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About La. Supt. John White’s Father, Peter A. White (And More)

July 17, 2017

In June 2017, FutureEd, “an independent think tank at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy,” published this interview with Louisiana state superintendent John White.

john white 4  John White

In the interview, White pitched school vouchers by implying that he attended school via a particular kind of “voucher” as he hinted that since his father was a lawyer and could afford private school tuition:

 …I think conservatives undermine what is a very legitimate moral case, a moral case that I happen to agree with, when they are averse to clear controls that allow serving every child, and that allow for a statistical base of evidence as to whether or not a school is a good school or not.

On the left, I think that you have a greater moral hypocrisy. If you have a good school, they’re willing to serve all kids, they’re showing that they’re effective on the same tests as every other school is taking. What is your problem, at that point, with letting that family make the choice? That’s a particular brand of hypocrisy, given how many leaders on the left who advocate this position, have themselves or have had family members who are the beneficiaries of a private education. I got a private school voucher when I was a kid. It’s called the My Dad’s A Lawyer private school voucher. So it’s hard for me to understand how social liberals can square that fact with people of lesser means not being able to exercise the same liberties.

One of the big “ifs,” of course, involves the right of the private schools to make the first choice of not participating. And if the best private schools did participate, the cost alone would quickly break the public-tax-funded bank.

White attended St. Albans School (Washington, DC); the 2015-16 tuition without board was $41,000 (not including the one-time $1,850 registration fee). The school does offer need-based financial aid, with the average 2015-16 grant covering 68 percent of the tuition cost.

Furthermore, it isn’t as though private schools of the caliber of St. Albans are seeking to become part of the Louisiana voucher program, which, according to a 2017 report, has voucher students, after three years, at best breaking even with public school students on those ever-watched standardized tests.

But what particularly caught my attention in White’s “my dad’s a lawyer” voucher pitch is that he leveraged ever so small a tidbit about his own background in order to campaign for his desired reforms even as he actively conceals his family background from any published bio.

It’s as though John Charles White just dropped out of the sky, unparented and with only the sketchiest hints at his personal connections.

Thus, it was White’s “my dad’s a lawyer voucher” comment in that Georgetown University think tank interview that prompted me to begin researching his family background, a quest that resulted posts about his omitting his then-wife from years of his annual ethics filings and his establishing a serious romantic relationship with another reformer in a leadership position of an organization that benefits from White’s promoting it as superintendent.

Yet my original quest, mind you, was to discover more behind White’s comment, “my dad’s a lawyer.”

And so, what I offer in this post is some family background on John White, most of which is on John White’s father, Peter A. White, who was indeed a lawyer who actually worked for the special prosecutor of the Watergate scandal and the lesser-known “Koreagate” (more on this to come).

And I did learn that John White’s grandfather, Charles Allen White, served in Third Army (under George Patton) during World War II, as did my father. Both John White’s grandfather and my father were born in 1918. John White’s grandfather was a surgeon in the 90th Division, and my father was a master chef in the 71st Division.

Like John White’s father, his uncle, Charles L. “Chuck” White II, is also a lawyer. (See Chuck White’s Linkedin bio here.) Chuck once served as deputy legal counsel to former North Carolina governor, Jim Hunt and is also a former district court judge.

For the remainder of this lengthy post, I offer excerpts on Peter White, who changed careers mid-life.

I begin with a couple of pieces that provide pretty good bio sketches on Peter White, then I proceed in chronological order, presenting excerpts from articles and interviews related to Peter White.

The first offering is from Peter Karoff and Jane Maddox’s book, The World We Want: New Dimensions in Philanthropy and Social Change (2007; page 235):

Early in his career as a lawyer, Peter worked on the Watergate scandal and later joined Fulbright & Jaworski, the high-powered Washington law firm whose senior partner, Leon Jaworski, had been the Watergate special prosecutor. Peter’s career took off, and he quickly became successful in the way the world looks at success– lots of money, prestige, an even some fame. But for reasons he could not understand at the time, he was miserable. …His life went into a tailspin that ended in… a career in shambles.

