Ajay Raju Profile: The Big Raju

Every once in a while, a person comes along whose dreams are so bold, whose style is so outrageous, whose entire being is so un-Philadelphian, that he’s bound to change our city just by putting his mind to it. Is Ajay Raju one of those people?

Green arrived, and Pam Raju brought him up to Liberace’s Man Cave. Though he’d been alerted beforehand that I was visiting, Green seemed uncomfortable and guarded. When Raju excused himself to dress and we were alone, the politician gave me only the most anodyne of observations, like, “One thing Ajay and I have in common — neither of us deserve our wives.”

Green was born into Philadelphia’s version of the Kennedys, a position Raju has spent most of his life trying to achieve. “It’s no secret I like Bill,” he said. “I admire families like that. But I would like him regardless of his last name. He’s a bold guy, and he’s not afraid of getting into the middle of things.”

Raju can spin out any number of ways he’s in a position to help Green. He’s planning to host a salon with Green and school superintendent Bill Hite. He’d willingly advise on new ways to generate revenues for schools. He’s already networked with World Affairs Council president Craig Snyder about setting up a summer camp for top students to learn leadership skills.

“We wait for Superman to arrive,” Raju says. “We look to the lone eagle. I believe in the geese formation. You travel further that way. Education is not just Bill Green’s problem. It’s not just Bill Hite’s problem. It’s my problem, too.”

When I called Bill Green later, he wouldn’t tell me what he and Raju ended up talking about that morning. But he told me one important thing about Raju.

“Most people think the task I’ve taken on is impossible,” Green said. “Ajay does not.”

Originally published in the May 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.