Currently Chairman and CEO of Wolfensohn & Company, LLC, a private investment firm and an advisor to corporations and governments, Sir James D. Wolfensohn was the ninth president of the World Bank Group. He left office in 2005 at the end of his second term and assumed the post of Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement for the Quartet on the Middle East. In this role, he helped coordinate Israel’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and spearheaded reconstruction.
Mr. Wolfensohn was the third president in the World Bank’s history to be reappointed for a second five-year term by the Board of Executive Directors. He led initiatives on debt reduction, environmental sustainability, anti-corruption programs, and AIDS prevention and treatment. He developed activities on religion and culture and decentralized offices overseas. Prior to joining the Bank, Mr. Wolfensohn was an international investment banker and president of his own investment and corporate advisory firm and also held a series of senior positions in various financial institutions.
Mr. Wolfensohn was Chairman of Carnegie Hall and of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He was Chariman of the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton University and a member of the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation and Rockefeller University. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society. Mr. Wolfensohn has been decorated by a dozen governments around the world for his work in the arts and in development.
Born in Australia , Mr. Wolfensohn is a naturalized U.S. citizen. He holds B.A. and LL.B. degrees from the University of Sydney and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Before attending Harvard, he was a lawyer in the Australian law firm of Allen, Allen & Hemsley. Mr. Wolfensohn served as an Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, and was a member of the 1956 Australian Olympic Fencing Team.
He and his wife, Elaine, an education specialist and a graduate of Wellesley, B.A., and Columbia University, M.A. and M.Ed., have three children: Sara, Naomi, and Adam.