Chicago hedge fund manager and CEO of Citadel LLC, Kenneth Griffin, is back on the Forbes List. The billionaire, who has an estimated net worth of $7 billion, has made the leap to 89 on the list of the richest Americans. Griffin notably wrote one of the largest campaign checks in Illinois’ history to GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner. The record-breaking $2.5 million helped him beat Democratic governor Pat Quinn in November’s election.
Griffin is well known for his philanthropic efforts. Last year, he donated $150 million to his alma mater Harvard University. The money is to be used to help needy students pay for tuition, fees and other school-related items.
Although Griffin leans Libertarian, he has given money to the political campaigns of (D) Rahm Emanuel, (R) Chris Christie and (R) Mitt Romney. Before Rauner launched his political campaign, Griffin served on his gubernatorial exploratory committee. Although Rauner, also a multimillionaire didn’t make the list, other Illinoisans did including banker Sam Zell (102), Judy and Christopher Reyes and four members of the Pritzkin family.
Griffin also recently received an honor from Harvard University after the generous donation. In a ceremony, attended by Griffin’s family, friends and staff, his name was added to the financial aid building. He downplays the award, he says he is happy that he is in a position to help students fulfill their dream of graduating debt-free.
The Illinois native continues to do great things for the city of Chicago. He gives to many organizations. He is a huge advocate of the city’s charter school program and has funded many schools. Griffin has also donated funds to the city’s head start programs, the Boys and Girls Club and The Chicago Museum of Art.
Griffin started Citadel LLC in 1990 with his own money that he earned by selling stock in college. The economics major earned about $1 million during his sophomore year and nearly $4 million by the time he graduated. Within 10 years, Citadel was the leading hedge fund company in the U.S.
Griffin has seen many ups and a few downs. He was able to weather the storm of the 2008 banking crisis. He saw many other banks fall, but it was his business savvy that helped him persevere. Griffin says he has learned many lessons in his 20-plus years in the industry. He doesn’t plan on making the same mistakes that nearly caused Citadel to fall.