Family, service, and new beginnings have epitomized the life and career of Janine Racanelli ’82C, ’87L. Today, Ms. Racanelli is Chief Executive Officer of the Dalio Family Office and Executive Director of Dalio Philanthropies.
A native of Queens, NY, Ms. Racanelli wanted to stay close to home for college and was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to St. John’s University. “I felt at home the minute I stepped foot on the Queens campus,” she recalled, adding that she graduated high school one year early and was greeted warmly upon arriving at St. John’s.
An English major, Ms. Racanelli loved the faculty and the department. “They made learning such a joy; the work never felt like a chore at all. I was enamored with every professor.” A member of the Skull and Circle Honor Society and the Pre-Law Society, she met her future husband, Steven ’82C, in a constitutional law class, and today they have two children.
Initially, she considered teaching but felt compelled to explore law as a career as an undergraduate. “I tried to remain as open and exploratory as I could, so I thought it was best to have a liberal arts background and take a broad range of classes.”
As with her decision to attend St. John’s as an undergraduate, Ms. Racanelli stressed that her decision to attend the School of Law felt right. There, she took a trust and estates class with Margaret V. Turano, Professor of Law Emerita, who inspired her to pursue that branch of law as a specialty.
“I actually joined the firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, where Prof. Turano began her career. It was a privilege to be part of such a prestigious firm and be exposed to such a high-quality environment. It opened my eyes to what it meant to practice at that level,” she noted.
In 1993, Ms. Racanelli joined Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. (now JPMorgan Chase & Co). “There, my knowledge of trusts would be applied differently than in a law practice. I helped build their wealth advisory practice, which grew to include 70 lawyers around the globe. It was very exhilarating to build something from the ground up.” She also helped create a think tank known as Advice Lab at J. P. Morgan.
“I’ve really been lucky to love the places where I have worked,” Ms. Racanelli said, noting that it was important to her to enjoy long tenures at these positions to build and maintain what she created.
After 20 years at J.P. Morgan, Ms. Racanelli joined Dalio Philanthropies and the Dalio Family Office, whose family members are passionate philanthropists.
“What appealed to me was joining a family-run organization. I love the idea of family, and this is a family that was doing very impactful things all over the world.”
Ms. Racanelli has been a frequent author and speaker on charitable, investment, and wealth planning topics. She has been featured in national publications such as Barron’s, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal, and Forbes, and has appeared on CNBC’s Power Lunch. She serves on the boards of Dalio Philanthropies and American Ballet Theatre, New York City, NY. Ms. Racanelli is also heavily involved in her parish of St. Anne’s Church in Garden City, NY.
Service and building new initiatives from the ground up have been overarching themes of Ms. Racanelli’s career. “I love to be in service to my clients. I love to build things and see them through. Being in service to God and others was always important to me, but St. John’s added another dimension to that. Through the phases of my career, I felt like I was always part of a family—and I definitely experienced that at St. John’s.”