Randall L. Tobias grew up in the farming community of Remington, Indiana where he has remained connected all of his life. Throughout his career, first as a business executive and later as a government official, his work has taken him from Remington and his high school class of forty-one to relationships with world leaders and business executives in the United States and dozens of countries around the world.
Randall L. Tobias
He attended Indiana University and graduated in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree from the Kelley School of Business. Following graduation, and with a two-year pause for active-duty service as an artillery officer in the U.S. Army, he joined AT&T where he worked for 29 years. In 1980 he became a senior vice president at the company’s global headquarters in New York City. Subsequently, he became vice chair of the parent company and chair and CEO of its primary operating unit AT&T Communications. Tobias left AT&T in 1993 to become chair, president and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company where he led a major transformation of the company. He stepped down from his Lilly roles at the beginning of 1999 and was named chairman emeritus of the Company.
He continued to serve on several corporate and philanthropic boards until 2003 when President George W. Bush nominated Tobias to be the founding United States Global AIDS Coordinator with the rank of Ambassador. He played a leading role in developing and guiding the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a multibillion-dollar U.S. government initiative to blunt the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa where at the time 8,000 people were dying daily. By the end of its first twenty years, PEPFAR is estimated to have saved nearly twenty-five million lives world-wide. In the years since President Bush has often credited Tobias for his role in the program’s success. In turn, Tobias often refers to this role as without question the most important work of his professional life.
In 2006, President Bush named Tobias the first Director of all United States Foreign Assistance with the rank of Deputy Secretary of State and concurrently the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Tobias has been recognized with a long and diverse list of honors including five honorary degrees. He has served in leadership roles with numerous organizations including as a director of AT&T, Eli Lilly and Company; Chemical Bank of New York; Agilent Technologies; Kimberly-Clark; Knight-Ridder Newspapers; and Conoco-Phillips. He has served as a trustee and chair of the board of Duke University; a trustee of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; a member of the Board of Governors of the American Red Cross; a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a director of the United States Chamber of Commerce; a director of the Business Round Table; a member of the Leadership Advisory Board of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); and as chair of the Indianapolis Airport Authority. He is currently an Elder of the Second Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, a member of the Council of Chief Executives and serves as chair of the board of both the Randall and Deborah Tobias Foundation and the Tobias Family Foundation.
Tobias often credits his years as an Indiana University undergraduate – inside and outside the classroom – as having provided an important foundation for his lengthy and diverse career. Over the years he has received a number of honors from the University, and has served in a number of volunteer capacities, including at the IU Foundation, the Kelley School of Business, the IU Varsity Club and on the IU Board of Trustees where he served as chair. In 2004, he established the Tobias Leadership Center at IU and in 2016 he and his wife Deborah founded the Tobias Center for International Development. Other scholarships, faculty positions and campus facilities bear his name, but he is particularly proud of an initiative to support women in intercollegiate athletics. In recognition of that gift the IU Women’s Field Hockey facility is named Deborah Tobias Field.
He and his wife Deborah live in Carmel, Indiana and Longboat Key, Florida.