Vartan Gregorian was a towering intellect whose passion for public service was matched only by his kindness and compassion for others, and his loving devotion to his family. I was lucky to call him a good friend for three decades, and throughout that time I’ve benefitted enormously from his wisdom and advice. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he came to me and said that something had to be done to save the city’s arts and cultural organizations. That was the beginning of a partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Carnegie Foundation that would lead to many other collaborations, including – most recently – an effort he helped spearhead to support the city’s arts, cultural, and social service organizations during the pandemic. His leadership as chair of the 9/11 Memorial selection committee jury reflected his impeccable judgment, choosing a design that will forever stand as a powerful symbol of humanity’s capacity for heroism and hope, resilience and rebirth. His incredible work to revive the New York Public Library would have been the achievement of a lifetime for anyone else. But Vartan never stopped taking on big and important new challenges that advanced the country he loved so much and the world he was determined to shape for the better. He was an eternal optimist who conceived big dreams, and a determined realist who found ways to bring them to life. I’m devastated by his death, but he leaves a legacy that will benefit and inspire generations to come.