Jonathan Beane '88
He knew he would go far—he just didn't know where. But someone in his life did.
"When I graduated from Episcopal, I did not think I would be doing this kind of work,” says Jonathan Beane '88.
Jonathan is the Senior Vice President of Global Diversity and Inclusion at 21st Century Fox. Decades before he got there, he recalls his mom presenting him with a gift on his graduation day. While he was expecting clothes or a video game, instead he received a fancy pen, engraved with the words ‘Jon Beane, JD-MBA.’ “I knew what a JD was, but I didn’t know what an MBA was. She told me, ‘I think this is something you can achieve.’”
After graduating with a history degree from Dartmouth College, Jonathan set his sights on law school. He sought advice from lawyers he knew, asking them what they might have done differently. “About 30 percent of them said, ‘Man, I wish I had gotten another degree.’” They were lawyers running their own practices and managing people – things they needed to know for the job but didn’t learn in law school. Jonathan took their advice to heart and applied for MBA programs as well. He graduated from SUNY Buffalo with a JD and MBA, before earning his Masters of Law degree in taxation at Georgetown University.
He practiced transactional law for a short period, and then transitioned to working in what was then a growing field: diversity. “It was just 10 years ago that diversity and inclusion played a very small role in business,” Jonathan says. Today, he adds, people have a natural expectation of diversity. “All types of industries understand that they have to change. The demographics of this country and of the world are changing at a rapid pace, and if these industries don’t adjust, they’re going to be left behind.”
Even before studying history in college, Jonathan was a self-pro- claimed history buff, quoting Bob Marley: “If you don’t know your past, you don’t know your future.” In the mid-1980s, he was one of a handful of African-American students in Episcopal’s all-male student body, and he was curious about the School’s past. One way he would connect with that past was by perusing old yearbooks in Bryan Library.
“I saw this one yearbook that had a couple African-American men. I knew integration had happened, but I realized that this had to have been the beginning,” Jonathan says. The yearbook was from 1973 – just five years after the school enrolled the first African-American students. “I was looking at this guy and he had a big Afro and was wearing jeans. I remember thinking, ‘Hey, this guy looks like me.’”
That student was Tony Chase ’73, who was both the Chair of the Honor Committee and a Senior Monitor. “That’s a really big deal. You have to have the true respect of your peers. I was fasci- nated by Tony.” Seeing himself in the boys who had gone before him gave Jonathan a sense of admiration and validation. He found something he didn’t know he had been looking for: a blueprint.
Last summer, more than 30 years after he was inspired by theWhispers photo, Jonathan had the chance to meet Tony. Tony told Jonathan that what motivated him to succeed at EHS was seeing himself in those who had come before him. “I was inspired by Tony, and he was talking about being inspired by other influen- tial people at Episcopal, including Regi Burns ’72. He had them to lean on as I had him to lean on, even though he wasn’t necessarily there in person.” Jonathan acknowledges that his time at Episcopal shaped him tremendously and prepared him for his future. “One of the proudest moments I’ve ever had was when Headmaster Sandy Ainslie recognized me with the award for the student that most represents the ideals of Episcopal. That was such an honor to me. I really tried to live those ideals. Even now, I get emotional remem- bering it. I came out of Episcopal as well-rounded as I could be as an 18-year-old kid. I can’t thank the School enough."