By Donna Purchase

Reginald “Reggie” Van Lee with Thelma D. Jones; Courtesy of Author

The Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund (TDJBCF), in partnership with Black Benefactors, a Washington, D.C. based giving circle, celebrated Black Philanthropy Month in Aug. at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church for the third consecutive year. Unlike your ordinary support group meeting, guests heard inspiring words not from a survivor but from a Black philanthropist and corporate trailblazer. 

The featured guest speaker was Reginald “Reggie” Van Lee, a retired executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, who is also a well-known philanthropy and arts advocate. Van Lee, who lost his sister to cancer, shared how her memory heavily influences his philanthropy, and he shared words of inspiration that he learned from family members and friends living with the disease. It was in this context that he shared the 4 C’s he learned from survivors: 

Courage: It takes courage to confront realities;

Confidence: Be confident that you can move beyond;

Competence: They had to educate themselves to understand what’s happening; and

Community: helps to create, build and nurture you. 

Van Lee — often in demand for speaking engagements and philanthropic support — serves on several non-profit boards, including the Washington Performing Arts, National CARES Mentoring Movement, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Studio Museum in New York, among others. Despite these commitments and more, he still believes in reaching out to grassroots efforts in which he has a strong connection. Van Lee, who lives in Houston, TX surprised Founder Thelma D. Jones, and the audience, when he agreed to donate his honorarium and travel expenses to the organization, and proudly accepted Jones’ invitation to serve as the organization’s first Honorary Board Member.

Van Lee holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Civil Engineering from MIT and an MBA from Harvard University. Retirement? Well, that’s what he calls it. Van Lee indicated that he was retiring but didn’t say he was leaving the corporate world forever. Since speaking at the TDJBCF support group meeting, he has accepted a corporate position as the chief transformation officer of The Carlyle Group. Based in New York, Van Lee is focused on helping the firm develop new and innovative ways to enhance business processes. 

Learn more about the Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund at https://www.tdjbreastcancerfund.org/ 

and Black Philanthropy Month at http://www.blackphilanthropymonth.com/.


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