At a Glance
- Career History: Campaign Treasurer for Barack Obama's presidential campaign (2007 to 2008); Vice president of Pritzker Realty Group (1996 to 1998); Vice president for LaSalle Partners (1991 to 1996)
- Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
- Alma Mater: Albion College, B.A., 1985; University of Chicago, MBA, 1989
Path to Power
Nesbitt grew up in Ohio and attended Albion College in south central Michigan. During college, he interned at Deloitte Haskins & Sells in Detroit, and after college, he got a job as a financial analyst with General Motors Acceptance Corporation, the financial services branch of General Motors. Because the building was being remodeled when he got there, Nesbitt shared an office with the company treasurer. "If the treasurer got there at 7:30 a.m., I made sure I was there by 7. If he left at 8, I didn't leave until 8:30," he said.
Nesbitt's work at GMAC earned him a GM fellowship and full tuition at business school. He chose the University of Chicago, where he met his future wife, Anita Blanchard, who was in medical school there. Because of her, Nesbitt decided not to return to GM after getting his MBA. Instead, he began as an associate at LaSalle Partners, a real estate investment company based in Chicago. It took Nesbitt just two years to work his way up to vice president at LaSalle and another three years for him to become vice president for equities.
Nesbitt's biggest asset is that he's Obama's close friend. Their families have spent vacations together and Nesbitt's children often played with Obama's daughters on Saturdays. During the 2008 campaign, Nesbitt and Obama got together on Sundays to watch football like they often did before the campaign began.
During the campaign, Nesbitt was one of the friends who tried to keep Obama grounded. "In case you're not living in the real world, being driven around by Secret Service, it just cost me $85 to fill up my tank," Nesbitt wrote to Obama in a summer 2008 e-mail. Nesbitt has been known to help Obama's moods not get too low or too high.
Nesbitt is at the center of Obama's Chicago social network. He was recruited to play basketball at Princeton by Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama's brother, and has stayed friends with Robinson and the Obamas for years. Barack Obama is the godfather to Nesbitt's youngest son, and Nesbitt's oldest son played on a basketball team coached by Robinson at the YMCA in northern Chicago.
In 1996, Nesbitt was hired by Penny Pritzker as vice president of Pritzker Realty Group, and one year later, Pritzker invested $50 million in The Parking Spot, an airport parking project that was Nesbitt's brainchild. The company now makes more than $80 million a year in revenues.
Nesbitt has donated more than $35,000 split among a variety of Democratic candidates since 1999. More than $11,000 of that went to Obama. He was the campaign treasurer for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and was one of the candidate's top bundlers.
(photo courtesy White House / Pete Souza)