The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon

Search Results

Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Patrick R. Gaston

Patrick Reginald Gaston was born on August 5, 1957, in Port Au Prince, Haiti. While still a youth, Gaston and his family moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he remained until he relocated to Montreal, Canada, as a teen to attend boarding school. From Montreal, Gaston went on to the University of Massachusetts, from which he graduated with his B.A. degree in management in 1984; that same year he began work with Verizon. In 1992, Gaston received his M.B.A. degree from Northeastern University. In addition to the degrees he was awarded within the United States, Gaston also earned an international certificate in business from Ecolé Superieure de Commerce in Reims, France.

Remaining with Verizon throughout his professional development, Gaston occupied a wide array of management positions, ranging from operations, to marketing, to human resources, to strategic planning and government relations. Eventually, Gaston rose to the position of executive director of Verizon’s Strategic Alliances Group, in which he coordinated the company’s activities within the community.

Gaston was named the president of the Verizon Foundation in 2003; here he was charged with overseeing the philanthropic activities of the company, including the issuing of grant funding to community development programs. The Verizon Foundation placed special emphasis on the utilization of technology and literacy to improve the quality of community life; to help achieve those aims, Gaston oversaw an annual budget of $75 million. In 2007, Gaston took on the additional role of independent director and member of the audit committee of Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc.

In addition to his professional activities with Verizon and Bed Bath & Beyond, Gaston is heavily involved with a variety of organizations and foundations, including the NAACP Special Contributions Fund Board of Trustees; America’s Charities; the Foundation of the University of West Indies; and the World Institute on Disability. Gaston has also served as a fellow at the Aspen Institute, and a guest lecturer on the topics of public responsibility and philanthropy at a long list of universities that included Rutgers University, and Dartmouth College.

Accession Number

A2005.212

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/30/2005

Last Name

Gaston

Maker Category
Middle Name

R.

Schools

Ecole Frere Andre

College Laval

College Francais

Matignon High School

Northeastern University

Boston State College

University of Massachusetts Boston

First Name

Patrick

Birth City, State, Country

Port Au Prince

HM ID

GAS01

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

I Love You, Daniel.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

8/5/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

Haiti

Favorite Food

Spicy Food

Short Description

Telecommunications executive Patrick R. Gaston (1957 - ) was appointed president of the Verizon Foundation in 2003. In 2007, Gaston took on the additional role of independent director and member of the audit committee of Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc.

Employment

Gaebler Children's Center

Kennedy Memorial School

Kendall Corporation

The Boston Globe

Verizon Communications

Verizon Foundation

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
0,0:1934,37:2426,44:6690,139:7100,146:7756,250:20045,435:22454,496:22746,501:30995,671:33039,704:33331,722:35229,759:36032,776:67852,1386:94668,1819:96540,1860:96930,1866:97242,1871:99192,1925:99660,1935:100128,1951:102234,1993:104340,2029:105588,2047:112844,2114:114669,2137:118319,2214:118903,2223:119706,2237:129778,2429:130210,2437:132370,2476:134026,2513:136402,2561:141154,2695:161170,3014$0,0:592,10:3996,100:4884,116:8214,226:9990,261:10656,272:15688,392:16280,402:25675,519:25959,524:27166,538:27805,548:28089,553:28799,565:29225,573:30006,586:31000,603:31426,611:32704,633:33130,641:33414,646:35899,716:36609,730:53516,987:54108,996:57364,1057:58622,1079:60694,1117:64024,1185:65208,1207:73665,1260:74614,1272:77023,1317:84396,1471:84688,1476:84980,1481:85856,1495:86586,1506:87316,1518:88557,1545:101804,1692:102977,1712:105047,1744:105392,1750:109187,1830:109739,1844:110153,1851:110429,1856:110705,1861:110981,1866:111395,1874:111671,1879:111947,1884:112361,1891:114638,1921:116294,1951:116708,1958:117191,1967:117605,1974:119744,2030:120503,2042:120917,2049:131390,2197:131694,2209:132986,2252:133290,2259:133974,2269:136026,2312:136406,2318:136862,2326:137166,2331:145526,2501:145982,2508:152290,2618:161484,2678:162776,2698:163156,2705:164980,2735:166348,2763:176228,3018:176684,3026:178812,3063:182090,3078:183450,3106:183994,3115:184266,3120:184606,3126:187598,3187:187938,3193:188210,3198:188754,3210:198280,3353
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Patrick R. Gaston's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Patrick R. Gaston lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Patrick R. Gaston describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Patrick R. Gaston describes his mother's life in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Patrick R. Gaston describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Patrick R. Gaston describes his parents' meeting

