Dr. Roger W. Raber
Dr. Roger W. Raber, whose advocacy work helped to usher in the modern era of corporate governance, died peacefully at his home in Washington, DC, home on October 10, 2017. He was 74. The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
Roger was born in Jamaica, New York. After attending Saint Anthony College in New Hampshire, he received a BA in Philosophy and an M.A. in Theology and Religious Education from Manhattan College. He later received an MA and doctorate in Administration in Higher Education from Teachers College at Columbia University.
From an early interest in theology, his career evolved from educational administration to professional education, this latter area focused at first in banking and later in corporate governance.
Dr. Raber served as director of admissions at the City University of New York in the early 1970s, and as Deputy Provost at the College at Old Westbury, State University of New York, later that decade. In 1980, he became director of education for the National Association of Mutual Savings Banks in New York City, and for the next two decades he would apply his educational expertise in the banking field, moving on to become an executive vice president of the National Council of Community Bankers; president and CEO of the Center for Financial Studies in Connecticut; and managing director, member services, at America’s Community Bankers. While living in Connecticut he chaired the Weston, Connecticut School District, elected by the Weston residents to restore the integrity of the school system following several crises. During the 1980s he served as a director of Starpointe Savings Bank, staying on the board while it integrated into Dime Savings of New York.
In 1999, he began his service as president and CEO of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), serving for the next seven years in this capacity, where he built an organization that was strong both financially and culturally.
In his role as CEO, he responded at a personal level to NACD members affected by the tragedy of September 11, 2001, strengthened by his faith. His ability to steer through crisis would be tested at the national level soon thereafter following the December 2001 bankruptcy of Enron, when he testified on the nature of good governance to Congress. His remarks were influential in determining the governance standards later set by the major stock exchanges.
During his tenure at NACD, paid membership grew from 1,800 to 10,000. He developed educational partnerships with a variety of organizations, including Dartmouth College, University of Southern California, Rice University, Duke University, and University of Georgia and created relationships with Association of Corporate Counsels, Financial Executives International, National Investor Relations Institute, America’s Community Banks, Executive Leadership Council, World Bank/IFC) and several governance institutes in Asia, Central Europe, and Latin America. He also established strategic alliances with several leading professional Institutional Shareholder Services, the Nasdaq Stock Market, New York Stock Exchange, major D&O insurers, and leading professional service providers.
Dr. Raber had a special love for the nonprofit sector. He formed a Not-for-Profit Council at NACD, and conducted the first surveys of not-for-profit governance. And although he presented boardroom education programs to many of the nation’s largest public companies, his most treasured assignment was his work with the board of the American Red Cross.
He practiced what he preached about governance, ensuring that NACD would have an independent and diverse board and strong bench strength. Many of the employees he mentored are still with NACD, including its current leader. Thus the Raber legacy lives on.
During his years at NACD and after retirement, he served in many advisory roles. He was a member of the board of overseers of Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Program at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and an advisory board member at the University of Delaware, Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance. He also served on the board of Washington Campus, a nonprofit facilitating a better understanding of government. His professional engagements in the NACD years included service as an advisory board member to CFM Partners in Washington, DC (banking education), James F. Reda & Associates in New York and Atlanta, a compensation practice (now part of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.), and the Project Management Institute.
In 2007, after stepping down from NACD leadership to serve as a senior advisor to the organization, he continued some of his advisory roles. In 2010, he was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, and faced into the disease with all the energy and good cheer he had given his life’s earlier missions. He agreed to participate in two clinical studies at the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center. During these seven years as he came to terms with the disease, he continued his volunteer work with the West End Library, as well as So Others Might Eat, and Miriam’s Kitchen, two social service programs for the homeless population in Washington, DC. Always a family man, his final years were full of joy as his beloved children themselves became parents. His last gift of many to humanity was the donation of his brain to Georgetown University Medical Center for further research with Alzheimer’s disease.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Dr. Marie Raber, Associate Dean of the School of Social Work at Catholic University; their son Commander Roger W. Raber, Jr., U.S.N.R., his wife Heather, and their two sons, Jack and Elliot; as well as their daughter, Robyn Borgelt, her husband Nate and their children Anna and William.
Relatives and friends may call at the DeVol Funeral Home, 2222 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20007 on Friday, October 20, 2017 from 2:00-4:00 PM and 6:00-8:00 PM. (Complimentary Valet Parking will be available) A Funeral Mass will be held at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 3513 N St. NW Washington, DC 20007, on October 21, 2017 at 10:30 AM. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to Georgetown University, Attn: Memory Disorders Program, Bldg. D, Suite 177, 4000 Reservoir Rd., NW, Washington DC, 20057.