Philanthropist Eli Broad has announced that he is retiring from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and is handing over responsibility for the foundation's day-to-day operations to its president, Gerun Riley.
Broad will remain on the board of the foundation he co-founded in 1999 with his wife, Edythe, as well as on the board of The Broad, the museum of contemporary art the couple opened in Los Angeles in 2015. Riley, who joined the foundation in 2003 in an entry-level administrative position and rose through the ranks, eventually serving as chief of staff, vice president, and senior vice president, was appointed president in 2016. The Broad announced in September the election of four new board members, including Joanne Heyler, the founding director of the museum and chief curator of the Broad Art Foundation, who has worked for Eli and Edythe Broad since 1989.
"At age 84, I have decided the time has come for me to step back. Though I'm in great health, I am eager to spend more time with my family," Broad said in a statement. "Edye and I have the utmost confidence in Gerun's vision, leadership, and ability to carry the foundation's work forward." Broad, who has been treated for prostate cancer, told the New York Times that he had reached the decision in recent weeks after long discussions with his wife, who has long urged him to retire. As for who might fill his shoes after five decades as one of Los Angeles' most prominent business and philanthropic leaders, Broad's suggestions include former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger, former Disney chair Jeffrey Katzenberg, and philanthropist and investor Nicolas Berggruen.
Broad moved from his native Detroit to Los Angeles as a young man in the 1960s and made his fortune in construction and insurance. The Broads were among the inaugural cohort of Giving Pledge signatories announced in 2010, formalizing their intention to give away the majority of their wealth. The couple's philanthropy, which to date totals about $4 billion, has been focused in the areas of arts and culture, medical research, and education — and has not been without controversy. Eli Broad's support for charter schools has led to conflicts with teachers unions, for example, while he has fought with the boards of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, both of which count him as a major donor.
"In business you can make decisions," Broad told the Times. "You don't have to be collegial with all sorts of outsider organizations. It's a different role in philanthropy."