Sir James D. Wolfensohn is chairman of Wolfensohn & Company, LLC, a private investment firm and an advisor to corporations and governments. He previously served as Chairman of the Citigroup International Advisory Board.
Wolfensohn was the ninth president of the World Bank Group (1995-2005). On May 31, 2005, at the end of his second term, he left office and assumed the post of Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement for the Quartet on the Middle East, a position he served until April 30, 2006. In this role, he helped coordinate Israel’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and spearheaded reconstruction efforts as Palestinians assumed sovereignty over the area.
Wolfensohn was the third president in the World Bank’s history to be reappointed for a second five-year term by the board of executive directors. As president of the World Bank, he travelled to more than 120 countries in order to pursue the challenges facing the World Bank in regard to poverty and environmental issues. He led successfully initiatives on debt reduction, banking and finance, environmental sustainability, anti-corruption programs and AIDS prevention and treatment. He developed activities on religion and culture and decentralised offices overseas linked by the most modern telecommunications system in the international community.
Throughout his career Wolfensohn has also closely involved himself in a wide range of cultural and voluntary activities, especially in the performing arts. In May 1995 he was awarded knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to the arts. He has also been decorated by the Governments of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Japan, Germany, Georgia, Mexico, Morocco, The Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Pakistan and Russia.
Born in Australia in December 1933, he is a naturalised U.S. citizen. He holds B.A. and LL.B. degrees from the University of Sydney and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Before attending Harvard, he was a lawyer in the Australian law firm of Allen, Allen & Hemsley. He served as an Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force and was a member of the 1956 Australian Olympic Fencing Team.