As he slowly put himself back together…, Peter began a second career, quite unique, counseling very wealthy families about the meaning of wealth.

Next comes another brief bio sketch for Peter White, from xoxoxpress.com book author bio (no date; likely 2008 or later):

PeterWhite

Peter White

Peter White is the former chairman of U.S. Trust Bank in Manhattan. Upon his retirement from the bank, Peter published Ecology of Being, a deeply insightful assembly of reflections upon the primacy of meaning in our direct experience. Distilling human nature, purpose and destiny into a clear sense of basic being in a framework of underlying beliefs, Ecology of Being taps into intuitive knowledge to clear the path for conscious and positive action in one’s life. Peter divides his time between Gambier, Ohio and Montana.

Interestingly, if one peruses the comments section of Peter White’s book, Ecology of Being, on Amazon.com, one finds a  reviewer’s comment from a “Teacher John” who happened to reside in Chicago in 2006….

Um….

As to the earlier reference to “Koreagate”: From the 1978 Washington Post article on the post-Watergate, “Koreagate” scandal:

When South Korean businessman Tongsun Park sat before the television cameras at a House hearing in April and ticked off his long list of payments – mostly in cash – to some 30 members of Congress, his unsavory litany didn’t impress many.

Most of the largesse Park passed out in little white envelopes had been detailed before by the press in months of front-page headlines. Fewer than 10 members were seriously implicated by his testimony – far less than the 115 that had been predicted in one New York Times account. And those most incriminated were no longer in Congress.

In the months since, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has filed and heard charges of misconduct against four colleagues.

The panel voted to recommend that Edward R. Roybal (D-Calif.) be censured and that Charles H. Wilson (D-Calif.) and John J. McFall (D-Calif.) be reprimanded. If found Edward J. Patten (D-N.J.) not guilty.

Supporters of those accused complained that the committee was “grading on the curve” because those most guilty were beyond the reach of House discipline.

Now the committee apparently has quietly given up all hope of getting information from King Dong Jo, the former Korean ambassador suspected of conducting a cash-based lobbying campaign similar to Park’s. …

But the former Watergate special prosecutor [Leon Jaworski] was stymied by the diplomatic immunity that protected the former ambassador. The Korean investigation was tougher than Watergate, Jaworski said, because Kim and other key witnesses could not be reached by American law, as President Nixon’s tapes had been. …

“It is probable that there are people on the Hill who ought to be exposed but haven’t been,” for want of Kim testimony, said Peter A. White, Jaworski’s deputy.

And more on Peter White’s work in advising and counseling the very rich (whether old money or new):

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, 1991:

Janet and Richard Hack… have received no less than three inheritances in the last five years. …

The biggest unknown, however, is what the next generation will do with the money when they get it– spend or save.

For the Hacks, who’ve bought their cars with cash and paid off their credit card bills each month, habits of thrift die hard. … Richard recalls “a stern lecture from my dad telling me not to sit around waiting to get a lot from him.”

Lectures like that often hit their mark, says Peter White, president of International Skye Associates, a firm that advises wealthy families on how to cope with legacies. “Kids tend to do what they see their parents doing,” says White. “If parents spend, kids will spend. If parents save, kids save.

Interestingly enough, Peter White discusses having an “aha” moment regarding “telling the truth.” (It seems that son John has not as yet so “aha-ed.”)

Business Growth Alliance, c. 1997:

Old Money, New Meaning

After family money has been passed down to two or more generations, the issues change and often “soften.” The big question becomes, ultimately, What is the relationship between wealth and happiness? And here, too, help is available.

With his silver hair and steel-rimmed glasses, Peter A. White looks a little like Steve Martin. He dresses in the uniform of big business–dark suit and somber tie-yet radiates the kind of serenity more often associated with gums than executives. His offices in Washington, D.C., make visitors feel at home: chintz curtains, leather-covered wing chairs, family snapshots and a little sign on the mantelpiece that says “No Whining. “Like Roy Williams, Peter White is a good listener. You feel his intensity and compassion. In the end, you trust him enough to sense that he can help you confront the scariest subject you know: your inadequacies.

