Leonard Riggio is the Founder, Executive Chairman & CEO of Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), a Fortune 500 company, which is the world’s largest bookseller. The company employs approximately 35,000 booksellers at 638 retail stores nationwide. Mr. Riggio also founded Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, a Barnes & Noble Education company (NYSE: BNED) and a leading operator of college bookstores in the U.S., and GameStop (NYSE: GME), the world’s largest videogame retailer.
Beginning with a single college bookstore in 1965, Mr. Riggio built one of the largest enterprises in the history of American retail. He is widely known as a visionary in the bookselling industry, and as a brilliant marketer and entrepreneur.
Mr. Riggio devotes himself, as well, to many philanthropic initiatives, having served on nearly two dozen not-for-profit boards. He served as chairman of the Dia Art Foundation for eight years, where he led and funded the effort to build Dia:Beacon, one of the world’s most highly respected and revered contemporary art museums. Since Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, Mr. Riggio has built homes for families who lost their homes in New Orleans. He and his wife gifted more than 100 homes to displaced families through a not-for-profit he created called Project Home Again. Mr. Riggio also devotes much of his time to public education. He led the nation’s first-ever private endowment for a public high school, Brooklyn Technical High School, from which he graduated in 1958.
Mr. Riggio has received numerous awards, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Frederick Douglass Medallion. In November 2002, he received the Americanism Award from the Anti-Defamation League, its highest honor. The award cited his work “to celebrate diversity and make the dream of freedom and equality a reality for so many Americans.” Mr. Riggio is the recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from Baruch College of the City University of New York, Bentley College and Long Island University. He has been inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs at Babson College and the Texas A&M Retail Hall of Fame. He also lectures regularly on college campuses, has delivered several commencement addresses, and has been the keynote speaker to numerous educational and business groups across the country.
Mr. Riggio is married and has three children and three grandchildren.