In Memoriam: Jason Spindler ’09

Jason Spindler ’09, co-founder and CEO of strategy and investment firm I-DEV International, died on Tuesday, January 15 at age 40. He was one of more than 20 people killed in a terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya. The Somali-based militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, according to news reports. 

Jason Spindler
Jason Spindler '09

Spindler co-founded I-DEV International in 2007 alongside senior partner Patricia Chin-Sweeney. The firm specializes in frontier emerging markets, working to help empower local communities to join the global economy. The company is based in San Francisco, but had an office in a working space for entrepreneurs in Nairobi, and worked with Kenyan clients including Twiga Foods, a startup supporting Kenyan farmers; Big Square, a restaurant chain serving locally sourced food; and Fuzu, a career recruitment startup. 

“Jason is warmly remembered by those who knew him at NYU Law,” the Law School said in a statement. “His tragic death is a loss not only to his loved ones, but to the community of individuals dedicated to improving the lives of others through social enterprise.”

After graduating from the University of Texas’s McCombs School of Business in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in international finance and economics, Spindler worked as an investment banker at Salomon Smith Barney/Citigroup and as an associate at consulting firm AlixPartners. While he was at Salomon Smith Barney, whose New York offices were based in the World Trade Center, Spindler survived the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. 

Throughout his career, Spindler was recognized for his devotion to social entrepreneurship. Shortly after his time at Salomon Smith Barney/Citigroup, Spindler served in the Peace Corps in Peru as a business & economic development volunteer. While with the Peace Corps, he led the growth of a $7 million-dollar locally owned agribusiness in Northern Peru, according to the I-DEV International website.

At NYU Law, Spindler was a Reynolds Fellow within the Jacobson Leadership Program in Law and Business. Efua Feldman ’09, who is now the assistant director of the graduate division in NYU Law’s Office of Career Services, recalls her friend and classmate: “We bonded over our mutual love of the African continent. He was passionate about responsible and sustainable investment in Africa and beyond, and he always had a trip to complete to yet another remote part of the world. His love of life and his eternal optimism inspired us all.”

“I remember Jason Spindler well from his time at the Law School,” says Professor Helen Scott, co-director of the Jacobson Leadership Program on Law and Business and faculty co-director of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship. “The research project I oversaw, then called Relief Development International, developed into I-Dev, his current company. He was a committed social entrepreneur at a time when the concept was quite new to much of the world and certainly to the legal community. Jason was a trailblazer and will be sorely missed.” 

Posted January 17, 2018