George Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary on August 12, 1930. He survived the Nazi occupation of Budapest and left communist Hungary in 1947 for England, where he graduated from the London School of Economics (LSE). While a student at LSE, Soros became interested in the work of the philosopher Karl Popper, who had a profound influence on his thinking and later on his professional and philanthropic activities.

The financier. In 1956, Soros moved to the United States, where he began to accumulate a large fortune through an international investment fund he founded and managed. Today he is chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC.

The philanthropist. Soros has been active as a philanthropist since 1979, when he began providing funds to help black students attend the University of Cape Town in apartheid South Africa. Today he is chairman of the Open Society Institute (OSI) and the founder of a network of philanthropic organizations that are active in more than 50 countries. Based primarily in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union—but also in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the United States—these foundations work closely with OSI to develop and implement a range of programs focusing on civil society, education, media, public health, and human rights as well as social, legal, and economic reform. In recent years, OSI and the Soros foundations network have spent a total of about $400 million annually to support projects in these and other focus areas. In 1992, Soros founded Central European University, with its primary campus in Budapest.

The philosopher. Soros is the author of seven books, most recently George Soros on Globalization (PublicAffairs, March 2002). His other books include: The Alchemy of Finance, 1987; Opening the Soviet System, 1990; Underwriting Democracy, 1991; Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve, 1995; The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered, 1998; and Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism, 2000. His articles and essays on politics, society, and economics appear regularly in major newspapers and magazines around the world.

Soros has received honorary degrees from the New School for Social Research, the University of Oxford, the Budapest University of Economics, and Yale University. In 1995, the University of Bologna awarded Soros its highest honor, the Laurea Honoris Causa, in recognition of his efforts to promote open societies throughout the world.