Born on April 4, 1948, in Brooklyn, New York, Richard Parsons attended the University of Hawaii and Albany Law School. Following his early legal career, Parsons developed a reputation for managing crises as CEO of Dime Bank, CEO and chairman of AOL Time Warner, and chairman of Citigroup. He became CEO of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers after team owner Donald Sterling was suspended in May 2014.
Childhood and Schools
Richard Dean "Dick" Parsons was born on April 4, 1948, in Brooklyn, New York. The son of an electrical technician and a homemaker, he skipped a grade in elementary school and another in high school. Relegated to Princeton University’s wait list, he instead enrolled at the University of Hawaii at age 16.
Parsons majored in history and met his future wife, Laura Bush, at Hawaii. Although he was still six credits shy of his diploma after four years, he performed well enough on his pre-law exams to earn acceptance to Albany Law School in New York. Parsons worked part-time as a janitor before graduating first in his class in 1971.
Early Professional Success
Parsons began his professional career as counsel to New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, who retained the young lawyer after becoming U.S. vice president in 1974. Moving on to the Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler law firm in 1977, Parsons worked alongside future New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and rose to the rank of managing partner.
Corporate Problem Solver
Recruited to join Dime Savings Bank as chief operating officer in 1988, Parsons took over as CEO two years later when the savings and loan crisis threatened to derail the institution. Parsons kept Dime afloat as the real estate market recovered and spearheaded a successful merger with Anchor Savings Bank in 1994.
Named president of Time Warner in 1995, Parsons was thrust into the role of CEO and chairman following the ill-fated merger with AOL in 2001. He streamlined the business divisions and weathered investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department, quelling enough fires to earn Institutional Investor's nod as the entertainment industry's top CEO in January 2005. However, the media giant struggled to make a sufficient recovery, and Parsons stepped down from his leadership positions in 2008.
His emergency-management capacities were called upon again when the 2008 financial crisis sent Citigroup into a tailspin. Installed as chairman in early 2009, Parsons maintained the channels of communication with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, and worked to soothe the nerves of frazzled investors. Having helped stabilize the company, Parsons left in 2012 to focus on a new jazz club venture, his Italian vineyard and various board memberships.
Parsons was ushered into the midst of a new crisis after Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, was suspended for life in May 2014 for derogatory comments about African Americans. The former bank and media chief accepted NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s offer to take over as interim CEO of the team. But another public relations issue arose when questions surfaced about whether Parsons actually played for the University of Hawaii basketball team. Parsons subsequently clarified he played for one season on the freshman team.
"I am not a particularly ambitious person, believe it or not, and I am certainly not a driven person. I am a hard worker -- I was always told by my parents that luck was the residue of hard work."
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