Asia Society Board Welcomes Seven New Trustees at Fall Meeting in New York

The Honorable Caroline Kennedy and His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud are among new trustees elected.

NEW YORK, November 1, 2017 —  At its fall meeting in New York, the Asia Society board of trustees announced the election of the following new members: Richard Drobnick, director, Center for International Business Education at USC Marshall School of Business; John F. Foster, chairman and CEO, HealthpointCapital; Dr. Susan Hakkarainen, co-chair and co-CEO of Lutron Electronics; The Honorable Caroline Kennedy, former U.S. ambassador to Japan; Mahmood Khimji, president of Highgate Holdings; His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, former Saudi Arabia ambassador to the U.S.; and James Zirin, former partner and senior counsel, Sidley Austin, LLP.

The board also named Ambassador Chan Heng Chee, Singapore’s longest-serving ambassador to the U.S., and John L. Thornton, chair of Brookings Institution and a former president of Goldman Sachs, co-chairs of the board of trustees. Their appointment is effective November 6, 2017.

“Asia Society is privileged to welcome two such preeminent individuals as co-chairs of our board, together with a very dynamic group of new Trustees,” said Josette Sheeran, Lulu and Anthony Wang President and CEO of Asia Society. “Our new leadership will guide our critical work as we launch the campaign for $135 million to fund new arts and culture initiatives, promote global education, and advance the Asia Society Policy Institute.”

Biographies of the new Trustees follow.


Bios of Asia Society’s New Trustees

Richard Drobnick

Director, Center for International Business Education and Research, USC Marshall School of Business

Richard Drobnick is the founding director of the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at the Marshall School of Business, which has been supported by the U.S. Department of Education since 1990 as one of its 33 national resource centers on international business. From 1994 to 2005, Drobnick served as USC's inaugural Vice Provost for International Affairs.

Drobnick was the founding Secretary General and a member of the Steering Committee (1997- 2011) of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), an association of presidents of 42 leading Pacific Rim research universities. From 2006 to 2011, Drobnick launched and led APRU's Pacific Rim activities on "Sustainability and Climate Change" and "Public Health". Presently, he serves as APRU's Senior Strategic Advisor on its "Sustainability and Climate Change" and "Global Public Health" activities.

Drobnick specializes in Pacific Rim economic and business issues and U.S. and Pacific Rim trade policies. He is the author of numerous articles regarding international economics and business, as well as the co-author of Neither Feast nor Famine: Food Conditions to the Year 2000 (D.C. Heath, 1978) and co-editor of Small Firms in Global Competition (Oxford University Press, 1994).

Drobnick is a member of the United States Asia Pacific Council, which is the organizing institution for the United States National Committee of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the Executive Committee of the Advisory Council of the Asia Society Southern California Center, and a director of the Japan-America Society of Southern California. From 1967 to 1969, Drobnick served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malaysia, as a management advisor to the multi-purpose "Farmer Cooperatives" that were being launched by the Malaysian Department of Agriculture.

John F. Foster

Chairman & CEO, HealthpointCapital

John F. Foster is a 37-year veteran of private equity investing and a successful entrepreneur/executive. He founded Foster Management Company in 1972, which managed seven private equity funds. Foster was founder and CEO of most of Foster Management’s portfolio companies including Foster Medical Corporation and NovaCare, Inc. He is HealthpointCapital’s specialist on China: Trustee of the Asia Fund, Asian Cultural Council and a Founder/Advisory Board Member of the Asia Society Policy Institute.

He currently serves on the boards of Alphatec Spine, Inc., MicroDental, Inc. and SinoRehab.

Foster was formerly a Board Member of Avon, Inc. and Corning Incorporated; a Trustee of the Asia Society, the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; on the Dean’s Council at the Harvard School of Public Health; and an Overseer of the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration.

Dr. Susan S. Hakkarainen

Co-Chair and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Lutron Electronics Co., Inc.

Dr. Susan Hakkarainen is Co-Chair and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Lutron Electronics, the premier manufacturer of lighting, shade, and temperature controls for residential and commercial applications.

Dr. Hakkarainen is also the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Ivalo Lighting, Inc., a subsidiary of Lutron Electronics, which designs, manufactures and sells innovative lighting fixtures conceived as architectural elements. Under Dr. Hakkarainen’s direction, the company has employed the most advanced engineering and manufacturing technology drawn from aerospace and automotive industries, and has commissioned designs from architects and car designers.

