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Washingtonian of the Year 2010: Ronald Paul

A champion for kidney research

Photograph by Stephen Voss.

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Banker and real-estate developer Ronald Paul began his community service early. As a student at the University of Maryland, he raised $30,000 for the American Cancer Society and became the youngest member of the society’s board. Today Paul is chairman and CEO of EagleBank, and the Ronald Paul Companies develop and manage residential and commercial properties in the Washington area. As his businesses grew, Paul continued to work for community causes. In 2003, he started the EagleBank Foundation golf classic, which has raised more than $900,000 for local hospitals helping cancer patients.

Then in 1984, Paul went for a routine physical for a life-insurance policy—and failed one of the lab tests. A mistreated childhood illness had likely damaged his kidneys irreparably. When Paul’s wife, Joy, heard the news, she turned to the National Kidney Foundation for information and discovered a loving, supportive network that helped both her and her husband through the ordeals ahead.

Ron Paul, a self-described “give-back” guy, had found a new cause. Over the past 25 years, he has raised more than $3 million for kidney research and worked to enhance access to dialysis and other therapies for kidney disease.

Paul received his first kidney transplant in 1990, from his brother Steven. In 2009, he needed another—despite anti-rejection drugs, the lifespan of a donated kidney is less than 20 years. This time, the donor was Kathy McCallum, partner and chief financial officer of his company. “Ever since I’ve known him, he’s done charity work,” McCallum says. She didn’t think twice about the donation: “I only had to get the permission of my family and my dogs, and they gave me a thumbs-up.”

Paul is doing well. Anti-rejection drugs have greatly improved, he says. And he has yet another cause: lobbying to change Medicaid rules that limit coverage of anti-rejection drugs to only two years. Without the drugs, donated kidneys will fail, putting patients back on costly and debilitating dialysis.

Ron Paul the banker also goes out of his way to help community groups. When Whitman-Walker Clinic was in financial crisis, the bank that came to the rescue was EagleBank.

Paul has a favorite saying: “You make a living by what you earn. You make a life by what you give.”

This feature first appeared in the January 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.

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