Michael Milken

Chairman, Milken Institute

Michael Milken has been at the forefront of initiatives in medical research, public policy, education, public health, and access to capital for more than four decades. In 1982, he formalized his previous philanthropy by co-founding the Milken Family Foundation. He chairs the Milken Institute, an economic think tank that works to increase global prosperity by advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs, and improve health. He also chairs FasterCures, which aims to speed progress against all life-threatening diseases, and he joined leading physicians in launching the Melanoma Research Alliance to combat fatal skin cancers. In 2014, the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University was named in recognition of a Milken Institute gift. As a financier, Milken revolutionized modern capital markets with his risk-reward assessments.

Enjoy most: Working with the brilliant, dedicated people at the Milken Institute around the world as they expand access to capital, help create jobs, and advance health initiatives.

Toughest challenge: In 1972, (my wife’s) mom was diagnosed with breast cancer; then a few years later, my father learned his malignant melanoma was terminal. These were our first forays into understanding what could be done to accelerate the science to cure – or at least to more effectively treat – life-threatening diseases.

Proudest moment: Nothing tops the births of our three children and nine grandchildren. I’m also very proud of the hundreds of colleagues who have made 20 years of Milken Institute Global Conferences such impactful events.

Most excited: The advance of technology is opening new possibilities for businesses and workers worldwide as well as accelerating life-saving medical solutions. The challenge for our society is to assure meaningful lives for those who are disrupted by change.

Best advice: Learn from history. Most situations have precedents that help leaders in any field to make more informed decisions.

Beverage: A fruit smoothie.

Car you drive: After seeing me do paperwork while driving, (my wife) convinced me to leave the driving to someone else.

Alma Maters: Bachelor’s, UC Berkeley; MBA, Wharton.

Fun fact: I attended Birmingham High School along with Sally Field and Michael Ovitz, and was named “Most Spirited.”

Bucket list: To meet my great-grandchildren.

Hobby/passion? Working with people who seek to improve the world. My wife and I are designated babysitters for the grandkids, and I also enjoy playing tennis, reading, and attending baseball games and cultural events like the Los Angeles Ballet.

Favorite destination: Any place where I can learn something new.