By Brian Williams
Photograph by Todd Eberle
If you're not familiar with the Tisch-family name, you haven't been paying attention. Over the years, the family business has reached into virtually every aspect of American life: hotels, drilling platforms, a television network, a tobacco company, an N.F.L. team, wristwatches, and insurance policies. Not content merely to make movies, they have also owned a good number of the theaters in which they are shown. But here's the thing about the House of Tisch: you're most likely to encounter their name if you seek an education, enjoy public spaces and works of art, or need to get well. This up-from-Brooklyn “American Dream” family of multiple patriarchs and matriarchs—with its dizzying DNA flowchart of sons, daughters, spouses, and power centers—has made philanthropy as much a priority as profits. The list begins with the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and the Tisch Galleries at the Met, and it goes from there.
That's where Jonathan Tisch comes in. Son of Bob and nephew of Larry, Jon may be the most visible Tisch—last seen in a memorable turn as a chambermaid on TLC's Now Who's Boss?, filmed in one of the Loews hotels he runs as part of the family business. He's just written Citizen You: Doing Your Part to Change the World, in which the Tufts alum, donor, and board member extols the virtues of the aggressive and growing “active citizenship” campaign at his alma mater. It's a program at—wait for it—Tufts's Tisch College, and Tisch writes that, when they are done well, “public service and community engagement become not a task but a way.” In profiling inspiring examples in all walks of life, Tisch argues that, in our era of depleted budgets, it may be the only way.
The Tisches made their bones based on their ability to spot an undervalued asset, and Jon Tisch is making it clear he's identified the next one: Us.