John C. Whitehead

John C. Whitehead

John C. Whitehead
9th U.S. Deputy Secretary of State
In office
July 9, 1985 – January 20, 1989
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Kenneth W. Dam
Succeeded by Lawrence S. Eagleburger
Personal details
Born John Cunningham Whitehead
(1922-04-02)April 2, 1922
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
Died February 7, 2015(2015-02-07) (aged 92)
Nationality United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Cynthia Matthews
Nancy Dickerson (1989-1997; her death)
Children 3
Alma mater Haverford College
Harvard Business School
Occupation Investment banker
Political appointee
Religion Episcopalian

John Cunningham Whitehead (April 2, 1922 – February 7, 2015) was an American banker and civil servant, and a board member of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation (WTC Memorial Foundation) and, until his resignation in May 2006, chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.[1]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • Publications 3
    • Select publications 3.1
  • Personal life 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and education

Whitehead was born in Evanston, Illinois, the son of Winifred K. and Eugene Cunningham Whitehead.[2] His family moved to Montclair, New Jersey when he was two years old.[3]

Whitehead graduated from Haverford College in 1943 and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, where he commanded one of the LCVP landing crafts at Omaha Beach, in the D-Day landing invasion of Normandy.[4][5]

In 1947 he received an MBA degree from Harvard Business School[3]


Whitehead started his career at the New York investment bank of Goldman Sachs as a partner. He rose to become chairman over a total of 38 years at the firm, and retired in 1984 as Co-Chairman and Co-Senior Partner.

Whitehead served as Presidential Citizens Medal by President Reagan. In 1996, he was the campaign chairman for Michael Benjamin who ran for a seat in New York's 8th congressional district.

He was former Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the United Nations Association, and a former Chairman of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Harvard Board of Overseers. He was a former director of the New York Stock Exchange and Chairman Emeritus of The Brookings Institution. He was a member of Kappa Beta Phi.[6]

He has a long association with the Rockefeller Group, the real estate firm that previously owned and managed Rockefeller Center, he became closely associated with David Rockefeller.

As an alumnus of Haverford College in Pennsylvania, he has had the campus center and the chair of the philosophy department named after him. The School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University was also named after him. He received an honorary LL.D. from Bates College in 2004, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from The City University of New York upon the recommendation of Macaulay Honors College in 2009.

He also served on the board of the Bill Clinton, John McCain, Lech Wałęsa, Hamid Karzai, Madeleine Albright, and Václav Havel.

Whitehead was an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. He was longstanding Co-Chairman of the Board of the Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America. He has been Chairman of the Financial Services Volunteer Corps (FSVC) since July, 2005. He was also an Advisory Board member for the Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy.

Whitehead sat on the Advisory Board of the Washington-based think-tank Global Financial Integrity, which conducts research on illicit financial flows and the damaging effects they have on developing countries, as well as the advisory board for DC-based nonprofit America Abroad Media.[8] He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Eisenhower Fellowships.

Whitehead was a board member and head of the investment committee of the Getty Trust. He retiring in 1996 after a substantial portfolio loss from the use of stock options for a so-called "collar".[9]

In 2004, he received the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award from Synergos.[10]

John Whitehead was Co-Chairman of AMDeC Foundation, a 28-member organization of leaders in biomedical research and technology in New York State. Whitehead, along with Academic Medicine Development Company (AMDeC) President, Dr. Maria K. Mitchell, secures funding and infrastructure support for next-generation research for New York's renowned academic medical centers. In 2006, Whitehead was one of the most notable Republican donors to the campaign of Joe Lieberman during his independent re-election campaign for the United States Senate.[11]

On November 12, 2008, Whitehead said at the Reuters Global Finance Summit that the United States economy faces an economic slump deeper than the Great Depression and that a growing deficit threatens the credit of the country.[12] In 2011, John C. Whitehead was awarded the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom.[13]

In 2012, Whitehead was awarded the Freedom Prize for the second time.[14] He was also a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.[15]


In 2005, Whitehead published a memoir, A Life In Leadership: From D-Day to Ground Zero.[4]

Select publications

  • Whitehead, John C. "Towards a Stronger International Economy." Bissell Paper No. 7. Toronto: University of Toronto, Centre for International Studies, 1988.

Personal life

Whitehead married television newswoman and a CIA officer Nancy Dickerson in 1989, by which marriage he gained seven stepchildren. She died in 1997. Her son, John Dickerson, the writer, is one of his stepchildren. In 2003, Whitehead dedicated the Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Community Service Center for Homeless Youth in Southeast Washington, D.C. with a generous gift to Covenant House. Whitehead died on February 7, 2015 of cancer at his New York home, at age 92.[16][17]

Whitehead was survived by his wife, the former Cynthia Matthews; his three children: Anne, Sarah and J. Gregory Whitehead; two granddaughters; seven stepchildren; and 18 step-grandchildren.[16]


  1. ^ "John Whitehead Resigns as LMDC Chairman",; accessed February 14, 2015.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "John Whitehead" interview @ Harvard Business School (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document)
  4. ^ a b A Life In Leadership @ Basic Books
  5. ^ "A Day at the Beach" @ OpinionJournal - July 4, 2008
  6. ^ Roose, Kevin (2014). Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street's Post-Crash Recruits. London, UK: John Murray (Publishers), An Hachette UK Company. p. 206.  
  7. ^ "Rescue and Refugee Support - International Rescue Committee (IRC)". Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Hiltzik, Michael A., "Bad Guess on Market Cost Getty Trust $400 Million" , Los Angeles Times, December 4, 1997. Retrieved 2015-05-22.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Lightman, David (March 19, 2007). "GOP Gave Joe A Boost". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2007-03-19. 
  12. ^ Whitehead Sees Slump Worse Than Depression @ Reuters
  13. ^
  14. ^ Anderson, Monika (2012-11-08). "Kissinger, Bloomberg Honor IRC at Freedom Award Dinner".  
  15. ^ "Former Steering Committee Members".  
  16. ^ a b "John C. Whitehead, Who Led Effort to Rebuild After 9/11, Dies at 92". New York Times. February 8, 2015. 
  17. ^ Doina Chiacu (February 7, 2015). "John Whitehead, former leader of Goldman Sachs, dies at 92". Reuters. 

External links

  • Goldman Sachs biography,; accessed February 14, 2015.
  • Biodata,; accessed February 14, 2015.
  • AMDeC Foundation
Political offices
Preceded by
Kenneth W. Dam
United States Deputy Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Lawrence Eagleburger
Business positions
Preceded by
Gus Levy
Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs
Succeeded by
John Weinberg