Alumni Profile: Ed Robinson '86
"The type of world I want to see is one where we take more personal responsibility for the best interests and welfare of our neighbors, of others."
Philanthropy - Giving counselor
Ed Robinson has been going a hundred miles an hour since beginning his professional career one day after graduation in 1986 -- first as an aide to a U.S. Senator; then as a fundraiser for Georgetown, Harvard Law School, the University of Virginia, and Colin Powell's America's Promise; and most recently, as a counselor to millionaire and billionaire philanthropists on their giving. But, he hit 40 this year, and with a wife, baby, and new business, he faces a personal crossroads -- where to focus his energies.
"It's hard because I've never been at a point in my life where I have not felt like I had most things figured out," he says candidly. "What gives me the kick is what I call helping people make a meaningful difference in the lives and communities around them. That's part of my problem -- that can happen in many different ways."
Robinson's own family has helped others in many of those ways. His great-grandfather was a Baptist preacher. Both grandfathers were two of a handful of African-American medical doctors in Pittsburgh during the Great Depression, and his parents both became teachers in Pittsburgh public schools. Raised in the city's predominantly Jewish neighborhood, Robinson befriended and delivered newspapers to neighbors who had lost relatives in the Holocaust (one was on Schindler's list) and who surrounded him with stories of suffering and of what one human owes another in need.
Once at Bucknell, he became a leader among students, serving as student body president and representative to the Board of Trustees.
"I formed close relationships with senior alumni," Robinson says. "That probably planted a seed in me. Many of them took me aside and told me I had a responsibility to keep Bucknell strong for future generations. Even though I felt predisposed to giving back, who knows if that would be the case if they had not done that? Maybe it would have manifested itself in some other part of the world."
He also is active in his church and works as a high school football referee and a hospice volunteer.
"I'm concerned about the future," he says. "The type of world I want to see is one where we take more personal responsibility for the best interests and welfare of our neighbors, of others."