White was born fifty-two years ago in Toledo, Ohio, the son of a doctor. He grew up in Cleveland, went to Kenyon College and Duke law school, then began his career as an attorney. He burned with ambition: “I wanted to be famous.” So he went to Washington, D.C., in 1972, where he worked, in succession, on the Watergate case, a Federal Trade Commission investigation of the biggest oil companies in the U.S. and the “Koreagate” scandal. “I was,” he recalls, “riding a real wave. I had a great job, a young family, a nice house. I was escalating” Escalating but also unsatisfied and unhappy–White didn’t know why. Psychiatry did not seem to help, and alcohol certainly did not, either. Finally, in 1981, his wife asked him to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. There, he eventually met a mentor, an older man, who one day suggested to him, “Why don’t you try telling the truth?” Lightning struck, says White “and that led me to a place where I felt relatively free.” He practiced law less and less and, in 1986, opened his own business-consulting firm, naming it International Skye, after the remote, storm-lashed Scottish island.

A breakthrough job came the next year, when the Rockefellers hired him to look into the efficiency of their family office. (Typically, a family office handles a wealthy family’s financial affairs-investments, accounting, insurance–and plays an important role in maintaining a sense of clan.

“Let’s see what other families are doing in this area ” White suggested, and he set up a meeting with representatives from eleven offices. “The first item on the agenda was that everybody around the table would talk about his family office and the challenges he saw. That item alone took one full day. I could see that I was pretty good at engendering this sort of conversation.” Presto, another wealth consultant!

Unfortunately for Peter White, others with much greater resources-most notably, the Harris Trust Co. of Chicago–also began to hold conferences for their affluent clients, exposing them to expert speakers like Roy Williams. Rather than compete directly White started consulting on cutting-edge issues: the idea of acceptable risk, private investing, how to start up a family office. Gratifyingly, the big family offices paid heed; most of them signed up for “membership” in International Skye.

Wealth Consultants

Today, each member pays $ 10,000 per year and gets in return whatever he wants of Peter White’s time, common sense and questing instinct. What the Pitcairn (Pittsburgh Plate Glass) family wants is news. “The genius of Peter White is that he’s created a safe place for family members and professionals of family offices to come together and learn about wealth management,” says Dirk Junge, chairman of the Pitcairn family office in Philadelphia. “This is a unique and valuable forum.” Another Skye member, a patrician East Coast family, wants to keep communication in the family open. “Until Peter helped us,” explains the matriarch, “we had lost the ability to take the time to be together.” Yet another client just wants to have Peter around. “We are paying $10,000 to be your friends,” he told White. “Right,” White shot back. “And it’s a bargain.”

Orlando Business Journal, 1999:

DAYTONA BEACH — Upchurch Watson & White [no relation to Peter White], a 2-year-old, 24-lawyer Daytona Beach-based firm, has formed Family Enterprise Center, an innovative mentoring division for family-owned business owners.

“We’re not competing with CPAs or with lawyers,” says Peter A. White, a nationally recognized counselor and negotiator who is chairing the section.

“When decisions are made about family-owned businesses, many of them are made in the most emotional context, rather than a rational context,” says White. “We try to show the client how to make those decisions rationally.”

And that isn’t always easy, says the former deputy special counsel to Leon Jaworski.

“You have the older generation often hesitant to let go of a business … the eldest son scenario … the growing presence of women in business … and the ultimate decision of who is really best to head the business into the next generation,” says White.

Chronicle of Philanthropy, 2000 (“Helping the Rich to be Happy, Too”):

Peter White helps rich people find happiness. …

Mr. White gave up a successful law practice to start a consulting business, called International Skye. His clients are from some of this country’s richest families. Their net worth totals billions of dollars and their donations to charity are worth hundreds of millions. The Rockefeller family numbers among Mr. White’s regulars, who pay $10,000 for a year of his counseling. …

Topics in his private and group counseling sessions include overcoming family communication problems, guilt about wealth, and finding a deeper meaning in life. …

Most of the clients are third-, fourth-, or fifth-generation descendants of their family’s original entrepreneur. Mr. White notes that those who inherit riches, rather than earn them, are most in need of “blossoming.”