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Patrick R. Gaston describes his understanding of slavery in Haiti

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Patrick R. Gaston describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Patrick R. Gaston recalls holidays in Haiti

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Patrick R. Gaston describes his early education in Haiti

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Patrick R. Gaston describes his childhood role models

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Patrick R. Gaston describes his aspirations while at Ecole Frere Andre in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Patrick R. Gaston remembers his mother moving to the United States

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Patrick R. Gaston remembers his mother's time alone in the United States

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Patrick R. Gaston remembers his family's move to Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Patrick R. Gaston recalls encountering discrimination in the United States

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Patrick R. Gaston remembers the Haitian community in Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Patrick R. Gaston remembers attending boarding school in Montreal, Canada

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Patrick R. Gaston describes differences between race relations in Canada and the United States

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Patrick R. Gaston describes attending high school in Montreal and Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Patrick R. Gaston recalls choosing to study business at the University of Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Patrick R. Gaston describes working for International Weekends

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Patrick R. Gaston remembers his social life

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Patrick R. Gaston describes his father's lifestyle

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Patrick R. Gaston recalls getting hired at New England Telephone

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Patrick R. Gaston recalls his first year at New England Telephone

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Patrick R. Gaston remembers seeking support and opportunity at New England Telephone

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Patrick R. Gaston describes the environment of NYNEX in the 1980s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Patrick R. Gaston remembers his job training employees at NYNEX

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Patrick R. Gaston remembers being hired in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Patrick R. Gaston describes working in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Patrick R. Gaston describes lobbying for the Telecommunications Act of 1996

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Patrick R. Gaston remembers his government relations work for NYNEX and his father's death

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Patrick R. Gaston describes working as assistant vice president for NYNEX in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Patrick R. Gaston describes serving on various boards

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Patrick R. Gaston describes being hired as executive director of the Verizon Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Patrick R. Gaston describes establishing a platform for the Verizon Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Patrick R. Gaston describes the Verizon Foundation's platforms

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Patrick R. Gaston describes the Verizon Foundation's literacy programs and domestic violence prevention, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Patrick R. Gaston describes Verizon Foundation's literacy programs and domestic violence prevention, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Patrick R. Gaston shares advice for people following in his footsteps

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Patrick R. Gaston talks about his wife

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Patrick R. Gaston shares his hopes for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Patrick R. Gaston reflects upon the importance of history

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Patrick R. Gaston describes his hopes for minority communities

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Patrick R. Gaston narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

