The family of Alexander “Alex” Navab mourns the passing of an extraordinary man — husband, father, son, and brother to a profoundly close and loving family; admired business leader; compassionate philanthropist; caring mentor and loyal friend.
Alex is survived by his wife Mary Kathryn, with whom he shared a bond of love, faith and devotion, and three remarkable children, Julian, Arabella and Neva, for whom he felt limitless affection. Together they shared a rich and meaningful life blessed with many unforgettable moments.
Whether playing soccer with Julian or watching his lacrosse games, helping Arabella with her math homework, or cozying up with Neva, his youngest, Alex cherished the time he spent with his children. Ever-present at hockey rinks and riding rings, he was enormously proud of their accomplishments and their character: of Julian’s quiet confidence and soulful intellect, of Arabella’s insightfulness, wit and determination, of Neva’s purity and joyful zest for life. The demands of Alex’s career never diluted or distracted the love he felt for his family.
To his family and his community, Alex was a role model who set the highest standards for kindness, hard work, and doing his best. Beyond his considerable professional accomplishments, his legacy will be the dual values of humanity and humility that guided his life from the moment he arrived in the U.S. at age 16, through his rise to the pinnacle of business as an investor, and his tireless efforts to give back to the country he felt had given him so much.
Alex was born in Isfahan, Iran, on November 24th, 1965, to an Iranian father, Dr. Ali Navab and a Greek-American mother, Mrs. Katina Armenakis Navab. Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, his family took refuge in Greece. Two years later, they emigrated to the United States and began the process of remaking their lives, with education and family as cornerstones. Alex attended Phillips Academy at Andover and Columbia College where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He attended Harvard Business School where he graduated with High Distinction as a Baker Scholar and won the Wolfe Award, the school’s top academic honor. Supporting the institutions that gave him so many opportunities, and creating those opportunities for others, would be central to Alex’s life.
In 2011, Columbia College presented Alex with the John Jay Award for his distinguished professional achievements and in 2016, he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, awarded to U.S. citizens whose example, work and generosity on behalf of those less fortunate has upheld the ideals and spirit of our country. Alex believed America was a beacon of opportunity. He said, “You can come with a dream and fulfill that dream.” Those he inspired will feel his influence for many years to come.
Alex’s integrity and strong moral core drove his personal and business decisions alike. He believed strategic philanthropy was an integral part of business where people and resources could be leveraged to address poverty and homelessness, support education, entrepreneurship and economic renewal. At both the community and national level, he galvanized others to join him in this work. Last year, Alex realized a lifelong dream of creating his own company, Navab Capital Partners, which from its inception was designed to build great businesses and to leave a lasting impact on the social causes that mattered most to him.
No less meaningful were the smaller and often quiet acts of kindness Alex performed every day. Throughout his life, he was guided by his love for his family and fellow man. His advice to the many people he mentored was: “Rely on faith, value family, cultivate long-term friendships, embrace change, and give back to those in need.” Indeed, the significant gifts he made together with Mary Kathryn will have a measurable impact in the areas of education and public health for generations.
Prior to forming his own company, Alex was Head of Americas Private Equity at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), the preeminent global investment firm, where he was a respected industry leader and held a number of significant roles over several decades, including as a member of the Firm’s Management Committee, Chair of the Americas Private Equity Investment Committee, and Chair of the Americas Portfolio Management Committee. Prior to KKR, he was with James D. Wolfensohn, Inc., and Goldman Sachs. Alex served as a member of the Board of Directors of Fidelity National Information Systems, Inc. (“FIS”) and was a member of the Board of Directors at Cornerstone Capital Group.
Alex was a member of the Board of Trustees at New York-Presbyterian Hospital; a member of the Board of Directors at The Robin Hood Foundation; a member of the Columbia University Board of Trustees; the former Chair of the Board of Visitors at Columbia College; a member of the Board of Dean’s Advisors at Harvard Business School; a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; a member of the Executive Advisory Council at the George W. Bush Presidential Center; a member of The Hamilton Project Advisory Council; former National Co-Chair of American Enterprise Institute (AEI); a member of the Board of Trustees at The Buckley School in New York; a member of the Board of Trustees at The Spence School in New York (newly elected); a member of the Executive Committee at The Hellenic Initiative; former member of the National Advisory Board at Youth, INC; and Chairman of the Board at The River House.
Alex embraced life with optimism and enthusiasm. He ws a vital part of the communities he called home, including New York, Southampton, Palm Beach, and Greece, a place of respite and spirituality, where he passed from this world on July 7th, 2019, abundantly blessed and happy.
Despite his extraordinary life experiences, nothing was more important to Alex than family.
In addition to his beloved Mary Kathryn and their children, Alex was a deeply devoted son to his parents, adoring and adored brother to siblings Pericles “Peri” Navab (Neda), Aphrodite Désirée Navab, and Demetra “Deme” Taleghani (Reza) and uncle to their children Nicholas and Thomas, Katerina and Bijan, and Nicoletta and Dino. Sharing in their grief is Mary Kathryn’s mother, Mary Ann Kincade, sisters, Kristy McDaniel and her children, Anna and Phillip, and Jennifer Guthrie (Michael) and their children, Lila and Jackson. Through all the days of his life, those Alex loved were protected by his warm and shepherding hand. His family will feel his presence and guiding spirit forever.
A celebration of Alex Navab’s life will take place in Manhattan on September 16th, 2019 at a location to be announced.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. — Kahlil Gibran