Person

Jim Bildner

Occupation:

CEO, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

Jim Bildner is the CEO of the left-of-center Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (DRK Foundation). Between 2014 and 2016, the Foundation provided up to $250,000 in grants towards the New Venture Fund, a “dark money” organization. [1] Bildner also sits on the board of The GroundTruth Project, a left-of-center news organization that runs Report for America. [2] He also sits on the board of the left-of-center organization Public Citizen Foundation and Democracy Works, and he is a trustee of the Kresge Foundation. [3] [4] He previously sat on the board of taxpayer-funded National Public Radio (NPR).

In the past, Bildner was not a major contributor to either major party or their campaigns. In recent years, he has expanded his political giving, donating nearly exclusively to Democratic candidates and causes. [5]

Early Life and Business Career

Bildner attended Dartmouth University, graduating in 1975. He then attended Harvard University, where he received his master’s in public policy. He earned his law degree from the Case Western Reserve School of Law, in addition to a master’s in fine arts from Lesley University. [6] He then went to work in the business sector for 22 years. Bildner worked as a consultant for Deloitte and worked as a CEO for two private companies. [7]

Aside from his private work, Bildner has also worked in the public sector. He previously worked as a legislative aide and as a speechwriter in the United States Senate. Bildner also ran for the New Jersey Assembly. Bildner is still involved in the public sector, sitting on the Advisory Panel on Medicare Education of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). [8]

In 2005, Bildner’s son died of a drug overdose, after which Bildner wrote an op-ed calling for changes in U.S. drug policy which included both stricter enforcement of anti-drug laws and more funding for treatment and research into addiction. [9]

In 2008, he was awarded the Dartmouth Alumni Award. [10] Bildner has since become a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. [11]

CEO of the DRK Foundation

As of June 2021, Bildner is CEO of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation. Under his tenure, the DRK Foundation has funded a range of left-of-center organizations. Between 2014 and 2016, DRK Foundation gave $250,000 in grants to the New Venture Fund, a left-of-center “dark money” organization operated by the for-profit consulting firm Arabella Advisors. The DRK Foundation has also contributed to left-of-center causes such as the GroundTruth Project and Democracy Works. [12]

The Foundation also contributes to left-of-center organizations focused on immigration. It has donated to the Immigrant Justice Corps and the International Refugee Assistance Project, among others. These are organizations that support liberal policies to increase migration to the United States. [13]

In 2018, the DRK Foundation made a $200,000 donation to the Tides Center. It also made a $50,000 donation to the left-of-center Urban Justice Center to support its international refugee project. [14]

Political Donations

Bildner was not a major donor to either party’s political campaign until the late 2010s. In 2012, he only donated to then-President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) Senate campaign in Massachusetts. [15]

In 2014, Bildner only donated to U.S. Representative Seth Mouton’s (D-MA) campaign and Democrat Michelle Nunn’s failed U.S. Senate bid in Georgia. Despite giving to Democratic candidates, Bildner also donated to the Massachusetts Republican Party. [16]

Since 2016, Bildner has donated almost exclusively to Democrats, including to both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Joe Biden’s presidential campaigns. He also donated to Vice President Kamala Harris’s presidential primary campaign. Aside from donating to Democratic presidential campaigns, Bildner stepped up his political contributions in lower-level races, funding Democratic candidates in swing districts and donating to state Democratic parties in battleground states. [17]

References

  1. “New Venture Fund (NVF).” New Venture Fund (NVF). Accessed October 18, 2019. https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/new-venture-fund/^ ^
  2. “Jim Bildner.” The GroundTruth Project. Accessed October 18, 2019. https://thegroundtruthproject.org/team/jim_bildner/^ ^
  3. “Jim Bildner”. 2021. Public Citizen Foundation. Accessed June 21. https://www.citizen.org/about/person/jim-bildner/. ^
  4.           “Jim Bildner”. 2021. Harvard Kennedy School. Accessed June 21. https://www.hks.harvard.edu/faculty/jim-bildner. ^
  5. “Browse Individual Contributions”. 2021. Federal Election Commission. Accessed June 21. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Jim%20Bildner. ^
  6. “Jim Bildner”. 2021. Harvard Kennedy School. Accessed June 21. https://www.hks.harvard.edu/faculty/jim-bildner. ^
  7. “Jim Bildner”. 2021. Harvard Kennedy School. Accessed June 21. https://www.hks.harvard.edu/faculty/jim-bildner.    ^
  8. “Jim Bildner”. 2021. Harvard Kennedy School. Accessed June 21. https://www.hks.harvard.edu/faculty/jim-bildner. ^
  9.   Bildner, Jim, and Nancy Bildner. 2006. “Forum: Anyone’s Son”. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2006/01/08/Forum-Anyone-s-son/stories/200601080232. ^
  10. “2007-2008 Dartmouth Alumni Award Recipient:James Bildner ’75”. 2021. Dartmouth. Accessed June 21. https://www.alumni.dartmouth.edu/2007-2008-dartmouth-alumni-award-recipientjames-bildner-75. ^
  11. “Jim Bildner”. 2021. Harvard Kennedy School. Accessed June 21. https://www.hks.harvard.edu/faculty/jim-bildner. ^
  12. “Portfolio | DRK Foundation | Supporting Passionate, High Impact Social Enterprises”. 2021. DRK Foundation. Accessed June 21. https://www.drkfoundation.org/portfolio/. ^
  13. “Portfolio | DRK Foundation | Supporting Passionate, High Impact Social Enterprises”. 2021. DRK Foundation. Accessed June 21. https://www.drkfoundation.org/portfolio/. ^
  14. Form 990. 2018. Ebook. Guidestar. https://pdf.guidestar.org/PDF_Images/2018/912/172/2018-912172351-17034893-F.pdf. ^
  15. “Browse Individual Contributions”. 2021. Federal Election Commission. Accessed June 21. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Jim%20Bildner. ^
  16. “Browse Individual Contributions”. 2021. Federal Election Commission. Accessed June 21. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Jim%20Bildner. ^
  17. “Browse Individual Contributions”. 2021. Federal Election Commission. Accessed June 21. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Jim%20Bildner. ^

Connected Organizations

  1. Report for America (Non-profit)
    Executive Board Member
  2. The GroundTruth Project (Non-profit)
    Executive Board Member
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