The John C. Whitehead Leadership Award Commemorates an enduring legacy

November 4, 2022
John C. Whitehead and Steve Orr, co-founder and managing partner, Orr Group, pictured with young people served by our nonprofit partners, circa 2002

The John C. Whitehead Leadership Award is Youth INC’s highest honor and recognizes individuals who have helped advance social change through philanthropic community engagement.

The eponymous award honors the life and legacy of John C. Whitehead, who made an indelible mark on Youth INC as well as New York City. The award commemorates Whitehead’s humanitarian legacy and vision for the future of young people. Whitehead’s lifelong commitment to his city and country has forged an imitable path for leaders to make a difference in the world.

A Giant in Finance and Public Service  

John C. Whitehead was an American banker and philanthropist who fundamentally changed Wall Street and the lives of many in New York City. Alan Schwartz, executive chair of Guggenheim Partners, said of Whitehead, “it wasn’t the great things that he accomplished, but the way he interacted with people every day. He just was himself from the time he led the boats onto the beach at Normandy all the way through his legendary career in Wall Street and philanthropy.”

A memorable life and commendable career

Born in 1922, Whitehead served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, commanding a landing craft during D-Day. After the war, Whitehead received an MBA from Harvard Business School and served as chairman of the Board at Goldman Sachs until 1984. He sat on many boards throughout his life and was also a director of the New York Stock Exchange. He also acted as the Deputy Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan and was awarded The Presidential Citizens Medal.

From first to last, I have been thrilled to be in on the action. - John C. Whitehead

Always ready to step up when the moment called for it, Whitehead acted as chair of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation which led the effort to rebuild the World Trade Center site and revitalize downtown Manhattan.

A public-spirited benefactor

Beyond his political life and lauded career on Wall Street, Whitehead was a notable philanthropist and, in retirement, devoted his time to the nonprofit sector.

In 1981, he founded the Whitehead Foundation, which supports human rights, racial justice and reconciliation, youth leadership, experiential education and liberal arts, and environmental justice and stewardship. A tireless advocate for solving social challenges, he donated $10 million to Harvard University in 1995 to create the John C. Whitehead Fund for Not-For-Profit Management, launching the school’s Social Enterprise Initiative. The fund supports a dynamic community of students as they explore and embark on careers in the nonprofit sector.

Whitehead is survived by his wife, Mrs. John C. Whitehead, who carries forward his philanthropic work and is a celebrated presence at Youth INC’s Annual Celebration Gala each year.

Mrs. John C. Whitehead at Youth INC’s 25th Annual Celebration Gala

Commemorating an Enduring Legacy

Whitehead’s dedication to ethics in business and charity has left a significant impact on the financial and nonprofit worlds that will not soon be forgotten.

An instrumental force behind our organization's success, he tirelessly worked to improve the lives of New York City youth as the Founding Member of the National Advisory Board of Youth INC.

Upon his passing in 2015, Youth INC created the John C. Whitehead Leadership Award to carry on his legacy and acknowledge his impact on our organization as the mentor and inspiration for our founder, Steve Orr. The Award is presented annually at Youth INC’s Celebration Gala to a notable leader who has made an outstanding impact on society through their work in philanthropy and social responsibility initiatives.

Alan Schwartz honored with the John C. Whitehead Leadership Award at Youth INC’s 25th Annual Celebration Gala

Carrying on a tradition of excellence

John C. Whitehead Award honorees 2015-2021 and earlier Celebration Gala honorees 2012-2014

Since its inception, many notable individuals have received this prestigious award.

Recognized as one of the most powerful women in finance, Adena Friedman, president and CEO of Nasdaq, Inc., and 2021 John C. Whitehead Leadership Award honoree, has used her position to advance diversity, social responsibility, and inclusive board governance.

Roger Ferguson, president of TIAA and 2020 honoree, has worked to create opportunities for young people in marginalized communities to thrive.

