Ronald S. Lauder is the younger son of Estée and Joseph Lauder and, like his brother, Leonard, learned the family business at the dinner table. He formally joined the company in 1964, beginning his career in the Oevel, Belgium factory. His executive roles began when he became General Manager of Clinique Laboratories in 1985, and he has served as Chairman since 1994. Mr. Lauder was instrumental in the creation of Prescriptives and served as Chairman of Estee Lauder International from 1992 to 2002. He also served as a member of The Estée Lauder Companies’ Board of Directors from 1968 to 1986 and 1988 to 2009. He was re-elected to the Board in November 2016.
In 1983, Mr. Lauder took a leave from The Estée Lauder Companies to serve in the U.S. Pentagon as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Affairs. In 1986, he was appointed Ambassador to Austria by President Ronald Reagan. Upon his return from Vienna in 1987, he established the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, which now has 35 Jewish schools, kindergartens and summer camps throughout 15 countries in Eastern Europe. Over 7,500 children attend these schools today, and 2,500 children attend the summer camps. Over the years, the Foundation has educated more than 30,000 children in a region that was devoid of Jewish scholarship and has helped build thriving Jewish communities throughout this area. Mr. Lauder also created an International Student Exchange Program between Jewish high school students in New York and Vienna.
In addition to his international interests, Mr. Lauder has long been committed to civic causes and public policy issues at home. A political activist on the state and national level, he was a contender for Mayor of New York City in 1989.
In June 2007, Mr. Lauder was elected to lead the World Jewish Congress, and has served as the organization’s President ever since. In this capacity, Mr. Lauder meets with heads of countries, diplomats and religious leaders, representing Jewish communities in 100 countries around the world.
In February of 1999, Mr. Lauder was elected Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. His selection by the Conference followed his election in 1997 as President of the Jewish National Fund of which he now serves as Chairman.
Mr. Lauder also serves as Chairman of the International Public Committee of the World Jewish Restitution Organization; Chairman of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Committee; Chairman of the Jewish Heritage Council; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Sakharov Archives at Brandeis University; Director of the International Board of Governors of the International Society for Yad Vashem; and is a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, the Board of Directors of the Jewish Theological Seminary; the Board of Directors of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; the Board of Trustees of the Anti-Defamation League Foundation; the International Auschwitz Council; and the International Board of Governors of the Tel Aviv Museum.
Mr. Lauder is the Founder and Chairman of the New York based Water Holding Group RWL Water, LLC, an international water company. He is also Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1998, Mr. Lauder co-founded the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation together with his brother, Leonard A. Lauder. They serve together as co-Chairmen of the Foundation.
A renowned art collector, Mr. Lauder has established one of the world’s greatest private collections. He was Chairman of the Museum of Modern Art from 1995 to 2005 and now serves as the museum’s Honorary Chairman. In 2001, he established the Neue Galerie New York, of which he is President. The museum is dedicated to German and Austrian art. Mr. Lauder established the Commission for Art Recovery in 1997, which advocates and fights for the recovery of Nazi looted art.
Among his honors, Mr. Lauder received the International Emmy Directorate Award by the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2006. He received, together with his wife, Jo Carole Lauder, the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2011, and in 2013, Mr. Lauder was named an Officier de la Légion d’Honneur by President Hollande of France. He was decorated with Germany’s highest honor, the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit, in 2015 and was awarded the Guardian of Zion prize by the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar Ilan University in 2016. Mr. Lauder also received honorary doctoral degrees from Ben Gurion University in 2009 and from Yeshiva University in 2011.
Mr. Lauder was born on February 26, 1944. He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in New York and holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Business from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He studied at the University of Paris and received a Certificate in International Business from the University of Brussels. Mr. Lauder married Jo Carole Knopf in July of 1967. They have two children and two grandchildren. The family resides in New York City.