In his many decades as CEO and Chairman of Ruder Finn, David Finn worked with some of the world’s most prominent business, government and NGO leaders — from the United Nations to the Vatican and the World Bank.
His work with the White House spanned multiple decades and presidents, and included milestone achievements from building support for the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty under the Kennedy administration, to serving on the National Endowment for the Humanities under the Clinton administration, and helping to build and launch ready.gov following 9/11 under the George W. Bush administration.
A prolific thinker, Finn published numerous articles on the philosophy of PR and the roles and responsibilities of business in society; he was an outspoken voice on ethics in business, and led Ruder Finn to become the first PR company to have a standing ethics committee. Finn saw corporations as the central institutions in American life and believed that their public service was integral to commercial success. In fact, his book, The Corporate Oligarch, originally published by Simon and Schuster in 1969 and since translated into over 10 languages, laid the foundation for stakeholder capitalism long before the concept became a part of contemporary vernacular – predicting that corporate leaders would one day “officially declare money-making subordinate to community welfare in setting the goals of their corporate power." Finn famously said, “I didn’t go into business to make money.” He truly wanted to make positive change in the world and help business leaders do the same.
Finn’s unique and singular role as a patron and advocate for the arts, working with storied brands like Sarah Lee, Forbes, J.P. Morgan, Target and PepsiCo, helped make corporate sponsorship of the arts a significant force in the second half of the twentieth century. In 1984, he worked with celebrated art collector George Ablah to bring 25 monumental Henry Moore sculptures to New York City for a major outdoor installation across the five boroughs – only to, shortly thereafter, aid then-President and First Lady, Bill and Hillary Clinton, in bringing 20th century American sculpture to the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden at the White House. Over the course of his life, Finn authored over 100 books on art and sculpture.
He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Advisory Council for the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is a PR legend and was named to the PR Week Hall of Fame in 2015. Finn served as Chairman of the Board of The Jewish Museum and as an active member of many other boards including the Institute for the Future, the Academy of American Poets, The American Forum for Global Education, The New Hope Foundation, and the Business Committee for the Arts.