The honorees of 2018, Dhananjay M. Pai, president of P. Schoenfeld Asset Management, and George Stamas partner at Gibson Dunn, have followed in Whitehead’s shoes. Pai serves as board co-chair for Youth INC and strongly believes in its model to help all young people access opportunities to achieve their full potential. Stamas has been engaged with Youth INC for nearly 20 years and served on the Board for many of them. He is responsible for securing Youth INC’s pro bono legal counsel, which has served it well over decades.

There is a reverence that comes over our board members when we speak about the late John C. Whitehead that is emblematic of how much it means to receive an award named in his honor. - Rehana Farrell, executive director, Youth INC

David Mussafer: 2022 John C. Whitehead Award Honoree

David Mussafer, chair and managing partner, Advent International
David Mussafer, chair and managing partner, Advent International

On November 16, 2022, Youth INC will present the John C. Whitehead Leadership Award to David Mussafer.

Mussafer is the chair and managing partner of Advent International, a globally renowned private equity firm that manages more than $75 billion in assets.

This award recognizes Mussafer’s distinguished leadership in building a brighter future for the next generation through his philanthropic efforts and organizational contributions.

From 2004 to 2012, Mussafer sat on the board of City Year Boston, a national nonprofit organization that aims to help students in under-resourced communities graduate from high school. In addition, Mussafer has served on committees and boards for Tulane and the Wharton School.

From a chance encounter, Mussafer connected with the founder of the Onuoha Fellowship, Angel Onuaha, a program that connects Black college students with Wall Street jobs and internships. Through that connection, Advent became a sponsor of the fellowship.

Onuaha said this of Mussafer, “David created this informal mentorship between us, and it’s something that completely transformed my college experience. He cares a lot about creating relationships and attending to them.”

Like Whitehead before him, Mussafer has also contributed to ethical business practices. He is a member of the Business Roundtable, a nonprofit organization representing the CEOs of leading U.S. corporations. Business Roundtable’s mission is to promote pro-growth public policies that foster an environment where all Americans can thrive in the 21st-century economy. Its members annually make $9 billion in charitable contributions.

He and his wife Marion support conservation in Boston and Rhode Island and the Jackson Hole Land Trust, which protects land in Northwest Wyoming.

At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mussafer used his influence and position to spearhead the Advent Global Relief Fund (AGRF), a $25 million fund for the financial relief of frontline workers. Local offices distribute the funds to healthcare workers and first responders.

Mussafer's outstanding contributions to educational, business, and environmental charities have made him a worthy recipient of the John C. Whitehead Leadership Award.

Youth INC is a dynamic organization that has made the vision of thriving youth development organizations possible with their unique venture philanthropy model. I am honored to receive this recognition and applaud Youth INC for investing in great nonprofit leaders who can build strong, sustainable and impactful organizations, an approach at the heart of what we do at Advent.  - David Mussafer, chair and managing partner, Advent International

Youth INC’s Celebration Gala

John C. Whitehead speaks at a Youth INC event with John Waldron, president and COO, Goldman Sachs pictured in the background, circa 2013

Youth INC’s Celebration Gala, the organization’s signature event, raises over $3 million annually to equip hundreds of nonprofit leaders with the tools and resources needed to build strong and sustainable organizations and continue to champion over 250,000 New York City youth each year. Alongside Mussafer, we will also recognize Trail Blazers, one of the organization’s long-standing Nonprofit Partners, for their excellence in helping young people develop the skills and values needed to thrive as adults and become environmental stewards.  


Youth INC

Youth INC is a network of 80+ of the best youth development nonprofits in New York City. We provide our nonprofit partners with the coaching, capital, and connections required to achieve sustainable growth and maximum impact. Our nonprofit partners collectively champion over 250,000 young people each year. The Aspen Institute estimates that investing in the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) of young people generates an 11x return. This measure means Youth INC's $110 million raised since inception has yielded over $1B in impact.