Richard D. Parsons: Former CEO of Time Warner Inc.


Richard D. Parsons (born April 4, 1948) is an American business executive who served as the chairman of Citigroup from 2009 to 2012 and CEO of Time Warner Inc., the world’s largest media and entertainment company, from 2002 to 2008. He was also the interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise and Interim Chairman of the Board for CBS in 2018. Parsons is the  co-founder and partner of Imagination Capital LLC, a venture capital firm launched in November 2017. He is also Senior Advisor at Providence Equity Partners Inc., a leading private equity investment firm specializing in media, communications and information companies.

Early Life and Education

Parsons was born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York, on April 4, 1948. He is the son of  Lorenzo Locklair Parsons, an electrical technician and Isabelle (née Judd), a homemaker. He attended public schools in New York City and graduated high school at the age of 16. He enrolled at the University of Hawaii at the age of 16, where he played basketball and also met his future wife, Laura Bush. In 1971, Parsons earned a Juris Doctor in law from the Albany Law School of Union University, New York where he finished at the top of his class.

At Union University of the University of Albany Law School, Parsons helped pay his way through school by working part-time as a janitor and later as an aide in the State Assembly. He graduated number one in his class of more than 100 students at the age of 23, then received the highest marks among 3,600 lawyers who took the state bar examination in 1971.


In 1971, Parsons was an intern at the New York State Legislature, where he became a staff lawyer for New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. When Rockefeller was appointed Vice President of the United States in 1974, Parsons followed him to Washington, where he also worked closely with President Gerald Ford. He held various positions in state and federal government, as counsel for Nelson Rockefeller and as a senior White House aide under President Gerald Ford.  In 1977, he returned to New York and where he became the managing partner of the New York law firm Patterson, Belknap, Webb and Tyler.

Prior to joining Time Warner in 1995, Parsons was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dime Bancorp, Inc., one of the largest thrift institutions in the United States.  In the early 1990s he became president of Time Warner Inc., making him one of the most highly ranked African Americans in the corporate United States.

Before becoming Time Warner’s CEO, Parsons served as the company’s Co-Chief Operating Officer, overseeing its content businesses: Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Warner Music Group and Time Warner Book Group-as well as two key corporate functions: Legal and People Development.

Parsons joined Time Warner as its President in February 1995, and had been a member of the company’s Board of Directors since January 1991. As President, he oversaw the company’s filmed entertainment and music businesses, and all corporate staff functions, including financial activities, legal affairs, public affairs and administration.

Parsons was instrumental in the now-defunct AOL-Time Warner merger.

In 2008, Parsons served as a member of then President-Elect Barack Obama’s Economic Transition Team and later served as a member of President Obama’s President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. 


  • Chairman Emeritus of the Partnership for New York City;
  • Co-Chairman of the Mayor’s Commission on Economic Opportunity in New York;
  • Chairman of the Apollo Theatre Foundation
  • Chairman of the Jazz Foundation of America,
  • Chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation. 
  • Board membership: The National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Commission on Presidential Debates, Estee Lauder Companies, Inc., Lazard Frères and Company, Madison Square Garden Sports, Inc. and Teach for America. He also serves on the board of Estée Lauder, Lazard, and Madison Square Garden.


  • Investor magazine, 2005 edition of America’s Best CEOs -Top CEO in the entertainment industry.

Personal Life

In 1968, Parsons married Laura Ann Bush, a community activist with a doctorate in child psychology, who he met at the University of Hawaii. They have three grown children: Gregory, Leslie, and Rebecca.

Richard D. Parsons profile is part of our Black Excellence Series.

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