Learn about the 2018 Laureates: The JBG Companies Founding Partners

We had a chance to ask Donald, Joseph, and Benjamin a few questions so you could get to know them better. Here's what they had to say. 

 Donald A. Brown |  Founding Partner, JBG Companies

Donald A. Brown |  Founding Partner, JBG Companies

Donald A. Brown

Washington Business Hall of Fame (WBHOF): What was the hardest job you have ever done?

Donald: "I started high school and dating at the same time in 1942. Being short of spending money, I accepted a part-time job at Sears Roebuck, then located on Wisconsin and Albemarle Street. I was assigned to the Garden Department and I specialized in selling sheep manure. I sold so much manure that my pay was soon raised from 50 cents per hour to 60 cents per hour. During my life as a founder of JBG, some associates have suggested that I am still known for a similar product."

WBHOF: Did you have a mentor or a role model over the course of your career? 

Donald: "Yes, I did have a mentor from a very early age that taught me all the important things I needed to know about people. He taught me to love and respect everybody regardless of race, color, or education and his greatest joy was helping friends and family in trouble. He was the greatest role model and also my father."

WBHOF: What’s the one thing you want the Greater Washington business community to know about your company this year?

Donald: "A big year for JBG going public and partnering with the Smith Company. Both companies had been unusually successful primarily because they built their success on two words: competence and integrity."

WBHOF: If you were to create a slogan or a theme song for your life, what would it be?

Donald: "From the play My Fair Lady, 'With a little bit of luck!'"

WBHOF: If you could choose one person, living or dead, to have dinner with, who would it be?  

Donald: "I would choose Warren Buffett. We were classmates and friends at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, DC (Class of ’47). It would be fun to discuss the times we spent together 70 years ago."

 Joseph B. Gildenhorn | Founding Partner, JBG Companies

Joseph B. Gildenhorn | Founding Partner, JBG Companies

Joseph B. Gildenhorn

WBHOF: Did you have a mentor or a role model over the course of your career?

Joseph: "My name is Joseph B. Gildenhorn. My initials are JBG. However, in my professional life, I am the “G” in JBG; part of a trio of my partners, Donald Brown and Benjamin Jacobs for nearly six decades. What a journey it has been! We originally built a law practice, and in the 60s it evolved into a real estate development firm. Over the years, we mentored one another by collaborating on every decision that was made. Loyalty, trust and expertise guided us, and we made purposeful decisions for each project that was put forward. Our warm bond has endured to this day."

WBHOF: What was the hardest job you have ever done?

Joseph: "My greatest challenge was taking a leave of absence from JBG, the private sector, and entering public service as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland from 1989-93. My experience in the private sector served me well as I assumed my new position. To have the honor and opportunity to represent our great country was the proudest and most cherished time of my life."

WBHOF: What’s the one thing you want the Greater Washington business community to know about your company this year?

Joseph: "Another great satisfaction has been the growth and expansion of JBG in each succeeding year with its new vibrant leadership and expanded development mission. Last year was a milestone year as JBG joined the Vornado Company to create JBG Smith that became listed on the New York Stock Exchange."

WBHOF: What do you think is the single greatest challenge facing the next generation?

Joseph: "Every generation has its challenges. Observing the unproductive divisiveness and the lack of civility taking its toll on our country, I am distressed. I look forward to the next generation of leaders -- men and women who are intelligent, motivated, diverse and patriotic to chart a new course for a positive future for America."

WBHOF: If you were to create a slogan or a theme song for your life, what would it be?

Joseph: "Whenever I’m with my favorite dinner partner, Alma, my wife of 65 years, we often talk about gratitude and our many blessings. We believe that it is a privilege to be able to give back in some measure the goodness that we have received. Our slogan would surely be 'Give ‘til it helps.'”

 Benjamin R. Jacobs | Founding Partner, JBG Companies

Benjamin R. Jacobs | Founding Partner, JBG Companies

Benjamin R. Jacobs

WBHOF: What was the hardest task you have ever done?

Benjamin: "Graduate college."

WBHOF: Did you have a mentor or a role model over the course of your career? 

Benjamin: "The role models of my career have been my wife, Gail, Donald, Joe and my many partners.

My mentors, in the sense of from whom I learned, all my many colleagues at The JBG Companies and JBG SMITH that I’ve had the good fortune of working with these past 55 years."

WBHOF: What’s the one thing you want the Greater Washington business community to know about your company this year?

Benjamin: "That we continue to embrace the core values of ethical and fair dealing which have underpinned our success over the past 55 years."

WBHOF: If you were to create a slogan or a theme song for your life, what would it be?

Benjamin: "Dum virimus viramus. 'While we live, let us live.'"

WBHOF: What do you think is the single greatest challenge facing the next generation?

Benjamin: "Creating and sustaining opportunity for all."


Join us November 28th as we honor Donald, Joseph, Benjamin, and three other outstanding Washingtonian business leaders at our 31st Annual Washington Business Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Gala!

CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR TABLE TODAY.