Stephen Robert is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has chaired several study groups for that organization. He is an overseer at the Watson Institute for International Studies. He was Chancellor of Brown University from 1998-2007 and has been a Brown Trustee or Fellow since 1984. He is a trustee of the New York Presbyterian Medical Center and a former Board member of the New York Philharmonic and of Thirteen/WNET. Mr. Robert is also a member of the Foreign Policy Program Leadership Committee (PLC) at The Brookings Institution, a Director on the International Board of the U.S./Middle East Project, and a member of the Investment Committee of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
Stephen and his wife Pilar Crespi Robert are the founders of The Source of Hope Foundation. Its philanthropic mission is to aid desperate populations, particularly in providing food, water, health care, education and micro finance opportunities. To date, the Foundation’s activities have been primarily in sub Sahara Africa, Haiti and New York City. Mr Robert is a Director of Millennium Promise, a humanitarian aid organization with extensive activities in Africa.
Stephen Robert joined Oppenheimer & Co. in 1968 as a portfolio manager of the Oppenheimer Fund. In 1979, Mr. Robert became President of the firm and in 1983, assumed the role of Chairman and CEO. In March of 1986, he became the principal owner of Oppenheimer through a management buyout. He resigned from the firm in 1997, after selling it to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. From 2005-2008 he served as Chairman and CEO of Renaissance Institutional Management LLC. Mr. Robert is a member of the Board of the NEXAR Capital Group and a former Director of the Xerox Corp and of the NAC Reinsurance Corporation.
Over the past 25 years, household debt in America has risen significantly. From the 1950s until the 1980s, the ratio of debt to disposable income held steady at between 60 and 65 percent. By 2001, this figure hit 100 percent, and five years later, the amount reached 130 percent. This explosion was due in part to borrowers’ easy access to credit, which added an extra $6 trillion to the collective debt between 2000 and 2008. The collapse of the subprime mortgage industry and resultant epidemic of unemployment made it difficult for people to pay off what they owed. As a result, many defaulted on their loans and other financial obligations.
In addition to personal debt, government debt has also plays a major role in our current economic situation. The country’s percentage of debt to gross domestic product increased from 60 to 100 percent. However, this occurred in less than a decade, and it shows no sign of decreasing. Programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid serve as some of America’s most expensive policies.
Focusing on Palestinian youth, the ADNI plans to create a network of individuals skilled in information technology, computer science, and related fields. Internet businesses serve as a key area for this body, as it will train its members in multiple programming languages, thus enabling them to create a variety of sites. Moreover, Mercy Corps introduced an Arabic-language version of its MicroMentor platform to further aid in the ADNI’s success.
When interviewed, Stephen Robert, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Source of Hope Foundation, talked about the importance of the endeavor, including how economic growth can encourage better and more peaceful societies. Outside of this initiative, Stephen Robert and Source of Hope Foundation contribute health care, food, water, and other necessities to people in need across the world.
Mercy Corps, Google.org and the Source of Hope Foundation have joined forces to launch the Arab Developer Network Initiative (ADNI) in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, is supporting the first two years of this effort with a $900,000 grant, and the Source of Hope Foundation is providing $1 million. The initiative is intended to spark innovation in information and communications technology (ICT) in the region, and catalyze income opportunities for youth, reaching over 1,000 Palestinian entrepreneurs in the first year.