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
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.”