Robert W. de Forest (1848-1931)
This noted lawyer, art collector, and social reformer was the first president of the Provident Board of Trustees. In 1894, he drafted the special act of incorporation for the Provident Loan Society and was instrumental in securing the bill’s passage.
A noted philanthropist, de Forest was the president of the New York City Charity Organization Society, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Federation of Arts. He also served as chairman of the Red Cross Emergency Relief Committee, which raised funds for survivors of the Titanic disaster and their families.
He is credited with developing the New York School of Philanthropy—the first higher education program to train people for work in the charitable field—and the Russell Sage Foundation, which is devoted to research in the social sciences.