|Laura and John
In June 2010, John and Laura Arnold signed the Giving Pledge, established by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Through this pledge billionaires promise to give away half of their wealth before they die. John Arnold, 39, made his fortune first as an energy trader at notorious, Houston-based energy company Enron Corp. and then as a hedge fund manager through his firm, Centaurus Advisors. He and his wife, Laura, a former corporate lawyer, have decided to devote their time and money to philanthropy. In 2009 they launched the Houston-based Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which has $725 million in assets. Pension reform became an important part of the couple’s agenda. “Irresponsible pension policy harms citizens on every level,” says Laura Arnold, 40. Resources that would otherwise be allocated to areas like education and public services must go toward pension obligations, she adds: “For the past three years, we, both personally and through the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, have encouraged jurisdictions to face the true magnitude of their pension problems and to develop structural reforms that are comprehensive, sustainable and fair.” The foundation has produced a series of policy papers and advised several states and municipalities on pension reform, prompting push-back from labor unions that resent its involvement.