The Center for the Study of Transformative Lives was established in 2011 at New York University with the help of generous gifts from Mrs. Kathryn W. Davis, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and several private individuals. Since then it has found support from the Bodman Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, the Minneapolis Foundation, and numerous other generous individuals.
Founding Director Philip Kunhardt is Distinguished Scholar in Residence in the Humanities at New York University and teaches history and biography in the College of Arts and Science. He has co-authored five books and has written and co-produced numerous historical documentaries for PBS, ABC, HBO, Discovery and other networks. He focuses on the lives and accomplishments of transformative figures and is a specialist on the history and visual record of Abraham Lincoln and his times. To help guide the programming and development of the Center he has assembled a distinguished Advisory Committee comprised of leaders in the fields of higher education, business, media, and philanthropy.