High Profile: Earle Mack, NYC’s Renaissance Man

Earle Mack at Thoroughbred Retirement Foundations Saratoga Gala, Saratoga Springs on August 5, 2012
Earle Mack

Earle Mack has been New York City’s “Renaissance Man,” performing important philanthropic work for decades.

A former U.S. ambassador to Finland, he has recently directed his philanthropic efforts toward the arts and helping veterans, including launching the Man O’ War Project at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, which focuses on equine-assisted therapy to treat PTSD and anxiety among veterans and children. Mack’s legacy is among New York’s greatest, and now he takes the same passion that guided him for decades to perform important charitable work to help the people of Ukraine.

Mack graduated from Drexel University and attended Fordham University School of Law. After college, he helped lead The Mack Company, a real estate property and investment company, a family business since 1900 when his grandfather, Philip Mack, arrived in New York. Mack also was intimately involved in the rebuild of lower Manhattan after September 11, 2001, serving as the chairman for Arts Rebuild New York, a collective organization that helped catalyze New York’s recovery in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

Receiving acclaim for his business savvy and entrepreneurial spirit, Mack earned the respect of many of New York City and State’s most powerful leaders and elected officials. In recognition of his work and leadership, Mack was appointed the ambassador to Finland by President George W. Bush. Ambassador Mack would serve with distinction at the post beginning in 2004.

While his impact has been felt in international diplomacy, as well as domestic affairs, Ambassador Mack has been profoundly influential in the world of the arts and humanities. Early in his career, Ambassador Mack made a commitment to advancing the arts in New York City and across the state of New York. Beginning in the 1960s, Mack became intimately involved with the effort to save the beloved New York State Shakespeare Public Theater, later the Public Theater, from shutting down. With Mack’s support, the New York City Council voted in favor of keeping the theater open, ensuring equitable access to the arts for all New Yorkers.

Ambassador Mack has held various leadership positions in organizations that further the American arts, including but not limited to the powerful New York State Council of the Arts, including the roles of chairman and CEO, and now chairman emeritus. He has also supported and served as co-chairman of the board of directors for the respected Dance Theatre of Harlem and served almost 20 years on the board of the New York City Ballet. Ambassador Mack received an Academy Award nomination in 1977 for producing and co-directing the documentary The Children of Theatre Street, a look at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, narrated and introduced by Princess Grace of Monaco.

Mack has made a career of advancing opportunities for others. As a passionate and active alumnus of Drexel University, Mack is the founding donor of the Drexel Law School, which once bore his name. He has also served as chairman of the board of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he was elected chairman emeritus upon his retirement. Mack is the recipient of three honorary law degrees, from Drexel University, the Fordham University Law School and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, all of which have invited him to serve as commencement speaker.

Ambassador Mack’s work in the equine industry also has earned him immense praise. Mack was awarded the Eclipse Award of Merit, given by the national equine industry for outstanding service. In 2015, he started the Man O’ War Project at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, which funds groundbreaking research into the application of equine-assisted therapies to treat veterans suffering from PTSD. The study has proven so successful that Columbia is now exploring the use of this treamtent for children suffering from depression and anxiety.

More recently, Ambassador Mack has again set his sights internationally, with the will to help others through his philanthropic and humanitarian initiatives.

While it may have been 15 years since the ambassador left the State Department, he has still been able to leverage his relationships and influence to benefit the people of Ukraine. In February 2022, when Russian boots first landed on the ground in Ukrainian territory, Ambassador Mack was motivated to help assist the refugees and families fleeing their homeland.

Less than a month after the invasion began, Ambassador Mack teamed up with an old friend, former three-term New York Governor George Pataki, who had launched his own efforts, through the George Pataki Leadership Foundation, to aid Ukrainian refugees. As a Ukrainian descendent, this cause has become extremely close to Ambassador Mack.

Through conversations with high-ranking government officials in Ukraine and the surrounding territories, Gov. Pataki and Ambassador Mack learned of the true, human impact that the conflict was having in Eastern Europe. While pundits on cable news talked of the political underpinnings of the conflict, Ambassador Mack and Gov. Pataki put words to action.

Ambassador Mack and Gov. Pataki, with contacts on the ground, were able to determine that the areas of most need for the refugees were food, clothing, other essentials and housing. They received cooperation from various partners, namely the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an interfaith partnership of corporate and spiritual leaders from all faiths. Ambassador Mack and Gov. Pataki led the effort to deliver clothing, medicine and a small refuge for those displaced from their homes. The team also brought with them chocolate for children, which brought smiles to faces everywhere.

Their efforts continue through to today. Ambassador Mack and Gov. Pataki have recently learned that the biggest issue in Ukraine and the surrounding regions will be heat during the frigid winters. Schools, hospitals and other buildings that have been converted into refugee centers are in dire need of self-generating heaters.

Thankfully, several dozen have been located and purchased, to be delivered to Ukraine before the year’s end. These industrial-size heaters are powerful enough to heat entire buildings, and the focus of Ambassador Mack and Gov. Pataki will be to buy and bring these supplies to hospitals, schools and refugee centers.

Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.

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