Catherine B. Reynolds brings to the world of philanthropy the same energy and entrepreneurial spirit that ensured her success in the realm of commerce. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, she started her business career as a CPA at the accounting firm of Arthur Young, and then became the Special Assistant to the Board Chairman of The Charter Company, a Fortune 500 company at the time. As the leader of two businesses, Mrs. Reynolds went on to create a new and affordable way for Americans to finance a college education. A bold, innovative thinker, she developed a privately-funded supplement to government student loan programs. Through her vision and perseverance, hundreds of thousands of Americans have been able to attend the college of their choice.

In only one decade, this creative approach to private educational financing revolutionized student lending and spawned a multibillion-dollar industry.

Mrs. Reynolds now devotes her time and abilities primarily to philanthropic pursuits. The mission of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation is profound in its implications, yet simply stated: to help educate young people, to inspire them to believe in their power to make a difference as individuals, and to motivate them to reach their greatest potential as citizens and productive members of society.

Mrs. Reynolds was selected by Businessweek magazine as one of the 50 most philanthropic living Americans and is the first self-made woman ever to make their list. She is a current or former Trustee of New York University, Vanderbilt University, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership Council, Dance Theater of Harlem, D.C. College Access Program, National Geographic International Advisory Council, Inova Fairfax Hospital, and the American Academy of Achievement. Mrs. Reynolds served as a member of the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education during the administration of President George W. Bush.

Mrs. Reynolds has received honorary degrees from Georgetown University, Morehouse College and Willamette University, as well as New York University’s Gold Medal. She is also the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, bestowed annually on America’s most outstanding business leaders by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the National Italian-American Foundation's Achievement Award in Education and Cultural Affairs. Mrs. Reynolds was selected as 2011 Washingtonian of the Year, honoring “local heroes whose good works and generous spirits make Washington a great place to live and work.”

NRTA Live & Learn
(Spring 2006)