Wall Street investor Dan Lufkin grew up in small-town New York, studied at Yale as a naval reservist, joined the Marines, and then earned his MBA at Harvard Business School in 1957. He and two classmates established an investment firm that focused on small fast-growing firms rather than blue-chip companies. Starting with $240,000 in 1960, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette grew over the next 11 years to a net worth exceeding $50 million, and then expanded further.
In 1970 Lufkin approached Tom Meskill, a Republican candidate for governor of Connecticut, with ideas for a new Department of Environmental Protection. The subsequently elected governor appointed Lufkin as the department’s first commissioner. A serious problem in the civil service, Lufkin later noted, is that “you can’t get rid of people who are really doing nothing. With the Department of Environmental Protection, we had a new department…. As a result, all the people we brought were there on merit, not tenure.” His experience in state government led Lufkin to publish Many Sovereign States in 1975, a defense of devolving resources and sovereignty to individual states.
After Lufkin returned to finance, he continued to take an interest in conservation and the outdoors. Riding horses and raising dairy cows, horses, and cattle, were passions, and he was inducted into the Cutting Horse Association’s Hall of Fame. He donated to the National Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy, National Park Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, Conservation Fund, American Farmland Trust, and Atlantic Salmon Federation. With an endowment from Lufkin’s family and friends, the National Audubon Society created the Dan Lufkin Prize for Environmental Leadership in 2013. The initial recipients of the $100,000 cash prize for innovators in conservation were Dr. George Archibald in 2013, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation, land trust pioneer Patrick Noonan in 2014, and Spencer Beebe, an expert in integrating economic and ecological well-being, in 2015. All men in Lufkin’s mold, with an interest in finding ways of conserving nature without damaging human prosperity.
- Detailed Lufkin biography, hbs.edu/entrepreneurs/pdf/danlufkin.pdf
- About the Lufkin Prize, audubon.org/dan-w-lufkin-prize-environmental-leadership