Dr. Hakkarainen received a BS and Masters in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University, and a PhD in Applied Plasma Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She began her career as a researcher, working on the Hubble Space Telescope and then on fusion energy projects at the Naval Research Laboratory, and in Japan at Toshiba’s energy science and technology laboratory. Upon repatriating to the United States in 1990, she joined Lutron Electronics, and started their Japan division.

At Lutron, she became the Vice-President of International Marketing and general manager of the commercial systems and ballast division. In 2011, Dr. Hakkarainen earned an appointment to Vice-President – Marketing and Communications, guiding the development and implementation of all print, web, social, and digital materials, and developing her team to ensure clear, effective communications to all Lutron customers. In 2015, Dr. Hakkarainen was named company Co-Chair alongside her mother and company co-founder, Ruth Rodale Spira. Dr. Hakkarainen shares the CEO role with Michael Pessina.

The Honorable Caroline Kennedy

Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan

Caroline Kennedy is an attorney who served as the United States Ambassador to Japan from October 2013-January 2017. During her tenure she helped realize the United States military's return of land on Okinawa to the Japanese government, the largest land transfer since 1972, and President Obama's historic visit to Hiroshima.

Kennedy is the author or editor of eleven New York Times best-selling books on law, civics, and poetry. She is Honorary President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and Honorary Chair of the Senior Advisory Committee of the Harvard University Institute of Politics.

From 2002-2011, Kennedy was Vice Chair of the Fund for Public Schools, dedicated to engaging the private sector in school reform and encouraging New Yorkers to volunteer in public schools.

Mahmood J. Khimji

President, Highgate Holdings Inc.

Mahmood Khimji is a founding Principal of Highgate, a fully integrated real estate investment, management, and development company. Mahmood directs all aspects of Highgate’s business, investment strategy, and industry-leading operating platform. Additionally, Mahmood plays a central role in Highgate’s vision and execution with respect to innovation and industry disruptive technologies. Highgate is active in domestic and European markets with corporate offices located in New York, London, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Seattle.

Highgate targets investments in a broad range of real estate assets, portfolios, and companies that have resulted in over $15 billion in closed real estate transactions.  With a primary focus on the hospitality sector, Highgate has owned over 125 hotel properties and has a current portfolio that includes approximately 30,000 owned, managed, asset-managed, or under-development rooms. Highgate’s many distinctions include its status as the largest manager of hotel rooms in Manhattan, operating nearly 12 percent of the total inventory.

Highgate has also been an active acquirer of real estate outside of the hospitality sector, with significant investment experience in office assets, multifamily, mixed-use and high-street retail acquisitions.

His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud

Former Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States

His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al-Faisal served as the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States from September 13, 2005 until February 2, 2007.

Prince Turki was born in Makkah, Saudi Arabia and began his schooling at the Taif Model Elementary and Intermediate School. In 1963, he graduated from The Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. He subsequently pursued an undergraduate degree at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

Prince Turki was appointed an Advisor in the Royal Court in 1973. From 1977 to 2001, he served as the Director General of the General Intelligence Directorate (GID), the Kingdom’s main foreign intelligence service. In 2002, he was appointed Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz.

His Royal Highness is involved in a number of cultural and social activities. He is one of the founders of the King Faisal Foundation and is the chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh. He is also co-chair of the C100 Group, which has been affiliated with the World Economic Forum since 2003.

James E. Zirin

Former Partner and Senior Counsel at Sidley Austin, LLP

Jim Zirin is author of two best-selling books, The Mother Court-Tales of Cases that Mattered in America’s Greatest Trial Court, published in 2014 and Supremely Partisan—How Raw Politics Tips the Scales in the United States Supreme Court, published in 2016.

He is host of the critically acclaimed half-hour television talk show, Conversations with Jim Zirin, which can be seen on CUNY-TV weekly throughout the New York metropolitan area. The program has a viewing audience exceeding two million people.

Jim is also a leading litigator, who has appeared in federal and state courts around the nation. He is a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, having served in the Criminal Division of that office under the legendary Robert M. Morgenthau.

He has written over 200 op-ed articles for Forbes, Barron’s, the LA Times, the London Times, the Washington Times, the Nation, and the New York Sun. In August 2003, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg appointed him to the New York City Commission to Combat Police Corruption. He is a member of the Grievance Committee Attorney Panel for the Southern District of New York. He has been consistently listed in “Best Lawyers in America.”