Washington, D.C. — Today, Center for American Progress Founder John Podesta and President Neera Tanden offered the following statement on the passing of CAP Founding Director Richard C. Leone, who died Thursday at age 75:
Richard C. Leone had an ability to see beyond public policy to the lives those policies would touch. He was an outstanding public servant, an impressive civic leader, and major voice in the nation’s most critical discussions on public policy.
As president of The Century Foundation and a founding board member at the Center for American Progress, Dick worked to bring issues of income inequality and economic justice to the forefront of the national discussion. He was a stalwart defender of the social safety net and its ability to lift up American families. Dick was also a leading voice in the fight to protect Social Security in the 1990s and fought throughout his career to improve education, expand access to health care, and enhance voting rights.
He took on challenging roles in public service with passion, having served as treasurer for the state of New Jersey and commissioner for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. During the Clinton administration, John talked him into a much more thankless task of serving on the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. Dick’s leadership helped produce a unanimous report with recommendations for the responsible regulation of gambling and called attention to the need for better research and treatment options for problem and pathological gamblers.
To us as individuals, Dick was both a friend and a mentor. From the first day of our planning a new progressive think tank, Dick provided insight, guidance, and counsel that led to the success of the Center for American Progress. While others might have viewed CAP as a potential competitor of The Century Foundation, which he then led, Dick viewed us as kindred spirits, which helped build lasting partnerships between the scholars at CAP and TCF. He stayed committed to CAP’s mission and success and was one of our most active board members until just a few days before his passing. On a personal level, he never failed to demonstrate his friendship and provide us with candid, quiet advice.
It was a privilege to get to learn from him and work with him. We will miss him dearly. Our thoughts are with his family during this time of great loss.