“These younger people are in tremendous need of being what I call disenthralled from wealth,” he says. “The problem is, when the wealth is part of who you are, you’re marching not to your own drummer but usually to someone else’s. You’ll be less yourself than your father or whoever controls the purse strings.”

Financial Times, 2004:

Perhaps the hardest choice for a billionaire is how to transfer their wealth. Citigroup’s Peter White says it is never too early to begin thinking about how wealth will affect one’s family in the future, especially when children are involved. “The first issue is: What do I think is important for kids growing up? And how will wealth affect that?”

White says parents must decide whether they want to transfer wealth to their children. If they do, they have to know what they are trying to accomplish by doing so. “The most important thing for kids is to find meaning in their lives,” says White. “The transfer of wealth to young people can be a positive influence, but only in a limited way.” What he means is that a child might want to be an artist or filmmaker and having money might make that easier, but money won’t necessarily fulfill them.

White says parents who think only about how much money should be given to their children, what restrictions should be in place, and when the children should be told how wealthy they are, are not seeing the wood for the trees.

“In fact, I don’t think those are the right questions,” says White. He suggests first thinking about whether children have a sense of themselves. “Money is a magnifier,” he says. “If people are missing a sense of themselves life will kick them in the rear end and make them fix themselves. But with money, people can be propelled into middle or old age and still not have a sense of who they are.” The real issue to be discussed, White says, is: “How good are the parents as parents?”

White provides his services to clients free of charge. He can handle everything from a brief meeting to multi-day family workshops. Sometimes he ends up going to the home of a client because he wants to get together in an environment where they are comfortable, where they can get at the real issues. “You need to find out what people want,” says White. “Very often a person who has made a billion dollars, or has wanted a billion dollars, has not thought of much else. A lot of people who commit themselves to making a ton of money have their own needs that they are trying to meet.”

Investment News, 2005:

U.S. Trust Corp.in New York has named Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa, 49, president, and Peter White, 60, vice chairman. …

Mr. White, who was managing director of the family advisory practice at Citigroup Private Bank, will be responsible for advising U.S. Trust clients and will serve as a company spokesman on issues related to the personal side of wealth, such as succession planning for family businesses, raising affluent children, inheritance, and family unity and legacy.

Note that US Trust is described in the 2006 Financial Times as “a traditional investment manager for the very wealthy.”

The next piece struck me as hmmm… because its writer chose to use the name “Peter” as a false name in a scenario about a workaholic– then the writer actually quotes a real man named Peter (Peter White, of course). From Forbes, 2006:

(“Peter” is a pseudonym, but his story–and that of other wealthy workaholics–is very real.)

The son of a modest Texas farmer, Peter wanted a bigger, grander life than his father led, and he worked hard to get it. By age 30, he was running a regional bank and had a wife and two kids.

Over the next two decades, he moved his family 12 times–twice overseas. At 50, he was president of a large financial services firm in New York City. He owned a restored Georgian in a leafy suburb, a ski chalet in Telluride and a small compound in the Caribbean. He traveled for work incessantly, with limousines and Gulfstreams at his beck and call. His board connections led to bids at the most exclusive golf clubs. Peter had become a bona-fide world beater.

Then, one day, his wife of 30 years declared: “I don’t love you anymore. I need a new life.” His kids piled on, saying he’d never “been there” for them. After logging three-quarters of each year on the road, Peter realized he had no real friends to confide in. He got divorced, drank heavily and eventually left his job.

Peter’s net worth had crossed the eight-figure mark years before his life unraveled. He could have hopped off the hamster wheel with plenty of time and riches to spare. And yet he kept running. …

To be sure, some wealthy workaholics really do enjoy their work. Yet “there is a difference between ‘I love what I do’ and ‘I can’t conceive of doing something else,’” says Peter White, vice chairman of U.S. Trust and former managing director at Citigroup‘s private bank. “One is a volunteer; the other is a prisoner.”

