‘The most civilized man in Washington’ has a soft spot for the Philippines | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

In Washington, David G. Bradley is described as “a force in the entrepreneurial world of new era business” and the “most civilized man in Washington,” for his generosity of spirit and elegance. He founded two influential consulting groups, doing research for organizations which further prospered when they went public and raised his net worth. He is also involved in the Council of Foreign Relations and owns the Atlantic Media Company. With his wife Katherine, they host the best parties in town that could easily eclipse the White House socials, marked by great cuisine, their exquisite taste and the A-list guest mix.

The Filipinos know the 58-year-old philanthropist, Bradley having forged ties with the Philippines since 1977 when he came as a Fulbright scholar and a fresh graduate from Harvard Business School. Staying with society matriarch Jessie Lichauco in their ancestral home in Sta. Ana, he would take three jeepney rides to get to the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila where he taught Economics. On his free time, he got to know Manila’s social circle.

As a way of giving back to his host country, he ventured into anti-poverty programs, the most successful of which is the Child Protection Network (CPN), which provides shelter, health care, psychological care and legal protection to abused streetchildren. Now run by a Filipino board, it is the largest network of child abuse centers outside the US and, arguably, the most sophisticated in a Third World country.

‘Nuns with nets’

Bradley initially sponsored a home for homeless children which was run by nuns. “We called it the ‘Nuns with Nets’ program,” recalls Bradley. But there was a problem: Despite the legions of waifs wandering in the streets, only three were in residence. The nuns would find the children and then they would flee. The shelter had 26 beds, and more beds were coming.

Bradley sent researchers from his Washington-based agency to investigate. “I was addressing the wrong problem. Why won’t children come in? As we did deeper interviews, almost 90 percent of the children turned out to have been abused—physically abused in the boys’ case and sexually abused in the girls’ case. They went with friends whom they were comfortable with,” he says.

In 1997, he funded the first Child Protection Unit at the UP Philippine General Hospital. “I worked with them on conceptualizing the first emergency unit consisting of a dedicated group of doctors, social workers, lawyers. When the child gets referred by other doctors, police or court system, we can do a diagnosis, clinical treatment, counseling, assign a social worker to make sure the child returns to a safe place or get into a shelter. We can work with the parents on how they can stabilize the situation. If it’s a crime, figure out who the perpetrator is, report to the police and prepare the children for court.”

Bradley pointed out two problems in the country: child abuse occurs in both commercial and domestic settings. One out of four females engaged in the sex trade is a minor. At home, sexual abuse occurs when the mother is out for work, especially if she’s an OFW. In most cases, the child knows the perpetrator—an acquaintance, friend or relative. Majority of the victims are female, ages 13-15. The CPN reports that the Philippines has the youngest age of rape at below 12 years old.


The CPU is now run by US-trained Dr. Bernadette Madrid. At the start, the CPU immediately had over a thousand cases of child abuse, mostly sexual in nature. Bradley takes pride in the curriculum for training for social workers and professionals in the medical and legal fields. CPN has the largest database for tracking child abuse in Southeast Asia.

Today, the CPN has 12 Filipino members on board, with Bradley, the chair, the only American. CPN is headed by Irene Martel Francisco. Over 50 percent of the funding now comes from Filipinos. A charity dinner cum auction at the Manila Polo Club raised P3 million for CPN. It has also more than doubled its assets, attributed to the Filipino board, the continuing support of Bradley and the family’s Citybridge Foundation, headed by his wife.

Through the years, Bradley has brought his sons—Spencer, 22; Carter, 18; and Adam, 16—to Tondo on separate occasions. They were amazed at the Filipino spirit. “There’s so much joy in the slums. They were extremely hard-up but I would say these children are much happier than the average American kids I’ve seen,” he says.


After selling his research companies, Bradley ventured into political publications, among them the Atlantic Monthly. Bradley’s other media ventures such as Hotline, an online publication, and National Journal are all under the umbrella of Atlantic Media Company, which he chairs.

Bradley tapped Justin Smith, founder of The Week, a news and analysis magazine which was hogging the advertising market, to become Atlantic Media’s president. He took Smith to a three-hour dinner by the fireplace at the Carlisle Hotel in New York and offered him the post. At first, Smith rejected the proposal. Bradley responded with an eight-page memo on the course of Smith’s career and life. Smith finally accepted.

“He’s the most effective media executive I’ve met. Irene (Francisco) is his match here,” he said. The Atlantic Monthly itself is chugging along well. “The website came to the galloping rescue with 10 million visitors. The business is growing 30-40 percent a year. It’s a good market for advertising. The website is profitable and subsidizes the print magazine.”

The Atlantic dusted off its fusty image by hiring the nation’s best journalists, among them former presidential speechwriter James Fallows, who covered the Philippines in the ’80s. Last year, Ad Magazine ranked The Atlantic No. 2 in the A-list and named editor in chief James Bennet as the Editor of the Year. It was also cited No. 3 in Adweek Media’s Ten under 60 Hotlist. This year, Min’s Best of the Web Awards gave it the Overall Editorial Excellence and Best Advertiser Program/ Partnership awards.

First-tier intelligence

Bradley goes to great lengths to get the best people. While scouting for the president of the magazine division, he liked only one out of 80 candidates, Andy Serayan, a top New York media executive.

“The qualities I saw in him are first-tier intelligence and ego under control. That latter can’t always be said of star executives in media,” he says.

The executive had been nixing Bradley’s offers. One day, he invited the executive and his wife to his vacation home in the South of France, inclusive of a stay in Paris. A relaxed atmosphere provided a more intimate conversation that couldn’t happen in an office. They took a walk in Provence and had dinner at the terrace. Serayan agreed shortly thereafter.

There’s the popular story of how journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, a three-time survivor of kidnapping while on journalistic duty, woke up with three ponies on his lawn. The people manning them said Atlantic Media wanted to make his children happy.

Core values

The Atlantic Media Company’s core values are “force of the intellect” and “spirit of generosity”—and “having the company aspire to them does have commercial effect as well,” says Bradley. “The benefits come when you recruit employees for these qualities. The benefit of acute intellect in employees is obvious. Who doesn’t want a smart workforce? There is a benefit, as well, to generosity. If you can create a culture that’s largely selfless, thoughtful, generous, it is a powerful magnet for attracting and retaining talent. People enjoy such kind cultures.”

One other byproduct of hiring for these qualities, especially among the younger staff, is a remarkable rate of marriage between employees. In my old research companies, there have been more than 500 marriages between employees,” adds Bradley.

The strategy seems to be working. Atlantic Media’s recent year-to-date revenue is $80 million.

On his soft spot for Filipinos, Bradley says: “The Philippines is much too special a place for me to just enjoy it. I want to be serious about something here. While there are 100 fantastic causes, CPN is the one where no one was watching when we started. Now a lot are doing a good job. This became the purpose for me to be a part of the Philippines. Enjoyment is by heart, the purpose is by will.”

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