Most Influential US-Irish Business Leaders 2008
Resource type: News
Business & Finance (Ireland) |
Original Source Public Services, Politics & Philanthropy Chuck Feeney Atlantic Philanthropies Chuck Feeney is the wealthiest Irish American of his lifetime. Brought up in a working-class neighborhood in New Jersey, Feeney displayed a flair for entrepreneurship from a young age. Finding himself in France after graduating from university, he recognised the opportunity to sell to the U.S. fleet in Southern France and, with business partner Robert Millar, he developed quite a lucrative trade selling perfume, radios and tape recorders. Inspired by this experience, Feeney adn Millar opened duty free shops in various other destinations and within several years Duty Free Shoppers (DFS) was running outlets across the world. In 1982 Feeney secretly transferred his share in DFS to a charitable foundation, retaining just $5m for himself. His foundation was called Atlantic Philanthropies but he retained anonymity. Feeney managed the global business of Atlantic Philanthropies’ holding company and many recipients of donations never knew who their benefactor was. Through Atlantic Philanthropies, Feeney has given generously to Irish causes north and south. He has donated millions of dollars to support education, in the form of donations to university research, libraries and dormitories, although his name is not to be found attached to buildings or noted halls. He has also taken a great interest in the reconciliation process and has provided funds and active facilitation and advice. Today, Atlantic Philanthropies is focused on four issues: ageing, disadvantaged children and youth; population health; and reconciliation and human rights. The organisation has a presence in seven countries: Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States, and Vietnam. It supports targeted initiatives, ranging from the Treatment Action Campaign, which was focused upon convincing the government of South Africa to provide effective medications to those suffering with HIV/AIDS, to a legal team that worked to convince the Supreme Court to abolish the death penalty for juveniles in the U.S. The organisation supports tangible campaigns and leaders and institutions in its fields of interest, in the belief that such support will enable change to be sustained in the longer term.