102-year history of Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center, for the Alberto Vilar Research Center, a complex devoted to respiratory, allergic, and immune system diseases. To Denver Business he stressed, "I am proud that the facility will bear my name, not only because I want to support the best institutions but because … my goal is to serve as an example to others." He predicted that the center would witness major medical advancement.
Vilar's object is a sincere intent to encourage other wealthy people toward altruism. To concerns over the economic downturn at the end of 2001, he characterized low yields as the market's normal correction. Still optimistic about technology, the internet, and medical breakthroughs, he predicted phenomenal growth over the next five years as well as a jump in the amounts he would donate to the arts.
Critics of Vilar charge him with demanding public gratitude. Some ridicule him for the nameplate at Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden and another in London's Covent Garden, where he gave $15 million to restore the 267-year-old structure under the name Vilar Floral Hall, which he equipped with electronic screens on seatbacks. His name also surfaces on the Alberto Vilar Awards for the Operalia Worldwide Competition for Young Singers, which tenor Plácido Domingo arranges in Bordeaux, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Madrid, Mexico City, Paris, Puerto Rico, and Tokyo.
There are complaints that Vilar skews donations toward conservative music and away from experimental composers. Met manager Joseph Volpe commented to the Washington Post that Vilar loves grand, stagy works like the Franco Zeffirelli production of La Traviata. Vilar also demands opening night tickets and front-row seats, where art lovers crowd around to express thanks. For his support of the Kennedy Center, he expects two seats at every performance.
Vilar maintains four goals for his avocation: encouraging young talent, applying technology, restoring music halls, and presenting new productions. He has countered charges that he influences the selection of singers and conductors, as occurred when his friend Lorin Maazel was hired to direct the New York Philharmonic. The company program reciprocated for Vilar's generosity by identifying him as the orchestra's archangel. He declares that it is a personal joy to nurture art, including the Maazel/Vilar Conductors' Competition Foundation, which scouts new directors and hosts a mentoring program and an international conducting competition.
Vilar gave millions to arts programs because of the conscience he developed in childhood. He told Jacqueline Trescott in the Washington Post: "I was brought up as an intimidated Catholic: 'You will go down there if you don't give.' You have to be passionate about what you are doing. You have to have a sense of generosity and get satisfaction out of giving." Completely at home in a tux, he loves formal occasions where he models the ideal balance of billionaire art lover and philanthropist.
Back Stage, October 8, 1999, p. 6.
Boulder News, October 5, 1998.
Business Week, September 6, 1999, p. 102.
Culturkiosque, May 23, 2001.
Denver Business Journal, July 13, 2001, p. 3A.
Fortune, October 25, 1999, p. 390; November 27, 2000, p. 106.
Fund Raising Management, March 2001, p. 17.
Hispanic, April 2001, p. 16.
Hispanic Business, June 1996, p. 146.
Institutional Investor International Edition, December 1999, p. 13.
Investment News, October 4, 1999, p. 1.
New York Times, September 29, 1998, p. B1, B3; September 3, 2000, p. BU2; October 8, 2001, p. AR1; January 18, 2001, p. B5; January 27, 2001, p. A15; February 9, 2001, p. A19; February 14, 2001, p. A23; February 15, 2001, p. B1; March 27, 2001, p,." B1; July 29, 2001, p. AR1; January 21, 2002, pp. 50-55.
Opera News, August 2001, p. 36.
U. S. News & World Report, September 25, 2000, p. 68.
Variety, February 19, 2001, p. 66.
Wall Street Journal, March 13, 1991, p. A1; May 1, 1996, p. C1; July 24, 1996, p. C1; October 17, 1996, p. C1; April 4, 1997, p. C2; September 19, 2000, p. A24.
Washington Post, April 1, 2001, p. G01.
Business Week Online, www.businessweek.com, June 5, 2000.
Hispanic Online, www.hisp.com, November 2000.
Orthopedic Technology Review, September-October 2001, http://www.orthopedictechreview.com/issues/sepoct01/pg12.htm
Additional information for this profile was obtained from Richard Dukas, Alberto Vilar's publicity manager.
—Mary Ellen Snodgrass