As an adviser on personal issues of wealth, from philanthropic donations to family relationships, White has seen his share of prisoners–people who have accomplished everything but nevertheless are working very hard and wondering why. The disturbing answer: Work becomes a substitute for greater meaning in their lives.

Next is a bio on Peter White in Tiger 21 (“{The Investment Group for Enhanced Results in the 21st Century} provides Members with powerful perspective – their own personal board of directors made up of visionaries, executives, entrepreneurs, and investors; the best minds and resources in the world at your service. Our Members are accomplished wealth creators from every industry and every geography.”) (presenter program bio archived from 2006):

Peter White, Vice Chairman of U.S. Trust, is an educator and adviser to clients of the firm on the human aspects of wealth management, including succession in family enterprise, raising children in material abundance, family governance and strategic planning, and long-term family unity. Mr. White is concerned primarily with the relationship between material abundance and meaning. All of his work places meaning at the core of human existence and endeavor. Mr. White founded a consulting and educational firm, International Skye, in 1986. The firm is best known for the Skye Summer Institute, which is an educational program for young adults centered on responsibility and competence in living a purposeful life. He served from 1992 to 1999 as senior adviser to Bankers Trust Company, where he helped design and develop a program called “Wealth with Responsibility.” From 1999 to July 2005, he served as managing director of Family Advisory Practice at Citigroup Private Bank. Mr. White was visiting professor of Ethics and Family Enterprise at Stetson University and founding director of the Stetson Family Business Center from 1997 to 2000. He is the author of Ecology of Being, published in January 2006. He is a trustee of The Kenyon Review and is a practicing fellow at the Institute for Servant Leadership, in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Peter White received his bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College, with high honors in English Literature, and his juris doctor from Duke University. After his graduation from Duke, he served as law clerk to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio and spent the next 16 years in the practice of law. His career included service with the Federal Trade Commission and a special counsel assignment with the U.S. House of Representatives, but most of his practice was as a partner in the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski in Washington, D.C. He left the practice of law to form International Skye in 1986.

And now, excerpts from an interview in The Periodic Ponderance, a publication of the Wealth Conservancy (“Honoring your worth/Taking care of your wealth”), 2012:

peterwhite3   Peter White

[Interviewer] Myra [Salzer] begins the interview by asking Peter about living a split life between New York and Montana.

Peter: [My life] isn’t so split anymore. For a while I was living in New York City and working for US Trust. Now, although I continue to have a consulting relationship with US Trust, I’m no longer an employee so my time is more my own.

At the end of 2008 I moved from New York to Montana, where I had a part-time home, and made it a full-time home. I travel a fair amount to visit clients, but I live in Montana now.

Myra: You said you go out to meet with your clients: who are your clients? What do you do?

Peter: The clients are high-net-worth families who are in transition – or a transition is coming up or one has occurred – and the family is experiencing or anticipating difficulty because of family dynamics or personality differences. Most families lack experience in dealing effectively with the emotional issues a transition, like succession from one generation to another, can arouse. So they ask for advice about managing their way through the transition. I get involved by facilitating their conversation as a group, helping them separate the emotional from the rational so they can decide what they want to accomplish and how they want to work together to accomplish it. For example, how does a family that’s moving from a small group of stakeholders to a large one, as in succession from second to third generation, want to make decisions? By majority rule? By consensus? Who will have authority over what issues? Should there be a committee or a board structure? The engagements usually involve my staying with the family through the transition, and maybe into the next phase, as a facilitator and advisor on process and governance. …

Myra: Tell me a little bit about you; who you are, what your background is, what makes you tick, what are your passions?

Peter: I’ve had a lot of different experiences, both good and bad. I think it took me a very, very long time—longer than it takes most people—to come to some kind of understanding of who I am. I spent a number of years, particularly as a young adult when I was practicing law, trying to answer the question of who I am by achieving all kinds of exterior goals like gaining public acclaim and making a lot of money, thinking that those kinds of avenues would bring me the satisfaction and meaning I was missing.

