The career of Michael Milken, co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, has mirrored his three main professional passions: medical research, education and finance. In each, he has been uniquely successful in creating value.
In 1972, three years after Mike (what everyone calls him) began a legendary career on Wall Street, his wife told him her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. That was when he began a search for medical solutions that has played as large a role in his life as his better-known innovations in finance. Nearly 33 years after he began parallel careers in philanthropy and finance, a Fortune magazine cover story called him "The Man Who Changed Medicine" and said, "No one had ever really pulled together the full picture of how—and how much—(Milken) has shaken up the medical establishment and saved lives."
Mike is now recognized for his three decades of driving medical research toward cures and improved treatments for all serious diseases. He launched the Melanoma Research Alliance in 2007 to accelerate research progress against fatal skin cancers, and he serves as chairman of FasterCures, a Washington-based think tank dedicated to accelerating progress against all life-threatening diseases. A decade earlier, in 1993, he founded the Prostate Cancer Foundation, whose grants to nearly 1,300 medical studies worldwide make it the world's largest philanthropic funder of prostate-cancer research.
He also chairs the widely respected Milken Institute, a non-partisan economic think tank whose scholars consult for government and private organizations, publish influential reports and host major conferences on regional and global economic issues. The Institute's annual Global Conference brings 3,000 decision makers from more than 50 nations to Los Angeles every year.
As a financier, Mike is often said to have revolutionized modern capital markets, making them more democratic and dynamic by innovating a wide range of financing techniques previously unavailable to most companies. In a 2004 speech, Sir Harold Evans, author of the book, They Made America," said, "Michael Milken is a formidable innovator and we'll all be in his debt for a long time." A Washington Post column said he "helped create the conditions for America's explosion of wealth and creativity," a process that Business Week said "shook America's defeatist Establishment out of its gloom." Starting in 1969 at what would become Drexel Burnham Lambert, he financed thousands of companies that created millions of jobs. The former editor of the Harvard Business Review wrote, "Much of the strength and resilience of the economy today—including its ability to rebound in times of adversity—is due to the way people using Milken's financing vehicles remade ailing companies or put their entrepreneurial zeal to work."
Mike is also chairman of Knowledge Universe Education, a leading company in early childhood education and distance learning.
Mike was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa at the University of California, Berkeley, where he graduated with highest honors. He received his MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. He writes frequently about public-policy issues in major publications and is a widely sought-after speaker at conferences around the world. He and his wife Lori have three children and seven grandchildren. They have been married since 1968. For more information, please visit www.mikemilken.com.