1$7

DATitle
Patrick R. Gaston describes working for International Weekends
Patrick R. Gaston describes establishing a platform for the Verizon Foundation
Transcript
You were completing the story at The Boston Globe.$$Yes. I, I forget exactly where, where I was with that.$$You--well, we'll just take it back a little. He said--you says, "No, Tom [Thomas Winship], I'm, I'm going to be--"$$Yeah, I said--I told--I said, Tom, I (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I wanna be a businessman.$$"I wanna be a businessman. I don't wanna be a writer." And so--you know, and by the way--and I think the, the thing is, the opportunity to write for The Boston Globe is a huge opportunity and I didn't have anything else to show for it but my--you know, I didn't have anything else in contrast except going to school so, and working for Tom. But something said to me, stick with your guns. Go to school and get your business degree, which I did. So when I finished--you know, I graduated in 1984, one of the things I'd always wanted to do was go live and work in Paris [France] which--and, and I remember I was up for this job and I was interviewed for Carol Remick who was the director of our student office, right, at, at UMass [University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts], you know, said to me you should apply for this job and it was a group called International Weekends. And so I said, okay, I'll apply for the job. I applied and I said, I'll probably not have a chance on earth, and I applied for this job and I wanted it so bad to be working in Paris, oh. You know, at the--at, at twenty-three, twenty-four years of age and then eventually I got the job. So I wound up in Paris as the tour director for International Weekends, lived in Montparnasse, the Montparnasse Hotel, which is now the Meridien [Le Meridien Montparnasse; Pullman Paris Montparnasse, Paris, France] and, and just went about doing my thing in Paris--$$(Laughter).$$--for eight months, which was fascinating, fascinating. I thought I'd never come back. Of course, you know, I, I had to come back. A couple of things, though, about that experience, is back then I was traveling, I had--I, I was still--I still had Haitian citizenship. So and go--in traveling through Europe, particularly Switzerland when--they would scrutinize my passport a whole lot more. I mean, do--if you had a--an American passport, you just go right by. And in my case, you know, they would make a stink out of my Haitian passport. And I said--I was thinking, I said, you know what, I--when I get back to the United States, I need to become naturalized. I need to get--to become a citizen. And so, you know, after eight months of that experience, I had an opportunity to go to--because the way International Weekends was, is you would do six to eight months there, then you go six to eight months there and et cetera, and that becomes your career. And I was thinking, I said to myself, you know, this is not much of a career. I mean, I'm not gonna go, go to the Caribbean. It may seem like a wonderful lifestyle, but I wanna start my career in earnest, so then that's when I came back to the United States.$So do you come in with your own platform? Or Verizon [Verizon Communications, Inc.] had a platform that you had to work within [as president of the Verizon Foundation]?$$It--it's a little bit of both. I think in America--in corporate America or even, even in society at large, you know, it's like you may come in with your own platform, but it'll get tweaked just a little bit and then you should be prepared to, to work with it. And so I think in my case, I obviously I came in, I think--I knew that we had to make sure that we align ourselves with technology, that we leverage our technology to be able to deliver on the grants that we were making, you know--$$But give me an example of that.$$I'll give you an example. For example, if you are in the business--let's take literacy, right? Literacy--basic literacy is, is a skill that we're trying to get people to acquire. There are ways in which you can acquire that skill. I can read a book to you or I can provide you with a computer connection, an Internet connection to the web, I can deliver applications that fit your learning style, it can interface with you in a way that allows you to learn without having to have a person be there to do that to guide you. So that is one way of leveraging technology, connectivity, applications, et cetera, to be able to get you to learn. And then by the way--and that has the--you have the ability to replicate it and to scale it. So the idea is how do you have a much more strategic and thoughtful approach to social investments that we make? So I was thinking it along those lines and I was thinking, well, you know, we--it's, it's philanthropy but it should be run with, you know, using business like disciplines, you know, and, and using management disciplines to get it done and leveraging our core competencies as a business. We should also make sure that we have more people behind us with regards to our social investments. It's not enough that ten people that work for me in this room know about it, the entire corporation should know what we're trying to do. They should be ambassadors. They should embrace it. They should be ambassadors out there in the communities around some of the things that we're trying to do. There was also a knowledge that, you know, having been--coming from a place where I came from, right, where, you know, I--Haiti and, et cetera, where I remember learning how to read (laughter) and I remember not having. And I remember what it's--the--that a dollar invested somewhere made a big difference where I came from. So I saw it--I mean, I have--we invest about $48 million of the $72 million budget that I have. So that $48 million I think can make a difference.$$You invest it--$$Social investments.$$Social investment.$$Meaning we, we, we invest it in--$$You--$$--organizations.$$Communities.$$Communities, yes. So I--so that--it, it--it's more or less an entire approach. Now, my predecessor [Suzanne Dubose] did a fantastic job at, you know, mechanizing our system, professionalizing it and I think I'm just basically building on what she's--the platform that she's provided. But the entire thing is--in my view is how do you bring your heart, your soul, your competencies to bear when you're doing a job, your commitment and, et cetera, to bear when you're doing a job and to be smart at it?