When I had a bit of a midlife crisis in my late 30s, I began to look really intentionally at my life. I left the practice of law (I was a litigator) and began doing work, including work with wealthy families, that was more related to my personal journey. I discovered that a lot of people in the wealthy families I worked with were, like I had been, trying to find answers in places that are exterior to us as opposed to answers we can only find in our interiors, where the mind and spirit reside.

And, finally, a bio on Peter White, who received an award from alma mater, Kenyon College, in 2016:

THE GREGG CUP

Awarded to Peter A. White ’66 P’01

When he applied for admission to Kenyon, from Cleveland’s University School, this year’s recipient of the Gregg Cup identified law, nature, and the theater among his strongest interests. His noteworthy career at the College and his full and rewarding life in the years since have only deepened those interests while leading to a variety of new ones.

As a student at Kenyon, he majored in English, joined Delta Tau Delta fraternity and later served as its president, won membership in the Dramatic Club for his roles both on and off stage, and graduated cum laude with high honors in his major. He went on to earn a J.D. at Duke University, after which he returned home to serve as a clerk to the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. Following stints with two Cleveland law firms, he joined the famed Washington, D.C., office of Fulbright and Jaworski, where he quickly rose to partner status.

In 1986, he embarked on a new phase of his career when he founded International Skye Associates, addressing his longtime interest in philanthropy. He served as president of the firm and helped its clients, who were among the country’s richest families and individuals, come to understand what was important to them and plan their philanthropy, their volunteerism, and other aspects of their lives accordingly. Later, he joined Citibank to offer similar services through its private-banking office.

His efforts on behalf of his alma mater have been no less thoughtful. He has served on the boards of the Kenyon Review and the Philander Chase Conservancy, leading the latter for several years and serving as its representative on the College’s board. Today, we are honored to recognize his steadfast commitment with Kenyon’s highest alumni accolade.

Peter White, proud alumnus of the Class of 1966, devoted father, philosopher of philanthropy, dedicated volunteer for the College and other nonprofit causes and institutions, we are deeply in your debt. For all you have done for your alma mater, Kenyon’s alumni take great pleasure in presenting you with the Gregg Cup for 2016.

Well, there we have it: Well-briefed on John White’s “my dad’s a lawyer”– and more!

Picture colored in and today’s finished product scotch-taped to the fridge.

I know I feel much better.

fridge pic

_______________________________________________________________________________________

 

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

2 Comments
  1. Robert Tellman permalink

    Well, this information certainly explains the beliefs and behaviors of John White. His father was not fulfilled so he decided he was the best to give other mega wealthy persons advice. John White (like many of his followers) came from great wealth and apparently those folks believe it’s their place to give advice and lead organizations of which they know NOTHING.

    They don’t need to work in order to live, so they ride in on their high horses to show us plebeans what we have been doing wrong in trying to help public school children “achieve.”

    I hate when they use the word “achieve” to describe what they want public school kids to do. It is merely their misguided opinion on what THEY think success should mean for poor kids. Success for anyone does NOT mean scoring well on bubble in tests!

    I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that they know not what they are doing. These are NOT their kids and they have no right to impose their twisted beliefs on them! They cannot relate to these kids nor to the lives they live.

    Find another charity to fulfill you, John White, and get the hell out of Louisiana. We never needed you or your minions and you have done enough damage. We may never recover from your horrible “reforms.”

    Go work with your father and tell the rich what to do. Leave the education of our children to true educators who studied for years and truly care about the children and their futures. Getting a college degree in the Classics does not a teacher make. Y’all will be long gone when we are still here in Louisiana trying to fix the mess you have made.

    You DO NOT know what is right for everyone just because you came from privilege. I hope that is something your father has finally learned and you too will realize one day. You are no better than us!

  2. An interesting background.

    What I find annoying is the phony claim that John’s ability to go to an elite school is the same as a state voucher worth $7,000 to go to a low-quality school with uncertified teachers. Vouchers are sold based on this phony claim that poor kids will get the same choices as rich kids. That’s a hoax.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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