Gerald Parsky has supported RAND for more than two decades, serves on the Board of Trustees, and recently included a substantial gift to RAND in his estate plans. He sees his estate gift as a legacy, to make the world better for his children and grandchildren.
January 5, 2021
Gerald Parsky has served under two presidents, advised three more, and helped the leaders of his home state of California handle such political hot plates as tax reform and public-pension funding. Time magazine described him as “one of official Washington’s brightest new Wunderkinder” when he became assistant secretary of the treasury in 1974—at the age of 31.
His government service introduced him to RAND. He’s been a financial supporter for more than two decades, serves on the Board of Trustees, and recently included a substantial gift to RAND in his estate plans.
“I’m a big believer in free and open public policy debates,” he said, “and I believe very strongly that one’s views should be factually based. That’s what RAND research and analysis represents—quality and objectivity. Supporting an organization like RAND, with those core values and which will use philanthropic funds in accordance with the highest standards, is important to me.”
Parsky began his career as a lawyer on Wall Street, but was soon recruited to the Treasury Department. He created and led the office that allocated oil supplies to the states during the oil crisis of the early 1970s. His appointment as assistant secretary made him the youngest person to hold that position at that point in modern history. He oversaw the department’s international affairs and capital markets policy.
He returned to the private sector in 1977, first as a senior partner at a leading Los Angeles law firm, then as the founder and chairman of an investment firm, Aurora Capital Partners. But he never quite left the policy world. He served on advisory councils for presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. He also chaired the University of California Board of Regents, and chaired California commissions on economic and pension policy.
“If you’ve been fortunate, or if society has been good to you the way I think it has been good to me, you look for ways in which you can contribute time, effort, and resources as a way of giving back,” he said. “I feel very strongly about that.”
Parsky’s interest in RAND dates back to his days at Treasury. He’s been a financial supporter since the 1990s, and joined the board in 2015, “because of the breadth and quality of its members.” He still follows RAND’s research on international affairs, especially on how to approach China and improve relations with countries in the Middle East.
He sees his estate gift as a legacy, to make the world better for his children and grandchildren. “I hope it helps the next generation of leadership at RAND make important contributions to our society,” he said, “to look at problems for which there isn’t a research sponsor but for which society would benefit from RAND’s capabilities.”
His gift comes during an unprecedented campaign at RAND to raise $400 million, of which $50 million will be from estate gifts like his. And Parsky, ever the investment expert, has some advice for others who would support such a campaign.
“Consider the quality of the organization; the public good that can come from advancing its mission; the quality of the people and the leadership; and that your contribution will make a difference. On all of those factors, RAND scores very high.”